Cane Corso

Introduction | History & Health | Temperament & Personality | Breed Standard

Cane Corso

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Introduction

The Cane Corso, also known as the Cane Corso Italiano, Cane Corso Mastiff, Italian Corso Dog, Italian Mastiff and Italian Molosso, is an imposing, intelligent and often intimidating dog whose sheer size and overall appearance cause one to sit up and take notice. It gets its name from the Latin word cohors, which means "guardian" or "protector." This is one of two Italian mastiff-type breeds that descend from the Roman Canis Pugnax, also called the Canis Pugnases or Roman Molossian. The Cane Corso is not a common breed in the United States. However, it is gaining in popularity. The Corso originated in Italy, where for centuries it served as the guardian and powerful protector of people, possessions and property. The breed also was used to hunt large, difficult, dangerous game, such as wild boar. The Cane Corso was accepted for full registration status by the American Kennel Club effective in 2010. It is a member of the AKC's Working Group.

History & Health

History

For centuries, Cane Corsos were only found in especially remote pockets of rural Italy, where they were used as hunting dogs, watchdogs and guard dogs. Even then, they were considered to be extremely rare. For a period of time, it was thought that the breed had become extinct. However, in the 1980s, a group of Cane Corso fanciers reestablished the breed in southern Italy, where it flourishes today. The breed has spread in popularity to other parts of Europe, as well as to the United States, where it continues to perform its traditional roles of guardians and protectors. However, it is increasingly being seen in the conformation show ring and in other competitive canine activities. Cane Corsos are also finding their place as watchful family companions.

Health Characteristics

The average life span of a Cane Corso is somewhere between 10 and 14 years. Breed health concerns include allergies, gastric dilatation and volvulous (bloat), ectropion, entropion, elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, epilepsy and heart conditions.

Temperament & Personality

Personality

Aficionados of Cane Corsos find them to be wonderful with children and members of their immediate human family. They are described as being docile, devoted, affectionate, loyal companions and terrific watchdogs. When well-bred and conscientiously trained, Cane Corsos can be stable, reliable pets. However, they are naturally possessive, territorial, dominant, and distrustful of strangers. The Corso's instinctive protectiveness is said to be unparalleled among domestic dogs, although fanciers of some other breeds might beg to disagree. This breed is sensitive to even the tiniest suggestion of danger, disruption or distress in its household. It would be foolish for a stranger to challenge a Cane Corso or to threaten to harm its owner in any way. With proper handling and training, the Cane Corso usually knows when to be in full protective mode and when to back down. However, you would not want to be on the mouth-end of one with an unreliable disposition.

Activity Requirements

Despite their bulk, Corsos are energetic, athletic animals that thrive on regular exercise. However, they certainly do not need the amount of activity that a Border Collie or Australian Shepherd requires. Cane Corsos actually get quite a bit of exercise simply from patrolling their home and yard, which comes naturally to them and which they seem to enjoy.

Trainability

The Cane Corso is an intelligent, willing breed. They usually are eager to please their owners, which makes them quite trainable. Nevertheless, Corsos require a loving but firm hand and a stable living environment, together with conscientious training and discipline, to become reliable family members. It is important for owners of this breed to establish themselves as the unquestioned leaders of the household pack, both human and canine, early-on in their relationship, so that there is absolutely no question or confusion about who is in charge. This should be regularly reinforced with kindness, firmness and clear direction. Consistency is critical when raising a dog with the naturally strong disposition and size of a Cane Corso. They should be socialized from early puppyhood and throughout their lives, to give them the best chance of growing into safe, trustworthy companions.

Behavioral Traits

The Cane Corso is not known to be a noisy breed. They usually are quite and calm around the house, unless and until they sense that something is amiss. They tend to patrol the indoor and outdoor premises on the lookout for anything out-of-the-ordinary. When a Corso becomes alarmed or senses trouble, it transforms from a placid pet into a protective and potentially dangerous animal that any intruder or person threatening its owner would be wise to respect. Cane Corsos are not particularly good with other pets and are instinctively territorial and dominant toward other dogs.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
Ancient Italian breed medium-large size Molossus Dog. Sturdy, with a strong skeleton. Muscular and athletic, it moves with considerable ease and elegance. It has always been a property watchdog and hunter of difficult game such as the wild boar.

Size, Proportion, Substance
A muscular, balanced, large-boned dog, rectangular in proportion. The length of the dog, measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of buttock is approximately 10% greater than the height of the dog measured from the highest point of the shoulder to the ground.


Height:

Dogs: 25 to 27.5 inches; bitches: 23.5 to 26 inches.


Weight:

Proportionate to height.

Head
Molossus, large, its total length reaches approximately one third of the height at the withers. Planes of the skull and muzzle are slightly convergent; they are not parallel. The circumference of the head measured at the cheekbones is more than twice the total length of the head; skin is firm and smooth. Skull: Viewed from the front, skull is wide and slightly curved; width is equal to the length. From the side, a prominent arch begins above the eyes and then flattens backward toward the occiput. Viewed from the top, it has a square appearance due to the zygomatic arches and powerful muscles swathing it. Stop: Well-defined due to developed and bulging frontal sinuses and prominent arch above the eyes.
Expression: Very alert and attentive. Some wrinkling on forehead occurs when alert.
Eyes: Medium-size, almond-shaped, not round or bulging, tight fitting rims preferred with only a minimal amount of haw being visible.
Eye Color: Dogs with black muzzles (coat colors of black, fawn or red, and these colors brindled) dark brown eyes are preferred. Gray muzzles (coat colors of gray, fawn or red and these colors brindled), lighter shades are approved. Pigmentation of the eye rims is complete, pigmentation of eye rim matches pigment color of dog.
Disqualification: Yellow bird of prey; blue eyes.
Ears: Set well above the cheekbones. May be cropped or uncropped. If cropped, it is in an equilateral triangle. If uncropped, they are medium size, triangular in shape, held tight to the cheeks, and not extending beyond the jaw bone.
Nose: Large with well-opened nostrils, pigment color to match pigment color of the dog. Dogs with black pigment have black noses; gray pigmented dogs have gray noses; pigmentation is complete. The nose is an extension of the topline of the muzzle and does not protrude beyond nor recede behind the front plane of the muzzle.
Muzzle: Very broad and deep, width is almost equal to its length, which reaches approximately one third of the total length of the head; the depth of muzzle is more then 50% of the length of the muzzle.

The top and bottom muzzle plains are parallel, and the nose and chin form a perpendicular line. Viewed from the front, the anterior face should look flat and form a trapezoid, wider at the bottom. Muzzle is not overly narrow or snipey.
Lips: Rather firm. Upper lips moderately hanging, they join under the nostrils to form an inverted "U." Pigmentation matches color pigment of dog. Dogs with black pigment have black lips; gray pigmented dogs have gray lips.
Bite: Slightly undershot (no more than ¼ inch) and level preferred. Scissor bite is acceptable, if parameters of the head and muzzle are correct. Dentition is complete. Incisors are in a straight line. No more than two missing teeth.
Disqualification: More than two missing teeth; wry mouth. Undershot more than 1/4 inch.

Neck, TOPLINE, Body
Neck: Slightly arched, flowing smoothly into the shoulders with a small amount of dewlap. The length of the neck is approximately one third the height at the withers.
Body: Depth of the ribcage is equal to half the total height of the dog, descending slightly below the elbow. Ribs are long and well sprung. Moderate tuck up.
Chest: Broad, well-muscled, strong forefront.
Back: Wide, strong, muscular. Highest part of shoulder blade slightly rising above the strong, level back.


Loin: Well-muscled, and harmoniously joined to the back.
Croup: Long, wide, slightly sloping. Rump should be quite round due to muscling.
Tail: Tail set is an extension of the backline. It is thick at the root with not much tapering at the tip. When not in action, carried low, otherwise horizontal or slightly higher than back, not to be carried in a vertical position. It is docked at the fourth vertebrae. In the case of natural tails, the tip reaches the hock but not below. Carried low, it is neither broken nor kinked but supple. Hanging when the dog is in repose; generally carried level with the back or slightly above the level of the back when the dog is in action, without curving over the back or being curled.
Disqualification: A natural tail that is atrophied or a natural tail that is knotted and laterally deviated or twisted.
Forequarters
Strong and muscular, well-proportioned to the size of the dog. Straight when viewed from the front or side; height of the limb at the elbow is equal to 50% of the height at the withers.
Shoulders: Muscular, laid back.
Upper arms: Strongly muscled, with good bone, powerful.
Elbows: Held parallel to the ribcage, turning neither in nor out.
Forelegs: Straight and with good bone, well muscled.
Pasterns: Almost straight, strong but flexible.
Feet: Round with well-arched toes (catlike). Lean, hard, dark pads and nails, except in the case of white toes. Front dewclaws: Can remain or be removed, if left intact should only be a single dewclaw on each leg.

Hindquarters
As a whole, they are powerful and strong, in harmony with the forequarters. Straight when viewed from the rear or front.
Thighs: Long, wide, angulated and well-muscled.
Stifle: Should be moderately angulated, strong.
Legs: Strong bone and muscle structure.
Hocks: Wide set, thick and clean, let down and parallel when viewed from behind. Rear pastern: straight and parallel.
Rear dewclaws: Any rear dewclaws are removed.
Hind feet: Slightly more oval-shaped and less-arched toes.

Coat
The coat is short, stiff, shiny, adherent and dense with a light undercoat that becomes thicker in cold weather.

Color
Acceptable colors are black, lighter and darker shades of gray, lighter and darker shades of fawn, and red. Brindling is allowed on all of these colors. Solid fawn and red, including lighter and darker shades, have a black or gray mask. The mask does not go beyond the eyes. There may be a white patch on the chest, throat, chin, backs of the pasterns, and on the toes.
Disqualification: Any color with tan pattern markings as seen in black-and-tan breeds.

Gait
The movement is free flowing and powerful, yet effortless, with strong reach and drive. As the dog accelerates, the feet converge toward a center line of gravity in a near-single track. When viewed from the side, the topline remains level, with minimal roll or bounce.

Temperament
The Cane Corso as a protector of his property and owners is unequaled. Intelligent, he is easily trained. Noble, majestic and powerful his, presence is impressive. He is docile and affectionate to his owner, loving with children and family.

Summary
The overall conformation of the dog should be well-balanced and proportionate. The foregoing description is that of the ideal Cane Corso; any deviation from the above described dog is penalized to the extent of the deviation.

Disqualifications
Yellow bird of prey; blue eyes.
More than two missing teeth; wry mouth.
Undershot more than ¼ inch.
Any color with tan pattern markings as seen in black-and-tan breeds.
A natural tail that is atrophied or a natural tail that is knotted and laterally deviated or twisted.

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