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Breed information

Group: Working
Life span: 10-14 years
Height male: 64-68 cm/ 24-27 inches
Height female: 60-64 cm/ 23-25 inches
Weight male: 45-50 kg/ 99-110 pounds
Weight female: 40-45 kg/ 88-99 pounds
Character: Cheerful, Courageous, Loyal, Quiet, Social


The Cane Corso is a descendant of the old Roman molosser. Its name derives from cane da corso, an old term for those catch dogs used in rural activities for cattle and swine, as distinct from cane da camera which indicates the catch dog kept as a bodyguard. In the recent past, its distribution was limited to some regions of Southern Italy, especially in Basilicata, Campania, and Apulia.

Cane Corso were used to guard property, livestock, and families, and some continue to be used for this purpose today. Historically it has also been used by night watchmen, keepers, and, in the past, by carters and drovers. In the more distant past this breed was common all over Italy, as an ample iconography and historiography testify.

As life changed in the southern Italian rural farms in the 20th century, the Corso began to become rare. A group of enthusiasts began recovery activities designed to bring the dog back from near extinction in the late 1970s. By 1994, the breed was fully accepted by the Italian Kennel Club (ENCI) as the 14th Italian breed of dog. The FCI provisionally accepted the Corso in 1997, and ten years later was fully recognised internationally. In the US, the American Kennel Club first recognized the Cane Corso in 2010. The popularity of the breed continues to grow, ranking in 40th place in the United States in 2016, a jump from 50th place in 2013 and 60th in 2012. Today the breed is used as a guardian, protection, tracking and police dog.


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.


The average life span of a Cane Corso is somewhere between 10 and 14 years. Breed health concerns include allergies, gastric dilatation and volvulous (bloat), ectropion, entropion, elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, epilepsy and heart conditions.


Aficionados of Cane Corsos find them to be wonderful with children and members of their immediate human family. They are described as being docile, devoted, affectionate, loyal companions and terrific watchdogs. When well-bred and conscientiously trained, Cane Corsos can be stable, reliable pets. However, they are naturally possessive, territorial, dominant, and distrustful of strangers. The Corso’s instinctive protectiveness is said to be unparalleled among domestic dogs, although fanciers of some other breeds might beg to disagree. This breed is sensitive to even the tiniest suggestion of danger, disruption or distress in its household. It would be foolish for a stranger to challenge a Cane Corso or to threaten to harm its owner in any way. With proper handling and training, the Cane Corso usually knows when to be in full protective mode and when to back down. However, you would not want to be on the mouth-end of one with an unreliable disposition.

Activity Requirements

Despite their bulk, Corsos are energetic, athletic animals that thrive on regular exercise. However, they certainly do not need the amount of activity that a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd requires. Cane Corsos actually get quite a bit of exercise simply from patrolling their home and yard, which comes naturally to them and which they seem to enjoy.


The Cane Corso is an intelligent, willing breed. They usually are eager to please their owners, which makes them quite trainable. Nevertheless, Corsos require a loving but firm hand and a stable living environment, together with conscientious training and discipline, to become reliable family members. It is important for owners of this breed to establish themselves as the unquestioned leaders of the household pack, both human and canine, early-on in their relationship, so that there is absolutely no question or confusion about who is in charge. This should be regularly reinforced with kindness, firmness and clear direction. Consistency is critical when raising a dog with the naturally strong disposition and size of a Cane Corso. They should be socialized from early puppyhood and throughout their lives, to give them the best chance of growing into safe, trustworthy companions.

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Behavioral Traits

The Cane Corso is not known to be a noisy breed. They usually are quite and calm around the house, unless and until they sense that something is amiss. They tend to patrol the indoor and outdoor premises on the lookout for anything out-of-the-ordinary. When a Corso becomes alarmed or senses trouble, it transforms from a placid pet into a protective and potentially dangerous animal that any intruder or person threatening its owner would be wise to respect. Cane Corsos are not particularly good with other pets and are instinctively territorial and dominant toward other dogs.


Cane Corsos are low-maintenance dogs in terms of their grooming requirements. They are light shedders, which make maintaining their coat simple. Usually, a quick wipe-down with a damp cloth and an occasional once-over with a soft brush is all the coat-care that they need. Owners should start trimming their Corso’s toenails at a very young age, so that the routine becomes familiar to the animal before it approaches its owner’s size. Regular dental care for this breed is no different from that for any other large-breed dog.

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