The mighty Khonch Nokhoi is considered to be a Mongolian variant of the Central Asian Shepherd Dog by some and a regional sub-type of the Tibetan Mastiff by others, but some authorities believe this is incorrect. It most certainly has ties to the dogs of Tibet, as well as to the Altai Herders and other Asian working dogs, but is believed by most Mongolians to be much older than any of these other breeds. During the Soviet occupation of the region, a fair ammount of Caucasian Ovcharka and German Shepherd blood influenced the breed, leaving only a small number of pure Mongolian dogs in existence. Imported dogs from Tibet are occasionally crossed with native sheepdogs of Mongolia, with hopes of reviving the breed. Sometimes called a Mongolian Ovcharka, the Hon'ch Nohoi is a rugged and resilient Moloss, valued for its fierce personality and good working qualities.
This breed is celebrated by the native Mongolians, who in fact believe themselves to be a result of a mating between a dog and a deer. Said to had been the favourite dog of Genghis Khan, it undoubtedly influenced the bloodlines of some European breeds. There are two main types within the breed, differentiated by size and temperament. The heavy and tall mastiff variant is usually used as a property guardian and is better known outside Mongolia, but the smaller working sheepdogs are much more common and are prized herders and shepherds' companions. Both types of the Honch Nohoi are commonly found in the same litter, but the puppies are then separated and raised for different purposes. Crosses between the types are known as Bancars and are very common, but aren't as valued. A variety of sub-types can be encountered throughout Mongolia, some of which are seen as separate breeds by a number of researchers.
This alert watchdog is rare today, reportedly more numerous outside its native borders than within Mongolia. Strong protection drive and confrontational nature, coupled with its strength and stubborn character, make the Mongolian Hon'ch Nohoi unsuitable for urban life. These tough dogs are playful with their masters and very gentle with children, but have very little tolerance for strange people and dogs. The ears of the working sheepdogs are almost always cropped, while the large home guardians are usually left in their natural state.
Regardless of type, the harsh dense coat varies in length and comes in a range of colours, from white to gray to black, but the black-n-tan dogs are the most favoured, especially the ones with clearly defined tan markings above the eyes. The height rarely exceeds 24 inches at the withers, although some examples of the larger variant are said to reach the height of 30 inches on occasion.