Country of Origin: Italy
  • Activity Level: high
  • Shedding Level: moderate
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  • Grooming Level: low
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  • Trainability: moderate
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  • Good for Novice Owners: low
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  • Adaptability: low
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  • Kid/Pet Friendly: sometimes
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  • Prey Drive: low
  • Watchdog: very alert
  • Average Size: Large
  • Average Lifespan: 9-12 years
  • Registered?: aca, akc
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Cane Corso Dog Breed Information





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Activity Level


Life Span

Did You Know?

The Cane Corso, also referred to as the Italian Mastiff, is a large dog breed that originated in Italy. Like other mastiff breeds, Cani Corsi can trace their ancestry back to the molossus-type Greek guard dogs and the dogs the Romans used in warfare.

When Roman legions brought mollosers back to Italy from the Greek islands and bred them with native Italian dog breeds. The Italian Mastiff and the Neapolitan Mastiff are descendants of these dogs. Once they were no longer Roman war dogs at the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire during the fifth century, Cani Corsi were commonly used as guard dogs and to hunt big game.

They became popular farm dogs. But, invasion, war, and the industrial revolution made them less popular. The breed almost went extinct in the 20th century. Thanks to the efforts of some Italian breeders in the 1970s, the breed held on, was revived, and started showing in European dog shows during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The first Cane Corso import came to the United States in 1988. Before this point, they were a rare breed and were unknown outside of Southern Italy. The AKC recognized the Cane Corso in 2010 as part of the Working Group.

The Cane Corso may grow into a large, powerful, and intimidating dog, but they tend to be loving and very caring for their family. These dogs are intelligent, very loyal, and naturally protective, which makes them wary of strangers and excellent watchdogs.

Although they get along well with children and other animals that are part of the family unit, they tend to be a “family-only” type of dog and do not tend to be interested in making friends with people or animals outside of their family unit. As long as they are well-socialized, they will be watchful and aloof at first, but will tend to warm up over time once introduced.

Although they do not tend to bark a lot and only tend to bark to alert you, they can be inadvertently trained into barking a lot. Training your dog to stop barking early on can help prevent nuisance barking later. One of the facts about the Cane Corso is that they are vocal dogs. Like Siberian Huskies, they will communicate with you with their own vocalizations outside of barks.

The Cane Corso is a moderately adaptable dog breed. They are better suited to homes with fenced yards. Because they are protective and can be territorial, they should only be let off-leash in secure areas. They do well in most climates, but are sensitive to excessive heat or cold. Although they seem like independent dogs, Cani Corsi do bond closely with their families and do not like to be left alone for long periods of time.

Potential health concerns to be aware of in a Cane Corso are hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cherry eye, entropion, and ectropion. Good breeding practices make a big difference in the health of puppies.

Reputable breeders will screen their dogs to avoid passing preventable issues to puppies. Knowledge of the breed and transparency about breeding practices are some qualities to look for in a great breeder. Make sure you are asking about the health and genetic history of both of the parents, the breeder’s practices and processes, and more. You can also ask about any health tests for clearances that have been done.

As a large dog breed, the Cane Corso is also at risk for bloat. Because bloat in dogs is dangerous if the stomach flips, it’s important to know how to reduce the risk and what symptoms to look for so you can get help immediately.

Although Cani Corsi are intelligent dogs that can pick up on things quickly, they are also known to have a stubborn streak and a tendency to push boundaries. Good leadership and persistent, consistent training are a must.

Because of this, this dog breed is best-suited to experienced dog owners who are able to socialize, train, and confidently handle a large dog. A professional trainer or training classes are highly recommended for novice owners.

A Cane Corso has a short, dense, waterproof double coat. Common coat colors include black, light and dark gray, light and dark fawn, and red. There is also a brindle variation that can show up in any of the colors.

They shed a little year-round and will develop a thicker undercoat in the winter. As such, they will shed heavier as seasons change. Brushing a few times a week, daily brushing during seasonal shedding, and the occasional bath are usually enough to keep this dog comfortable and their coat looking great.

In addition to coat care, you will also need to take care of your Cane Corso’s nails, ears, and teeth. Nail trims once or twice monthly keep nails from growing too long. Weekly ear checks with careful cleanings as needed can help prevent ear infections. Daily tooth brushing, plus cleanings at the vet when needed, is ideal dental care for dogs and can help prevent painful dental diseases later in life.

The Cane Corso is an active dog breed that requires regular exercise to be happy and healthy. As a large dog breed, it’s important to keep things low-impact when puppies are still growing. Once puppies finish growing and developing, these dogs can make excellent jogging partners.

They are working dogs that need plenty of exercise to expend energy and maintain healthy muscle tone. In addition to long walks, you can also take your dog on a hike, a run, or even with you on bicycle rides. They do get bored easily, so it’s important to keep this active and give them a job to do.

Without a specified job, enough work, or enough exercise, they will find their own activities, which can result in destructive or undesired behaviors. If you don’t have livestock that your Cane Corso can help you herd and guard, dog sports like agility training, obedience, tracking, or dock diving can be great options.

Fully-grown Italian Mastiffs usually stand 23-28 inches tall and weigh 80-120 pounds.

Cani Corsi generally live for 9-12 years on average.

The Cane Corso has been featured in several famous dog paintings. Some of the most notable were painted by Bartolomeo Pinelli.