A working dog native to Italy, the Cane Corso is thought to be the direct descendant of the Molossus, the war dog of the Roman Army, and is considered by many to be the closest living relative of that ancient breed. For centuries Cane Corsos have serve the farmers of Southern Italy as hunting dogs, farm workers, and property guardians. This breed is considered to be one of the most trainable and responsive members of the Mastiff family and is becoming more popular in the United States. Unfortunately, this breed has developed a reputation for being aggressive and has been targeted for banning in some countries and American locations. Across the world and within the United States, major kennel clubs recognize the breed as either the Cane Corso or the Cane Corso Italiano. The breed is also known as the Cane Corz, the Cane di Macellaio, the Cane Pugliese, the Dogo di Puglia, the Sicilian Branchiero, the Italian Mastiff, and the Pugliese Mastiff.
Although the breed’s ancestry is very ancient, the Cane Corso as we know it today did not start to take shape until the 1970’s and 1980’s. Originally used to described a type of dog rather than a distinct breed, the name Cane Corso comes from the combination of two Italian words; ‘cane’ (Italian for dog), and ‘corso’ (coming from the Italian provincial term corsus meaning powerful or strong). There is documentation from as far back as 1137 A.D. that the term Cane Corso was applied to lighter varieties of Mastiff-type dog. The Cane Corso is a member of a family of breeds known as the Molossers, Molossians, Mastiffs, Dogues, or Alaunts . Although there is great variation in the family, most members are large, powerful, breeds native to Europe and the Americas, and were traditionally bred for either property protection or livestock guarding. Examples of Mastiff-type dogs include the Mastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux, Spanish Mastiff, Saint Bernard, American Bulldog, and Fila Brasileiro. There is a great deal of dispute as to the origin of these breeds, and even which breeds are true members of the family. However, more is known of the ancestry of the Cane Corso than most.
The history of the Cane Corso’s begins in the ancient state of Epirus, located in modern day Greece, Albania, and Montenegro. This area was the ancestral home of the Molossis people; an ancient Greek tribe living in the mountainous northwest region and whose shepherds were renowned for possessing a vicious breed of dog known as the Molossus. Primarily used as a hunting dog, in times of need the Molossus would also be used as a war dog during times of need. Grattius, a Roman poet of the age of Augustus wrote of the Molossus "...when serious work has come, when bravery must be shown, and the impetuous War-god calls in the utmost hazard, then you could not but admire the renowned Molossians so much." There is a tremendous amount of debate among modern scholars as to the physical characteristics of the Molossus. Most believe it was a Mastiff-type dog, but a large number also believe it was a lighter, general purpose breed similar to the American Pit Bull Terrier or Catahoula Leopard Dog. Still others believe it was a Sighthound or a sheepdog similar to the modern Illyrian Sheepdog. Whatever the breed’s appearance, it was feared throughout the Balkans for its tremendous bravery and savage nature on the battlefield. Mentioned by many early Greek authors, this breed was well-established by at least 400 B.C. Macedonians Philip II of Macedon and his more famous son Alexander the Great (Alexander III of Macedon) both used war dogs with great success on their 4th Century B.C.E. campaigns of conquest, first of Greece, then of Persia, Mesopotamia, the Levant, Egypt, and India. Many scholars believe that the breed used by both Philip and Alexander were Molossus acquired from their Epirote allies to the west. It is likely that the success of the breed while employed as a war dog for the Macedonians, led to the Molossus becoming known throughout the Balkans and Asia Minor.
The death of Alexander by mysterious illness in the palace of Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon just one month from his 33rd birthday brought with it the destruction of the empire he and his father had created. In years following his death a series of civil wars tore his empire apart and a number of fragmented Greek states rose to power. By that point, the Mediterranean maritime power once wielded exclusively by the Greeks had been lost to the Carthaginians of Northern Africa and the Romans of the Italian Peninsula. These two great powers would fight a series of wars for control of the Western World. A number of Greek states openly or surreptitiously supported the Carthaginians, largely because the Romans had conquered several Greek states in Southern Italy and Sicily such as Syracuse. This led the Romans to take military actions against the Greeks to prevent them from supporting Carthage. The result was the Macedonian Wars; a series of at least four wars fought between the Romans and the Greeks from 214 B.C. and 148 B.C. It was during the Macedonian Wars, that the Roman Army would first encounter the Molossus, immediately impressed by the breed they quickly adopted it as their own. By the end of the Macedonian and Carthaginian wars, the Romans were in control of Italy, Spain, most of North Africa, Greece, and the Near East. Their armies brought the Molossus with them to all of those lands, and all others which they conquered where it was allowed to breed with the native dogs of those regions. The Romans were so enamored with the Molossus that it remained the primary war dog of their legions until the fall of the Empire. Adapted for many other purposes besides war, the Molossus also served as a hunting dog, a livestock guardian, a property guardian, and a fighter in gladiatorial arenas. The breed was most commonly used on the Italian Peninsula, center of the Roman Empire.
With each conquered land, the Romans encountered new native breeds and crossed the Molossus with those possessing desirable attributes. One such breed was the Pugnaces Britaniae, a war dog used by the Celtic tribes of Britain. The Romans first encountered this dog when they conquered England and Wales and were greatly impressed by it. This dog was said to be massive in size and unmatched in battle against humans, other dogs, or wild animals. The Pugnaces Britaniae was imported to all parts of the Roman Empire, likely as a guardian and gladiatorial games participant. Little is known about what kind of dog the Pugnaces Britaniae actually was. While most believe it was a Mastiff-type dog, others believe it was more similar to the Irish Wolfhound. If the breed was a Mastiff, it is very likely that this breed introduced such traits as a pushed in snout, jowls, pronounced underbite, and massive size to the Molosser family. If the Pugnaces Britaniae was the ancestor of the Irish Wolfhound, it would have at least added great size and speed to the existing Molossus lines. Another breed which was almost certainly crossed with the Molossus was the Alaunt. Owned by the Alans, a people native to the Caucasus Mountains, the Alaunt was most likely a type of Owtcharka (massive livestock guardian breeds native to the Caucasus Mountains). Many Alans were driven from their homes by the Huns and would later join Germanic tribes as they invaded the Roman Empire. The Alans were most famous for their ferocious war dogs which were greatly feared across both the Eastern and Western portions of Roman Empire. It is frequently claimed that the Alaunt is the ancestor of the entire Mastiff family, but it is more likely that the family is a mixture of Molossus, Mastiff, and Alaunt blood.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Molossers continued to be found throughout Western Europe where they were used primarily as property guardians. Breeders, in their never ending quest to create bigger and better guard dogs developed massive and bulky dogs, that were incredibly fierce protectors but of little use for anything else. This process also occurred in the cities of Italy, leading to the development of the breed now known as the Neapolitan Mastiff. In Italy, however, the more ancient, multipurpose Molosser would survive where farmers in rural areas would continue to use the breed for a number of tasks. Renowned for being a ferocious hunter, the breed was perfectly suited for hunting the equally ferocious wild boar; quarry so large and large and powerful that only the strongest and most viscous dogs could successfully hunt them. Italian farmers also used this breed to round up and help them with their domestic pigs, which until the early modern area were semi-feral across most of Italy. The dog was also used as a cattle drover, driving herds of cattle to market. Placing all other accolades aside, the breed would remain of the most value to farmers for what it did best, providing protection. Mastiffs guarded the property and lives of rural Italian families, which was extremely important in a time when Italy was divided into dozens of warring states, with many invasions from foreign armies, and unpoliced border regions. Because this variety needed to work in large areas as well as perform a number of athletic tasks, physically it would remain very similar to its Molossian ancestors. A fact evidenced by Roman paintings from the 4th Century A.D. which show a breed that very closely resembles the modern Cane Corso.
Both used and spread about the globe by the Romans, after the fall of the Roman Empire, multi-purpose working Mastiffs could be found throughout the entirety of what is now Italy. They would probably remain commonplace in most of the country during the Dark and Middle Ages as well. At some point before 1137, the breed would become known as the Cane Corso. Notoriously savage and territorial, most often these dogs were kept chained by day to prevent them from attacking passersby; and if there were multiple Cane Corsos, they were chained in such a way as to prevent them from reaching and fighting with each other. Most Cane Corsos were chained to a rope and pulley system which allowed them access to everything that they were supposed to guard, yet kept the public safe by preventing them from wandering. The dogs would generally only be unchained when used as a hunter, cattle drover, or swine herder, which made them even more ferocious.
This breed also became one of the major combatants in the war against the wolf as it was one of the few breeds powerful and tough enough to successfully fight and kill wolves on a regular basis. As Northern Italy became increasingly urbanized and developed, there was considerably less need for Cane Corsos there, and by the end of the Renaissance the breed was largely restricted to Southern Italy where everyday life remained surprisingly unchanged since the fall of Rome. It was in these large rural areas that farms could be found were a large, protective, boar hunting and wolf killing dog was still viewed as a necessity. The Cane Corso would become associated with regions such as Calabria, Sicily, and Apulia (Puglia) where the breed would earn many localized names.
Technological and social changes would come very slowly to tradition rich Southern Italy, and in the same way the Cane Corso would remain a necessary part of farm life there until the late 1800’s. Eventually , however, the innovations of the Industrial Revolution and Early Modern Era would catch up to the region and the Cane Corso began to slip into obscurity as most of its jobs were lost to technology and new farming methods. Additionally over hunting, modernization and urbanization saw the majority of its former hunting prey disappear. Beloved by the rural farmer, many of them would continue to keep these dogs, especially those that were too poor to afford modern machinery (and probably by many who simply did not want to part with their much loved Cane Corsos). By the onset of World War I, the breed had become somewhat rare but was still a regular sight in the southernmost reaches of Italy. World War I would cause great problems for the Cane Corso, as a huge percentage of the region’s male population was drafted into service, greatly disrupting the farming economy of the area. With the downturn in the economy and the loss of people to champion their cause, breeding of Cane Corsos was greatly reduced and many were abandoned because their owners were either away or could not afford for their care.
Although the breed did suffer, it was spared the destruction suffered by so many other breeds as the destruction of the war barely touched the homeland of the Cane Corso. Following the war the breed would experience a brief renaissance as the economy of Southern Italy rebounded and many soldiers horrified by modern warfare wanted a return to a more normal life. Unlike the First World War, World War II would be extremely damaging to the Cane Corso. Not only were many young men drafted into Mussolini’s army, but many others joined partisan bands, especially when Hitler took unofficial control over most of the country. The region’s economy was greatly damaged, and as had been the case in World War I, Cane Corso breeding almost stopped and many dogs were abandoned. Making matters worse for the breed was that its homeland would not be spared a second time around; one of the main thrusts of Allied Advance which saw very heavy fighting, took place through the heart Southern Italy. A sizable number of these dogs were probably killed as a result of combat, especially since they devotedly defended their homes and families. With the cessation of World War II, Southern Italy would be rebuilt and continue its march into the modern era. Unfortunately, modernization brought with it a decreased need for dogs like the Cane Corso, as such the demand to save the breed was considerably less than it had been following World War I.
Tagged as obsolete, by the 1970’s, the Cane Corso was almost extinct, only surviving in those parts of Southern Italy that had been least touched by modernity. A number of dedicated farmers continued to breed and train these dogs, but most were old men who remembered the dogs of their youth and refused to let them go extinct. One such man was Giovanni Bonnetti. Mr. Bonnetti realized that without an organization of breeders and popularization of the dogs themselves, the Cane Corso would almost surely vanish. In 1973, Bonnetti learned that a prominent and influential dog lover by the name of Dr. Paolo Breber would be working in Foggia and contacted him. Bonnetti alerted Dr. Breber that the older type of Italian Mastiff (not the Neapolitan Mastiff which was already being revived) could still be found in parts of Southern Italy. Dr. Breber’s interest was peaked and he began to collect artwork and historical documentation on the breed, as well as what few specimens that could still be located. Dr. Breber began to resuscitate the breed and pictured two on the cover of ‘I Nostri Cani (Our dogs) magazine.’ These dogs would captivate a 16-year old reader and student named Stefano Gandolfini. Wanting to help save this historic breed, he contacted the Malavasi Brothers of Mantova. Professional German Shepherd Dog breeders with a great deal of experience, not only were they interested in saving this important piece of Italian heritage, but also in breeding an animal that had some of the trainability and athleticism of the German Shepherd and all of the power, intimidation, and tenaciousness of a Mastiff.
Dr. Breber realizing that he could not match the experience and contacts of the Malavasi Brothers agreed that the center of Cane Corso recovery should be Mantova. He sent a number of his dogs to the Malavasi brothers; the most important of which was ‘Dauno’, a very typical all black male. Dauno would be bred to a female named ‘Tipsi’ producing a litter which included a male ‘Basir’, and his sister ‘Babak’. Basir would become the model for the Cane Corso standard, and Babak the model for the breed’s female standard. In order to improve the breed and add genetic diversity to an ever narrowing gene pool and one that had diminished considerably over time, during the 1970’s, and possibly into the early 1980’s, Cane Corsos were bred with other Molosser breeds such as the Bullmastiff. As a result, the newly revived Cane Corso was somewhat heavier and stockier than the original breed, and more likely to have an underbite rather than a scissor bite.
By 1983, the breed had been rescued from obscurity and there were now enough Italian breeders of Cane Corsos that a breed club was formed, the Society Amatori Cane Corso (SACC); english: ‘The Cane Corso Fanciers Society’. The club would continue to promote and protect the breed, as well as work towards getting it official recognition with major kennel clubs. For many years, the club allowed the registry of dogs that had no pedigree based simply on appearance and temperament. This probably greatly benefitted the modern breed as it increased not only the quality of the breed, but also the diversity of its genetic pool. Although for centuries the Cane Corso had been primarily a farmer’s helper, the modern breed has found use mainly as a personal protection and guard dog. Due to the improper handling and training of a few individuals, the Cane Corso (as a breed) began to develop a largely unfair reputation for dangerousness and viciousness. In 1994, the Cane Corso was granted full recognition with the Italian Kennel Club, and earned full recognition with the Federation Internationale Cynologique in 1996.
The Cane Corso would first arrive in the United States in 1988 when Michael Sottile imported a litter. Sottile had been instrumental in introducing the Neapolitan Mastiff to the United States and had made many trips to Italy to meet with breeders and acquire more breeding stock. Sottile had long heard rumors of another Italian Molosser, which was more lithe and athletic than his beloved Neapolitan Mastiff although he had never seen one. A problem that was fixed when he encountered his first Cane Corso on the side of the road while in Sicily for a wedding; instantly hooked, he contacted the SACC and also began visiting prominent breeders in order to acquire his own. Sottile would import several dogs, including a second litter in 1989 which had the same parents as his previous litter. Sottile created an American standard for the Cane Corso, while at the same time becoming the first official US delegate to the SACC.
Largely inspired by Sottile, other American breeders began to take an interest in the Cane Corso; the most prominent of which were Ed and Kris Hodas and Mark and Tracy Wilson. The Hodas’s and the Wilsons made a number of their own trips to Italy to make connections and import new breeding stock. Mark Wilson would become the second official US delegate to the SACC. In 1993, the Wilsons and Hodas’s were instrumental in the formation of the International Cane Corso Federation (ICCF), designed to protect and promote the Cane Corso, primarily in the United States. Eventually, the Wilsons would lessen their participation with both the breed and the club, leaving the Hodas’s in charge of not only the club, but the breed registry as well. These two items would later split leaving the registry in the hands of the Hodas and the club being run in a manner more like a typical American Kennel Club (AKC) club. Although there was a brief period of disagreement in the mid-1990’s over the standard , the ICCF and the new Italian parent club have maintained a strong partnership; one that has benefited the Cane Corso and its fanciers in both countries. Like many growing and developing breed clubs, the ICCF would see its share of changes and evolve into the Cane Corso Association of America (CCAA).
Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, the Cane Corso would continue to gain popularity in the United States. In America, the breed would primarily become known as a guard dog and personal protection animal. Unfortunately, the negative reputation that the breed earned in Italy did carry over to the United States and was made worse by improper training and handling in that country as well. As a result, the Cane Corso found itself being targeted for banning in certain parts of the United States, alongside such breeds as the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Bulldog, Perro de Presa Canario, Rottweiler, and Dogo Argentino. Many of the locations which banned the Cane Corso did so preemptively and almost exclusively on appearance and reputation, and some had never had a Cane Corso present there. Many insurance agencies will not offer coverage to Cane Corso owners and many neighborhoods and home owners associations restrict their ownership as well. However, many people were attracted to the Cane Corso for the same reasons that others feared it and breed numbers continued to grow. The Cane Corso is seen as one of the most ideal breeds for personal and property protection because it is considerably more trainable and biddable than most Mastiff-type dogs, but still has their great size and immense strength. In 2008, the United Kennel Club (UKC), a registry devoted primarily to working dogs, granted full recognition to the Cane Corso under the name Cane Corso Italiano in its Guardian Dog group. The AKC followed suit in 2010, placing the breed in the Working Group.
Unlike many modern day breeds, a substantial percentage of modern day Cane Corsos are still working dogs. Although seldom used as a boar hunter or working farm dog, a very high percentage of Cane Corsos remain in use as property and personal protection animals. Many Cane Corsos are primarily protection animals, while many others are both companion/protection animals. More recently, a number of fanciers are keeping Cane Corsos as show dogs and companion animals. This breed can adapt quite well to life as a companion animal, but only if its owners are dedicated to proper training and exercise. The Cane Corso remains a relatively rare breed in the United States, but its numbers are growing rapidly. In 2010, the Cane Corso ranked 51st out of 167 total AKC breeds, but that number is highly deceiving. Normally, AKC registrations only represent the number of puppies born and registered or possibly imported dogs which were initially recognized by a foreign kennel club. The 2010 numbers represent all of the Cane Corsos of any age which suddenly became eligible for registry as a result of the newfound breed recognition. The actual ranking of the breed will likely be significantly lower in 2011. Although somewhat less popular than its AKC registration ranking may indicate, the Cane Corso is now quite well-established in the United States and is likely secure for the near future.
The Cane Corso is generally similar to other Mastiff-type dogs, but is somewhat more lightly built and athletic. The breed also has a longer snout than is common among similar breeds. The Cane Corso is a very large breed. Females typically stand between 23½ and 25 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 85 and 100 pounds. The larger males typically stand between 25 and 27 inches tall at the shoulder and weight between 100 and 115 pounds. This breed is very powerful and muscular, but it not as thickly boned or stockily built as most other Mastiffs. The Cane Corso should look powerful enough to take down any intruder but also lithe enough to be an energetic hunting dog. The Cane Corso is slightly rectangular in proportion, and is roughly 10% longer than it is tall. The tail of a Cane Corso is traditionally docked to the fourth vertebrae, leaving a very short tail. However, this practice is falling out of favor and is actually banned in some countries. The natural tail of a Cane Corso is very thick, medium-in length, and typically carried straight out from the body.
The head and face of the Cane Corso have tremendous power and should appear as such. Sitting on a thick neck, the head of a Cane Corso is large for the size of the body, but not excessively so. The thick head is at least as wide as it is long. The muzzle is quite distinct from the head, although not quite to the extent of some Mastiffs. The muzzle itself is long for a Mastiff but short for a dog. The muzzle is very wide and appears almost square. The lips of this breed are pendulous, forming jowls of wrinkly skin than hang down below the jaw. This characteristic is less exaggerated on the Cane Corso than most similar breeds and the breed almost looks smooth faced compared to some family members. At one point, most Cane Corsos had a scissors bite and some are occasionally still born with this feature. However, most modern breed members have a slight underbite. The eyes of a Cane Corso are medium-sized and face straight forward. The ears of this breed are traditionally cropped into a very short triangle, almost making it look as though the dog has no ears at all. In America, some owners choose to prick the ears up artificially instead. As with tail docking, these practices are now becoming disfavored. The natural ears of a Cane Corso are small and hang down close to the sides of the head. The overall expression of a Cane Corso is keen, attentive, and expresses the dog’s great power.
The Cane Corso is a double coated breed, meaning that it has a short, soft undercoat and a harsher outer coat. The outer coat itself is relatively short, very dense, and shiny. The Cane Corso comes in a number of colors: solid black, solid grey of any shade, solid fawn of any shade, solid stag red, and brindle of any of the other acceptable colors. Brindle is a name for a coat pattern which occurs when a dog appears to have darker stripes like a tiger or zebra, although not quite as distinct. Fawn, stag red, and brindle dogs often have a black or grey muzzle. The black or grey should not extend beyond the line of the eyes. Some such dogs also have black ears, but this may or may not be allowable depending on which standard is used. Many Cane Corsos have small white patches on the chest, toes, and bridge of the muzzle. The smaller the patches are the more desirable.
The Cane Corso is similar to most other guardian breeds in terms of temperament, but is regarded as being more trainable and less stubborn than most. This breed is known for its intense loyalty. Cane Corsos become completely devoted to their families, and would lay their lives down for them without hesitation. When Cane Corsos are raised in a family environment, they tend to form equal attachments with all family members. A breed member raised by an individual will probably become a one person dog. The Cane Corso does have an independent nature and is quite willing to spend a significant amount of time on its own, especially if that time is outside in a temperate climate. The average Cane Corso likes to be in the presence of its family, but does not necessarily want to be on top of them. However, this breed will develop behavioral issues if it is left alone for too long, just as any dog will.
When properly trained and socialized, a Cane Corso should become tolerant of strangers, but quite aloof. The breed should largely ignore the approach of strangers, especially when they are in the company of its master. However, training and socialization are absolutely imperative for this breed. Cane Corsos and their ancestors have been bred as guard and war dogs for thousands of years. While by no means is the Cane Corso inherently vicious, they do have an aggressive nature and many breed members become human aggressive. Cane Corsos are regarded by many dog breeders and trainers as some of the best guard dogs on Earth. This breed not only has a highly protective nature, both of its family and its territory, but also the power and willingness to defeat any foe without a firearm. Most potential intruders would not have the willingness to challenge a Cane Corso, as this breed can be incredibly intimidating. Cane Corsos who have been raised with children are generally accepting of those children and get along well with them. However, this breed may misinterpret children playing roughly with each other as an attack on its children, causing problems. The Cane Corso has an incredibly high tolerance for pain and is able to withstand the rough play of children. Most breed members do have a certain point where they will not tolerate any more though.
One aspect of the Cane Corso’s nature with people must be highlighted. The Cane Corso is an incredibly dominant breed. The average breed member will regularly challenge for a position of authority in the family, and will take any subtle means to get it. It is of absolute importance that every member of the family maintains a position of dominance over the Cane Corso at all times. Otherwise, a Cane Corso will take charge, and this breed can become quite bossy. Cane Corsos who no longer respect their owners can become a serious liability. For this and other reasons, it is highly inadvisable that a first time dog owner acquire a Cane Corso.
The Cane Corso is generally intolerant of other animals. With a great deal of work, most Cane Corsos will tolerate other dogs to the point where they will not go out of their way to attack them and can be safely walked on a leash. However, most breed members have a substantial amount of dog aggression and do not particularly enjoy the company of other canines. Cane Corsos are generally intolerant of dogs of the same sex. This is true of all Cane Corsos but especially intact males. This breed will not tolerate another dog attempting to take a position of dominance over it, nor will it accept another dog entering its territory. This breed also has possessiveness issues. All of these behavioral problems are greatly magnified by the size and power of a Cane Corso. This breed can seriously injure or kill almost any other dog with little or no effort and is so pain tolerant that any efforts at fighting back are likely to be in vain. Although generally intolerant of other dogs, the Cane Corso may be even less tolerant of other animals. Bred as a hunter of the most ferocious and dangerous prey found in Europe, the Cane Corso has an incredibly high prey drive. Expect this breed to chase after almost any creature regardless of size. If left alone in a yard a Cane Corso will almost certainly bring its owners dead animals, often of a surprisingly large size. As is the case with all breeds, a Cane Corso can be socialized to accept other pets such as cats. Always remember that the Cane Corso is a definite cat killer and will likely pursue and even attack individual cats with which it is not familiar.
Unlike most Mastiffs which are stubborn and very difficult to train, the Cane Corso tends to be relatively willing and biddable. This breed is known for being highly intelligent and learns commands very quickly. Cane Corsos can be adapted for many different types of work, primarily hunting and police work but also such competitions as schutzhund. Cane Corsos fare much better than most similar breeds in agility and obedience trials. Many professional trainers of guard dogs think very highly of the breed’s abilities. However, the Cane Corso is far from the easiest breed to train. This dog is willing to please, but absolutely does not live to. This breed responds for two reasons, there is something in it for them or they have to in deference to their master. This means that reward based methods work much better for Cane Corsos than any others, and that owners must be firmly in control at all times. A Cane Corso will not obey or even listen to anyone lower than itself on the social totem pole. An owner who knows what they are doing, can have a Cane Corso that is much better trained than the average guardian dog. An owner who does not will likely have an out of control and dangerous dog.
Unlike most Mastiffs, the Cane Corso is very energetic and has a high exercise requirement. This breed needs a substantial amount of vigorous physical exercise every day. At the very least, a Cane Corso needs a very long walk but a long jog is highly preferable. The Cane Corso definitely enjoys time to run around in an enclosed area, but greatly prefers to do so in its own yard. Cane Corso owners should probably avoid dog parks due to the breed’s aggression issues. Cane Corsos which are not given an outlet for their energy are very likely to develop behavioral issues, some of which may become quite serious. This breed is prone to becoming destructive, vocal, and aggressive. Many potential owners see the activity level of the Cane Corso as a positive. It allows them to have a dog that is not only an excellent guardian but an excellent jogging or hiking companion as well. Although not always the case, many Cane Corsos enjoy spending time in the water, especially if it is muddy.
The Cane Corso tends to be territorial and does not have a strong desire to wander. This means that the Cane Corso is less likely to escape than many other breeds. However, any enclosure which contains one must be very secure. This breed is intelligent and powerful enough to break out if it so desires. There are two primary reasons a Cane Corso would want to leave its home: to chase after something it sees as prey or to drive a potential intruder farther away from its territory. Neither of these reasons is likely to have a good result.
If you are looking for a dainty dog, look elsewhere. The Cane Corso likes to dig, play in the mud, and get dirty. This breed also tends to drool and pass gas, albeit to a lesser extent than most Mastiffs. Most breed members are very messy eaters and even messier drinkers. If you or a family member are particularly sensitive to such things or easily embarrassed, the Cane Corso is certainly not an ideal fit.
The Cane Corso has a relatively low grooming requirement. This breed requires nothing more than an occasional brushing. Most breed members are comparatively light shedders, who will leave some hair on furniture, clothing, and carpets but not an excessive amount. This shedding is somewhat worse twice a year when the seasons change although not substantially. Owners are highly advised to start all necessary dog maintenance (bathing, teeth brushing, nail clipping, and the like) from a very early age and to introduce each one in a careful manner. It is much easier to get a curious 30 pound puppy used to a bath than a terrified or angry 120 pound adult.
The Cane Corso is regarded as being one of the healthiest, if not the healthiest, of the giant breeds. This dog was bred almost exclusively for working ability for many centuries, and any genetic defects would not have been tolerated. Although the breed suffered from near extinction, it had a sizable gene pool before that and the addition of many cross breeds and other breeds in the restoration efforts only increased them. The Cane Corso also has significantly less exaggerated features than is common among most other giant breeds. None of this means that the Cane Corso is immune from genetic problems; it just means that the breed suffers from fewer problems and at lower rates than most purebred dogs, especially those of similar size. The average life expectancy for the Cane Corso is between 10 and 11 years, which on the long end of average for dogs of similar size. With proper care and nutrition, the Cane Corso can live for several years longer.
The most serious health problem that Cane Corso owners must be aware of is gastric torsion, more commonly known as bloat. Bloat is common among almost all very large dog breeds, especially those with a deep chest. Bloat is caused when the stomach flips around inside of the dog. This causes a number of internal problems, most of which are fatal. Without immediate surgery (and sometimes with it), bloat is almost always fatal. Although not all cases of bloat are preventable, steps can be taken to dramatically decrease its likelihood. As one of the most common causes of bloat is a dog exercising too vigorously after a meal, it is recommended that owners of Cane Corsos prevent their dogs from exercising immediately following a meal and that they feed their dogs three or four times a day instead of once or twice.
A list of health concerns which Cane Corso owners must be aware would have to include: