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Cane Corso Dog Breed profile

Cane Corso Dog standing in the grass looking at camera
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Cane Corso dog originated in Greece and is part of a sub-category of dog breeds, known as mollosers. Used as guard dogs due to their imposing size and stature, the invading Roman empire captured many of these dogs during their war with Greece and took them back to Italy where they bred them with their own native Italian dog breeds. Here, alongside its close cousin the Neapolitan Mastiff, the Cane Corso was used as a war dog, fearlessly charging enemy lines with buckets of flaming oil attached to their backs.

After the Roman wars ended, the Cane Corso was integrated into civilian life, where they soon became known as the ultimate guard dog, protecting farms and livestock from thieves and predators. They came close to extinction following the end of World War Two, but selective breeding has revived the species and in the 21st century they’re enjoying a surge in popularity.

They are large, muscular, and somewhat majestic in appearance, and make devoted, loyal, and loving companions. The Cane Corso is known to be headstrong, dominant, and highly intelligent, requiring an experienced owner who is confident and able to set clear and strong boundaries. While not known to be aggressive, this breed is a guard dog and does not warm easily to strangers. They require early socialization and training to learn the difference between normal human behavior, sights, and sounds, and those that constitute a threat.

Cane Corso’s require lots of attention and time spent with their family, but they are not demanding of it and are content to sit quietly wherever their humans are. They need lots of exercise and plenty of activities to keep them mentally stimulated. 

How much exercise does a Cane Corso need?

Cane Corso Dog jumping up to catch frisbee

(Image credit: Getty Images)
QUICK STATS

Life expectancy: 9-12 years
Average weight: Male: 99-110lbs/45-50kg Female Weight in 88-99lbs/40-45kg
About the same as: A baby hippo
Exercise level: Moderate

The Cane Corso is no couch potato and they need a fair amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep them occupied. At a minimum, you’ll want to engage this breed in 45 minutes to an hour of brisk walking or jogging but given they’re working dogs, they definitely won’t say no to doing more.

Exercising their minds is as important as exercising their bodies as otherwise, they can be prone to destructive behaviors like digging, excessive chewing, and rambunctious outbursts. Challenging puzzles and durable chew toys are great for keeping their mind occupied, and if you have a farm or ranch they can be put to work herding livestock. 

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Kong Extreme Dog Toy
The king of chew toys, this tough and durable rubber toy will banish boredom, teach proper chewing behavior, and provide hours of fun. Fill it with food for mental stimulation or let the unpredictable bounce delight your dog as it plays chase and fetch. 


Is the Cane Corso Dog easy to train?

FACTS FOR POTENTIAL OWNERS

Suitable for: Active and experienced dog owners who are confident, able to set clear boundaries, and generous with their affection
Not suitable for: First-time dog owners, homes with small children or other dogs of the same sex, or environments where they may be left alone for long periods of time
Temperament: Intelligent, affectionate, strong-willed, athletic, eager to please
Shedding: Light to moderate
Also consider: German Shepherd

It’s vital to train this breed from a young age and that’s best done by an experienced and confident dog owner who can be diligent and consistent. Cane Corso’s are big and strong and are known for being dominant and protective, so they must undergo obedience training to ensure they don’t end up ruling the roost.

They have a natural aversion to strangers and can be highly territorial. Because they dislike those outside their family, they need regular socialization to get them used to being around others, prevent aggression, and stop them from jumping and leash-pulling around those they don’t know. 

Cane Corso’s also have a high prey drive and have been known to chase and kill small animals, such as cats. They may also try to dominate small children or dogs and as such, they are best suited to homes with teenage children or adults. It’s for this reason that they need to in homes with confident owners who can quickly re-establish their authority as the leader of the pack. 

While you need to start training this dog before it reaches 12 weeks of age, the good news is their intelligent nature makes them fast learners, and while they may look intimidating, they are naturally affectionate and gentle. Training a Cane Corso requires high levels of consistency and frequency and they respond best to rewards and praise. 

What do Cane Corso’s eat?

Cane Corso dog outside with owner handing him a bowl of food

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You may have guessed from what you’ve read so far that the Cane Corso loves its food and has a hearty appetite. They do best on high-quality dog foods and dog treats can be used for training, but unless they’re being used as working dogs and need a lot of extra calories their portions need to be monitored to prevent weight gain.

They need around 4-5 cups of the best dry dog food per day, split into a morning and evening meal to help reduce the risk of bloating, which they are susceptible to. Avoid leaving kibble out between meals as the Cane Corso is a known grazer who will often continue to nibble throughout the day, which can pack on the pounds.

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Hill's Prescription Diet Metabolic Canine Dog Treats
Want to train your Cane Corso with treats but don't want them putting on weight? Then these tasty and crunchy treats are the perfect solution. Low calorie and full of fiber to help keep your pooch full, they have added nutrients to help further control appetite and keep your furkid looking fit. 

What is the temperament of a Cane Corso like?

Naturally strong-willed with a dominant personality, the Cane Corso is also loving, and its ability to form strong bonds with its family makes it a devoted companion. They are assertive and confident, which is why they need an owner with a similar nature, and while they can be intimidating to strangers, when properly trained they can be protective yet calm. 

They tend to dislike dogs of the same sex and can behave aggressively towards them, and it’s best to keep them away from cats and other small pets. Because of this, we recommend you invest in one of the best pet insurance policies that will provide you with adequate third-party liability cover. 

Cane Corso’s are excellent with older children when trained correctly, but they can dominate younger children, so we don’t recommend this breed for young families unless you are a very experienced dog owner and trainer. 

While this may all sound daunting, this breed is eager to please and very loyal, and with the right training, they make wonderful companion animals. 

How much grooming does a Cane Corso need?

Cane Corso dog standing in a meadow

(Image credit: Getty Images)
GROOMING AND HEALTH INFO

Amount Of Shedding: Moderate
Easy To Groom: Yes
General Health: Good
Potential For Weight Gain: Moderate

The Cane Corso has a short but double-layered coarse coat and sheds throughout the year. The length of the coat can vary with dogs living in colder climates carrying more of a coat than dogs who live in warmer climates. 

This breed is fairly low maintenance on the grooming front, requiring a weekly brushing to keep their coat looking its best, and a bath every three months or so. As with all breeds, keep an eye on the length of their nails and trim when needed.

How healthy are Cane Corso’s? 

The Cane Corso is a generally healthy breed, although they do have a predisposition towards certain health issues that are worth being aware of. These include hip dysplasia, eye problems, and gastric torsion, also known as bloat. 

If you’re buying your Cane Corso puppy from a breeder or adopting from a rescue shelter, ask to see any available evidence that shows that the parents have hip evaluations of excellent, good, or fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), as well as eye clearances from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Thoroughly checking over the written documentation before you take your new puppy home can save you from having to pay for potentially expensive surgery or treatments later on. 

Mostly, the Cane Corso is known for living a healthy life with an average life expectancy of between 9-12 years.

Should I get a Cane Corso?

If you’re an experienced and confident dog owner who is well versed in training and you live an active life with plenty of time available to spend with your furkid, then the intelligent and devoted Cane Corso could be just the dog for you.

Although they can appear intimidating and are known guard dogs who are territorial and protective of their owners when properly trained and socialized they make gentle and loyal companions who adore being with their humans. 

They are great family dogs but do best in homes with older children and dogs of a similar size and opposite sex. If you don’t mind putting in the hours training them from the beginning of their life and remain consistent as they mature, you’ll be rewarded with an eager to please pooch who will adore being by your side.

Also consider:
German Shepherd
Great Dane

Kathryn Rosenberg

Kathryn is a freelance writer with a passion for creating health and wellness, travel and wildlife content. Originally from New Zealand, her nomadic lifestyle has her currently fur baby-less. She scratches her pet parent itch by stealing frequent cuddles with any neighbourhood cat kind enough to indulge her.