Cane Corso - dangerous breed or family pet?

Cane Corso - dangerous breed or family pet?

Author WDF Staff


Cane Corso is an affectionate, majestic and intelligent dog breed and its name can roughly be translated from Latin as bodyguard-dog. Other names for this breed are Cane Corso Italiano, Italian Corso Dog, and Italian Mastiff. Their main characteristic against intruders is their imposing appearance. They are very loyal and eager to please their humans but very assertive and willful. Cane is a Latin word for dog that is derived from the word “canis” and the word “Corso” comes from the word “cohors” that means bodyguard, or from the other Latin word “corsus” meaning sturdy. Because they are very powerful and athletic this dog breed is not suited for an inexperienced owner. You need to consider many things if you decided to contact Cane Corso breeders to find your new puppy.

History of this dog breed

The Cane Corso Italiano is a medium to large-sized dog breed with a muscular, athletic appearance. It is a type of mastiff dog that belongs to the group of working dogs. This breed originates from Italy and it is a common belief that the breed was used as Roman war dogs.

FUN FACT: Roman Cane Corsos would often appear in the arenas for blood sport and would be used to fight gladiators, along with other ferocious animals (such as lions and bears).

Except for warfare, these dogs were used to protect properties, hunt animals and to be an all-around farmhand. As farming became more mechanized, this breed was led nearly to the extinction by the middle of 20th century, but, thanks to the group of Cane Corso fanciers that formed the Society Amatori Cane Corso in 1983, it still exists today and is mostly used as a family dog with guard duties or as police and military dog.

In 1997 this breed was recognized by the FCI and the AKC fully recognized this dog breed in 2009.

cane corso cropped ears

Italian Mastiff - temperament

The Italian Mastiff is a highly intelligent dog breed with a stable temperament. This breed is often described as the breed that is ready to meet any challenge and is ready for action. This can be tricky if the dog is in the wrong hands. The owner of Cane Corso dog must provide leadership and prevent the dog from roaming. We can often hear that Cane Corso dog is described as aggressive, but, this is only a consequence of inadequate nurture. With proper training and socialization that should start from an early age, these dogs are very well behaved and get along well with other people but are always very protective of their owner.

Expose your dog to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences while the dog is still a puppy to socialize the dog properly. This dog does not show interest in the people outside the family. They are very attentive to the owner, affectionate to children and family, and if it's necessary they will become the courageous protector of their humans, home, and possessions. They like to be involved in all family activities, endures all weather conditions, but what he will not tolerate is separation from family and shared activities.  According to the breed standard, the Cane Corso should be indifferent when approached and should only react when there is a real threat present. The Italian Mastiff can get along with other dogs or cats if it is raised with them, but because of its high prey drive and a territorial nature, it will most likely view other animals (such as cats and small dogs from the neighborhood) as potential prey and do its best to kill them. If you decide later in life that you want to get another dog, it is advised that you choose the opposite sex so you won't have any problems later.

Italian Mastiff and kids

If they are socialized and raised properly this dog breed can be very good with children. They will be protective and loving. The most important thing that you shouldn’t allow is to let dogs chase kids during playtime. This action can associate these dogs with hunting prey. If the kids are playing and running around the house your dog should be confident and not start chasing them, especially you need to be very alert if other kids are playing around because in some situations your dog can assume that your kid is in trouble and try to step in to “protect” the kid. Like with any other dog breed you must teach your kids how to properly play and approach the dog. If you do these things right you can be sure that both your dog and your kids will know how to play with each other. It is not advised to leave your kids during the playtime no matter how trained your dog is. There can be situation s where the dog could unintentionally easily hurt the kid because of his size.


Italian Mastiff is naturally strong-willed and has bossy nature so consistent and firm training is essential. It is important to let the dog know from the start what the rules are and who is the boss and therefore are not recommended for first-time, inexperienced or timid owners.  Be calm and self-assured while training this dog. During the training never hit the dog because it will send the wrong message. They respond well to praise and rewards, so keep that in mind. You just need to be firm, and consistent and in the end, all the hard work will pay off.

cane corso puppy playing

FUN FACT: The Cane Corso Italiano doesn’t care for people and animals outside its family, but those within have its unconditional love, undivided loyalty, and protection.

Dog breed characteristics

This is a quite large dog breed with a life span of 10-11 years. The Italian Mastiff is a loving, devoted, affectionate and extremely loyal dog, who bonds strongly with its people. This dog requires a lot of exercises, physical and mental stimulation. After all, this breed is a working one, so it needs to have a job to do. If Cane Corso is deprived of fun, it may develop some destructive habits (excessive barking, digging holes, chewing up everything on its way). Jogging or hiking is a great way to help your Cane Corso burn off its energy. Many of these dogs excel in dog sports such as agility, obedience, diving, etc.

FCI standard

According to FCI standard males of this dog breed have a height from 64 – 68 centimeters (25 – 27 inches) while the females range from 60 – 64 centimeters (23-25 inches) with a tolerance of 2cm. The male dog is bigger and weighs from 45 – 50 kilograms (99 – 110 pounds) while the female weighs from 40 – 45 kilograms (88-99 pounds). By these standards, this dog breed belongs to group 2 (Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattle dogs) – Section 2.1. (Molossian, mastiff-type).

AKC standard

The average Cane Corso Italiano stands from 63 – 70 centimeters (25 to 27,5 inches) tall and weighs from 41 – 54 kilograms (90 to 120 pounds). Males are slightly larger than females and they belong to the Working group.

Grooming tips

The Cane Corso’s coat is short, stiff and easy to maintain. It comes in black, light, and dark shades of gray; light and dark shades of fawn; and red. Any of these colors may have a brindle pattern. White patches are common and are accepted on the chest, toes, and chin. Brush your dog at least once a week. The coat sheds heavily twice a year (during seasonal changes), so we recommend you to buy yourself a good vacuum cleaner before getting this dog. Groom the dog when needed, and with a little help of praise and rewards, make it a positive experience. The rest is basic care – trim the dogs’ toenails regularly, bath the dog when needed, check its ears, brush its teeth a few times a week, etc.

cane corso dog on snow

FUN FACT: Italian Mastiff may drool, snore, and/or can be gassy.

Ear cropping

When we talk about ears of this dog most of the people will visualize cropped ears on Cane Corso. Their ears may be cropped or uncropped. The ears are naturally dropped forward, but most of the breeders crop the ears into small, equilateral triangles that stand upright. Breeders also typically dock the tails of Cane Corsos. Cropping their ears have many benefits. Not only that will prevent any injuries and prevent any potential ear infections. If you decide to crop your dog's ears the first thing you should find out is: where can you legally crop dogs' ears. Many countries have banned it. The other important thing you need to take into consideration is what vet can do a great job without hurting the dog.

Health problems

The Cane Corso dog breed has a higher than average probability of developing certain health issues during its lifetime. Hip dysplasia and degenerative joint disease are common because of this breeds' robustness – they have the typical bone and joint problems of giant breeds. Another condition is gastric volvulus or „bloat“ where the stomach fills with air and twists on its axis, causing a lot of pain to the poor dog. Symptoms are retching without vomiting and lethargy. If you notice these symptoms, take your dog to the vet immediately. 

You can help reduce the risk of suffering from bloat by giving your dog a few smaller meals throughout the day, instead of one large one. Also, you can pick up a bowl that is specially designed to slow down your pet’s eating pace. This dog breed is also prone to common eye defects, such as entropion, ectropion, and glandular hypertrophy, or "Cherry eye."

cane corso dog on sun

Keep in mind that this breed is prone to obesity as well and can quickly slip into an over-weight zone, so make sure to feed and exercise your pet properly.

There are a few recommended health tests to ensure that your dog is healthy: hip evaluation, elbow evaluation, and cardiac exam. The most important thing is to find a good breeder who will test his breeding dogs.

FUN FACT: To communicate with members of the family, the Cane Corso uses woo-woo-woo sounds and snorts. 

Cane Corso breeders

Before deciding to extend your family with a Cane Corso dog, think carefully if this is the right dog breed for you. Talk with experienced Italian Mastiff breeders and owners. These dogs are massive, powerful and confident canines that demand respect. They require an owner that can provide leadership and can spend a lot of time on training, socialization and exercising his Cane Corso dog. If you are considering this dog and you never had any dog before we highly recommend you sigh your dog to dog school and seek help from professionals so you won't regret the decision of buying a Cane Corso dog later in life. Talk to many breeders so you can find the best dog for you. Also, many breeders who will sell you his puppies will help you along the way, give you useful advice and tips about living with these dogs and what is the best thing you can do. So if you will have any additional questions after you buy a dog, most of the breeders will welcome your questions because they what the best for their puppies.

cane corso puppy

TIP: If you are planning on buying or adopting a Cane Corso, make sure to inform yourself whether is it legal in your country to own this dog breed. In some countries (such as the USA, Bermuda Islands, Ukraine), these dogs are considered aggressive and dangerous so they are cornered or banned.


World Dog Finder team