Cane Corso Italiano Breed Characteristics & Traits

Cane Corso Italiano – The Italian mastiff celebrates a small anniversary in 2016. The breed has only been provisionally recognized by the FCI since 1996, and only officially since 2007. The origin and parentage are still unclear. The Cane Corso is a strong and resilient fellow who likes to be exercised and kept busy and makes sure grounds and property are protected.

History & Origin

We will presumably not experience a complete clarification of the historical circumstances. Assumptions, rumors, and wishes are mixed up in the literature and unknowingly quickly sold as fact. The origin and original composition have not been clarified in the end and will probably remain so – as with many large dogs. While one camp credits the Cane Corso with descent from the Roman Molosser, other enthusiasts of the breed believe that ancestry is more likely to be traced back to the Neapolitan Mastiff.

Shepherd dogs existed in Sicily, southern Italy, as early as the fourth century.

It was only in 1996 that the FCI officially designated the breed as the 14th Italian dog breed. In 2007 it was officially confirmed and in 2010 the breed standard was supplemented with an important addition. Official breeding now only includes undocked animals, which caused a great outcry in some countries outside of Italy.

Numbers, Data, Facts

  • Country of origin: Italy
  • Life expectancy: 10 – 14 years
  • Weight males: 45-50 kg
  • Bitch weight: 40-45 kg
  • Males 64-68 cm
  • Bitches: 60-64 cm
  • FCI breed standard: 343
  • FCI breed description:

Timeline Highlights

  • 1996 – Provisional recognition of the Cane Corso by the FCI
  • 2007 – Recognition of the Cane Corso Italiano by the FCI
  • 2010 – Change in the breed standard. Only undocked dogs are allowed


It is widely used in Italy. As a family dog, as a protection and herding dog, and as a herdsman, the medium-sized Italian always solves the tasks assigned to him with flying colors. Outside of Italy, he has a loyal following. Nevertheless, he is a rather rare animal and is kept in Germany more as a guard and family dog.

Classification, breed standard & breed standard

  • Group 2: Pinschers and Schnauzers – Molossoids – Swiss Mountain Dogs
  • Section 2: Molossoids
  • 2.1 Great Dane Dogs
  • Without work test

The Character & Essence of the Cane Corso

Quickly labeled as a fighting dog, the Cane Corso Italiano actually has a sunny and calm character and will probably not understand the excitement about his breed or, like so many other things, take it calmly. Because he is very Molosser-like, a calm, pleasant, and characterful dog with a pleasant nature. In the right hands, the Italian Mastiff is easy to handle and very manageable. However, the nature of the Cane Corso also wants to be kept busy.

In the end, it doesn’t matter to him whether this happens in extended tracking games, on bicycle tours, or in agility, but regular physical training is a must if you don’t want to destroy his contented and loving character. One can also question the reasons for this breed, which led to the stigma of the listed dog being imposed on the animal.

Dealing with family & children

The Italian mastiff is a balanced but spirited overall package that always seeks connection and proximity to the family and is willing to cuddle. The Corso appears to be aware of the children’s helplessness and treats them gently and carefully. Nevertheless, children and dogs should not be left alone, this applies to poodles as well as to Cane Corsos.

In dealing with strangers

The Cane Corso is endowed with brains and instincts. He looks at strangers suspiciously but lets them do as they please and as long as he doesn’t sense any danger, he remains distant and polite. In Italy’s large courts, visitors had to be able to visit the property, Italians were and are outgoing and sociable people.

When dealing with other dogs

In his home country, he lived in packs on the Sicilian farms and is therefore not completely inexperienced when dealing with other dogs. Early socialization through many encounters and attending a dog school increases the chances that the Italian will get along with his conspecifics. Nevertheless, the pronounced protective instinct in some specimens must also be pointed out.

When dealing with other pets

Chances are, if he gets used to it from an early age, he’ll also take to cats and birds at home. After research, numerous statements from breeders and owners were found on the Internet, where the merger and living together worked without any problems.

Urge to move

The Cano Corso has a pronounced urge to move and is therefore hardly suitable for keeping in a city apartment. Optimal is a workload that also challenges him mentally, such as dog sports.

The hunting instinct

The Cane Corso is a dog that is easy to control. The less pronounced hunting instinct can be well controlled with appropriate training so that the animal can be retrieved. This requires experience and education. The hunting instinct is unique to each dog and has different strengths.

Optics and Fur

Cane Corsos are medium-sized dogs with muscular and athletic appearance. Males reach a height at the withers of 64 – 68 cm and a weight of 50 kg, the bitches are only slightly lower. His body and posture exude alertness and strength. Its short, smooth fur comes in a wide variety of colors.

  • blue-grey
  • Black
  • Slate-grey
  • fawn
  • deer red
  • Light grey, lead grey
  • brindle.

A characteristic of the Cane Corso is a white spot on the chest, bridge of the nose, or the paws. Brindle and fawn dogs have a black or gray mask that should reach from the muzzle to the line of the eye.

Care and Attitude

The Cane Corso wants to be busy. He needs tasks that he can carry out independently, such as guarding his own property. Dog sports – from agility to dog dancing – are other ways to challenge him in a species-appropriate manner. The athlete among the Molossians is just as available for long walks as for bike rides.

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