The Cane Corso is a giant dog breed who enjoys having a purpose. Although they aren't a good choice for beginner dog owners, this breed can make a loving, loyal companion.
Origin and History
The Cane Corso is an Italian breed, and is descended from dogs who inhabited Ancient Rome. The breed dwindled as farming became more industrialized in Italy, and was on the verge of extinction, but dog enthusiasts began working to revive the Corso in the 1970s. The Federation Cynologique Internationale recognized the breed in 1996.
In 1988, a man named Michael Sottile brought the first litter of Corsi to America, followed by another litter in 1989. In 1993, the International Cane Corso Association Registry was founded. The American Kennel Club eventually granted the breed recognition in 2010. The Cane Corso Association of America is the official breed club in the United States and now oversees the breed.
The Cane Corso is possibly descended from mastiff-type dogs. Although commonly kept as a companion or guard dog, they can also be found on farms to guard livestock.
The muzzle should be flat and rectangular, with a flat forehead. The Corsi muzzle is also often wide, measuring nearly a third of the length of the skull. The almond-shaped eyes are set just above the muzzle's line. The width of the skull should be equal to its length, with a small curvature. The Cane Corso's ears may be cropped or uncropped.
The Cane Corso is a robust, large dog. Males stand between 25 and 27.5 inches tall at the withers, while females range between 23.5 and 26 inches tall. Weight is proportional to height, and most weigh between 90 and 120 pounds.
The coat of the Cane Corso is short and rigid, with a little undercoat. It comes in a variety of colors, including black, gray, red, and fawn, and may have a brindle pattern.
The Cane Corso is not a breed for beginners. They are appropriate for someone who is serious about having a dog as a lifelong companion and who can provide them with the firm and caring instruction they require to develop into a well-rounded dog.
The Cane Corso has a dominant disposition and is inherently strong-willed. Those qualities are what distinguish them as powerful protectors of both their family and their home. However, an owner who is unable to establish their place as pack leader and regulate this behavior may find the breed's natural tendency to take command a bit overwhelming.
While the Cane Corso is devoted and loving with their family, even children, they will want to establish dominance. Anyone considering this breed should be confident in their ability to set boundaries because this dog will undoubtedly test them.
Begin training your Cane Corso puppy as soon as you get them home. It is important to start training while these dogs are still puppies, as their size is still fairly manageable at this stage. If a Cane Corso reaches adulthood without proper training, their size makes working with them exceptionally difficult.
Cani Corsi require early socialization and exposure to a variety of people, sights, noises, and experiences, ideally starting when they are young puppies. Socialization ensures that your Cane Corso puppy develops into a well-rounded adult dog who is not fearful of people, children, other animals, or being left alone. Since this breed is particularly prone to be wary of strangers, provide as much socialization as possible. Make sure these experiences are both frequent and positive.
Keep in mind, regardless of how much socialization this breed gets, it's rare for them to become accustomed to strangers in their territory.
The Cane Corso needs moderate activity, but does require a task or job to perform. Exercise can range from walking with you on a leash to regular training activities. Expect them to walk or jog at least a mile per day, plus 20 minutes of the training session. They aren't a breed that is content lying around the house.
Corsi are generally healthy dogs, but they, like all breeds, are susceptible to some health issues:
- Canine hip dysplasia: This is a painful joint and skeletal disorder that tends to affect larger active dogs.
- Gastric torsion: Also known as bloat, this disease affects deep-chested dogs and can be fatal if not treated right away.
- Cataracts: An eye condition that generally affects senior dogs and can damage their vision.
- Entropion: A condition where the eyelid develops incorrectly, which can lead to irritation and blindness.
Cani Corsi have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years, which is equivalent to that of most large breeds.
The Cane Corso has a smooth, short coat but is still known to shed moderately. Expect to brush them at least once a week to get rid of dead hair and maintain the condition of their skin and coat. Clean their ears and trim their nails as needed, and bathe them when they become dirty.
Fun Facts About the Breed
The Cane Corso is a giant breed with some interesting tidbits to share:
- The name "Cane Corso" roughly translates to "guardian dog" or "guard dog."
- They once fought lions in gladiator games.
- Ancestors of the breed can be found in paintings from the Italian Renaissance era.
Purchasing or Adopting a Cane Corso
Ask if a puppy's parents have Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) hip evaluations from the University of Pennsylvania (PennHIP), as well as eye clearances from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Do not buy a puppy from a breeder who cannot give you documented proof that the parents have been cleared of any breed-related health issues.
That being said, if you're looking for a Cane Corso puppy, a good place to start is the Cane Corso Association of America's breeder directory. The club also offers helpful tips on how to find responsible breeders with quality dogs. The AKC PuppyFinder page also has a breeder search. Expect to pay around $1,000 to $4,000, although higher-end show dogs from champion lines can cost as much as $9,000.
Because this breed is often adopted without full knowledge of their care requirements, you may find them in shelter organizations. You can search for Cane Corso dogs in shelters through the directories on Save-a-Rescue and Petfinder. You can also take a look at the following breed-specific organizations:
- Cane Corso Rescue, Inc.: A national Cane Corso rescue dedicated to rescuing and re-homing Cane Corso dogs into their forever homes.
- Must Love Corsos Rescue: A nonprofit Cane Corso rescue organization with more than 97 years of experience among its volunteers.
- Red Rock Canyon: A Cane Corso rescue that accepts ongoing rescues and locates loving forever homes.
Is this the Breed for You?
The Cane Corso is not the right breed for everyone. They require a serious dog owner who has a significant amount of time to spend training and building a relationship. Their owner should also feel comfortable being firm, patient, kind, and consistent in their training methods. If you're searching for a large protector who will be your best friend and don't mind a dog with a stubborn streak, this could be exactly the breed you're searching for. Do your research and take a look around before bringing a puppy home. Remember, this is a lifetime responsibility.