This ancient working breed is on its way to extinction, reportedly only existing in two-digit numbers in Algeria today. A close relative of the Moroccan Aidi, the Algerian Mastiff is the larger one of the Atlas Mountain dogs, believed to be a result of introducing the now-extinct Mt.Tahat Moloss to the North-Western parts of the country centuries ago. The Algerian Mastiff found its way into the bloodlines of many European breeds when the Phoenicians, and later Romans and Vandals, brought a great number of these dogs from Africa.
During the beginings of Turkish rule in the 1500's, it is believed that the Algerian Sheepdog received some Kangal and Akbash blood, resulting in an increased speed and agility, but also a change in appearance. Over the course of the next 200 years, these "new and improved" Algerian Mastiffs were introduced to certain bloodlines of Turkish and Asian dogs. Said to be overly vicious and untrainable, the Algerian Shepherd Dog became unpopular during the French and Arab rule. Still, the sheep and cattle herders needed strong, resilient dogs to protect their livestock and villages, as well as to provide a source of entertainment through participation in baiting and fighting contests.
In the last 60 years, the number of Algerian Mastiffs has been steadily declining and some authorities doubt the existence of any pure specimens in present times. It doesn't help that every dog found in Algeria today seems to bear this name. The Algerian Mastiff shouldn't be confused with the rare Algerian Sheepdog breed, also known as the Chien des Douars.
Lean, muscular and rugged, most dogs found today have rich weatherproof coats of varying lengths, coming in a wide range of colours.
The average height is around 27 inches.