Cane Corso

Country of origin: Italy
Registries: AKC FSS, CKC
Occupation: Versatile
Size: 23.5 to 27 in tall; 90 to
120 lbs
Longevity: 10 to 12 years
Exercise: Moderate
Training: Difficult
Grooming: Easy

Once a Sicilian cattle drover, then a butcher’s dog, and no doubt also once a fighting dog, this breed (also known as Cane di Macellaio) is a classic mastiff, without the exaggerated skin features of its northern cousin the Neapolitan Mastiff. Like all mastiffs, the Cane Corso is prone to joint problems, in particular hip dysplasia, and needs good, early socializing to ensure it is not a danger to other animals, including smaller dogs. Fortunately, it does not have excessive skin around its lips, so it doesn’t suffer from the drooling common in other mastiffs, such as the St Bernard.

Breed name synonyms: Cane Corso Italiano, Cane di Macellaio, Sicilian Branchiero & Italian Mastiff


The Cane Corso’s geneology can be traced all the way back to the Roman War dog of the 1st century , known as Canis Pugnax. The Cane Corso’s closest relative is the Neapolitan Mastiff, who is also a descendant of the Canis Pugnax. Their role was to accompany handlers on the battlefields and act as unprecedented guardians. Because of their extreme tenacity Corsi were used in the arenas to fight against lions and other wild animals.
With the fall of the Roman Empire the Corso retired and started working as family guardian and hunting dog. Today he is one of the most popular dog breeds.


Many records stating the Corso’s personality, describe him as having a “vigorous temperament, ready to meet any challenge.” Unfortunately that type of character is a double edged sword. Corsi are naturally possessive, territorial, dominant, docile and alert. On the other hand when surrounded with people they love, they are warm, affectionate and devoted.

Corsi are highly affectionate to their owner and bond closely with other members of their family. However they can be quite aggressive towards strangers, children and other dogs and pets. Their instinctive protectiveness is said to be unparalleled among domestic dogs. Fortunately they do not spring into action, unless provoked.

Corsi have high pain tolerance and they need a lot of mental and physical exercises, to keep them busy from destructive behavior.


The Cane Corso is a strongly built, muscular, elegant and powerful dog. He has ferocious, noble and majestic appearance. Males weight 99-110Ib (45-50kg) and females 88-99Ib (40-45kg). The height at withers in males is 25-27.5’’ (63.5-70cm) and in females 23.5-26’’ (60-66 cm).

The Corsi’s waterproof double coat is dense, short and coarse. It comes in a in a range of colors, including several shades of black, gray, fawn, red, brindle, blue and chestnut. White markings are allowed if localized on the chest, throat, chin, back of the pasterns and toes.


Because of its strong guarding instincts, the Cane Corso requires both early and extensive socialization, as well as exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, experiences and of course other dogs. Socialization is important because even though Corsi do not look for a fight, they do not back down when confronted with dominant dogs either. Lack of socialization makes Corsi perceive everything as a threat.

The combination of bossy nature, strong will and high intelligence, make him capable of dominating the household, unless he is treated with firm, but loving leadership and strong boundaries. The Cane Corso is not recommended for first time owners. On the bright side, Corsi are usually eager to please their owners, which makes the training easy if properly organized.


Corsi are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they are prone to certain health conditions. Because of their robustness, they have all the typical bone and joint problems of the giant breeds, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, panosteitis, osteochondritis, luxating patella and cruciate ligament rupture. Because of their deep chests, Corsi are at higher-than-normal risk for developing gastric dilatation and volvulus or bloat.
Besides the size related problems, Corsi tend to be highly prone to eye problems such as the eyelid abnormalities – entropion or ectropion and cherry eye. Also Corsi are often affected by skin problems like demodectic mange (which in this breed can be heritable) and allergies.
The Cane Corso lifespan is estimated to be 10-11 years.



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