Reading time: 24 minutes.
If you’re looking for a four-legged companion, there are many dog breeds to choose from. While each dog has individual traits, those from the same breed tend to have the same personality, care and maintenance needs, and the same physical characteristics. It’s essential to know all this before adopting a new dog. This will help you determine whether or not they are the right canine for you and your family. One breed that many dog enthusiasts love is the Cane Corso. This large Italian breed has many amazing traits and can make the perfect companion to the right owner. Let’s get right into the most important details about this dog.
Cane Corso Dog Breed Introduction
The Cane Corso is a member of the mastiff breed. Powerful, confident, and majestic are some words used to describe this dog. This, together with their muscular build and assertive personality, means they need an experienced pet parent who is ready and able to lead the pack. If you can provide proper training, exercise, ample space, a proper diet, and take care of their other basic needs, then this might be the breed for you. While they require a high level of maintenance and management, they are super loyal, intelligent, and friendly to people they know. Keep reading to understand how to become a good pet parent to your new Cane Corso.
Cane Corso Breed History
The Cane Corso can be traced back to ancient Greece. Many experts believe they are descendants of the now-extinct Greek Molossus dog. Armies that took over Greece Islands took some of their dogs back to Italy, where they bred them with native Italian breeds. The two breeds that emerged were the Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff.
Historically, Cani Corsi (plural of Cane Corso) were used as war dogs. But after the fall of the Roman Empire, they found themselves with regular jobs. They became well-rounded farm dogs that hunted various wild games, guarded property, and helped with droving. But then industrialization came and put them out of the farm work, which led to a decline in their population. Cani Corsi were almost extinct by the mid-20th century.
In the 1970s, a group of dog fanciers came together to revive this breed. The Society Amorati Cane Corso was formed in 1983, and by 1990, Cani Corsi were being exhibited in European dog shows. This dog came to the US in 1988 and was later recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2010.
Today, the Cane Corso is a working dog through and through. Its name translates to guardian dog, so you know it’s built to protect you and your family. Like every other mastiff, Cani Corsi are large and impressive, intelligent, and intensely loyal and affectionate to their people.
Cane Corso Dog Physical Characteristics
These big, beautiful, mastiff-type dogs have sturdy, athletic, and large-boned bodies. Their muscular build extends through the broad chest and legs. You will also know them by their wide skull, wrinkly forehead, and floppy ears. You might see some with cropped ears, but this practice is purely for cosmetic reasons and doesn’t offer any proven health benefits to the dog. Their expression is one of alertness. And they have almond-shaped eyes that vary in color, ranging from shades of brown or even a striking yellow or blue. While all dogs have slightly webbed feet, those of the Cane Corso is not overly webbed to help them swim or dig.
Size and Weight of Cane Corso Dog
This is one of the largest dog breeds out there. Their big size and somewhat terrifying appearance can make other dogs look like teddy bears. You’re probably wondering why you need to know a dog’s height and weight. It will help you determine whether you have enough space to accommodate them from puppyhood to adulthood comfortably. Secondly, you will be able to know whether your dog is growing at a healthy rate.
If you study the complete Cane Corso growth chart, you’ll notice that most of them (males and females) are born with the same weight (between 0.8-1.1 pounds). As they grow, their weight will start distributing differently depending on genetics, activity level, overall health, type of food, and gender. By the third month, males weigh 23.1-35.3 lbs while females weigh 22-32 lbs. At six months, males weigh 61.7-77.2 lbs while females weigh 52.9-68.3 lbs.
The Cane Corso takes longer to reach their full size as a large breed. Most will reach their adult size at around 12 months, while others will take up to two years to complete it. A fully-grown male will weigh between 110-140 pounds and stand 25-27.5 inches tall. On the other hand, a female Cane Corso will weigh 90-110 pounds and stand 23.5-26 inches. The height is measured at the withers.
Please keep in mind that these numbers are simply estimates. So long as your doggy doesn’t deviate too much from these sizes or have a sudden and drastic weight change, everything should be fine. Of course, if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight, height, and overall health, you should consult the vet immediately.
Cane Corso Colors and Patterns
This dog is available in many different colors for everyone’s taste. Will you go for the common colors, or will you consider an exotic look? According to this breed’s standards, acceptable colors by the AKC include black, gray, red, fawn, and Formentino. Brindling is allowed on all of these colors. This isn’t a color but rather a striping pattern found on the dog. Solid fawn and red colors, including lighter and darker shades, will have a black or gray mask (the mask doesn’t go beyond the eyes.)
Since these dogs have a smooth and shiny coat, the solid black can look majestic. When originally black puppies receive a dilute gene from each parent, they might have a gray coat. If you’re wondering what a Formentino Cane Corso is, it’s basically a dilution of the fawn coat. Chocolate, liver, Isabella, or straw are also coloring you can find on this dog. But as attractive as they may be, they are not acceptable as far as the AKC is concerned. Also, these colors rely on regressive genes and, therefore, occur less frequently or are very rare to find.
Be wary of breeders advertising non-standard colors at a ridiculously high price. For example, the merle Cani Corsi doesn’t exist. This color is often a result of crossbreeding a Cane Corso with another dog breed with the merle pattern, meaning you’ll have a mix and not a purebred.
Shedding Levels and Grooming Routine
Cani Corsi shed, but nowhere near as much as other large breeds like the German Shepherd or mastiff-type dogs like the English Mastiff. You can expect low to moderate shedding throughout most of the year. You will notice an increase in shedding during certain times of the year. Like all double-coated breeds, this dog sheds its entire undercoat in spring and fall to prepare for upcoming seasonal changes.
It’s important to note that there can be variation in shedding levels even between dogs of the same breed. Factors such as diet, overall health, and the living environment can affect how much your Cane Corso sheds. While shedding is a natural process in dogs, you need to watch out for unhealthy shedding. Your Cane Corso may experience excessive shedding due to stress, hormonal changes in a pregnant bitch, parasitic infection, fungal and bacterial infection, allergies, or an underlying illness like cancer.
Your first line of defense for managing and minimizing shedding is grooming. Luckily, the Cane Corso has a short, coarse coat that is easy to maintain. A brush once or twice a week is enough to remove loose fur, thus reducing the amount that ends up on your furniture and floors. Occasionally baths are also needed to keep the coat clean and healthy.
As you groom your pup, be sure to check for any presence of sores, rashes, or signs of any infections in their ears, eyes, nose, mouth, feet, and skin. Occasional nail trimming may also be necessary. Last but not least, regularly brushing their teeth, at least 2-3 times a week, can help prevent bad breath and dental problems.
Energy Levels and Exercise Routine
As you can imagine, this large, working dog has a ton of energy. So, they need plenty of physical exercises to release that excess energy and for long-term health benefits. Your average Corso needs at least two walks per day of at least a mile. Running, frisbee toss, backyard agility, tug of war, play fetch, weight pulling, training, and other outdoor activities can also help keep the dog fit and prevent boredom.
If you’re wondering how long to exercise this dog, two hours of daily exercise should be your target. But even a 30-minute walk is better than not exercising at all. You may want to go easy on the puppies, though. Their muscles and joints are still developing, and any strenuous activity can cause harm.
Failure to provide enough exercise will, over time, cause obesity, which in turn increases the risk of severe health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. Additionally, your dog will find other ways to release the pent-up energy. They will start to dip holes, chew on everything, bark excessively, and do other destructive behaviors.
Equally important is a mental exercise, which you can provide through puzzle toys, scent games, and training, to name a few. Mental work is believed to drain even more pent-up energy than physical exercise. Plus, these dogs were bred to work. So, they need regular tasks; otherwise, they will become unruly and destructive. If you’re looking for a lazy pup that’s happy to nap all day, this is probably not the dog for you.
The lifespan of A Cane Corso Dog
How long a dog lives is one of the toughest questions pet owners have. For many, these furry animals become part of the family, and losing them can be as devastating as losing a human loved one.
Many factors affect the longevity of a Cane Corso, but their average lifespan is around 10-12 years. This lifespan is similar to most large breeds, which tend to have a shorter lifespan compared to their small-sized counterparts. This is because large dogs age faster and have to work harder to keep alive.
Corsos are generally healthy dogs. But like all breeds, they are prone to certain health problems that might affect life expectancy or even quality of life. Here are some illnesses related to Cani Corsi:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Gastric dilatation-volvulus
- Eyelid abnormalities, like ectropion
- Idiopathic epilepsy
The good news is you can extend the overall life expectancy of your Cane Corso by doing the following things:
- Provide a healthy diet
- Exercise them to maintain a healthy weight and help relieve stress
- Exercise their minds as well to prevent mental decline
- Regular veterinary visits are necessary for preventive care. This will allow you to catch any illness early on when they are still treatable and easy to manage.
- Keep your dog out of dangerous situations.
- Spend enough time with your pup to prevent anxiety and other forms of mental problems
- Ensure their vaccinations are up-to-date
Are Cane Corso Hypoallergenic
With dog allergies becoming so common, the need for hypoallergenic dogs is increasing. While some people are affected by dog fur, dog allergies are mainly caused by a protein found in the animal’s dander, urine, and saliva. This means that no dog is 100% hypoallergenic since they all produce these elements. That being said, dogs that shed less and drool less are often classified as hypoallergenic because they are less likely to trigger allergies.
Unfortunately, the Cane Corso doesn’t fall in that category. As mentioned earlier, they are low-moderate shedders and will likely shed more in spring and fall. They also tend to drool a lot due to their loose, long jowls.
If you have severe allergies and being close to this dog could be life-threatening, then perhaps it’s not the breed for you. If you have mild allergies, there are ways to reduce or even eliminate your exposure to dog allergies. Start by reducing shedding through regular grooming, providing a proper diet, and occasional baths. Regularly vacuuming your home, investing in a HEPA air filter, and cleaning the dog’s beddings will help remove allergens from your environment. Last but not least, keep your dog out of places you spend a lot of time in, like your bedroom.
Like any other canine, the Cane Corso requires a nutritious and well-balanced diet to maintain their overall health. This means providing the proper nutrient balance of protein, fiber, carbohydrates, fat, and micronutrients. Every stage of your dog’s life has its own unique set of dietary requirements. It’s best to consult with your vet on the right foods for your dog. You can either offer a dry, wet, or raw diet. Dry kibble is more convenient and cheaper to serve. Wet food is much more nutrient-dense, but it can be costly. Your best bet is a mix of the two. Raw feeding is also gaining traction because you can readily know what you’re giving your pup and even calculate their nutritional intakes. But you have to be aware of the risk of bacteria in raw meat.
How much should you feed your Corso? This large breed requires much more food than an average dog. But this doesn’t mean you overfeed them. These dogs are prone to obesity, leading to other health issues, including many types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, osteoarthritis, etc. The right amount of food you give to your Cane Corso will depend on the dog’s age, health, weight, activity level, and type of food. If you’re providing dry kibble, an adult Cane Corso will need 6-9 cups, divided into two meals every day. A young puppy will need 2-3 cups until around six months. The meals should be divided into 3-4 times per day to reduce the risk of bloating, farts, and stomach torsion.
Are Cane Corso Suitable for Apartments
It may be true that small dogs make excellent apartment dogs since they don’t require much space. But temperament, bark levels, and energy levels are important factors to consider when looking for an apartment dog. Ultimately, a good apartment dog will depend on the owner’s ability to take care of the dog’s basic needs, including food, socialization, training, and exercise.
The Cane Corso is a large, working dog with high energy levels, so it may not seem like an obvious choice for an apartment. This dog will be happiest in a home with a large, securely fenced yard for playing and running around. This doesn’t mean apartment dwellers cannot enjoy the company of this amazing dog. As long as you are willing to put in the effort to exercise, socialize, and train your Cane Corso, they should be able to live comfortably in an apartment. You have to be realistic, though. This is a large dog, and if your apartment is cramped, they will not even have ample space to turn and stretch their legs. On the plus side, this is generally a quiet dog, meaning it won’t be causing many problems with your neighbors. Remember that this dog doesn’t like being left alone for long hours. Otherwise, it will become destructive, and that is not an apartment you want to come back to find.
Due to this breed’s large size and aggressive behavior, they often face bans in some apartments and even cities. Check if the Cane Corso is allowed in an apartment building you want to move in.
Can Cane Corso Live Outside, In Cold and Hot Weather?
Cane Corsi are good outside dogs, and they prefer staying in an environment where they can run around and play. This dog Is known to survive in varying weather conditions far better than most dog breeds. A lot of people don’t know that there are limitations to what they can tolerate.
For starters, they have a thick double coat that helps to keep them warm in cold weather. But they are vulnerable to extreme cold. When temperatures drop below 32℉ (0℃), it would be best to take them inside. If you have to take them outside during such cold weather, probably to poop or for a walk, you can give them a doggy jacket to help keep them warm.
The Cane Corso’s double coat also acts as insulation, helping to keep them cool during hot weather. But they are also vulnerable to scorching temperatures and are prone to overheating. Ensure your dog has access to fresh, clean water to help keep it hydrated. You may also need a well-ventilated shade where your dog can stay when it gets too hot.
Cane Corso Dog Personality Characteristics
This dog has a serious and sensitive temperament. It is quite independent with a strong, stubborn streak, and if untrained, it will assert itself as being dominant. Despite their appearance, Cani Corsi are very kind, friendly, and loyal to their owners. They will lay their lives to protect their owners. While they will be cuddly, gentle, and warm towards their beloved family members, they are neither friendly nor trusting with strangers. They will need early socialization and proper training to understand that not everyone is a threat.
Living with Children and Family Members
The Cane Corso is a great family dog under the right circumstances. Their naturally strong will and dominating personality make them exceptional protectors of the family. As family-only dogs, they are very loyal, loving, and affectionate with those within the family. But don’t expect them to be friendly with everyone they meet.
That being said, this dog is better suited for families with older children rather than families with babies. Due to their large size, they can injure or cause harm to a small baby even without intending to. As with every breed, your Cane Corso will have to be properly raised, trained, and socialized to live happily with kids.
You should also teach your children how to treat the dog. Kids can be rough and rowdy, pulling on the dog’s tail, climbing, hitting, biting, or even shouting at the dog. No matter how loving and patient a dog is, there’s only so much, it can take. The dog might react to these actions aggressively, like biting o growling at your child. A bite from this dog can lead to serious injury, not to mention infection.
You also want to teach your child never to approach the dog while he’s eating or sleeping. Also, kids running around outdoors might awaken this dog’s prey drive, and they will feel the need to run and chase after the children. Remember always to supervise your child’s and dog’s interactions and know when play is becoming too much.
Living with Cats and Other Dogs
As mentioned earlier, the Cane Corso is a great family dog who gets along well with other family members. They do have a few temperament issues and love their owner’s attention. If your Cane Corso doesn’t get proper socialization with other dogs from an early age, they might be readily receptive to having other dogs around when they are adults. These dogs are also known to be aggressive around dogs of the same sex. Needless to say, you can fix these issues with early socialization.
Cani Corsi may not do so well when living with cats and other small pets (including small dogs). These dogs have a high prey drive since they were initially bred to be hunters. They will often chase down smaller animals and do their best to kill them. On the bright side, if you’ve raised your pup from the get-go with other animals, they should do well with other pets in their adulthood. They will, however, try to get dominance over the other animals in the home.
Even if all your pets are getting along well, it’s important to give attention to all of them equally. Cane Corsi are also very territorial, so you want to ensure each animal has their own eating and sleeping space.
Barking Levels of a Cane Corso Dog
This dog is generally known to bark less than most breeds. Their naturally calm temperament mostly prevails. Several things can cause your dog to bark, howl, or make other noises. For starters, they will bark when they want something, such as food, attention, play, or go outside to do their business. If left alone for long periods, Cani Corsi suffering from separation anxiety, will often bark.
These dogs are quite territorial and will bark to protect their territory and family. Expect them to bark at strangers or when they see or hear something strange. Last but not least, a Cane Corso will bark when they feel threatened. Be careful of this loud, harsh, and prolonged bark as it could result in a bite.
If your Cane Corso has a stable home and is well-trained, they will likely bark less. Even when they see something strange, they would rather investigate themselves first. On the other hand, your dog could have a behavioral issue of barking excessively. Luckily, you can take a few steps to prevent excessive barking, starting with exercising them to help reduce pent-up energy. You also want to spend enough time with your pup to avoid separation anxiety. Lastly, isolating your pet in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere can help them calm down. This means no loud sounds, bright lights, or strong smells.
Are Cane Corso Good Guard or Watchdogs?
Both watchdogs and guard dogs are kinds of protection canines, but there’s a slight difference between the two. Watchdogs are meant to keep an eye out for intruders or anything strange. They will notify the owner of any incoming danger through barking, but that’s usually where their jobs end. On the other hand, guard dogs safeguard their owners together with their property and will intervene when needed. These dogs can attack an intruder or even hold them down until the authorities arrive.
When it comes to the Cane Corso, their large size and frightening appearance are enough to deter would-be intruders. They will often bark, growl, and even howl to alert their owners of threats, making them excellent watchdogs. But that’s not all this dog can do.
Cani Corsi have long been known as tough guys. They were once used as Roman war dogs and later resided on farms where they guarded livestock and their human owners. So, being guard dogs is nothing new to them. They display many traits that make them excellent guard dogs. They are not friendly to strangers and are extremely cautious around unfamiliar people and situations, for starters. Secondly, they are highly territorial and will protect their territory and owners in whatever way possible.
While you can sleep soundly knowing that you are safe with this dog in your compound, perhaps you should consider controlling this intuitive nature to protect. Without proper training and socialization, a Cane Corso can hurt innocent bystanders or even visitors to your home if they deem them a threat.
As we’ve seen before, Cani Corsi have a possessive, territorial, and guarding nature. They aren’t very kind to strangers, whether humans or other animals. This dog isn’t an outwardly aggressive, but it can be in certain situations, such as:
- Out of fear
- Feeling territorial and/or possessive
- Social aggression
- Feeling protective
- Out of frustration
- If they’re in pain, etc.
Unfortunately, due to a few isolated incidences of dog bites, the Cane Corso has been categorized as one of the most dangerous dogs out there. Because of their strength and size, these dogs can be dangerous, and with a strong bite force of 700 psi, a bite from the Cane Corso could be fatal. This has led to many countries, states, and even apartment owners banning or restricting Cane Corso ownership.
The good news is you can make them friendly with consistent training and socialization from an early age. Any displays of aggression must be corrected immediately to prevent the behavior from becoming problematic.
The first step to preventing aggression is knowing when the dog is being aggressive in the first place. Signs will typically vary depending on the reason for the aggression. But common warning signs include staring, snarling, snapping and growling, excessive barking, carrying his tail high, and standing tall. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to back away from the dog. Other things you can do to prevent this unwanted behavior from your dog include:
- Exercising them to release pent-up energy
- Socializing them
- Start obedience training early
- Be the leader of the pack through firm leadership and boundaries
Can Cane Corso Be Left Alone
While you would love to spend all day with your furry friend, it’s impossible. Whether it’s going to work, school, or running a few errands, you will need to leave your dog at home alone for some time. Luckily, Cani Corsi are big dogs with independent minds. They can take care of themselves most of the time and wouldn’t mind being alone for a while. But this doesn’t happen overnight. It will take a lot of training to get them used to stay alone.
You can leave a well-trained Cane Corso alone for up to 8 hours a day. But don’t make it a habit. All dogs are used to staying in a pack and thrive on human companionship. The Cane Corso is no different; they get anxious when left alone for prolonged periods. A dog suffering from separation anxiety will resort to destructive behaviors such as digging, chewing, trying to run away, pooping in the house, excessing barking, etc.
As you leave your dog in the house, you should do a couple of things to make their time alone okay. Start by exercising them to release pent-up energy. Then ensure they have access to food, water, and toys to keep them busy and entertained while you’re gone.
Keep in mind that puppies and sick dogs should not be left alone for long hours.
Cane Corso Dog Training – Easy or Hard?
Early socialization and training are recommended for all dogs, but for the Cane Corso, they are an absolute must to keep them from becoming dominant in the household. It also helps them grow into a well-mannered adult, fit for society. Any by training, training the dog yourself, not sending them to obedience school. You could get help from a professional dog trainer, but your Cane Corso needs to learn to work with you and obey you. Plus, training sessions are great for bonding with your beloved dog. This dog is smart, obedient, and eager to please, so it should be easy to train them. Without much delay, let’s get into some of the important types of training your Cane Corso needs:
Cane Corso Dog Potty Training
The sooner you start potty-training your pup, the better for everyone and the faster they will learn not to poop inside the house. As mentioned earlier, Cani Corsi are pretty smart and capable of learning many skills. So, potty training them shouldn’t be a hassle.
The first step to potty training your pup is creating a designated area, preferably outside, where they can do their business. Potty pads may also be necessary for use at night or during winter when the weather outside is unbearable. The second step is to establish a routine for taking him out. Puppies don’t have control of their bladder and bowel movements yet, so you will initially need to take them out several times a day. Take them out when they wake up in the morning, after meals, after naps, after playtime, and before bedtime. Adults who are already potty trained can hold it in for 6-8 hours, but that doesn’t mean they should. If you can, allow them to relieve themselves 3-5 times a day.
Another important part of potty training your Cane Corso is learning the signs that he needs to go. This includes sniffing the floor, squatting, lifting a leg, circling, and scratching at the door.
Once you take the dog outside to the designated area, use a basic command in a positive tone to signal them that it’s time to poop, pee, or even fart. Be sure to reward them with a treat or praise every time they go potty appropriately. Even after you’re done potty training, accidents can still occur. Focus on positive reinforcement, and remember, consistency is key.
Cane Corso Dog Obedience Training
Thanks to this dog’s smartness, bossy, and stubborn nature, they can easily dominate your household without firm leadership and boundaries. This is where obedience training comes in. Whether you’re a first-time owner or an experienced one, successful obedience training comes down to patience, diligence, and consistency.
Begin training by teaching basic commands such as sit, stay, come, heel, etc. These are great building blocks to create a common language that you and the dog can understand. The second step in obedience training is to establish who’s in charge. As mentioned earlier, Cani Corsi tend to be socially dominant, and if you let them take that role, it can lead to unpleasant or downright intolerable consequences. This doesn’t mean you try to shape, punish, shout, or physically dominate your dog during obedience training. Negative reinforcement will only result in anxious, aggressive, and destructive behaviors. Plus, the dog will only lose respect for you.
Here are some small symbols of power:
- Look your dog in the eye when you give a command, and don’t break eye contact until they have followed the command
- Maintain height advantage as you give a command
- Initiate a family walk, etc.
Cane Corso Dog Behavioral Training
Like any other dog, your Cane Corso may develop some behavior problems that you’ll need to address. Common behavioral issues in this breed include excessive barking, digging, chewing on everything, trying to run away, aggression, jumping on people, playing rough, etc.
Proper training is the key to having a well-behaved dog. In fact, it’s often said that there are no bad dogs, just untrained ones. Most dogs thrive on predictable routines and firm boundaries.
The first step to behavioral training is socialization. Allow your dog to meet as many people, places, and other animals as possible. This will help them learn how to react in different situations and not cause harm to people or animals who aren’t even a threat.
Behavioral training is almost similar to obedience training. But in the former, you want your dog to know how to act in different situations even when you’re not around to command them. Well-trained pups are happier and healthier as they can co-exist well with everyone in society.
Cane Corso Dog Protection Training
Cane Corsi are descended from Roman war dogs. They were also used to guard livestock and property and hunt large game. In short, they are natural protectors. But while they may have a history of being guard dogs, they should be trained on how to do the task properly. Otherwise, it can lead to dangerous situations not just for strangers but also for your family.
The training will be more about channeling their instinct and teaching them situations that need guarding and those that don’t. Let them learn how to obey commands, especially those you give verbally and offer sessions to encourage them to become effective guard dogs. These dogs can be quite territorial, and if not well trained, they could become aggressive as they do their guarding job. Early socialization is equally important, so the dog knows how to behave in different situations. That way, they won’t pose a threat to innocent bystanders and other animals who are not a real threat.
The man-stopping power of this breed is immense. So, before embarking on protection training, think hard if that’s what you really want. If not guided properly, this dog can become aggressive and dangerous. Only offer your Cane Corso training as a guard dog if they are basically friendly, stable, clear-headed, and well-socialized. Otherwise, he can become hazardous and potentially create a liability for you.