|This legendary Russian Molosser is sadly extinct, the last documented specimens having been destroyed by the revolutionaries of 1917, as a sign of victory over the Tsar, who was very fond of this breed. It was also a favorite dog of Ivan the Terrible, who used his Medelyans to launch sporting activities, as well as to impress and intimidate visiting foreign dignitaries. Various theories exist concerning the Medelyanka's origins, from descendants of Italian dogs imported from Milan to those suggesting Tibetan heritage. Some authorities believe that the name Medelyan is a corruption of the term "Nedelyan", used to describe dogs baited every Sunday (Nedelya), but this theory still requires further research.
The Medelyan Mastiff was a very large and massive dog, with the largest reportedly reaching up to 102 centimeters in height and weighing well over 91 kilos. Primarily used as a guard dog and companion, it also took part in annual bear-hunting expeditions throughout Russia. The Medelyan should not be confused with the Russian Mordashka, a large, smooth-coated bulldog commonly found in Russia at the same time. Although related, they were two distinct and very different breeds.
Even tempered and moderately aggressive, they were affectionate pets, often used as babysitters and playmates for children. Although tolerant of strangers, the Medelyanka was very confrontational with other dogs. A true mastiff with a head, this powerful Molosse was heavily boned, broad and muscular. The coat was thick and rich, but no longer than 10 centimeters. There was also a short-haired variant, which was more popular among the working class in Russia. The most common color was blood-red or reddish-brown with white markings and a black mask, although dogs without masks existed, as did examples with gray and blue coats. In addition to the colossal examples mentioned above, the average height of a Medelyan would have been around 76 centimeters. Efforts were reported in Russia in the 1990s to recreate the Medelianskaya Sobaka by crossing Moscow Watchdogs with Leonbergs, but other programs exist, including the main one at present, involving the use of Central Asian Ovcharka, Caucasus Ovcharka, Neapolitan. Mastiff, American Bulldog and English Bullmastiff. Only time will tell whether these efforts will be crowned with success.