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Top ten Cane Corso facts

Cane Corso facts
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you've never heard of this breed, you’ll definitely want to know more about it with these fascinating Cane Corso facts.

Descended from an ancient breed of Mastiff-like dogs called Molossi, the Romans brought the breed, known as the Italian Mastiff, back to Italy as war dogs. They eventually became working dogs, guarding livestock and farmhouses and hunting wild boar in rural Italy. 

Today, it maintains its protective instincts. The Cane Corso may look intimidating, but treat this breed right and you will have a gentle and loving companion for life. 

Here are ten Cane Corso facts, which will tell you everything you need to know about whether or not this dog can watch your back.

1. They make great bodyguards

The name Cane Corso roughly translates to 'bodyguard dog'. The word Cane comes from the Latin word 'canis' for dog and the word 'cohors', meaning guardian or protector. They were originally bred as guard dogs and hunters, so the name is fitting.

Cane Corsi make great family dogs as they are fiercely protective and will guard your house with their strong, muscular bodies. But, while their aggression may keep intruders away, they are docile and loving as pets. In fact, some claim they are the ultimate canine bodyguard.

2. Their lifespan may be linked to their colour

Cane Corsi come in a variety of colors including black, grey, red and fawn. This can include a brindle pattern and small white patches on their chest and feet. Research has shown that the color of these dogs could link to their longevity as black brindle Cane Corsi were shown to live the longest. 

Most Cane Corsi live for nine years and three months, while black brindle-haired dogs live an average of 10.3 years. They have short coats, so grooming is fairly low maintenance, but they do shed hair.

3. They like having a task to do

Cane Corsi are outgoing, social dogs. They aren’t content to sit around doing nothing, so it’s a good idea to keep them busy. They need lots of space to run and exercise and they need plenty of attention. This breed enjoys keeping busy, whether it is accompanying you on a walk or training tasks, so they feel useful. 

Cane Corsi need attention and don’t like being left alone. Give them that and they will be a loyal friend.

Cane Corso facts

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. The breed almost went extinct

Cane Corsi nearly disappeared during the mid-20th century as mechanized farming grew and there was no longer a need for farm dogs. 

However, in the 1970s, dog fanciers pulled together to rescue the breed from near-extinction. A breed club, the Società Amatori Cane Corso, was formed in 1983 and, in 1994, the Italian Kennel Club officially recognized the breed. 

It was not until 2010 that the American Kennel Club recognized the Cane Corso, which is perhaps why it is not as well-known as other breeds.

5. It does (and doesn’t) live up to its bad reputation

The Cane Corso looks like a lean, mean machine with its massive head and solid body. They can stand at around 27 inches tall and weigh around 100lbs. Their large size can make them a threat if they are not properly trained. These are powerful dogs and they can be wary of strangers, so they need to be socialized early. 

But they are not just big brutes. This breed is highly intelligent, easy to train and, with the right owner, they are friendly and affectionate dogs.

6. Check your insurance before getting a Cane Corso

While they are a highly intelligent and, if well-trained, not a violent breed, they are still perceived by many as dangerous dogs. So, before becoming a Cane Corso owner, you should check whether you are covered by your insurance.

If you get one as a puppy, watch out as they love to chew and can be quite destructive. Try playing fetch with the Kong Classic Flyer frisbee or the best dog chew toys to keep them satisfied and away from your sofa.

Kong Classic Flyer  $10.99

This durable frisbee is a great way to keep your dog active playing fetch, while giving them something safe to chew on at the same time.

7. They once fought lions

It is believed that Cane Corsi have been around for almost 1,000 years, originating in the Tibetan Highlands where they were used to guard ancient monasteries. 

Impressed by their size and strength, the Romans brought them back to Italy and used them as war dogs and for gladiator games where they would be made to fight lions and bears to the death. It was only once the Roman Empire fell that they were used as working dogs on rural Italian farms.

Cane Corso facts

(Image credit: Getty Images)

8. They were once muses for Italian art

These regal dogs have featured in many paintings by artists from Bartolomeo Pinelli to Andrea Mantegna. But it isn’t just painters who have used the breed as their models, their athletic form has also been used as inspiration for sculptures.

This is no surprise – not only because the breed came from Italy, where most Renaissance painters were from, but also because its majestic stature lends itself to being carved out of powerful rock.

9. They like to know who is boss

Cane Corsi are dominant dogs. They should only really be owned by experienced dog owners and trainers as they need to know who is the alpha in the house. 

This breed will try to test you. You have to be firm and show leadership to establish your position as the one who’s in charge, but be careful not to use punishment to train this type of dog. Cane Corsi are sensitive souls and they react better to praise and the best dog treats.

10. Its hips don’t lie

Cane Corsi often suffer from hip dysplasia, an abnormal development of the hip which can lead to arthritis. It’s important to ensure your dog comes from a responsible breeder to minimize the chances of your Cane Corso suffering from the condition. 

Make sure your dog is given the proper nutrition, that it is not overweight, as this can cause pressure on the joints, and that it is getting the correct type and amount of exercise.

King Corso

If you’re wondering how to pronounce the breed’s name, it’s 'Kah-nay corso'. Nicknamed 'king corso', because of the confusion in how to say its name, this seems quite appropriate given the breed’s noble, confident stature. 

It may not actually have a royal title, but if you’re committed to looking after one of these majestic dogs, you will be royally rewarded.

Zara Gaspar

Former editor of World of Animals magazine, Zara is a freelance writer with a passion for wildlife. Born in South Africa, she developed a love of animals from an early age. She is currently looking for a bigger house just so she can get a cat and a dog.