Cane Corso

The Cane Corso (plural: Cani Corsi) is a large and solid Italian breed, highly prized in his native country for his ability as a guard dog, hunter, and companion. He also is variously known as the Italian Mastiff, Cane Corso Italiano, Cane Corso Mastiff, Italian Corso Dog, and Italian Molosso. He is a large dog whose size and sometimes severe facial expression can be intimidating to people not familiar with the breed.

Cane Corso image

Fun fact: The word “corso” means guardian or protector in Italian.



History

Cani Corsi have kept a low profile for centuries. Throughout their history, they tended to belong to far-flung rural or wealthy owners, who appreciated the dogs’ hunting and guarding abilities. As a hunter, the Cane Corso is a catch dog, meaning he can immobilize prey with only his strength and his powerful jaws and teeth.  

The Cane Corso is related to the Neopolitan Mastiff, as both dogs are descendants of the original Italian Molosser.

In the recent past, the Cane Corso was a common site all over Italy. But by the 20th century, fewer people were farming, and the dog’s numbers dwindled, although many Cani Corsi help their people guard property, livestock, and families to this day.  

When the population of the Cane Corso began to dwindle in the 1960s and 1970s, a group of Italian aficionados set about restoring them. By 1994, population had risen and the breed was fully accepted by the Italian Kennel Club (ENCI) as the 14th Italian breed of dog. The FCI provisionally accepted the Corso in 1997, and ten years later he was fully recognized internationally.

A decade later, a man named Michael Sottile imported the first litter of Corsos to the United States. The next year, 1989, brought a second litter.  In 1993, The International Cane Corso Association was born. This breed club eventually sought recognition from the American Kennel Club, which was granted in 2010. The Cane Corso Association of America now governs the breed. The popularity of the breed is growing as fast as a Corso puppy; in 2013 he ranked in 50th place in the United States in 2013, a 10-point jump from 60th place in 2012.


Size

Make no mistake, this is a large dog. Male Corsi can stand as high as 28 inches, with 24 to 28 inches being the accepted standard. Males typically weigh 95 to 110 pounds. Females, again, are slightly smaller, at 23 to 26 inches high and weighing between 85 and 100 pounds.

The usual coat colors of the Cane Corso are black and fawn, but they can also appear in blue (gray), and frumentino or formentino (from fawn, where the mask is blue/grey) colours. Brindling can happen in all colors, as can the small white flashes of white markings common on the chest, tips of toes, the chin, and the bridge of the nose.


Personality

Your Cane Corso puppy is likely to grow to nearly three feet and weigh up to or more than 100 pounds by the time he’s one year old. You only have so much time to get your Corso trained and socialized while he’s small, which is an absolute necessity if he is going to be a family dog.

Experts advise that only experienced dog owners adopt or acquire a Cane Corso; the breed requires a firm hand in discipline and is definitely not a “starter dog.” In training, you must remember that the dog’s personality can be possessive, territorial, dominant, protective, and wary of strangers. Your dog is only following his instincts, and your job, over time, is to help your dog put those traits on the back burner and learn some new behavior. Once trained, the Cane Corso will bond to his family, protect and love the children (although they are not recommended for homes with children under 4) and just generally serve as a companion and watchdog for the family.) The trainer must be committed to carrying the learned discipline into the home, as the dog will slip up and require a command to correct him. If participating in this training regimen sounds daunting to you, you might consider a professional trainer, who will work with your dog first and then train you to properly handle him.

Corsi do require exercise, but not to the level of some shepherds and terriers. Your Corso will be happy with a daily walk/run or a yard to play in. They can even live in apartments, if the owner can commit to the daily exercise.


Health

Cani Corsi generally tend to live 10 to 14 years. Some conditions they may be prone to include allergies; gastric dilation and bloat; heart conditions; epilepsy; ecotropion ( a condition in which the eyelid is turned outward away from the eyeball); entropion (a genetic condition in which a portion of the eyelid is inverted or folded inward, again causing pain to the dog); and finally, elbow and hip dysplasia.


Care

Cani Corsi generally tend to live 10 to 14 years. Some conditions they may be prone to include allergies; gastric dilation and bloat; heart conditions; epilepsy; ecotropion ( a condition in which the eyelid is turned outward away from the eyeball); entropion (a genetic condition in which a portion of the eyelid is inverted or folded inward, again causing pain to the dog); and finally, elbow and hip dysplasia.


Rescue

If you’re considering rescuing a Cane Corso, the website www.canecorsorescue.org is a great place to start. They even offer to meet you halfway if you live some distance from the dog’s location.


Pictures