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The Cane Corso (pronounced kah-neh kor-so [ˈkaːne ˈkɔrso] from Italian cane (dog) and "corso" meaning from Latin "Cǒhors" (i.e. " courtyard dog"), is a large Italian dog breed that is used as a guardian, and for protection, tracking and as a police dog.[2]

Cane Corso
CaneCorso (23).jpg
Other names
  • Cane Corso Italiano
  • Italian Corso Dog
  • Italian Mastiff
Weight Male 45–50 kg (99–110 lb)[1]
Female 40–45 kg (88–99 lb)[1]
Classification / standards
FCI Group 2, Section 2.1 Molossian: Mastiff type #343 standard
AKC Working standard
CKC Group 3, Working [? standard]
The CKC Miscellaneous List is for breeds working towards full CKC recognition.
UKC Guardian Dog Group standard
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)


Black Cane Corso
Formentino Cane Corso puppy
Black Cane Corso puppy

The Cane Corso is a large Italian Molosser, which is closely related to the Neapolitan Mastiff. In name and form the Cane Corso predates its cousin the Neapolitan Mastiff. It is well muscled[3] and less bulky than most other Mastiff breeds. The breed is known as a true and quite possibly the last of the coursing Mastiffs. The official Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) standard expects ideal dogs to stand 58–70 cm (23–28 in) at the withers, with females in the lower range (58–66 cm (23–26 in)) and males in the higher (62–70 cm (24–28 in)). Weight should be in keeping with the size and stature of these dogs, ranging from 45–50 kilograms (99–110 lb) for males and from 40–45 kilograms (88–99 lb) for females.[1]

The head of the Cane Corso is arguably its most important feature. It is large and imposing. The forehead should be flat and convergent to the muzzle. The muzzle is flat, rectangular (when viewed from above), and generally as wide as it is long; approximately 33% the total length of the skull (a ratio of 2:1). The eyes are almond in shape, set straight and when viewed from the front, set slightly above the line of the muzzle. Darker eyes are preferred, however, the color of the eyes tends to emulate the shade of brindling in the coat.[4]

Cane Corso appear in two basic coat colours: black and fawn. This is further modified by genetic pigment dilution to create "blue" (grey, from black) and frumentino or formentino (from fawn, where the mask is blue/grey) colours. Brindling of varying intensity is common on both basic coat colours as well, creating Tigrato (black brindle), and Grigio Tigrato (blue brindle). White markings are common on the chest, tips of toes, the chin, and the bridge of the nose.

A 2017 study of 232 Cane Corso dogs across 25 countries found an average life span of 9.3 years, varying with different coat colours. The longest living were black brindle dogs (10.3 years) followed by brindle dogs (10.1 years), grey brindle dogs (9.8 years), fawn dogs (9.0 years), black dogs (9.0 years), grey dogs (9.0 years) and other colour dogs (8.1 years).[5]

These dogs are docile and affectionate to their owners, loving with children and family, and easily trained. They are an unequalled protector of the owners and their property.[6] They can also be very aggressive toward strangers and difficult to handle from a veterinary standpoint.

The average litter size of Cane Corso is 4 to 6 puppies.[7]


The Cane Corso is a descendant of the old Roman molosser.[1] Its name derives from cane da corso, an old term for those catch dogs used in rural activities for cattle and swine, as distinct from cane da camera which indicates the catch dog kept as a bodyguard. In the recent past, its distribution was limited to some regions of Southern Italy, especially in Basilicata, Campania, and Apulia.[4]

Cane Corso were used to guard property, livestock, and families, and some continue to be used for this purpose today. Historically it has also been used by night watchmen, keepers, and, in the past, by carters and drovers.

As life changed in the southern Italian rural farms in the 20th century, the Corso began to become rare. A group of enthusiasts began recovery activities designed to bring the dog back from near extinction in the late 1970s. By 1994, the breed was fully accepted by the Italian Kennel Club (ENCI) as the 14th Italian breed of dog. The FCI provisionally accepted the Corso in 1997, and ten years later was fully recognised internationally. In the US, the American Kennel Club first recognized the Cane Corso in 2010.[3] The popularity of the breed continues to grow, ranking in 40th place in the United States in 2016, a jump from 50th place in 2013 and 60th in 2012 [8] Today the breed is used as a guardian, protection, tracking and police dog.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "FCI Standard 343" (PDF). FCI. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Breed Standards : Cane Corso Italiano - United Kennel Club (UKC)". Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Get to Know the Cane Corso", 'The American Kennel Club', Retrieved 20 May 2014
  4. ^ a b Cane Corso Standard Archived 2009-01-11 at the Wayback Machine of Ente Nazionale della Cinofilia Italiana (ENCI)
  5. ^ Korec, Evžen (2017), "Longevity of Cane Corso Italiano dog breed and its relationship with hair colour" (PDF), Open Veterinary Journal, 7 (2): 170–173
  6. ^ "AKC Official Standard of the Cane Corso" (PDF). Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Cane Corso Italiano Dog Breed Information and Pictures". Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  8. ^ "AKC Dog Registration Statistics", The American Kennel Club, accessed 20 May 2014

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