Other names: Italian Mastiff, Can Corso Mastiff, Cane Corso Italiano, Italiano Molosso
Wamiz's Top Breed
Very attached to and protective of his social group while not being too clingy, the Cane Corso is an excellent watchdog. Calm and well-balanced, this Italian dog is the perfect companion. Both observant and intelligent, it takes quite a lot for this pet to feel at ease and he will need to take his time to judge the safety of a person or situation.
Key facts about the Cane Corso
Life expectancy :
Access the rest of the content after the ad
Loading advertisement ...
Origins and history
The Cane Corso is a direct, slightly smaller, descendant of the Roman “Canis pugnax”. He was used in big-game hunting and also as support in the war. For centuries, he was held in high esteem by Italians who used him as a property and flock guardian, as well as for hunting and personal defence. Formerly widespread throughout the peninsula, as evidenced by many engravings and historical accounts, he is still very common in southern Italy. His Italian name "corso" actually has nothing to do with Corsica - the origin of his name probably comes from the Latin term "cohors", the Roman cohort of the Praetorian Guard, indicating the ancient history of this guard dog.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 2 - Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs
Section 2 : Molossian type
Physical characteristics of the Cane Corso
Female : Between 23 and 25 in
Male : Between 24 and 27 in
Female : Between 88 and 99 lb
Male : Between 97 and 110 lb
The Cane Corso’s fur can be a variety of colours: black, steel grey, slate, light grey, light fawn, dark fawn or brindle (markings on fawn or grey).
Type of coat
The fur is short.
The Italian Mastiff’s coat is shiny, with a dense outer coat and light undercoat.
The eyes are generally aligned with his fur colour. They should always be very dark.
This Italian watchdog is very large in size, which makes him intimidating enough to scare off anyone with bad intentions. However, despite his robust and hardy appearance, this dog is actually very elegant and agile, sporting a lean and powerful stature.
Good to know
Many dogs with droopy eyes (Cane Corso, Bulldog, etc.) have problems relating to the Harderian gland (a lacrimal gland) as they’re growing up. This gland can swell up and get inflamed as it develops faster than the puppy’s head. It would then be necessary to go to see a vet, but this condition is still manageable.
As an excellent guard dog, the Cane Corso is very protective of and attached to his social group. While he may not display huge gestures of affection, he is an attentive and gentle dog nonetheless, especially with children.
This big dog loves spending time with his family and will happily join in with kids’ games, but won’t get too caught up in it. He can be playful if his masters encourage him, but he is a calm and reserved dog for the most part.
The Cane Corso is naturally a very calm dog, but he can become aggressive to protect his loved ones if he senses a threat.
He is naturally very intelligent and has the ability to quickly understand a situation and react accordingly. If he fails to see interest or coherence in his training, he might prove stubborn and reluctant to cooperate, but this is actually a sign of remarkable intelligence.
In his country of origin, this gentle giant was mainly used to guard properties and its occupants, but he would be equally capable of accompanying his owners on a hunt. Some people even continue to use the Cane Corso as a hunter, but this is quite rare.
Fearful / wary of strangers
As a protector, this dog is naturally wary of strangers, since his main objective is to scare them off. He doesn’t trust people easily and will take his time to analyse a person’s behaviour to work out if he/she represents a threat.
The Cane Corso is relatively independent, in the way that he can protect a property on his own and will always focus on completing a task. However, he still doesn’t like being left alone for long periods of time.
That being said, he doesn’t need to be in constant contact with members of his social group, nor will he instigate cuddles with his loved ones. But, he is nonetheless very attached to them.
Behaviour of the Cane Corso
Easy to train / obedience
A very intelligent dog, the Cane Corso can prove stubborn if he sees no interest in obeying. It is therefore very important that his owners provide him with coherent, fair and firm training to obtain the best results.
This calm and balanced dog isn’t a big barker. He will only raise his voice if it’s completely necessary. Therefore, this trait can prove very useful as if he barks, his owners will know that it’s with good reason.
Tendency to run away
Very attached to and protective of his social group, this Italian dog will never be too far away, and will always keep a watchful eye over those he wants to protect.
Like many large dogs, the Cane Corso doesn’t mature until quite late.
Therefore, juvenile behaviour, including destruction, can persist for quite a long time. This is especially the case if his needs for mental and physical stimulation are not properly met.
Greedy / Gluttony
This dog is greedy, but not uncontrollably so. Proper training will ensure he knows to wait until his bowl is refilled and not to beg at the table.
As you may have gathered by now, the Cane Corso is THE watchdog par excellence - it’s even implied in his name, deriving from the latin word “cohors”, meaning “protector, guardian of farms”.
The responsibility to protect his loved ones runs in his blood, and he won’t hesitate for a second to defend them if he senses a danger.
His impressive size and sometimes disarming intelligence makes him mostly unsuitable for first-time owners.
Experienced owners will be necessary to control and train this stubborn dog, as well as to know how to properly respond to his many needs.
Access the rest of the content after the ad
Loading advertisement ...
Is the Cane Corso right for you?take the test
Cane Corso in a flat
While an active life in the outdoors would be perfect for this Italian dog, he will equally have no problem adapting to urban life in a flat, as long as his exercise needs are met.
Whether living in an apartment or house with a garden, this dog will need to be walked everyday, for a minimum of 30 minutes per outing.
Need for exercise / Sporty
Needing to “serve” his owner, this dog will need daily physical and mental activities in order to maintain his well-balanced nature.
This dog wants to participate in activities with its master, especially during its first few years of life, so will need to exert his energy through a wide array of sports, such as long forest walks, tracking, agility, etc.
Make sure you adapt his activities to his physical condition, to facilitate his growth and development.
Travelling / easy to transport
Unsurprisingly, this dog’s large size makes it hard for him to accompany his masters everywhere and anywhere.
In a car, notably during long journeys, he will need to have enough space to be at ease. The entire boot should therefore be dedicated to the dog, which might be problematic in some cases.
Cane Corso and cats
If this watchdog has grown up around a cat, he will be able to tolerate its presence without any issues. However, this doesn’t mean that he will get along with it.
It’s therefore necessary to stay vigilant, especially with respect to the size difference between the Corso and the cat.
Cane Corso and dogs
If this dog has been socialised from an early age, he can get along with other dogs.
However, the males have a less sociable personality than their female counterparts, and can therefore rapidly find themselves in conflict.
Of course, this is not always the case. A qualitative socialisation coupled with proper training will allow for calmer interactions.
Be aware of the size difference between this dog and some breeds!
Cane Corso and children
If children are a part of this watchdog’s social group, he will be gentle and attentive with them. However, the Cane Corso remains sensitive despite his large size and can therefore quickly feel ill at ease.
Safety rules should be established and you should always remain vigilant.
Cane Corso and the elderly
Like first-time owners, anyone erring on the side of “fragile” is not well adapted to owning this Italian dog. His impressive size, force and power coupled with his need for exercise is not well-matched with inactive people.
The price of a Cane Corso depends on his origins, age and sex. You should budget around £1100 for a Cane Corso. These dogs are not recognised by the Kennel Club.
As for your monthly budget, you should set aside an average of £70 a month to be able to meet the needs of this large Italian dog, providing him with a high quality diet and keeping him in good health.
Very easy to groom thanks to his short hair, it isn’t necessary to tend to him regularly. A simple weekly brush will be enough to maintain the shine and beauty of his coat.
You should also monitor/clean his eyes and ears on a regular basis.
The Italian Mastiff rarely loses hair, with the exception of the annual moulting periods during spring and autumn.
Nutrition of the Cane Corso
Whether dry or raw, this dog will need a diet that is adapted to his age, weight and level of physical activity. Taking his large size into account, two meals a day will be necessary to make sure he doesn’t overeat in one sitting.
You should also make sure his bowl is in a raised position, so that this dog doesn’t need to bend down too much to eat. This will also facilitate digestion.
Health of the Cane Corso
The lifespan of this Italian dog is around 10 years.
Strong / robust
Like many large dogs, the adult Cane Corso is both a robust and sensitive dog. His fine undercoat doesn’t provide him with enough protection against extreme climates.
The Cane Corso can suffer during heat waves, but ensuring he is sufficiently hydrated will help him cope with this weather.
This dog can deal with the cold, but his light undercoat does not equip him well for freezing temperatures.
Tendency to put on weight
If he is provided with a high-quality diet, doesn’t eat between meals and engages in frequent exercise, there is no reason for this dog to suffer from obesity.
Be aware though that this dog can struggle with weight if he isn’t exercised enough.
Frequently asked questions
Are Cane Corso dogs dangerous?
Cane Corsos can act out dominantly if not properly trained from a young age. They are also very protective of their "pack" so need to be well-socialised with strangers. Dog-to-dog aggression is likely in this breed if the dog is not well habituated to other dogs from a young age. However, for an experienced owner who is ready to put in the time and effort, this dog can become a well-rounded, gentle companion.
Learn more about how you can get your dog to trust strangers!
Is a Cane Corso a good family dog?
As mentioned above, Corsos require experienced owners who are ready to handle a large, stubborn breed. If time and effort is put in to the dog's training and socialisation though, they can become wonderful and gentle companions for children.
Check out what breeds are best for children!
Is a Cane Corso a type of Pitbull?
Cane Corsos and Pitbulls are not the same breed. They are very different both physically and genetically. While neither are recognised by the Kennel Club, the Cane Corso is recognised by the FCI. The Pitbull isn't, seeing as it is a dog "type" and not a breed.
Find the perfect dog breed for you!
Are Cane Corso banned in the UK?
Cane Corsos are not banned in the UK. The four banned breeds are as follows: Pitbull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino, and Fila Brasileiro.
Find out more about the banned breeds.