By Josh Saunders
Meet the breeder who has brought an extinct species BARK FROM THE DEAD to create the world’s biggest puppies that sell for $5,000 (3.5kGBP) each.
Marcus Curtis, 44, from Riverside, California, has been working to resurrect the ancient 5,000BC Ancient Molossus for eight years.
Through selective breeding of the healthiest descendants of the huge hound, the Neapolitan mastiff and English bull dog, the first litter was born last year.
Now at ten-months-old they weigh a whopping 180lb (12st) and can reach up to six-foot while standing on their hindlegs.
Each pup would consume up to 12 cups of food a day or two whole chickens.
Despite facing criticism online about ‘playing god’ with the breed, Marcus maintain that the giant guardian dog predates a lot of other breeds, is healthier, will living longer and is well sized.
With one more litter born recently and a further five planned this year, his plan to bring back the long-lost canines will see more of the world’s biggest puppies in existence.
Marcus, an entrepreneur, said: “Anytime anybody does something that is against the grain you get a lot of people who are happy and excited, then a lot of hating so to speak.
“I’m not creating a new breed, I’m resurrecting a great, great bred that already existed and was alive through genes.
“They are bigger, more improved, healthier, can live longer and are less animal aggressive, to me that’s a win.
“Are these dogs for everyone absolutely not, but to say the dog is sick and a mess is ludicrous and irresponsible.
“When I found out that the original Molossus breed was not aggressive and not a fighting dog but a pure guardian to protect children, the family and other animals, I thought they were a perfect breed.
“The dog is bigger, healthier, built to guard and protect, has a docile nature, aren’t high energy, are healthy and well sized.
“They lasted thousands of years as a success, I thought it could be an all-round win for man now.
“A lot of people were in shock because I was making such a crazy leap, but they were excited.
“All of those years contemplating, thinking, experimenting and finding the courage to work so hard to get this done, meant seeing them was beyond amazing.
“It has been a dream come true seeing those dogs mature and being embraced, we’ve been overwhelmed, it’s been a fun ride.”
Marcus first started researching the breed eight years ago, from there he looked into their nature and the dog’s descendants.
He added: “I was in shock when I saw the statues at the metropolitan museum of art, which shows them with their massive bodies, cropped ears, tails and loose skin.
“After doing more research I found out more about their personalities, what they were used for and it was really intriguing.”
“The dog was a protector and existed for thousands of years, what more of a model do you need. For me it was overwhelming and to know what they were capable of doing and did.”
From there he set about looking to bring the breed back to life, carefully selecting dogs based on their health history, size and temperament.
He selectively chose canines that would give the Molossus the best gene pool, in the hopes of success.
He hopes through his selective breeding the dog will live between 10-12 years and continues to work towards improving their longevity.
Marcus said: “The biggest thing when you have a large breed, from Great Danes to St Bernard’s none of them live as long as the smaller dog.
“I hand-selected dogs with four to five generations of healthy living longer, not having bad hearts or bad joints.
“We were looking for dogs reared like the Molossus, with more of a square head, black brindled and healthy, it was hard to find these attributes in breeding.
“I spent whatever I could to put the best dog together, I’ve done all I can to ensure these dogs are off to the right start.”
Since the first litter was born last year, Marcus claims that people all over the world have enquired about the American Molossus.
The largest of whom is Euphrates, named after the river that dissects the breed’s ancestral home, who at ten months stands at six feet tall and weighs nearly 13 stone (181lb).
But owning one comes with a $5,000 (GBP) price tag and a long vetting process.
Marcus carefully studies prospective owners to ensure they can handle such a large dog, their previous experience and whether they are willing to continue working with his breeding programme.
He said: “I have people from Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Canada, you name it people are excited about this dog.
“Our process is a little more rigid than a normal application, I want to talk to somebody, ask them questions, let them know the importance of the breed and ensure they can take care of such a large dog.
“They have to be willing to properly train them and willing to work with me in the programme, to use them and continue with the resurrection of this breed.”
With a total of five litters planned for the end of the year, Marcus hopes his work will allow the ‘great guardians’ to be reintroduced.
He says his motivations are not financial but instead to leave behind a legacy as the man who brought the Molossus back to life – even penning a book about his work Dog Breeding Secrets.
Marcus said: “Anytime you do anything, you are going into the unknown risk-reward, I never did this to make a good living, this is something I am beyond passionate about.
“The biggest thing for me, I would love to have people see these dogs and if they could understand what it means to me.
“I want it to be inspirational and someone who can look and see Marcus started with an idea, a thought, predicted, prayed on it and worked until it was here and a success.”
Marcus believes religion played a part in the success of his venture – with him having a vision about the pups nearly a year before the first litter was born.
He said: “Being a positive person and a Man of faith, when my wife and I decided to go all in, I knew then the Dream was realized. It was just a matter of time.
“There was one night however when my wife and I were going to sleep when I dreamed of American Molossus puppies all around me in my back yard. I could see them as already here as puppies.
“It was amazing and so vivid. I could see their look, there actions there brindle coloring as if they were already here.
“I woke up and told my wife Yvette about it and how real it seemed and almost a year later, that very moment happened like the dream and it was beyond amazing and proof that with a passion, dream and with hard work and God, all things are possible.”
For more information visit: https://www.oldworldmastinos.com/america-molossus
AMERICAN MOLOSSUS FACT BOX
PUPPY DIET – 9 – 12 CUPS A DAY OR TWO WHOLE CHICKENS
HEIGHT ON HIND LEGS AT TEN MONTHS – 6 FOOT
WEIGHT AT TEN MONTHS – 181LB (13 STONE)
GOAL LIFE EXPECTANCY 10-12 YEARS