The Cane Corso is a medium to large size mastiff-like dog—sturdy, muscular, largeboned, and athletic. This breed is strong and agile, and is neither overly bulky nor racy. This dog longer than tall. The gait is effortless and powerful. The coat is short, stiff, and dense. The Cane Corso projects confidence and power, a capable protector of property and family.
The Cane Corso is the more streamlined of the two Italian breeds descending from the ancient Roman molossian war dogs, the heavier version being the Neapolitan Mastiff. While the Neo evolved as a dedicated guard dog, the Corso became a versatile farm dog.
Cane Corso (pronounced KAHN-nay Corso) comes from the word for catch dog, a dog used to overpower large prey. The name was used to describe these dogs as early as the twelfth century. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Corsos were used to protect farms, hunt tough prey, and even guided and rounded up sheep, goats, and semi-wild cattle.
With the onset of modern times, jobs for Corsos declined; then after World War I and especially World War II the Corso population in southern Italy dwindled. By the 1970s, only a few Corsos remained with peasants spread throughout the countryside. In 1973, two individuals located, collected, and bred the the remaining Corsos, and a decade later a breed club was formed. By 1996, the Cane Corso was recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale. The first Corsos were brought to the United States in 1988. The AKC granted the breed full recognition in 2010.
Cane Corsos are utterly devoted to their family and tend to stick close to them at all times. They are eager to please and fairly easy to train, but because some can be domineering, they are not a breed for a novice owner. They are suspicious of strangers and if not extensively socialized can be overly cautious or assertive. Most, but not all, get along well with dogs of the opposite sex and with other animals. However, they are not a good candidate for dog parks.
Corsos tend to be quiet indoors but do need a moderate amount of exercise daily. A long jog or a couple of high-energy play sessions such as tugging, fetching, or swimming are fine. This is not a good breed for dog parks. They thrive on mental stimulation, and they especially enjoy herding and other dog sports that combine mental and physical challenges. Coat care is minimal.