Cane Corso breed: from the Italian battlefields to the heart of families

László Enikő

2020. September 21 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

The Cane Corso is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. His commanding, powerful appearance makes him an excellent guard dog that no one will want to mess with.


The Cane Corso may be unfamiliar to many, but according to statistics in 2017, it was the sixth most popular breed in Hungary, and its success is still unbroken. Her forceful, confident demeanour reveals a feeling heart, very attached to her family. However, she is only recommended for a strong-minded, determined owner who can properly train this impressive breed.

Cane Corso with puppies.


Like many molosser-type dogs, the cane corso can be traced back to the Roman guard dog Canis Pugnax (ancient Roman molosser). The dog was often used for gladiatorial fighting, guarding and protecting. They also hunted wild boar in packs, where their job was not to hunt or chase, but to kill. In some parts of Italy they are still used for this purpose.

They have played an important role on the battlefield since ancient times. Molossian dogs were often used as gun dogs, towing the necessary equipment behind them. Until the world wars they served well in the battles. The intrepid dogs were often employed as couriers, members of the vanguard, or as ammunition carriers.

Wild boar hunting.

The cane in Italian means dog, and the corso is probably a reference to the Latin word cohors, meaning guard. Some say that corso is Celtic and means huge. Both variants are essentially descriptive of the variety. Some people also call it an Italian dog or Italian molosser. The breed originated in southern Italy, where it was kept as a guard dog on peasant estates. He later became popular among the Italian nobility. In his breeding, the grey ones were bred with the Neapolitan Mastiff and the brown ones with the Bull Mastiff. Two types are common today. The more athletic, longer-headed variety and the more mastiff-like, shorter-headed, more stocky variety. The FCI recognized it as an official breed in 1996.

Molossers were very popular in ancient Rome.

Breed standard

The Cane Corso is a medium sized dog, classified as a mastiff. The build is strong and muscular. The coat is short, shiny and dense. The colour can be black, grey, brown, reddish, different shades of these or even striped. Depending on the sex, they weigh 40-50 kg and are 60-68 cm tall. The head is short and broad. Nose large, flattened. The ears are medium sized, triangular. In the hanging position they are flush with the face. In some countries their ears and tails are cropped. Its eyes are dark, medium sized. His gaze is alert, intelligent. The jaw is particularly strong and wide. Expected lifetime 10-14 years.


The Cane Corso is a true individual, calm, balanced and persistent. It is an independent breed, but needs to be close to its owner. He does not bark unnecessarily, he only gives a signal when there is a reason to do so. He does not like strangers in his territory, as he is an excellent guard dog. His attitude is not necessarily aggressive towards them, but rather dismissive or reserved. Not recommended for a first-time dog owner, but rather with an experienced person who knows, how to train him correctly
socialise such a dog. From puppyhood, it is worth taking him to a dog school where he can do very well. It is also excellent for tracking and as a police dog, especially in Italy where many are trained for service work. He loves children, and a well-socialised Cane Corso is not aggressive towards them – or even others, unless there is a reason to be.

Ideal environment

As it is a very clingy breed, it is not suitable for cage keeping or guarding factory farms. It needs attention, love, care and the closeness of its owner. It doesn’t need much exercise, so it’s important not to overload it. He is not a long-distance champion, but he compensates with his endurance. It is not recommended to do much stair climbing in puppyhood because of the risk of dysplasia. A strong handed, determined dog. If knows the limits and trained correctly, he will become a balanced and calm dog. Otherwise, it can be aggressive if not handled well enough. He loves children and all members of the family. He would do anything for the pack, watching over them and keeping vigilant watch over the gate. Due to its large size, it is best suited for a garden house.

It is worth going to dog school with your Cane Corso.


His coat does not require any special care, it is sufficient to comb his coat once a week. Ears and eyes should be cleaned regularly.

Common health problems

The hip, shoulder and elbow joint dysplasia that is typical of large dogs is not uncommon. It can be screened by genetic testing in 30% of cases, but often develops later. He may also be prone to epilepsy, heart and kidney disease. Characteristic of mastiffs can also cause eye problems for the breed.

cane corso dog breeds guard dog large dog molosser

Related articles

More articles

Are cats your favourite too?
Visit our Love my catz page too!