Cane Corso
Adult cane corso

Cane Corso


The Cane Corso is an Italian breed of dog descended from the Roman Molossian. This breed, also known as the canis pugnax and no longer in existence, was once used in warfare, as a guard dog (by night watchman and keepers), as a hunting companion (boar, bear), and as a catch dog (herding) for farm animals like cattle and swine.

In the past, when the breed was first being established, they were only really available in the Southern Italy area of the world. They were especially popular in Basilicata, Campania, and Puglia.

The Cane Corso is also a fairly new breed in regards to recognition date. It was not until 2007 that the original valid standard was published. While these dogs are also known as the Italian Mastiff and most often appear in Italy, they are now bred and raised in other areas of the world. However, while their presence is spreading, they are not one of the most widely known or popular breeds, so the journey has been slow thus far.


The Cane Corso is an Italian Molosser type of dog that is closely related to the Neapolitan Mastiff, although the Cane Corso breed is much older. This dog is well muscled, although slightly less bulky than other Mastiff type breeds. These dogs typically measure between 24 and 28 inches at the withers and weigh roughly 99 to 110 pounds.

While most of the skin on the Cane Corso is tight, they usually have a dewlap around their neck. They also have a hanging lip, defined on the bottom jawline. The rest of their head is large and imposing. The forehead is flat and convergent to the muzzle, which is generally flat and either rectangular or square shaped. This muzzle is usually about 1/3 of the entire skull. Their eyes are almond shaped, set straight just above the line of the muzzle, and usually dark. Lastly, the Cane Corso’s ears are naturally droopy but often cropped to be triangular and erect.

The Cane Corso is a short haired breed. It has tight skin with fur that is usually either black or fawn. Color derivations from these basic colors include grey, frumentino, or formentino. Brindling also occurs, which can create tigrato (black brindle) or Grigio Tigrato (grey brindle). They may also have white markings, although large patches are considered undesirable for show purposes, on the chest, tips of the toes, chin, and the bridge of the nose.

The average life span of the Cane Corso is between 10 and 12 years.


The Cane Corso is a generally easy-going and friendly dog, despite its threatening appearance. They tend to form extremely strong bonds with their owners and are very loyal. After all, they were once bred for the purpose of being watchdogs. Going along these lines, the Cane Corso is generally protective of its owners. They are also naturally curious and suspicious of strangers. However, it is not overly aggressive and should only respond in such a way if an actual threat is present. These dogs are intelligent, so they will be able to figure out the difference.

The Cane Corso is also very easy to train. For starters, the strong bond they form with their owners drives them to be very willing to please. They listen well and will go to many lengths to be sure their owner is happy and content. Their intelligence also contributes to their easiness to train. They can be trained to perform many different tasks. Depending upon their level of training, they also have the potential to do well in many different environments.

However, while these characteristics may seem wonderful, they do not just happen. For one thing, Cane Corso owners need to be sure to start socializing the dogs as puppies. Again, they are naturally suspicious of strangers and early socialization will be able to curb any aggressive or overly protective behaviors that they may develop. However, they will be able to form close bonds much more easily so it is worth it.

Owners should also begin training them as puppies, too. This training should be consistent, on a routine basis and increasingly varied (commands, behaviors, etc.). Furthermore, establishing dominance and leadership is also very important. Because these dogs are brutish and smart, they will take any chance they can get to establish themselves as the “pack leader”, even if it means dominating their owner.

Current Use

Of course, the Cane Corso has fallen out of many of its old uses. For example, clearly no one is using dogs in warfare anymore. However, this breed is still used for numerous jobs that its ancestors were used for.

To begin, some people do still take this dog on the hunt with them. While the routine is obviously different, these dogs are still strong, intelligent, and athletic, which makes them great hunting partners. These dogs have been used in Italy for hunting purposes for years. They have also been used to hunt many different animals over the years, including wild board and cougars.

Secondly, this breed of dog still makes an excellent guard dog. It has the strength, protective nature, intelligence, and loyalty to stand up for its family. As was previously stated, this dog is also good at differentiating potential threats and harmless strangers. While, of course, this dog is not without its flaws, good training and commitment can turn the Cane Corso into a great watchdog. Socialization can help to hide this dog’s aggressive potential, except for when it is necessary.

Lastly, the Cane Corso has been known to make a great companion animal for any household. With proper training, this dog can learn to get along with people of all ages and genders, and it can also do well with other dogs. It is easily trainable and loyal, so owners will have very little, if any, behavioral issues. One other feature to note, which is an important decision for many when deciding upon adopting a dog, is that since its skin and fur are very tight to the body, required grooming and upkeep is minimal.