Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Cane Corso
Average Cost to keep/care for a Cane Corso
The Cane Corso is an impressive looking mastiff-type dog that's native to Italy where they were originally bred to guard, herd and hunt, although they were also highly prized as companion dogs too. They are still a very popular choice in their native Italy thanks to their impressive looks and kind, loyal natures, but less popular here in the UK simply because the breed is less known in this part of the world. The breed is not as yet recognised by The Kennel Club, but these impressive dogs are recognised by the American Kennel Club. Anyone wanting to share a home with a Cane Corso would have to agree to go on a waiting list because very few puppies are available every year.
It is thought that the Cane Corso is a descendant of mastiff-type dogs that were around during Ancient Roman times which were called "Canis Pugnax" (old Roman Molossian) which were heavier, larger and sturdier dogs that were bred to guard, hunt, herd and as companions although many were also used as fighting dogs in the arena. The Cane Corso is much lighter than their ancestors, but they are still very impressive and imposing looking dogs.
They were also a popular choice with farmers in Southern Italy where they were used to herd and guard flocks of livestock. However, in more recent times, the breed nearly vanished altogether and by the seventies, their numbers were so low these noble, large dogs were close to extinction. Fortunately, through the hard work and dedication of breed enthusiasts who through careful and selective breeding, the numbers of Cane Corsos began to rise although some people believe the dogs we see today are not like the dogs of yesterday being that much heavier and larger today than they were in the past.
The Cane Corso was finally recognised as a breed in its own right by the UKC in 2008, but as of June 2016, they have not been recognised by The Kennel Club here in the UK. These large and impressive dogs are a very popular choice in America, but less so here in the UK despite the fact they are handsome, loyal and intelligent dogs to have in the home.
Height at the withers: Males 62 - 70 cm, Females 58 - 66 cm
Average Weight: Males 40 - 45 kg, Females 40 - 45 kg
The Cane Corso is a large dog and one that boasts a great deal of muscle tone which adds to their very powerful and athletic appearance. They are quite imposing, but at the same time they are well proportioned even though they have large heads typical of Mastiff-type breeds. Their skulls are broad but get flatter just behind a dog's forehead and towards the back of their heads. There is quite a deep furrow at the front of a dog's head and their stop is well defined.
Muzzles are quite short, flat and square, yet very powerful looking being just as wide as they are long with dog's having a level bridge to their noses. Their upper lips hang down so they cover the lower jaw. The Cane Corso has a strong, slightly undershot jaw. Their noses are black and large with dogs having open nostrils. Eyes are oval, medium in size and set so dogs look directly forward. These dogs always have a keen and alert look about their eyes.
Their ears are triangular in shape and droop down being set wide apart on a dog's head. Necks are very muscular and strong being the same length as a dog's head. Shoulders are well-muscled and long being set obliquely with dogs boasting powerful, straight front legs.
A Cane Corso's body is longer than these dogs are tall, but they are compact and sturdy with dogs having well developed chests that reach to their elbows. Withers are nicely pronounced and are higher than the croup. Their backs are firm and very well-muscled with dogs having short, powerful loins and their croups is wide, long and sloping. Their back legs are powerful with dogs having strong and well developed lower thighs. They have cat-like feet with their back feet being less compact than their front ones. Tails are set quite high and are thicker at the root which dogs carry high.
When it comes to their coat, the Cane Corso has a short, very dense and glossy coat with a slight undercoat. They come in a variety of colours which includes the following:
Dogs often have a little white spot on their chests and white on their toes as well as on the bridge of their noses.
The Cane Corso is known to be reliable, trustworthy and loyal and they form strong bonds with their families becoming totally devoted to them. They boast having a strong protective instinct, although they are gentle and affectionate by nature too. They tend to be a little aloof and wary when they are around people they do not know, but would rarely show any sort of aggression towards a stranger, preferring to keep their distance and just let their owners know they are around. Once they get to know someone, they are generally fine around them.
They are not known to have a high prey drive, preferring to stay within the boundaries of their own homes and around their owners. One thing that is worth bearing in mind, is that the Cane Corso has quite a high pain threshold which means that even when they are injured or in any sort of pain, it can be quite hard for owners to spot there is a problem.
They are not the best choice for first time owners, because they are the sort of dog that needs to be trained and handled by someone who is familiar with the needs of the breed or similar type of intelligent, large dog. Without the right sort of socialisation and training, the Cane Corso can become an unruly dog that's hard to manage and live with. These dogs are never happier than when they know who is the boss in a household and will happily accept their place in the "pack" as long as they have been well handled from the word go.
The Cane Corso tends to form a strong bond with one person in a household although they are always devoted to everyone in the home. They are a good choice for people who lead active, outdoor lives and who live in a country environment and who boast large, secure back gardens. They are a good choice for people where one person is usually around when everyone else is out of the house because these large dogs thrive on human company and do not do well if left on their own for longer periods of time.
If they are left to their own devices for any length of time, they quickly get bored and this can lead to dogs developing all sorts of unwanted behavioural issues which includes being destructive around the home. They are not a good choice for people who lead more sedentary lives and who live in apartments.
Although lovely dogs to have in a home environment, it's worth noting that because they are brachycephalic, the Cane Corso does have a tendency to snore quite loudly and they do drool quite a bit. They are also known to pass wind a lot, which when paired to the fact they shed considerably during the Spring and then again in the Autumn, means they are not the best choice for people who are very house proud.
The Cane Corso is intelligent and they like nothing better than to please their owners, as such, in the right hands and with the correct amount of socialisation they are easy to train. However, these large, smart dogs need to know their place in the "pack" and who to look to for direction and guidance to be truly well-rounded, obedient dogs.
It cannot be stressed enough the importance of early socialisation with these dogs and their training has to start early. It also has to be consistent throughout their lives to prevent them from showing a more dominant side to their natures which could lead to a Cane Corso becoming unruly and therefore unmanageable to the point of being quite dangerous. However, in the right hands and with the correct amount of training and exercise, the Cane Corso grows up to be an obedient mature dog that's a pleasure to have around.
When Corsos are well socialised from a young age and puppies grow up with children in a household, they are known to get on well together and this includes where there are other animals in the home too. However, because of their sheer size any interaction between very young children and dogs is best supervised to make sure playtime never gets too boisterous which could lead to a child being frightened or in a worst case scenario injured in any way. Corsos are known to be a little over protective at times so extra care has to be taken when children have any friends over to play.
When it comes to other dogs, well socialised Corsos are generally good around them, but care has to be taken when they meet any new dogs to be on the safe side because they are known to be confrontational and will not back down if they feel threatened by another dog in any way. Cane Corsos are not high prey drive dogs and as such they generally tolerate other animals. However, if a cat or other animal decides to run away from them, a Cane Corso would think nothing of chasing them and if they do catch them, the results could be disastrous for the fleeing animal.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Cane Corso is between 10 and 11 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Cane Corso is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these large and impressive dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
Because the Cane Corso has such a short nose, they are sensitive to heat so care has to be taken during hotter weather. They are also known to have a sensitivity to any sort of anaesthetic and sedatives.
As with any other breed, the Cane Corso needs to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The Cane Corso boasts having a short, dense and glossy coat which makes them low maintenance on the grooming front. However, they do need to be regularly brushed to keep on top of things and to remove any dead and shed hair from their coats. Like other breeds, they tend to shed the most hair during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is usually necessary. With this said, at other times of the year a weekly brush and a twice weekly wipe over with a chamois leather will keep their coats glossy and tidy.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The Cane Corso is an athletic dog and they like to be given a regular amount of daily exercise combined with enough mental stimulation to satisfy their active minds. They enjoy many activities and this includes going out with their owners on walks, accompanying them on cycle rides and they enjoy being with people when they are out on bikes and even on horse rides. A good 60 to 80 minutes a day would be enough to keep a Cane Corso happy, fit and healthy.
With this said, a shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these large, athletic dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, Cane Corso puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs for this reason until they are around 18 months old.
If you get a Cane Corso puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Because Cane Corsos are prone to suffer from bloat, it is really important that they be fed twice a day instead of giving them just one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand to place their feed bowl which makes it easier for these large dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down low to reach their food. Dogs should never be exercised just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more a risk of suffering from bloat.
If you are looking to buy a Cane Corso, you may have to agree to go on a waiting list because not many puppies are available every year. You would typically have to pay anything from £600 to over £1200 for a well-bred puppy. Many companies that offer pet insurance are reluctant to offer any sort of cover on a Cane Corso which means it can be quite a challenge to have any sort of insurance in place for the breed.
However, some companies will offer cover for these large mastiff-type dogs and the cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Cane Corse in northern England would be £48.06 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £92.76 a month (quote as of June 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Cane Corso and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Cane Corso would be between £90 to £150 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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