The Cane Corso or the Italian Corso Dog is a mastiff-type breed that hailed from Italy. It is a large breed with a very muscular body and a swift runner. It was used as a watchdog, guardian of property, and to hunt wild boar. It is larger than the Italian Molosser but less bulky than other Mastiff-type dogs like its cousin, the Neopolitan Mastiff. The large and imposing head of the Cane Corso is the breed’s most recognizable feature. It has a fairly flat forehead that converges to the short square muzzle. The upper lips hang moderately which covers the mandible. It has a large black nose with wide open nostrils and dark, almond-shaped eyes similar to the shade of brindling in the coat and set slightly above the line of the muzzle. The triangular ears droop smoothly on the side of the head up to the eye level. The ears are traditionally cropped short but since cropping is no longer permitted in many regions, Cane Corso with natural ears are becoming more common. The body of the Cane Corso is longer than taller, sturdy built and heavily muscled. The tail is set on high and thick at the root and docked at the fourth vertebra. It has a fairly thick and close fitting skin which acts as protection from injuries. The coat is made of very dense short hair on top of a light undercoat. Coat colour comes in black, led-grey, slate-grey, light grey, light fawn, stag red and dark fawn and brindle, with black or grey mask on the muzzle. Height can range from 60-64 cm (female) or 64-68 cm (male) with weights ranging from 40 to 50 kilos with males on the heavier side of the scale.
This ancient Mastiff breed is descended from the primitive Roman Molossian which were found all over Italy. In recent history, the Cane Corso has only been found in the Apulia province and adjacent regions of Southern Italy including Basilicata and Campania. The name Cane Corso is derived from cane (dog) and cohors (Latin for “guardian” or “protector”) but some suggest corso (course, run). The original use of the breed was a catch dog with cattle and swine. It was also used to hunt wild boars, guard property, livestock and humans, which is a popular use of the dog even today. As rural farms became less and less common in Italy, the Cane Corso’s population also began to decline and almost became extinct by the late 1970s. Thanks to the efforts of breed fanciers, a recovery program was set up which brought back the population to a manageable level, although it still remains rather unpopular compared to other breeds.
The Cane Corso is affectionate, devoted to the family, a loyal house companion, and an impeccable watchdog. A well-trained and well-socialised Cane Corso is a stable and dependable house pet. However, this breed is naturally territorial, dominant and aloof with strangers. It’s very high protective instinct is one of the best among domesticated dogs. It can sense even the slightest hint of danger, disturbance or distress in its household. It is a docile breed and not know to bark excessively. It is usually quiet and calm when inside the house unless it smells something or someone unfamiliar. This breed drools less than other mastiffs. Some Cane Corsos love to dig but most enjoy the water – whether it be the sea, the pond, the lawn sprinkler or its drinking bowl. It thrives on human companionship and will not do well if left alone for long periods of time.
The Cane Corso is an intelligent dog and always willing to please its owner which makes it easy to train. It is instinctively protective of its property and family but proper handling and training will enable the dog to know when to be in full protective mode and when to back down. It requires a gentle but firm handler, a stable living environment coupled with diligent training and socialisation to become a dependable member of the family. Training the Cane Corso consistently to be a pack member and not a leader early in life is highly imperative in order to raise a well-balanced adult.
The short flat coat of the Cane Corso is relatively easy to groom. An ideal grooming period is between one to two months interval. Use a shedding blade to pull out dead hair especially when the breed is moulting heavily. Like most short-haired breeds, The Cane Corso sheds all-year-round so it needs constant brushing. Use a hydrating spray on the coat in between baths to control flaking and dandruff which can cause allergies especially to people suffering from asthma. Use a hypo-allergenic shampoo when bathing the dog. Check and clean the ears on a monthly basis to make sure no ear problems are setting in which might otherwise require a visit to the veterinarian.
Like all large dog breeds, the Cane Corso is affected by canine hip dysplasia (CHD), a condition caused by the abnormal formation of the hip socket which can cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the hip joints. It is also affected by gastric torsion, a condition where the stomach becomes overstretched and rotated by excessive gas content, which can be life-threatening. Although these health issues affect some dogs, the majority of the Cane Corsos are healthy breeds. The average lifespan of this sturdy dog is 10 – 12 years.
Despite its enormous built, the Cane Corso is a brisk and agile dog that thrive on regular exercise. Daily long walks or a quick stroll around the park on a daily basis is sufficient enough to satisfy the dog’s physical activity. It can also get its dose of regular exercise simply by walking around the home and yard, patrolling the perimeter which comes naturally to this dog. It must, however, be kept in a well-fenced yard if it is to be allowed to stroll freely by itself.
Cane Corso aficionados will attest that this breed is wonderful with children and other members of the family. However, it is not particularly good with other pets because it is instinctively territorial and dominant towards other dogs. When considering a Cane Corso as a pet, make sure that it is the only animal inside the house because this breed is known to be aggressive towards other pets.