Polishtatra, I agree 100%.
I think I confused things with the "mastiff face" bit, what I mean is massive, big, robust, big boned they absolutely do not have a mastiff "type" face or skull in fact. There is zero brachycephalic about them. But they don't look like a wolf with a pointed snipped nose either its a much bigger deeper jaw but the general look is indeed very lupoid with same neck and head mane and frills and skull shape though "blown up in proportions". They arrived with docked ears so I have no idea what these might have looked like but not terribly big I imagine, probably small neatly folded at the side more or less.
I would say imagine an outsized wolf, taller, bigger bones, but just as athletic and fast. I cant impress enough how eager and swift these dogs are. No bulked up shoulder or thick set neck etc like you would find on a mastiff. Skin yes under and around the neck is slightly loose. I had boerboels I now absolutely the difference in type. I haven't actually taken out a tape measure but the muzzle is longer or or at least as long as the skull etc. If you feel the skull its not a mastiffs skull there isn't the muscle mass on either side, in a boerboel you can almost span both hands over each side of the skull and feel pure muscle, but these you can easily feel the sagittal crest and the inter-parietal process, its narrower but still large and broad but with normal ammount of face as such.
They are built for speed and strength without a doubt.
I used to keep borzois, wolf hounds and although these CO's are nowhere near as lean they have the same shoulder under that dense coat, you can esaily feel the bone structure which honestly surprised me at first, a lot. You have to get in with your hands and feel all over to understand that underneath there is a very strong hound like dog. Not as tall as an Irish wolf hound but approaching the same robustness. An Irish wolf hound is not a mastiff but it is robust in proportions. Having kept boerboels I kept expecting these dogs to blow up like mastiff with muscle mass but they never did. They kept that big frame with out the bulked muscle mass.
I think in type mine are more or less exactly like Turkish shepherd types, Kangals but three at least except the red one are exactly the same colour as CO'S.
What I figured from info on the net was that they were possibly more the "plains type" rather than the "mountain type" CO's, though Im not familiar with the heavier types at all just from pictures, mostly in grotesque poses of aggression or at shows in Russia and looking very heavy. Im also not sure these two types actually exist as working dogs or weren't made up by show enthusiasts to explain their extremely heavy dogs. However even St Bernards if you look at very old pictures of the original they were not such mastiff types, as extreme as todays show dogs, in fact they were quite moderate in type and didn't have that huge mastiff face or body.
I first saw a CO type in Austria back in the very early 1980's while visiting my sister in a lovely picturesque small town just outside Vienna. This was an exceptional dog and one of the first I think in Western Europe. This was before the Berlin wall came down and there was free exchange, but it was just starting, the communists were in power in Russia etc the country was in ruins. There was absolutely nothing mastiff about this dog but he was huge and loping with a gorgeously plumed tail and feathering. Made a lasting impression on me. The owner a tiny youngish woman didn't speak any English at all. I always thought the show dogs that came after were nothing like the true type at all after that, a Russian invention. However when I saw some of the dogs in Berlin that made it to the West after the Berlin wall came down I was a bit confused. These dogs were kept to guard the wall on the communist side, after the wall came down they had no homes and were adopted by many in Berlin, Western Germany and beyond. These were indeed heavy mastiff CO types.........so definitely yes there has been a fair amount of tinkering by the Russians for what ever purposes and certainly by Stalin whose far and wide influences on land races in the caucuses cannot be underestimated. There are many records of him doing exactly that including introducing GSD to the mix. These East Germany/Berlin dogs were less a livestock guardian and more a police type security dog for the army and border. I shiver to remember, it was at least -20 in Berlin that winter, my 4x4 had a constant layer of thick ice on it. Then there were the Moscow versions of the time......
Closer to home I actually had an an argument with the vet when trying to work out heart worm dosage, he insisted the male for example was at least 70Kgs but I argued the the dog was all bones under the coat with a very lean covering of sinewy muscle on that huge frame. Both him and his assistant never having dealt with this type however where so taken with the fluffed up size they couldn't imagine he was under 70kg. Unfortunately he also wouldn't allow them to feel him all over. They aren't socialised dogs except for the JRTs so the vet never truly got to understand what they were looking at. He was quite happy to be looked at all over and talked to, ear temp taken even teeth looked at very briefly but when they got more intimate he kept getting all stiff with tail up standing, on his toes so I advised for them to er on the side of caution. Certainly after he felt his testicles which made him roar.
I agree shepherd dogs shouldn't be thick set heavy mastiffs at all. But take a big example and they do seem to vary considerably in height, that huge boned dog is heavy no mistake, but it also certainly doesn't translate into body mass. I confidently took off a quarter off the vets recommendations.