The Cane Corso (pronounced kha-neh kor-so), is a large Italian breed of dog of the Molosser type. The Cane (dog) and Corso (meaning either guard or courtyard), is also known as the Italian Mastiff. It is highly valued in Italy as a guard dog, hunter, and companion. This breed is descended from the canis pugnax, which were dogs used by the Romans in warfare. The Cane Corso is known as a catch dog, and was used with swine, cattle, and also wild boar hunts. This breed was also used to guard property, families, and livestock. Also in the past it has been used by night watchmen, keepers, and by carters and drovers. During the 20th century, the Cane Corso became rare as life in the southern Italian rural farms changed. Recovery activities began in the 1970’s to bring the dog back from near extinction. The breed was fully accepted by the Italian Kennel Club by 1994.
The ideal height standard for the Cane Corso is between 23-28 inches tall at the withers for males, and for females between 23-26 inches. The weight of the breed is between 99-110 pounds for males, and between 40-45.4 pounds for the females. The overall impression of the Cane Corso should portray one of power that is balanced with athleticism. His skin should be moderately tight, but some dewlap on the neck is normal. The bottom of the dog’s jawline is defined by the hanging lip. The head of the dog is imposing and large and is arguably its most important feature. When viewed from above the muzzle is rectangular, flat, and normally as wide as it is long. The eyes of the Corso are almond-shaped, set straight, and set slightly above the line of the muzzle when seen from the front. The color of the eyes tends to mirror the shade of brindling in the coat, however darker eyes are preferred. In past traditions, the ears are cropped short in equilateral triangles that stand erect. If the ears are not cropped, they should hang smoothly against the head, and should come to at or slightly below the level of the eyes. The colors of the Cane Corso’s coat appears in two basic colors: fawn and black. Brindling of varying degrees is common on both basic coat colors as well.
The Cane Corso is described as being, affectionate, docile, devoted, loyal companions as well as great watchdogs. They can be stable, reliable, kid friendly pets when they are well-bred and consistently trained. Naturally however, they are possessive, dominant, territorial, and distrustful of strangers. With the proper handling and training however, the Corso will know when to be in full protective mode, and when not to be. Dog aggression with the breed can sometimes be a problem with the Corso, however early socialization can help decrease this. AS the dog is robust, he needs his share of exercise. Most of all he requires personal interaction and lots of companionship. If left alone too much he can become destructive.
The Cane Corso is generally a healthy breed, but like with all breeds can be susceptible to certain health conditions. These include; hip dysplasia, eyelid abnormalities such as entropion, ectropion, and cherry eye. Other conditions include demodectic mange, gastric torsion or bloat, allergies, elbow dysplasia, epilepsy and heart conditions. The average life span of the Cane Corso is between 10-14 years.