Origins of the Alaunt
The Alaunt was bred and formed by the Alani tribes, the Kavkaz nomads of Sarmatian Indo-Iranian ancestry, which were known as superb warriors, herdsmen and breeders of horses and dogs. The Alans bred their dogs for work and had developed different strains within the breed for specific duties. The Alaunt's primary ancestors are the dogs of the Caucasus and Central Asia, namely the Gampr and the mighty Alabai, but also the shorthaired hounds of India and Persia. The large, massive guard dogs were not much different than the typical Eastern mountain dogs, even though the hunting variety was leaner and had a smoother and shorter coat.
When the Huns conquered the Alani tribes, the nation was separated in the 370's into the Eastern and Western Alans. The Eastern Alani tribes merged with the Albanians, Ossetians, Serbs and other nations, introducing their dogs into the bloodlines of many Balkan breeds, such as the Illyrian Mountain Dog, Metchkar, Qen Ghedje, Hellenikos Poimenikos and other Molossers of the region. Some believe that the white-coloured alaunts were the direct ancestors of Greek and Albanian breeds, which in turn influenced all other white dogs in the Balkans. The Western Alans joined the Vandals on their raids through Europe and by the 410's, their fierce dogs were influencing many breeds in France, Spain, Portugal, England and other countries, spreading the use of the "alaunt" name, which became synonymous with the type of a working dog, rather than a specific breed. Through breeding with various scenthounds and sighthounds, the alaunt became a valued large game hunting dog, existing in a variety of types, dictated by regional preferences.
In France, alaunts were separated into three main categories, based on physical appearance and the duties they performed. The lightest type was the Alaunt Gentil, a greyhound-like dog, which eventually became assimilated into the local hunting breeds with the Alaunt Veantre. The heavier mastiff variety, known as the Alaunt de Boucherie, was crucial is the development of the fighting and baiting dogs of France. The same occurrences happened in other countries, such as England and Spain, where the alaunts gave birth to mastiffs and bulldogs, which in return influenced nearly every European guarding, baiting and fighting breed.