Iranian Bear Dog
Found throughout Northern Iran, the ancient Sage Mazandarani is believed to be descended from old Hyrcanian Mastiffs of Persia crossed with eastern livestock guardians and hunters and is a close relative of many Euro-Asian breeds, often falsely seen as just a type of the Central Asian Ovcharka, even though it is much older than the popular Russian creation. When it was imported into Russia as a bear hunter, the powerful Mazandarani Mastiff was introduced to the bloodlines of indegenous Russian dogs, among them the Moscow stock of the CAO breed. The Persian Sheepdog is a close relative and matings between it and the Hers Kosh are reportedly still fairly common, as are the ones with the Sage Ghafghazi. The Mazandarani Mastiff is primarily a working dog, so the strains containing a drop of two of other Iranian breeds aren't considered unpure and are in some cases quite valued. Although it is somewhat standardized in appearance, there are a few distinct variants of this breed to be found, like the Northern Mazandaran type, the North-Eastern Khorasan type and the Ardabil, Tehran and Esfahan types in the North-West.
The Sage Mazandarani is quite an aggressive breed, still used to hunt leopards and bears in its homeland. While it is calm and friendly with its master, the Iranian Bear Dog has very little tolerance for strange people and dogs. Territorial and protective, it makes a very good property guardian. While aforementioned regional differences exist, there are two main types of the breed, separated by size, with the bear hunting dogs being slightly more massive and those strains used for hunting big cats having leaner and lighter bodies. The Sage Mazandarani is a strong and well-boned breed, with a straight back, powerful body and sturdy long legs. The head is large and fairly narrow, with a strong muzzle and powerful jaws. Most dogs have their ears cropped and tails docked, but unaltered examples exist too. This agile Molosser is quite fast and athletic, but not very active when not working.
Its medium-length coat is commonly seen in many colours, usually white with darker patches, but the most valued dogs are the very rare solid black and black-n-tan ones, known as the Siah Sag variant, said to be the closest to their Hyrcanian ancestors and likely related to the great Serbian Sylvan breed. The average height is around 28 inches, although taller dogs can be seen as well.