Often referred to as the cane corso Italiano, the cane corso is a large, muscular dog native to Italy. This powerful dog has a short, thick coat that is waterproof and comes in black, grey, fawn, red, brindle and additional variations that may include a black mask on the face. The dog lives an average of 10 years, but some have been known to live longer. Males weigh between 100 and 110 pounds and are 24 to 27 inches tall. Females are slightly smaller at weights of 85 to 100 pounds and 23 to 25 inches in height.
The cane corso is one of two dogs descended from the canis pugnax, the Roman war dog (the other is the Neapolitan mastiff). Cane corsos were used as farm workers, hunters and guard dogs. Paintings depicting these dogs hunting wild boar and taking down bulls date back centuries.
The dogs’ farm capabilities were versatile. Besides guarding, they were used to locate sows (pigs) hiding in the brush after giving birth. A dog would subdue the sow until the farmer came to retrieve it and the piglets for return to the farmhouse. They also protected people and animals from wild boar and were said to be able to incapacitate a bull with a tight grip on the bull’s ear or nose. They also hunted badgers in Southern Italy and porcupines in Sicily.
After the wars, the role of the cane corso diminished, and the dogs nearly went extinct in the 1970s. The breed was revived and later exported to the United States in 1988. The American Kennel Club (AKC) awarded the breed full recognition in 2010.
The cane corso is a companion pet, watchdog and hunter. The breed also appears in conformation, obedience, hunting, agility, tracking and field trials.
This large dog breed is powerful, intelligent and easily trained. The dogs are affectionate with their owners and family, and they prefer to stick to them closely. Cane corsos can be aggressive with strangers and other animals if not properly socialized. They are also said to be nearly oblivious to pain and cannot be deterred by electrical containment fences or systems. The breed is a natural guardian and will seek to protect its human family.
This video shows a cane corso being walked and following commands from a younger member of the family:
Cane corsos need plenty of daily exercise. A daily jog or two long walks are recommended. They can do okay in apartments if their exercise needs are met.
The coat is short and shedding is minimal. A weekly brushing to remove dead fur is sufficient. Trim the nails regularly, keep the teeth brushed, and clean the ears.
Common Health Problems
As with any large dog breed, cane corsos are susceptible to bloat. They are also prone to hip dysplasia and eyelid abnormalities (some of which may require surgical attention). Other than these issues, they are generally healthy dogs.
Is the Cane Corso the Right Dog for You?
If you’re looking for a lap dog or lazy daisy, this isn’t the dog for you. Cane corsos are large, powerful dogs that are protective of their families. They need to be exercised daily and require training and socialization to decrease the possibility of aggression. They are loyal and affectionate with their families and children but can be wary of strangers. As with most large dogs, expect to go through plenty of dog food. This breed does fine in an apartment only if the exercise needs are met. If these attributes are ideal for you, the cane corso would be a great choice.
Adopt, Don’t Buy
If you consider getting a cane corso for your next pet, check rescues and adoption resources first. Try Pets Adviser’s adoptable pet search.
Cane corsos may be difficult to find through adoption resources. Also check with rescue groups and breeders. If you do choose to go to a breeder, make sure the breeder is reputable and doesn’t exhibit any of the puppy mill red flags.
- Cane Corso Club of America
- Cane Corso Club of Canada
- Society in America for Cane Corso Italiano (SACCI)
- Cane Corso Club of Italy (Italian)