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Sandzak Mastiff

This is a recently developed dog, being yet another re-creation of the ancient Rashka Mastiff. The region of Sandzak is located in the territory of old Rashka in Serbia and this is where the original dogs survived the longest, some examples reportedly still being encountered after the 2nd World War before disappearing. Inspired by the stories of their parents and grandparents, the breed developers decided to re-create the great dogs of the region in the late 1990's, but have chosen to exclude any Serbian references in the breed's name, hoping to achieve greater acceptance among the mostly muslim inhabitants of Sandzak. Rather than trying to reconstruct the Metchkar breed as a whole, the Sandzak Mastiff is a re-creation of the largest type used for protection duties. When searching for representatives of indigenous breeds of the Balkans which would serve as a foundation for an authentic reconstruction, such as the Sylvan, Zhuyan and the Serbian Greyhound, the breed creators concluded that no satisfactory examples of these near-extinct dogs could be found and opted for the use other breeds. Initially, the breeding programme was rushed and largely ignored, but after a few failed attempts, it was decided to cross the Deutsche Dogge with the Sarplaninac, with the addition of Dobermann and English Greyhound blood in the subsequent matings, but other undisclosed breeds were reportedly used as well, with the Dogo Argentino, Bosnian Tornjak and Serbian Defense Dog being a few of the suspected ones. The Sandzaklija is still very rare and unknown, even in the region it was named after, but being an impressive looking dog and a very good property guardian, it will likely gain acceptance in the future. Its creators are hoping to avoid the breed's introduction to the world of dog-fighting, but are also aware that this would be the fastest way for the Sandzak Mastiff to become known, especially in the Balkans, where old values are still celebrated. This may result in the introduction of some other dogs into its bloodline, intended to improve the breed's fighting abilities and drive. The original developers of the Sandzak Mastiff had many disagreements over the Standard and opposing views considering the breed's form and function, leading to the team splitting up in 2002, with each party pursuing their own programmes separately, possibly resulting in the establishment of two distinct varieties or even breeds. Still not standardized and numbering under 15 breed representatives altogether, the Sandzak Mastiff has a long way to go before being taken seriously and receiving any type of recognition.

The Sandzaklija is primarily a protection breed, but is intented to be a livestock guardian and hunting dog as well. Territorial, aloof with strangers and fairly dog-aggressive, it requires responsible ownership. It is good with children and noticeably less protective outside of its territory, making a reliable companion, but also an effective yard watchdog. Said to be intelligent and trainable, this is a well-mannered and obedient dog, although some specimens have been described as stubborn and undemonstrative, needing firm handling and early socialization. The Sandzak Mastiff is a tall and muscular dog, with a long neck, broad head and well-developed jaws. The chest is deep and fairly wide. The body is well-boned, with long legs and a straight back. The ears are cropped close to the head and the tail is docked.

The coat is short, flat and dense, slightly fuller on the neck, usually black, fawn, red, grey, black-n-tan and brindle in colour, with or without white markings on the paws and chest, but white-based examples with darker patches are also accepted. Average height is around 30 inches, with taller dogs being preferred.

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