Sardinian Shepherd Dog
|Other names||Pastore fonnesu
Cani sardu antigu
Cane de accappiu
|Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
The Sardinian Shepherd Dog or Fonni's Dog (Sardinian: pastore fonnesu or cani sardu antigu; Italian: pastore fonnese) is an ancient landrace breed of Sardinian dog used as a herding, catching, and livestock guardian dog.
Although there are depictions dating back to at least the mid-nineteenth century, it has not yet been officially recognized as a breed by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale. However, it was recognized by the Italian Kennel Club in 2013. The breed, which is endemic to the island, was founded with approximately 170 specimens gathered from rural parts of Sardinia. The breed is therefore a Landrace. Due to the large number of founders and the breed's genetic variability, the breed should enjoy relative freedom from genetic inbreeding. Most dog breeds are derived by a very small number of founders (for example just 9 dogs were used as founders during the creation of the Siberian Husky) and therefore inbreeding tends to be high, resulting in a high incidence of illness due to gene mutations.
The dog possesses a rough coat, which can be grey, black, brindle, brown or white. Height at the withers is about 56 to 60 cm for males, while females are a couple of centimeters shorter. A typical characteristic of the breed is the fiery expression of the eyes, whose position, unlike other dog breeds, is totally frontal, giving the dog a unique "monkey-like" appearance.
Variability observed between individuals is likely due to the lack of selective pressures. There are, however, consistently strong commonalities across dogs from different locations, including characteristics such as amber eye color and the characteristic ‘monkey face’. The coat, irrespective of color, has a typical coarse outer layer, as well as a woolly and dense undercoat. The hair on the head and hindquarters is typically short, while the face has longer furnishings around the eyes and a beard-like length around the muzzle and chin. Male dogs have a longer and thicker coat around the neck forming a mane.
In 2016, a genomic study revealed that the ancestors of the Fonni's Dog were related to sighthounds from the Near and Middle East, like the Saluki, and large mastiff-like dogs from Hungary, like the Komondor. The genomic map of these dogs mirrors human migration; Sardinians derive from Hungary and the Middle East.
Written records from the mid-1800's indicate that thievery was part of their historical repertoire, being trained to sneak over to the neighbors' and bring items home. For a long time, it has made a loyal companion of the Sardinian bandits that were hiding out in the woods, and was even employed to put up a stiff resistance against the Roman invaders.
- Dreger, Dayna; Davis, Brian; Cocco, Raffaella; Sechi, Sara; Cerbo, Alessandro; Parker, Heidi; Polli, Michele; Marelli, Stefano; Crepaldi, Paola; Ostrander, Elaine (1 October 2016). "Commonalities in Development of Pure Breeds and Population Isolates Revealed in the Genome of the Sardinian Fonni's Dog". Genetics and Genomics. 204 (2): 737–55. PMID 27519604. doi:10.1534/genetics.116.192427.
- "Purebred Dog Breeds into the Twenty-First Century". Retrieved 30 July 2016.
- Sechi, Sara; Polli, Michele; Marelli, Stefano; Talenti, Andrea; Crepaldi, Paola; Fiore, Filippo; Spissu, Nicoletta; Dreger, Dayna; Zedda, Marco; Dimauro, Corrado; Ostrander, Elaine; Cerbo, Alessandro; Cocco, Raffaella (5 September 2016). "Fonni’s dog: morphological and genetic characteristics for a breed standard definition". Italian Journal of Animal Science. 16 (1): 22–30. doi:10.1080/1828051X.2016.1248867. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
- PASTORE FONNESE-VIDEO
- ENCI recognizes the breed
- Article about the official recognition of the breed
- Pastore Fonnese-Standard (Sardinian)
- Article on Pastore Fonnese-Italian
- Another Article on pastore Fonnese, Italian
- Pastore Fonnese page with photos and standard, in Italian
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