Cane Corso: Everything You Need to Know

Cane Corso is a large breed, a descendant of the fighting dogs of Ancient Rome. For centuries, these intelligent and obedient dogs have served their owners, guarding their homes, helping on the hunt, and in the field.

Modern Cane Corso are the descendants of gladiator dogs, they breathe with natural strength and greatness. They look harsh, they can even inspire fear, but in fact, they become true friends for their masters and remain with them throughout their lives. As the fourteenth breed bred in Italy, the Cane Corso is the pride and national treasure of this country. In the character of the dogs, the dedication of shepherds and the courage of fighting breeds are surprisingly intertwined, and also the lively temperament of the Italians themselves is reflected.

Cane Corso has sensitivity and intuition, they are ready to protect the owner and his family at any time and in any situation, which makes them unsurpassed guards. If you have a dog of this breed in your home, there is no need for alarm systems. They will not meet a thief who has penetrated the house with aggression, which is how they differ from other guard dogs, but the robber will very much regret meeting the native of the sunny Apennines. The aggressive reaction of the Cane Corso leaves for an emergency when he feels that a real threat is hanging over the owner and his property.

Cane Corso has a long and glorious history dating back many centuries. Their most distant ancestors were the Tibetan mastiffs of antiquity. In those harsh times, when it was necessary to defend against many enemies and wild animals, such dogs were especially appreciated. These dogs evoke genuine respect and even some kind of awe today.

It is known that the first ancestor of modern “Italians” on the territory of modern Eurasia appeared 1 thousand years before our era. It was an aggressive Tibetan Great Dane, which was presented to the Chinese emperor, who appreciated in him such skill as the ability to catch people. Since that time, they quickly began to spread across the mainland, becoming the ancestors of some other breeds. New dogs were bred for very specific purposes. In the same Roman Empire, they were used for dog fights, in military campaigns, and, of course, as guards.

The first written records of giant Corso dogs date back to the XIV-XV centuries. Documents discovered by historians say that they participated in hunts and persecutions. In some areas, these dogs were used for grazing and guarding livestock. As for the official history of the breed, it usually dates back to the heyday of the Roman Empire. Archaeological sites with multiple images of these majestic dogs have survived to this day. Corso accompanied their masters on military campaigns, looked after slaves, and guarded entire palace complexes. After the fall of Ancient Rome, dogs were crossed with Celtic greyhounds, thereby infusing the breed with “new blood”. At the same time, they began to be used no longer as war dogs, but for hunting, for protecting farmland, and driving livestock. All this went on for a long time, so loyalty to one master is literally in their blood, this is inherent at the genetic level.

The performance of a variety of tasks by dogs has made the breed versatile, which remains unchanged today. Since the Cane Corso have always been highly prized, the quality of their gene pool was carefully monitored. However, despite this, sad pages in the history of the breed could not be avoided. During World War II, the Cane Corso, like many other breeds, was on the verge of extinction. These giants were actively used on the front lines, which, coupled with underfeeding, and often hunger, crippled the breed.

But the Cane Corso did not disappear, and for this humanity should be grateful to Giovanni Bonatti Nice, who showed perseverance and made titanic efforts to revive these proud, intelligent, and majestic dogs. Invaluable help was provided to him by like-minded people, who in 1983 gathered all over Italy all the purebred Cane Corso, preserved by some miracle. Four years later, the breed standard appeared – the first one approved at the official level. This document gave an accurate description of the dogs and emphasized the traits that distinguished the Corso from other descendants of the mastiffs. And although the breed received breeding registration only in 1994, before this event, more than 500 producers and several hundred puppies achieved recognition of experts and positive evaluations from their side. All this gave the green light to the development and spread of the Cane Corso: the number of dogs began to grow and in a short time exceeded 3,000 individuals. At the international show held in 1996, the representative of the revived Italian breed became the winner.

Protective qualities are inherent in the Cane Corso at the genetic level, therefore they perform this function even without special training. The dog will guard the owner, his family members, as well as the entire adjoining territory. This giant gets along well with pets, even with those who are not too happy about his appearance in the house. He may have in his “friends” not only other dogs, including small breeds but also cats and even birds.

Balance in these dogs is in the blood. Seeing that the guest is friendly with the host, the “Italian” will remain calm. He will not be active if he feels a hidden threat, but he will make it clear that the situation is under his control. The dog attacks only in two cases: if direct aggression is shown towards him or if he receives an appropriate command from the owner.

The Corso is especially careful with the younger members of the family, this goes back to the times when they wandered with flocks and developed the instinct to protect everyone smaller and weaker. These large dogs will never offend a child, even a stranger, but, on the contrary, will take care of him almost with a mother’s zeal. Children reciprocate these dogs and often involve them in their games, for example, doctors and hairdressers. It is impossible to watch, without emotion and laughter, how the little crumb “treats” the dog or tries to do his hair, and Corso humbly endures. True, at the very beginning he will try to sneak away from the little “doctor”, but if he does not succeed, then he resignedly takes away all the “procedures”. During games, the Cane Corso can accidentally, completely without malicious intent, slightly push the child. If you are worried that the next such push can lead to the fall of the baby, then command the dog “Sit!” or “To lie down!”, and she will definitely fulfill the required, and the first time.

The Cane Corso or Italian Mastiff is a large dog with prominent muscles. The body is characterized by the so-called stretched format when the length is greater than the height at the withers. The indicator of the latter is 64-68 cm for males, 60-64 cm for females Adult dogs weigh, depending on gender, 45-50 kg and 40-45 kg, respectively. The size of the dog should not be surprising, because the breed was bred for security, hunting, and combat needs.

Cane Corso Italianos impress with their strength, beauty, and power, they are incredibly charismatic. Representatives of this breed move gracefully, resembling panthers with their gait. Being close to the dog, you feel protected and you know for sure that you will not be betrayed. Cane Corso’s identity, features of their appearance, and amazing skills have been passed down from generation to generation for many centuries. Much has been preserved in the Italian Mastiffs from the Molossian Great Danes, their closest ancestors, but the breeding activity has made its own adjustments. These dogs are not only reliable bodyguards but, despite their stern appearance, are loyal and good friends.

Cane Corso has an athletic build, their appearance gives them uncompromising guards and real defenders. They look presentable and elegant at the same time: a powerful body, wide chest, developed shoulders, a muzzle typical for all Molossians, and a confident gait. Dogs of this breed are predominantly black, brown, and brindle colors.

The character of the “Italian” consists of solid merits: he is mentally balanced, predictable, easy to train, very loyal to his master, and never shows unreasonable aggression. Such qualities are inherent in many representatives of the Molossian group, for example, the English Bulldog and the Dogue de Bordeaux. If bad traits began to be found in the dog’s behavior, the reason should be sought in poor upbringing, but not in natural predisposition.

The Cane Corso’s head is broad rather than long. Covered with dense leather, there are no folds on the muzzle. The muzzle, in turn, corresponds to the skull in a 1: 2 ratio, that is, it is short. But at the same time, it is wide and voluminous, square in shape, flat and strong.

This dog has 42 teeth, they are white and strong. The jaws are large, powerful, curved. Because the lower jaw protrudes somewhat forward, the bite is characterized as a slight undershot.

The eyes are oval in shape, have a wide set on the face. Their color depends on the color of the dog, but the darker it is, the better. The eyelids are black-pigmented.

Naturally, the ears of the Cane Corso are slightly large and wide apart, with a snug fit to the head. Covered with smooth and shiny hair, they taper towards the ends and hang down, close to the dog’s cheeks. They can be stopped by shaping an equilateral triangle.

The nose is black and large, the nostrils are wide open. The lips are firm and not too saggy. The upper lips cover the lower jaw, thereby completely defining the lower part of the muzzle profile.

The neck of the Cane Corso is strong, muscular, in proportion to the body, but not too bulky, giving the dog some elegance. It is equal in length to the length of the head.

The constitution of the Cane Corso is strong, the body is somewhat longer in comparison with the height at the withers. The withers are pronounced, protruding above the long, wide, and slightly sloping croup. The ribcage reaches the level of the elbows, it is wide and well developed. The back is straight and well-muscled. The convexity of the ribs is moderate.

The tail of the Cane Corso is naturally long and reaching to the hock joints, set high and thick at the base. Do not rise or bend vertically. The tail is docked along the fourth vertebra.

The forelimbs are characterized by long, oblique, and highly developed shoulder blades. The shoulders and forearms are strong, the metacarpus and wrist are elastic. Feline-type front feet with firm pads and strong nails. The paws are oval in shape, the toes are collected in a ball.

The hind legs at the thigh are wide and long, the backline of the thighs arched. Strong lower legs and slightly angular hock. Powerful and sinewy metatarsus. The hind legs are also oval, with elastic pads and strong claws, the toes are collected in a ball.

Due to these characteristics, the Cane Corso move with a wide stride, they have a large and sweeping trot.

The skin is thick and tight to the body. The coat of the Cane Corso is very thick, but with a sparse undercoat, short and glossy. If it is of medium length, devoid of rigidity, and wavy, then this refers to the serious shortcomings of the breed.

Here the breed standard allows for a great deal of variety. In addition to the traditional black, light red, auburn, and brindle colors, Cane Corso can be light gray, lead (medium gray), and slate (dark gray), as well as red (fawn color). Small white blotches are allowed, but only on the chest, nose, and ends of the legs.

Note: red and brindle Cane Corso should have a black or gray mask on their muzzle that does not go beyond the line of the eyes.

If the longitudinal axes of the muzzle and skull converge, as well as the lateral surfaces of the muzzle, this is considered a serious defect. This also includes the parallel arrangement of the longitudinal axes of the muzzle and skull.

Disadvantages that spoil the breed include, among other things, growth below or above the norm, partial depigmentation of the nose, constantly moving into an amble, scissor bite, rolled up a donut or standing upright tail, undershot with significant retreat.

Is your pet being aggressive? This is a serious defect for which he will face disqualification. The same verdict will be given to a fearful or openly cowardly animal.

In general, any Italian Mastiff in which behavioral or physiological abnormalities are very clearly expressed should be disqualified. These also include overshot, the so-called ram’s nose, sunken bridge of the nose, squint, eyesore, fragmentary or complete depigmentation of the eyelids, long or soft hair, with unacceptable color and large white spots.

Developed egg-shaped glands of males are considered a sign of the health of the Cane Corso. There are two of them, and they should be completely descended into the scrotum.

Only those who do not know the breed at all or judge it by its rather formidable appearance can speak critically or with apprehension about these beautiful, intelligent “Italians”. And people who know speak of the Cane Corso extremely positively, because a more devoted, kind and good friend cannot be found.

Among all other breeds, these natives of the Italian “boot” are called the golden mean, and there are many reasons for this. Cane Corso is not giant, but at the same time, they are not too small. They are always fit, and for your dog to always remain in good shape, considerable attention must be paid to his physical development. These dogs are naturally very intelligent and easy to train. The main condition is the right approach. Many owners are not confident in their pedagogical abilities, so they turn to professional dog handlers.

Cane Corso really looks a little harsh, so if you walk around the city with him, then a lot of passers-by will probably want to cross to the other side of the street. It is difficult for uninformed people to imagine that a kind, affectionate and understanding creature is hiding behind the mask of a fierce beast. Remember: sudden aggression is absolutely not inherent in these dogs. However, they do not let out of sight the people near whom the owner is, and observe how he communicates with them.

The Cane Corso is very playful and willingly gets involved in any kind of entertainment. This playfulness is especially evident at a young age. Sometimes the dog is so passionate about the game that sometimes it does not react to the owner’s command, which is quite forgivable – well, it does not happen to anyone! As they grow older, Italian mastiffs become calm and measured. By nature, dogs are not at all selfish. There is no such trait in them as jealousy.

If the Cane Corso is so good-natured, playful, non-aggressive, then how are protective qualities combined with all these features? Very harmonious and one does not interfere with the other. They react to danger quickly, almost instantly. Strong jaws provide an iron grip, so a thief who has entered your home will not be good at meeting this dog. About uninvited guests, whom he perceives as violators of his territory, the dog can begin to act at its own discretion, sometimes even disobeying the owners.

For the sake of its owners, Corso is ready for anything. In the presence of this dog, strangers should refrain from sudden movements. No, she will not immediately pounce on you, but with facial expressions, she will show that you should not continue. And also a representative of this breed will never take anything from the hands of a stranger, including delicacies. It is almost impossible to distract him from the guard of the owner, members of his family, or any object entering his territory. These dogs perfectly understand who is their own and who is a stranger. Sometimes it even seems that by some miracle, intuitively, they can predict the bad intentions of a person before he begins to show them, that is, the sense of danger in these dogs is excellently developed. A mastiff can begin to act long before the danger begins to really threaten its owners, trying in every possible way to warn them. Looking into the eyes of this intelligent dog, it is as if you are reading her mind. If the Cane Corso knew how to speak, then the best interlocutor, probably, would not be found.

Many wealthy people have a dog of this breed for prestige (after all, Corso is expensive), not particularly perceiving it as a full member of the family. For example, they may leave for a long time, leaving the dog in someone’s care. This cannot be done, because separation, and even more so betrayal, these dogs endure extremely painfully. In the absence of the owner, the “Italian” can become sad, stop eating and simply die. A real owner, who treats his pet with love, will show him all his love in every possible way and will never leave him alone for a long time.

The tendency to dominate is not like the Cane Corso, which means that they are easy to train. Being docile in character and naturally loyal to the owner, they recognize the authority of the latter very quickly. But the representatives of this breed are in no hurry to grow up.

Many owners, for various reasons, do not want to use the services of dog handlers (for example, because of the high cost of their services) and prefer to raise puppies on their own. What should you pay attention to in this case?

The process of raising a Cane Corso puppy should begin from the very first day of his appearance in the house. First of all, teach your baby to basic cleanliness and toilet. The most necessary commands are: “Come to me!”, “Fu!”, “Sit!”, “Next!”, “Stand!”, “Lie down!”, “Place!” They should teach your pet first of all. If you don’t like something about the puppy’s behavior, try to correct it, preferably in the early stages. Disobedience should not entail physical punishment. Walking with him in the park or outside the city, fill your leisure time with any kind of sports training.

Dog training should take place on an empty stomach. This will stimulate her to accurately follow all commands to receive encouragement – a delicious treat. Do not forget to also praise your pet, which will be an additional expression of your love for him.

For your information: strangers should not take part in the upbringing of the Cane Corso. All commands must be pronounced clearly and clearly. Be consistent in training, demand from the pet to complete all tasks assigned to it.

It is believed that in an ordinary city apartment, even small dogs can create inconveniences for their owners, not to mention large ones. Cane Corso completely refutes this stereotype. Even though they are not small dogs, they do not need a large space due to their inactivity. If you live in a private house, this does not mean at all that you can put your pet in a booth and put it on a chain. By their nature, “Italians” are too freedom-loving and need to be constantly near the owner. In addition, the dog’s light undercoat is not able to warm it in severe frosts, so the Cane Corso still cannot be a “yard resident”.

You should regularly walk with your pet, do not deprive him of the joy of outdoor activities. Leaving the dog outside the home and thereby changing the environment, you bring the necessary variety into its life, which has a positive effect on the nervous system and helps it not to weaken. At the same time, joint walks strengthen the mutual understanding of the owner and his four-legged friend. You should walk with the dog for at least an hour at least twice a day. Cane Corso Italiano, like their breeds of other large breeds, is prone to diseases of the musculoskeletal system. If your pet is less than two years old, do not overload it with long runs, let alone overcome high barriers often.

Daily care of your dog will not be difficult for you, and all thanks to its short coat and thin undercoat. It molts twice a year, in spring and autumn, and the whole process is almost invisible. I am also glad that the smell of the dog does not spread from Corso through the house. True, he salivates, which worries the owners. For such cases, you need to have a towel on hand.

It is enough to comb the dog once or twice a week using a rubber comb or massage glove. This will help not only remove dead hair but also improve blood circulation. During the period of seasonal molting, it is recommended to comb it out daily. When bathing your pet, use a rubber glove, which will also help to quickly get rid of dead hair. The coat of the dog has a protective fatty film, and if the Corso is often bathed using various detergents, the film will wash off and the coat will tarnish. Arrange for dog bathing procedures should be once a month or as heavily soiled. Experienced breeders recommend regular dry brushing. For this purpose, special dry shampoos are used. You can buy them at any pet store.

The dog’s ears need regular examination in order not to miss the onset of possible inflammation. They also need ventilation. Grasp the dangling ends with your fingers and wave your ears like the wings of a butterfly. Healthy Cane Corso ears have no excess sulfur, no brown discharge, and, consequently, no unpleasant odors. To remove accumulated dirt, use a dry cotton pad without penetrating deep into the ear canal. In the presence of purulent or other discharge, be sure to contact your veterinarian.

You should also pay equal attention to your pet’s teeth. To keep them healthy for many years, do not let him gnaw excessively hard objects, and even more so stones. To brush your teeth, special treats and rope toys are used. On the surface of the latter, agents are applied to remove plaque. But tartar can only be removed by a veterinarian. To prevent stone formation, the dog should brush his teeth three to four times a week, using a special toothpaste with the function of dissolving the deposits forming the stone.

The eyes also need regular examination. In a healthy dog, the organs of vision are shiny, devoid of lacrimal paths and secretions. Rinse your Cane Corso eyes with chamomile tea periodically to prevent souring. To wipe your eyes, use a damp, lint-free cloth, each with a separate cloth.

After walking, wipe your pet’s paws with a damp cloth or shower. Do not ignore the pads of the paws, which will help to detect cracks or wounds promptly. An antiseptic is used to process them. As crack prevention, ordinary vegetable oil is used. It is given to the dog a teaspoon a day and is also regularly rubbed into the paw pads.

And, of course, do not forget about ticks and fleas, which can cause enormous harm to the health and life of your Cane Corso. However, one should not engage in “amateur performance” in this important issue. A remedy for ectoparasites should be selected by a veterinarian, based on the age of the dog, its weight, and health. A schedule should be drawn up for treating the dog with the selected drug, which should be strictly adhered to.

Now about feeding the dog. You can give her both natural products and ready-made food, but only premium ones. The main advantage of ready-made feed is that it saves time, but is expensive. Quality products are also expensive, and you have to spend time preparing them. But on the other hand, in the process of cooking, you see what exactly the Cane Corso ration is made of, which cannot be said about the ready-made feed. Each type of feeding has its pros and cons, and which one is right for your pet is up to you. The main thing is that this does not affect the well-being and health of your dog.

Important: dogs of the Cane Corso breed are not recommended to give fatty meats (for example, pork), smoked meats, spicy food, river fish, fatty dairy products (sour cream, cottage cheese, cream), some cereals (millet and barley due to their poor digestibility), fatty broths and liquid soups. In the same list, various sweets, nuts, onions, garlic, and cheap low-grade food.

Cane Corso Italiano is the embodiment of strength and endurance and, it would seem, he cannot have any diseases. However, it is not. Representatives of this breed suffer from several hereditary ailments, the most common of which is hip dysplasia. This disease is practically not amenable to treatment, and in some cases, sadly, the dog has to be put to sleep. There is a hereditary predisposition to this disease, but even experienced breeders often cannot recognize it in a puppy. Before buying a puppy, you can ask if he had an X-ray, which, however, does not completely ensure against illness. For a greater guarantee, you should purchase an already grown puppy. Its cost will be much higher, but it will pay off with the minimal risk of developing hereditary diseases.

In addition to hip dysplasia, representatives of the breed can suffer from various types of allergies, bloating, cherry eye, epilepsy, thyroid diseases (hyperthyroidism), eyelid diseases (inversion or volvulus).

How to choose a puppy?

Check the breed standard before making your choice. It will not be superfluous to visit mono shows: this will allow you to learn about the Cane Corso, as they say, firsthand and choose the puppy’s parents. Be sure to take a closer look at the exterior and behavior of the mother. For whatever purpose you buy a puppy, buy it not from hands, but breeders or in a kennel. This will allow you to be calm about the purity of the breed, the physical and mental health of the pet. The kid should be well-fed, very active. Ask the breeder about the character of your chosen puppy, ask to focus on the features of his behavior. When buying, you must be given a veterinary passport.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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