The majestic Cane Garouf is an increasingly rare breed from the Italian Alps, most commonly associated with the north-western region of Piemonte close to the French border, but also found further up north, in Switzerland. There are various theories about this Molosser's origin, some claiming it is a result of crossing working dogs of the old Cane E Presa Italiano group with the mountain shepherds from France, while others believe that the Patua is an indegenous Italian breed descended from ancient Eastern mastiffs introduced to the region by Romans. Thought to be the key ancestor of the St.Bernard and some other European dogges and bully breeds, the Cane Garouf is a large and powerful flock guardian and property watchdog.
Valued as a hard working wolf killer for centuries, this impressive Alpine breed is now out of work, due to the modernization of farms and lack of need for sheep herding and guarding duties. Although it is a very capable protector, the Patua is usually overlooked for the job in favor of today's more popular breeds. It is estimated that there was only a handful of pure specimens of the mighty Mastino Alpino Italiano left in existence in the late 1990's, but today the breed is reportedly no longer found in its home region and is considered extinct.
Strong-bodied and massive, the Italian Alp Mastiff has a wide chest, straight back and sturdy legs. The head is large and rounded, with a typical molossian muzzle and powerful jaws. The breed has never been officially recognized or bred to a strict standard, but two main varieties have always existed within the Patua population, these being the smaller, leaner type and the taller, more massive variant. Some believe that the Cane Garouf name should be reserved only for the smaller shorthaired dogges, while the large mountain mastiffs should be called Patuas, but both names are commonly employed by researchers without regard to the type. An interesting detail is that in its home areas neither of these names are used for the Italian Alpine Mastiff. This rugged mountain dog is suspicious of strangers and fairly aggressive toward other dogs. Its size and temperament make it unsuitable for urban life, although it is a loving and devoted companion when socialized and trained properly.
The harsh coat comes in short and long varieties and needs minimal grooming. Regardless of length, the coat comes in a few colourings, such as mostly white with large red, grey and brown patches or in reddish brown and brindle shades with white markings, as well as other combinations of these colours. The average height is around 31 inches for the larger type and 27 inches at the withers for the smaller variety.