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Cane Corso

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 Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is large to giant purebred from Italy also known as the Italian Mastiff or Cane Di Macellaio. Its name translates to guard dog, which is what it was bred for as well as for hunting large game. Today it is still used in such roles and does well in activities like schutzhund, obedience, police work, tracking, agility, carting, weight pulling and search and rescue.

Here is the Cane Corso at a Glance
Name Cane Corso
Other Names Cane Di Macellaio, Italian Mastiff, Sicilian Branchiero
Nicknames Cane Corz, Corso
Origin Italy
Average size Large to giant
Average weight 85 to 115 pounds
Average height 23 to 28 inches
Life span 10 to 12 years – shorter than most breeds of their size
Coat type Water-Repellent, dense, short
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black, brindle, brown, gray, and red
Popularity Quite popular – ranked 35th by the AKC
Intelligence Excellent – very clever dog
Tolerance to heat Very good – can handle fairly hot climates
Tolerance to cold Good – can handle somewhat cold temperatures
Shedding Moderate – sheds an average amount
Drooling Above average – but not as much as other mastiffs
Obesity High – monitor its food and exercise
Grooming/brushing Easy to brush but do daily to keep up with loose hair
Barking Rare
Exercise needs Very active – will need a lot of physical activity each day
Trainability Fairly easy to train for experienced owners
Friendliness Good – socialization is needed
Good first dog Low – best with experienced owners
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Moderate – socialization is essential
Good with other dogs Good but socialization still needed
Good with other pets Moderate – socialization is essential, has a high prey drive
Good with strangers Moderate – not very approachable, wary around strangers
Good apartment dog Low – size and level of activity means this is not an apartment dog
Handles alone time well Low – can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for too long
Health issues Generally healthy but some issues include hip dysplasia, eye problems and bloat
Medical expenses $485 a year including pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for good dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for toys, license, training and other miscellaneous costs
Average annual expense $1000 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1750
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 24 Maimings: 15 Child Victims: 6 Deaths: 2

The Cane Corso's Beginnings

The Cane Corso's ancestors can be traced back to the Roman dogs of war the Canix Pugnax. It was bred for three purposes, to guard cattle, families and property, to hunt larger prey like wild boar and to be a companion. It is not as heavily built as the Neapolitan Mastiff and was used mainly on farms. There was a time when Cane Corso could be found all over Italy but as rural life changed and farming became more about machines so the Corso became more rare.

New Lease on Life

Numbers of Cane Corso in Southern Italy had dropped a lot by the 20th century. Thankfully a group of people who loved the breed saw the issue and in the late 1970s began to take measures to save it from extinction. In 1983 the Society of Amatori Cane Corso was created and in 1994 it was provincially accepted by the Italian Kennel Club and then recognized 3 years later.

In the US Michael Sottile imported a litter in 1988 and then another in 1989. The AKC recognized the Cane Corso as a breed in 2010. Its popularity has grown and it is currently ranked 35th by them with the breed standards there falling under the governance of the Cane Corso Association of America.

The Dog You See Today

The Corso is a large to giant sized dog weighing 85 to 115 pounds and standing 23 to 28 inches tall. It is muscled but not as bulky or large as most other Mastiffs and should be a good balance of agility and power. For the most part it is tight skinned and the coat is short, tense, water-repellent and colors include grey, black, red, brown and brindle. Small white markings can appear but in show dogs large patches of white are not wanted.

Its head is large with a flat forehead, rectangular, wide and flat muzzle and almond shaped eyes. Ears are cropped in countries where it is allowed and erect. However in countries where that is now banned they hang against the head to around eye level. Its tail is again docked where it is allowed or left full where it is not. It is meant to be erect but should not go over their backs.

The Inner Cane Corso


This is not a dog for new owners, it has a strong personality and can be very willful so needs a strong owner who can remain in charge. It is quiet and brave and quite intelligent. It tends to be wary of strangers and is alert making it a good watchdog. It has a protective side and its background as a guard dog means it will act to defend you and its territory if there is a threat.

Generally it is a cheerful dog and it likes to have a lot of interaction with you. It does not like being left alone for long periods and it can suffer from separation anxiety. If it becomes bored from lack of attention, stimulation or physical activity it can act out and have destructive behavior. Indoors it tends to be calm but it does need a lot of outdoor time too.


A well raised Corso is not aggressive. It is confident, serious and calm unless it perceives a reason not to be. It has more energy than other Mastiffs but also trains easier though it can be obstinate. Expect some drooling, some snoring, grunting and gas! In the right home it is affectionate, docile and a good family dog. In the wrong home it can be aggressive and hard to control.

What will training look like?

The Cane Corso is fairly easy to train as long as positive methods are used by an experienced and firm owner. It will listen to commands and in some cases may even need less repetition than some other dogs. Early training and early socialization is essential for this dog. Without it there can be aggression and control issues. It will not respond to scolding or negative tones. Use praise, treats and so on to get results.

In fact while this is a dominant dog that requires constant firm leadership it is one of the easier mastiffs to train. It will test you now and then and you need to be consistent in how you respond. Socialization will help it respond better to children, other dogs and pets and strangers. One well socialized can recognize the difference between a stranger and someone acting suspiciously. One not well socialized can be overly suspicious of everyone, fearful and may lead to problems with defensive biting.

How active is the Cane Corso?

Being an active dog the Cane Corso needs owners who are active too so that it is sure to get all the exercise it needs because its owners are going out to run or walk anyway! It is not suited to apartment living, while it is calm indoors it is still a big dog and it really should have access to some kind of yard. Expect to take it out for at least a mile each twice a day at a brisk pace.

As mentioned it can join you for hiking, jogging or cycling as it is athletic and had a high energy level. It also loves an adventure! Make sure it is always leashed unless it is in a secure area. Going to a dog park is a great place to let it run free and socialize but make sure you can control it and that it is ready. Also make sure you give it mental stimulation. The training and socialization can take that role but if you opt to only take it through basic obedience training then you will need to find another way to keep its clever mind engaged.

When it is younger make sure the exercise is not too stressful for its growing joints and bones. Up to the age of 18 months a Corso puppy still needs activity but it needs to be less brisk and shorter amounts.

Caring for the Cane Corso

Grooming needs

In terms of how easy the coat is to brush this should not be a problem. But it does shed a moderate amount which increases to heavy shedding twice a year so you will need to brush daily and vacuum daily to keep up with the loose hair. The brushing will also move its oils around its coat, clean it of debris and make it fell softer.

Bathing can be interesting since it is a large dog! Get it used to it early on so that you can command it in and out of the bath. If you do not have the room take it to a bathing station at a groomers. Only bathe though when really needed, too frequently is not good for its skin.

The teeth should be brushed at least three times a week using a dog toothpaste and brush. It will also need its ears checked for infection once a week and wiped clean. If it does not wear down its nails naturally these will need to be clipped when they are getting too long. Dog nails need to be dealt with carefully as cutting too far down will hurt the dog and cause bleeding. Have a professional groomer or even your vet take care of it or show you how if you are not experienced.


Feeding Time

As with any dog you will need to adjust how much you feed yours depending on its size, metabolism, health, age and activity level. Usually a Corso will eat about 4 to 5 cups of good quality dog food a day. To prevent problems with bloat that should be divided into at least two meals.

How they get on with children and other animals

Socialization and training are very important with a Corso. Without good socialization it could be a risk to children, other dogs, other pets and even other people. It helps when it grows up with them and usually it is more aggressive with dogs of the same sex. Its strong hunting instincts means it does like to chase strange cats and other small animals.

However with the right owners who dedicate time to its socialization it can be loving and protective of children, gentle and playful too. Children need to be taught to avoid high pitched squeals though so that it does not view them as prey. Therefore young children need to be supervised.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Cane Corso have a shorter life span than most dogs of its size at just 10 to 12 years. It is generally quite healthy but there are some conditions it is more prone to. They include joint dysplasia, eye problems, demodectic mange and bloat. It also is somewhat prone to obesity making the monitoring of food and exercise also important.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of dog attacks against people over the last 34 years in both the US and Canada, the Corso has been involved in at least 24 incidents that did bodily harm. 15 of those attacks were maimings meaning the victim was left disfigured, lost a limb or has permanent scarring. 2 of those incidents led to death. At least 6 victims were children. This averages at between 1 or 2 attacks a year. While this is not the highest amount of attacks for a dog breed by a long way, it is still clear the Corso has aggression problems if not well bred or raised. For that reason it is essential you look for a good breeder, and make sure you are clear on what type of dog this is, what its needs are and that you can fully meet them.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

On average a puppy of pet quality from a good breeder is going to cost about $1750. That can go up though for some breeders and if you are looking for a Corso to show that can go into the several thousands. While it may be less expensive from somewhere like a back yard breeder or from ads some people place it would be wise to avoid these dogs. You have no guarantees on health, temperament or whether it is from a stable line or not. Rescues and shelters offer a great opportunity to get a Corso if you can find one for less, but most have adults to be re-homed not puppies.

When buying from good breeders some initial tests and medical concerns will have been taken care of. However it is possible you will have to take care of them. It will need a physical exam, some blood tests done, shots, deworming, micro chipping and spaying or neutering. These will cost around $300. Other needs will include bowls, collar and leash and crate for about $200.


A big dog takes a lot of feeding so this is going to be an obvious annual cost. As well as using good quality dry dog food as it is far more nutritious for it there will be dog treats too. Depending on how expensive you want to go can greatly impact on this cost. A starting figure of $270 should be expected.

Medical care is another annual cost you need to be able to meet. For basic needs like vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, pet insurance and check ups this comes to a starting figure of $485.

There are also other costs to consider. Licensing, toys, basic training and other miscellaneous costs that may come up over the year. This comes to $245 a year at least. This gives us an annual starting figure of $1000.


Looking for a Cane Corso Puppy Name? Let select one from our list!

The Cane Corso has a lot of positive qualities about it providing it is from a good line and is raised well. It is a large dog though and that weight will often want to park itself against your leg or on your feet! If you are not experienced this is not the dog for you. It does have a strong will and there is the potential for aggression.

You also need to be prepared for what comes with a large dog. The gas, some slobber, the noises along with ill will to certain types of large dogs amongst the public. As an owner you need to be ready for this and serious about being a good, firm and loving owner. In return it will be completely loyal, protective and loving.

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