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Singidunum Molossus

There isn't a lot of reliable information on this ancient Moloss, apart from various legends and biased historical accounts. Everything from this dog founding the city of Singidunum to it actually being a werewolf deity and shape-shifting progenitor of the Serb tribes has been suggested through Balkan folklore, but a number of historians believe that the Singidunum Molossus was brought to Serbia by either the Romans or by the invading Huns, Goths, Avars, Slavs or Bulgars and named by the Ottoman Turks when they occupied Belgrade, while others view it as an indigenous Balkan pariah dog.

It is quite possible that the Turkish Kangal played a role in its development, but some enthusiasts link this Balkan mastiff to the Alaunt, while others claim that it in fact predates both the Kangal's and Alaunt's introduction to the region. Although its name ties it to the capitol of Serbia, it should be noted that the Singidunum Dog could also be found in other states of former Yugoslavia, including rural areas of present-day Croatia and Bosnia. The Singidunum Molossus shouldn't be confused with the modern bandog breed called Dogo Belgrado.

Best known throughout the Balkans as Zuca (pronounced Zhu-Cha), this breed comes in a variety of sizes and is believed by its fanciers to be an ancestor of the Taurunum Dogge, Metchkar and some other breeds of the region. Some even think it was originally a Sylvan subtype which was pushed aside due to its colouring. Even though the Singidunum Dog has been officially extinct for ages, various incarnations bearing its name existed up to the early 20th century, making it even more difficult to determine the real story of this legendary Molosser. Described as a powerful, but lean mastiff, Zhucha was an impressive livestock guardian and hunter, although it was never as prized as the Sarplaninac, Sylvan and Tornjak, which were considered to be superiourly bred and much better fighters. While this may have been true, it should also be noted that the Zuca was far more numerous than any of those breeds and was immensely popular among common peasants throughout the region, proving that its reliable temperament and train-ability were in fact traits more valued in a working dog than its fighting ability and importance of bloodlines.

It may have been known as the "poor man's Sarplaninac", but the mighty Zhuyan was a well-loved watchdog and young shepherd boy's companion for many years. There are some claims even today that this breed can still be found in Belgrade and surrounding areas, but it is highly doubtful that it is the original incarnation, because of common crossings with breeds like the Labrador, Golden Retriever and German Shepherd Dog, which became very popular in Yugoslavia in the decades following the 2nd World War.

Independent and energetic, the Belgrade Watchdog needs early socialization and a lot of excercise. This breed is fairly easy to train and isn't very aggressive towards other dogs, but is famously suspicious of strange people. Modern Singidunum specimens are typical shepherd-like dogs of common Balkan pariah type. The majority of these dogs are randomly bred, although some Beogradsko Kuche enthusiasts follow fairly strict guidelines concerning their own ideas of what a proper type is. This is a well-boned breed, with strong legs and a muscular body. The ears come in a variety of types, including some semi-erect and even fully-pricked examples, but these could be a result of crossings with the GSD.

The harsh, dense coat can be either short, long or rough and is wolf coloured, shades ranging from yellow, brown to grey and brindle, with or without white markings on the chest and feet. The height ranges from 23 to 33 inches at the withers, but most modern dogs are around 27 inches tall, with females being noticeably smaller.

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