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Taurunum Dogge

Although relatively unknown, the Taurunum Dogge is an old working breed, believed to have roots in the ancient Alopekis, as well as the dogs brought to the Balkans by the Kelts, crossed with numerous hunting and guarding breeds of the area, most notably the Serbian Hound. Some fanciers also count the old Serbian Metchkar Mastiff as one of the breed's ancestors, while others link it to the Alaunt. This is uncertain, but the modern incarnation is often described as a rougher-haired Pit Bull, closely resembling old British bulldogs and bull-n-terriers. Coming in two distinct types in the past, separated only by size, today's dogs are bred to a single standard allowing for a variety of heights. Some fanciers believe that the initial two varieties were actually different breeds, separated into the larger Taurunum Dogge and the smaller Taurunum Terrier, but the dog known as the Zemunac today is a result of planned matings between these types, in effect creating a single breed. There is also evidence of the existence of a possible third variety, which was a shepherd-type dog, sometimes recognized as a throwback in some lines of the Taurunum Dogge, but like the primary two variants, it became lost in its original form and assimilated into the greater Zemun population. Not taken seriously even in its own country, chances are that the Zemunac will never gain any official recognition.

Used throughout history for everything from herding livestock, hunting any type of game, baiting bulls and bears, fighting other dogs and protecting property to being a companion animal and even a racing dog, the lively Taurunum Dog has a reputation among Zemun and Belgrade locals as an all-around working Molosser. This resilient breed is a superb ratter, as well as an unstoppable fighting dog. Some believe that it was this very breed that was taken to the West in the 1700's by the Austrians, playing an important role in the creation of various bull breeds, but this theory is yet to be proven. The number of Zemun Dogges dwindled during the World wars and the breed was believed to be extinct until the 1970's when it was discovered in rural areas of the Taurunum region, where it was still commonly used as a farm dog. A generous amount of American Pit Bull and AmStaff blood was reportedly introduced to some bloodlines during the late 1980's, when many Western Bull breeds became popular in Yugoslavia. Prized by the Roma inhabitants of the region, who are reportedly becoming its primary breeders, the Zemunac is sometimes also called a Gypsy Pit Bull.

For an unrecognized and not officially standardized breed, the Taurunum Dogge is bred to a remarkably consistent type in terms of overall appearance and temperament, although height can vary to a great degree. Very much a terrier in temperament, this is an agile and playful breed, but also a serious and commited watchdog, extremely territorial and suspicious of strangers. Both prized and feared, this Zemun "killer-dog" is known for going too far in whatever it does. When fox-hunting, it will fight other dogs for the kill. When guarding property, it often jumps over its fence and chases the perceived potential intruder with every intention of drawing blood. Tolerant of children and devoted to its master, the Taurunum Dogge can make an agreable rural companion, but city life might prove troublesome. Present-day incarnation of the Zemun Watchdog is more heavily boned and has a larger head than its ancestors. Stocky, muscular and athletic, this breed displays many qualities of some modern bull-breeds. Ears are often cropped and the tail is docked to a length of 4 inches, although some companion specimens are known to have full-length tails. The rough, flat coat is medium-short, usually around 3 inches in length, but many modern examples have typical "bully" short coats. The wirehaired variety is considered extinct, even though some bearded dogs are still encountered occasionally in remote rural areas.

Regardless of coat type, the Taurunum Dogge is instantly recognizable by its colouring, which always comes in shades of wheat, fawn and red with a dark brown or black blanket on the back. Some specimens have white markings on their chest and feet, although they are fairly rare. The height ranges from 18 to 23 inches at the withers, but most dogs are around 20 inches tall.

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