The Breed History
One of two native Italian "mastiff type" dogs that descended from the Roman canis Pugnaces, the breed's name derives from the Latin "Cohors" which means "Guardian" and "Protector." He was a property watchdog and hunted wild boar. Prior to 1988, the Cane Corso was known only in southern Italy, and was considered very rare, but has still been featured in many paintings throughout Italy's history. AKC recognition occurred in 2010.
Breeding for Function
The Cane was developed to perform multiple tasks from combat to herding of cattle, and guard dog. He was employed in the hunting of large wild animals and also as an "auxiliary warrior" in battles.
Height at withers: Males: 25 to 27.5 inches (63.5-70 cm); Females: 23.5 to 26 inches (60-66 cm).
Weight: Males 99-110 pounds (45-50 kg) Females 88-99 pounds (40-45 kg).
Coat: The breed's coat is short but not smooth, very coarse and thick in order to be perfectly waterproof. It can be black, gray, fawn or red, with brindle variations and a black or gray mask also acceptable.
Longevity: 10-11 years.
Points of Conformation: A muscular, balanced, large-boned dog, rectangular in proportion. The head is molossus type; its total length reaches approximately one third of the height at the withers. Eyes are medium-size, tight, almond-shaped, brown, not round or bulging. Ears are set well above the cheekbones. Nose is large, black or grey, with well-opened nostrils. Lips are firm, with upper lips moderately hanging. The bite is slightly undershot to level. There is only a small amount of dewlap. Depth of the ribcage is equal to half the total height of the dog, descending slightly below the elbow. The rump is round due to muscling. The tail set is an extension of the backline, thick at the root with not much tapering at the tip. The legs are strong and muscular. Elbows are parallel to the ribcage, neither turning in or out. Feet are round and well arched. The gait is free flowing and powerful, effortless, with strong reach and drive, and a single track at full gait.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
The Cane Corso is a protector of his property and owners. Intelligent, the Cane Corso is easily trained. As a large and athletic breed, they need a lot of exercise. They are affectionate to their owner and bond closely with children and family. They can be aggressive to other dogs and to strangers, including other children. Cane Corsos are light shedders, which make grooming simple - all they need is an occasional brushing.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 40.5% affected. A French study showed 59.7% affected.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 10.4% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Too few Cane Corso have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Multifocal Retinopathy/Retinal Dysplasia: Autosomal recessive retinal pigment epithelial dysplasia causing localized multifocal retinal detachments. Age of onset from 11 to 13 weeks of age. A genetic test is available.
Malassia Otitis: Cane Corso are overrepresented with mycotic otitis. 51.7% of the breed was identified in one study.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (bloat, GDV): Polygenically inherited, life-threatening twisting of the stomach within the abdomen. Requires immediate treatment. Reported as a breed health issue on the CCAA website.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. Not enough samples have been submitted for thyroid auto-antibodies to Michigan State University to determine an accurate frequency. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Ectropion: Rolling out of eyelids, often with a medial canthal pocket. Can also cause secondary conjunctivitis. Reported as a breed health issue on the CCAA website.
Entropion: A rolling in of the eyelids that can cause corneal irritation and ulceration. Reported as a breed health issue on the CCAA website.
Prolapsed Gland of the Nictitans (Cherry Eye): This condition is secondary to chronic conjunctivitis, usually of an allergic nature. Reported as a breed health issue on the CCAA website.
Demodicosis, generalized: Overgrowth of demodex mites in hair follicles due to an underlying immunodeficiency. Causes hair loss and inflammation. Reported as a breed health issue on the CCAA website.
Idiopathic Epilepsy (inherited seizures): Control with anti-seizure medication. Reported as a breed issue on the Cane Corso Club of Canada website.
Inherited Ocular Disorders: Too few Cane Corsos have been CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists to determine an accurate frequency of inherited ocular disorders.
Isolated Case Studies
Primary osseous melanoma: An 18-month-old, female Cane Corso dog was presented with a suspected primary tumor of the tibia. A diagnosis of malignant melanoma was made by cytology. No metastatic lesions were identified. The dog was alive 3-1/2 years after amputation.
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for retinal dysplasia is available from Optigen.
Tests of Phenotype: Recommend hip and elbow radiographs, CERF eye examination, thyroid profile including autoantibodies, cardiac evaluation, and patella evaluation.
- Breed name synonyms: Cane Corso Italiano, Cane di Macellaio, Sicilian Branchiero, Italian Mastiff
- Registries: AKC, UKC, FCI, NKC (National Kennel Club)
- AKC rank: (none) AKC recognized in June 2010. Entire stud book entered.
- Internet resources: Cane Corso Association of America: canecorso.org
Society In America For Cane Corso Italiano: thesacci.com
The British Cane Corso Society: canecorso.org.uk
Cane Corso Club of Canada: canecorsoclubofcanada.ca
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