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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Intelligent, Majestic
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 40 of 192
  • Height: 25-27.5 inches (male), 23.5-26 inches (female)
  • Weight: Proportionate to height
  • Life Expectancy: 9-12 years
  • Group: Working Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Cane Corso coat detail
Cane Corso puppies

Find a Puppy: Cane Corso

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

Ancient Italian breed medium-large size Molossus Dog. Sturdy, with a strong skeleton. Muscular and athletic, it moves with considerable ease and elegance. It has always been a property watchdog and hunter of difficult game such as the wild boar.

HEAD

Molossus, large, its total length reaches approximately one third of the height at the withers. Planes of the skull and muzzle are slightly convergent; they are not parallel. The circumference of the head measured at the cheekbones is more than twice the total length of the head; skin is firm and smooth. Skull – Viewed from the front, skull is wide and slightly curved; width is equal to the length. From the side, a prominent arch begins above the eyes and then flattens backward toward the occiput. Viewed from the top, it has a square appearance due to the zygomatic arches and powerful muscles swathing it. Stop – Well-defined due to developed and bulging frontal sinuses and prominent arch above the eyes.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

Neck-Slightly arched, flowing smoothly into the shoulders with a small amount of dewlap. The length of the neck is approximately one third the height at the withers. Body – Depth of the ribcage is equal to half the total height of the dog, descending slightly below the elbow. Ribs are long and well sprung. Moderate tuck up. Chest – Broad, well-muscled, strong forefront. Back – Wide, strong, muscular. Highest part of shoulder blade slightly rising above the strong, level back. Loin – Well-muscled, and harmoniously joined to the back. Croup – Long, wide, slightly sloping. Rump should be quite round due to muscling.

FOREQUARTERS

Strong and muscular, well-proportioned to the size of the dog. Straight when viewed from the front or side; height of the limb at the elbow is equal to 50 percent of the height at the withers. Shoulders- Muscular, laid back. Upper arms – Strongly muscled, with good bone, powerful. Elbows – Held parallel to the ribcage, turning neither in nor out. Forelegs – Straight and with good bone, well muscled. Pasterns – Almost straight, strong but flexible. Feet – Round with well-arched toes (catlike). Lean, hard, dark pads and nails, except in the case of white toes. Front dewclaws – Can remain or be removed, if left intact should only be a single dewclaw on each leg.

HINDQUARTERS

As a whole, they are powerful and strong, in harmony with the forequarters. Straight when viewed from the rear or front. Thighs – Long, wide, angulated and well-muscled. Stifle – Should be moderately angulated, strong. Legs – Strong bone and muscle structure. Hocks – Wide set, thick and clean, let down and parallel when viewed from behind. Rear pastern – straight and parallel. Rear dewclaws – Any rear dewclaws are removed. Hind feet – Slightly more oval-shaped and less-arched toes.

COAT

The coat is short, stiff, shiny, adherent and dense with a light undercoat that becomes thicker in cold weather.

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Cane Corso

About the Cane Corso

At nearly 28 inches at the shoulder and often weighing more than 100 pounds, with a large head, alert expression, and muscles rippling beneath their short, stiff coat, Corsi are at a glance intimidating creatures. Their imposing appearance is their first line of defense against intruders. As one writer put it, “An understated air of cool competence, the kind of demeanor you’d expect from a professional bodyguard, is the breed’s trademark.”

Corsi are intelligent, loyal, eager to please, versatile, and intensely loyal to their humans, but are also assertive and willful, and can end up owning an unwitting owner. As with any other big guardian dog, responsible breeding and early socialization with people and other dogs is vital.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Cane Corso puppies

Find a Puppy: Cane Corso

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Cane Corso Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Cane Corso should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The Cane Corso’s coat is short, but double-layered. The undercoat, which varies in length depending on the climate the dog lives in, sheds throughout the year, especially during shedding season in the spring. Weekly brushing—daily during shedding season—with a medium-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove will remove the dead hair before it can fall onto the furniture, and it helps remove dirt and promotes new hair growth as well. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can be painful to the dog and cause problems walking and running.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Occasional Bath/Brush

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Occasional

EXERCISE

Cane Corsos need serious exercise. A brisk walk—or better yet, run—of at least a mile in the morning and again in the evening will sustain their health and muscle tone. They make great companions on long walks, hikes, or bicycle rides. The Cane Corso was bred to work and is happiest when given a job to do. He needs mental as well as physical stimulation, or undesirable behavior will result. Many Cane Corsos compete in agility, obedience, dock diving, protection sport, and tracking events.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended for all dogs, but for a breed as big and strong as a Cane Corso, they are a must. Many Cane Corsos can be dominant and protective; socialization will help ensure that they grow into well-adjusted, well-mannered adults. Obedience training will keep them from becoming the boss in the household. Cane Corsos are intelligent and eager to please, so they are generally easy to train. Despite their appearance, Cane Corsos are all heart, and respond to love and rewards far better than to harsh corrections or training methods.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

Cane Corsos are generally healthy dogs,and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, idiopathic epilepsy, demodex mange, and eyelid abnormalities.vLarge and deep-chested breeds are susceptible to bloat, a sudden, life-threatening stomach condition. Cane Corso owners should learn what signs to look out for, and what to do should they occur. As with all breeds, a Cane Corso’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs.

Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
Cane Corso
Cane Corso
Cane Corso
Cane Corso
Cane Corso
Cane Corso

History

The Cane Corso (KAH-neh-KOR-soh; plural: Cani Corsi) belongs to a subcategory of working breeds called mollosus dogs, or mollosers, named for the Molossi, an ancient Greek tribe thought to have bred giant, big-boned guardian dogs of Mastiff type. At the height of the Roman Empire’s power, the legions that subdued and occupied the Greek islands brought mollosers back to Italy and bred them to native Italian breeds.

The offspring produced by these crosses were ancestors of the modern Corso and it’s larger relative, the Neapolitan Mastiff. The original Corsi were used as dogs of conquest who earned their stripes as “pireferi,” fearless dogs who charged enemy lines with buckets of flaming oil strapped to their backs. It is supposed that these early Corsi were bigger, more lumbering dogs than today’s sleeker version, which moves with a catlike grace.

With the dissolution of the Western Empire in the fifth century, Italy’s legions and their dogs were out of work. Corsi adapted to such civilian jobs as wild boar hunting, farming, livestock droving, and most famously, guarding farmsteads and henhouses. The Corso was for centuries a familiar sight on the farms and pastures dotting the Italian countryside. But the effects of constant invasions of the Italian peninsula and Sicily, economic and political upheavals, and mechanized farming conspired to reduce the Corso population to precariously low numbers. By the mid-20th century, the breed was all but extinct.

Specimens did survive, however, in Italy’s back country. In the 1970s, a group of Italian fanciers banded together to revive the breed of their rustic ancestors. The Society Amorati Cane Corso (Society of Cane Corso Lovers) was formed in 1983, and by the following decade Corsi were being exhibited in European dog shows. The first Corso import arrived in America in 1988, and in 2010 the breed was recognized by the AKC.

Did You Know?

The breed's coat is short but not smooth (like the coat of a cow), very coarse and thick in order to be perfectly waterproof. During winter, a thick undercoat is present.
Prior to 1988, the Cane Corso was known only in southern Italy, and was even considered very rare.
The Cane Corso is an ancient Italian Molossian.
The breed has been featured in many paintings, including ones by Bartolomeo Pinelli.
Country of origin is Italy.
The Cane Corso has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since 1996.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Ancient Italian breed medium-large size Molossus Dog. Sturdy, with a strong skeleton. Muscular and athletic, it moves with considerable ease and elegance. It has always been a property watchdog and hunter of difficult game such as the wild boar.

HEAD

Molossus, large, its total length reaches approximately one third of the height at the withers. Planes of the skull and muzzle are slightly convergent; they are not parallel. The circumference of the head measured at the cheekbones is more than twice the total length of the head; skin is firm and smooth. Skull – Viewed from the front, skull is wide and slightly curved; width is equal to the length. From the side, a prominent arch begins above the eyes and then flattens backward toward the occiput. Viewed from the top, it has a square appearance due to the zygomatic arches and powerful muscles swathing it. Stop – Well-defined due to developed and bulging frontal sinuses and prominent arch above the eyes.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

Neck-Slightly arched, flowing smoothly into the shoulders with a small amount of dewlap. The length of the neck is approximately one third the height at the withers. Body – Depth of the ribcage is equal to half the total height of the dog, descending slightly below the elbow. Ribs are long and well sprung. Moderate tuck up. Chest – Broad, well-muscled, strong forefront. Back – Wide, strong, muscular. Highest part of shoulder blade slightly rising above the strong, level back. Loin – Well-muscled, and harmoniously joined to the back. Croup – Long, wide, slightly sloping. Rump should be quite round due to muscling.

FOREQUARTERS

Strong and muscular, well-proportioned to the size of the dog. Straight when viewed from the front or side; height of the limb at the elbow is equal to 50 percent of the height at the withers. Shoulders- Muscular, laid back. Upper arms – Strongly muscled, with good bone, powerful. Elbows – Held parallel to the ribcage, turning neither in nor out. Forelegs – Straight and with good bone, well muscled. Pasterns – Almost straight, strong but flexible. Feet – Round with well-arched toes (catlike). Lean, hard, dark pads and nails, except in the case of white toes. Front dewclaws – Can remain or be removed, if left intact should only be a single dewclaw on each leg.

HINDQUARTERS

As a whole, they are powerful and strong, in harmony with the forequarters. Straight when viewed from the rear or front. Thighs – Long, wide, angulated and well-muscled. Stifle – Should be moderately angulated, strong. Legs – Strong bone and muscle structure. Hocks – Wide set, thick and clean, let down and parallel when viewed from behind. Rear pastern – straight and parallel. Rear dewclaws – Any rear dewclaws are removed. Hind feet – Slightly more oval-shaped and less-arched toes.

COAT

The coat is short, stiff, shiny, adherent and dense with a light undercoat that becomes thicker in cold weather.

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Cane Corso

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Black Brindle Check Mark For Standard Color 279
Chestnut Brindle Check Mark For Standard Color 520
Fawn Check Mark For Standard Color 082
Gray Check Mark For Standard Color 100
Gray Brindle Check Mark For Standard Color 107
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Mask Check Mark For Standard Mark 004
Gray Mask Check Mark For Standard Mark 041

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