Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is a beautiful and loyal dog, but prospective owners should do their homework before adding a Corso to their household. With a similar history to other mastiff-type dogs that were used for hunting, farm work, and protection, their personalities are colored by their background, even today.

A Cane Corso requires a certain type of owner, preferably one who has experience with dogs. Corsos require a steady but assertive hand. They will try to dominate the family 'pack', but their owner must be able to set and maintain proper boundaries. In addition, Cane Corsos have a strong prey drive so this should be considered in your dog's lifestyle. They will need a securely fenced yard, proper leash training, and early socialization with other animals. Socialization is also important with new people. Corsos are generally loving and loyal and preferably aloof with strangers. However, they can be very protective of their people and need to be taught when this behavior is appropriate. They can certainly be loving companions and are wonderful for active people who like to engage their keen, athletic dog in dog sports and activities like herding, obedience, agility, and more.

Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The Cane Corso breed is also commonly known by the names Cane Corz ,Italian Mastiff ,Cane di Macellaio.

Popularity: Popular

Life expectancy: 10 - 11 years

Breed group: Working Dogs (AKC)

Size: Large

Male Female
Height 24 - 28 in 23 - 26 in
Weight 97 - 110 lbs 88 - 99 lbs


Colors: Black, Gray, Red, Brindle, Brown

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Average shedder

Grooming requirements: Minimal

Good with children: Not really

Good with other pets: Yes

Intelligence / Trainability: Very high

Exercise needs: Very high

Tolerates being alone: Absolutely not

Hunting drive: Very high

Suited as Guard dog: Average

Sensitivity: Average

Good for novice owners: No

Hypoallergenic breed: No

Drooling: High

Barking: Average

General health: Average

Cost to keep: Very high


The Cane Corso is a mastiff-type dog with origins in Italy. The word “cane" is Latin for dog and derives from the word “canis". The word “corso” may come from “cohors,” meaning bodyguard, or from “corsus,” an old Italian word meaning sturdy or robust. Cane Corsos are a descendant of the canis pugnax, dogs used by the Romans in warfare and have a history as hunting, working, herding, and guard dogs. They are tough dogs who excelled in boar hunting and even bear fighting.

When farming methods began to change in the early 1900s, Cane Corsos were less useful. They were no longer needed for herding and other general tasks and were in danger of becoming extinct. In the 1970s, efforts were made to revitalize the breed. The Society Amatori Cane Corso was formed in 1983, and the Federation Cynologique Internationale recognized the breed in 1996.

A man named Michael Sottile imported the first litter of Corsos to the United States in 1988, followed by a second litter in 1989. The International Cane Corso Association was formed in 1993. Eventually, the breed club sought recognition from the American Kennel Club, which was granted in 2010. The breed is now governed by the Cane Corso Association of America.


The Cane Corso is an impressive dog, medium-large, who is an athletic and elegant watchdog and working dog.
Typical characteristics are:

  • A large head, medium-sized almond shaped eyes, broad muzzle, and cropped or uncropped ears.

  • A muscular, athletic, and well-balanced body.

  • The tapered tail is carried level with the back.

  • Short, stiff coat with a light undercoat.

  • Colors: black, lighter and darker shades of gray, lighter and darker shades of fawn, red, and brindle.



Cane Corsos are very intelligent, and though they are fairly quick to learn, they can be stubborn when training. These dogs require a steady, consistent hand and an assertive trainer. Training a Cane Corso requires time, patience, and the ability to set proper boundaries. A trainer needs to be capable of establishing and maintaining "alpha" status within the family pack. Because of this, a Cane Corso may not be appropriate for a first-time owner.

Early leash training is important, as this dog will grow to be quite large and any pulling behaviors should be dealt with as soon as possible.

As with all intelligent breeds, Cane Corsos require an outlet for their energy and intelligence. In short, they do best with a job, even if that job is simply chasing a ball or accompanying you on walks. They excel in activities like herding, obedience, and other structured dog sports.


Because they were originally bred as hunting, herding, guard, working dogs, Cane Corsos are moderately high-energy dogs that require a fair amount of exercise. At least 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise twice per day is enough to keep your Cane Corso healthy and happy. They also require mental stimulation like games and activities. Despite being high-energy and requiring exercise, they are not generally excitable and are quiet and low-energy when indoors. A lack of exercise and mental stimulation can lead to undesirable and even destructive behaviors like chewing and barking.

Keep in mind that Cane Corsos are large dogs and puppies mature slowly. Because of this, they are susceptible to certain bone disorders. Keep your puppy on soft surfaces like grass and keep play on hard surfaces to a bare minimum until your puppy is at least two years old.


Cane Corsos are affectionate dogs and though they may appear aloof, they can be quite attached and protective of their human family members. They are happiest if they can spend a majority of their time alongside their family. They will not thrive in situations where they must spend long periods of time on their own. Teach your dog early on that time alone is okay, is ever used as punishment, and that you will always come back to them.


Cane Corsos can become strongly bonded to their family members and be protective and territorial. They are calm and watchful but will let you know if there is an intruder and will most likely defend those people they view as part of their "pack". Proper socialization is extremely important to ensure that they become used to meeting new people.

Living Conditions

A Cane Corso requires a fair amount of exercise and due to their size and tendency to be territorial, they are not well-suited to apartment living. They do not always listen well and must be walked on a leash when not in a fenced yard. If you do allow your dog time in a fenced yard, it must be appropriately high and secure. Leaving your dog outside, alone for too long may encourage negative behaviors like digging and even aggression.

Children and Other Pets

Due to their sheer size and protective behavior, Cane Corsos are not recommended in homes with young children. Early socialization is important and any children that come in contact with the dog should be taught how to interact correctly. Finally, because they react to noises that they interpret as 'prey' sounds and can be unnecessarily protective, like when he or she is roughhousing with other kids, children must be extra-careful with their behavior.

  • Young children may unintentionally invade the personal space of your dog and are unable to interpret the warning signals of your dog.

  • Dogs consider the family as a pack, and may consider the younger children as subordinates and may try to correct them.

  • Young children are very time-consuming. They may take away from the time you have to spend with your dog and he may become bored or frustrated.

Keep in mind that all children should be taught how to interact correctly with ANY dog and should never be left unsupervised.

Cane Corsos can be good with other pets or dogs of they are raised with them. However, they may be territorial when meeting new dogs in their own home and may interpret other dogs and animals as prey, and injure or kill them. Early socialization is very important. Special care needs to be taken when introducing a new puppy to your other pets. It needs to be done slowly and very careful to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that it is a calm, positive experience for the puppy. They do have a strong prey drive and may chase cats and other small, furry animals.


The average life expectancy of a Cane Corso is between 10 - 11 years. Like all breeds, the Cane Corso is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A Cane Corso is prone to these diseases:
  • Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) (hereditary)
  • Cherry eye (hereditary)
  • Ectropion (hereditary)
  • Entropion (hereditary)
  • Demodectic Mange (hereditary)
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia (hereditary) : Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a very common genetic orthopedic trait, which is affected by environmental and dietary factors. Canine hip dysplasia occurs when there is an abnormality in the development of the hip joint. More info»


The Cane Corso has a short, stiff coat with a light undercoat that sheds heavily twice a year. Weekly brushing will help remove dead hair and distribute oils.

They don’t really need a bath too often, once a month should suffice. When you bathe them, make sure to use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the skin's natural PH balance. Begin teaching your puppy about bathing early on so that it will be a simple process as they become older and larger.

Ears should be checked regularly for dirt, redness or a bad smell that could indicate an infection. Clean your dog's ears when needed with an ear cleaner made specifically for dogs.

Some dogs wear their nails down on their own with exercise, but many do not. Long nails will require regular clipping and all puppies should be introduced to nail clipping early on so that it will be easier when they are older.

Consider brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog toothpaste two or three times a week. Daily is even better. All puppies should become accustomed to having their mouths and teeth checked regularly.


Cane Corsos are large, relatively high-energy dogs, so they require a large amount to eat. 4-5 cups of high-quality, dry dog food fed in two daily meals is a good starting point, but other factors need to be taken into consideration. Higher quality dog foods may require less food, as more of the food is digested properly. In addition, higher energy dogs will require more food, while more sedentary dogs may require less.

Puppies have special feeding requirements. Use food specifically designed for large breed puppies. Adult dog food contains too much calcium, which will increase the risk for hip and elbow dysplasia. Don’t overfeed your puppy, as overweight puppies also have an increased risk for dysplasia. Puppies need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. This might seem like a hassle, but it will help when it comes to housebreaking. A puppy’s digestive system works very fast. Five to 30 minutes after his meal, he will need to go out to do his business.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.

Avoid exercise 1 hour before and after the meal, to reduce the risk of gastric torsion (bloat).