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Sicilian Branchiero

One of the oldest dogs of the region, the Branchiero Siciliano is a breed of uncertain future. On its way to extinction, this brave breed has been used for centuries as a cattle guardian, as well as an impressive watchdog. The Sicilian Branco Dog is probably best known for its most common job, which was that of a butcher's protection dog. When the butchers took their meat to the markets, they would have their Branchiero by their side, making sure nobody attempts to rob them on their way back home. This is a job that the Cane da Branco excelled at, but it also made a capable herding dog. It is believed to be much older than the Cane Corso and some consider it to be an ancestor of the European breeds of this type, primarily the now-extinct Corsican Mastiff.

The name "Cane di Macellaio" is used to describe dogs used for protecting butchers and their shops, not necessarily referring to a particular breed. Other Italian breeds have been known to also carry the Cane di Macellaio name, like the Cane Corso, Dogo Sardo and the Bucciriscu Calabrese for example. Not nearly as dog-aggressive as other Sicilan breeds, the Branchiero does tend to be extremely wary of strangers and doesn't make a good urban pet, but it is an excellent property guardian. Unlike some other bully breeds, the Cane da Branco males get along with other dogs and can live in a multiple dog household. The breed was never used as a hunting or fighting dog in the past, so it doesn't have a very strong prey-drive or confrontational nature, but this is still a capable working dog with strong protective instincts and immense defense drive.

There are reportedly less than 50 dogs of this breed presently left in existence, some of them outside Italy, mostly France. Some authorities dismiss most surviving representatives as unpure, many being crossed with the Cane Corso and other breeds, resulting in a different head-type and shorter coats. Leaner and lighter than the Cane Corso, the Cane da Branco also has a narrower head and longer muzzle. The ears are rarely cropped, but the tail has traditionally always been docked. The Branchiero Siciliano can today be found in two coat types, either a smooth short coat similar to that of the Cane Corso, or a slightly fuller and thicker variant, closely resembling the coat of the Labrador Retriever breed.

Regardless of type, the coat is most commonly found in shades of brindle, black and grey, sometimes with small white markings on the chest and feet. Black-n-tan, fawn and blue-coated dogs are considered unpure. The average height is around 28 inches.

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