The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.
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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.
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.
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.
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 percent 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.
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.
The coat is short, stiff, shiny, adherent and dense with a light undercoat that becomes thicker in cold weather.
About the Cane Corso
At nearly 28 inches at the shoulder and often weighing more than 100 pounds, with a large head, alert expression, and muscles rippling beneath their short, stiff coat, Corsi are at a glance intimidating creatures. Their imposing appearance is their first line of defense against intruders. As one writer put it, “An understated air of cool competence, the kind of demeanor you’d expect from a professional bodyguard, is the breed’s trademark.”
Corsi are intelligent, loyal, eager to please, versatile, and intensely loyal to their humans, but are also assertive and willful, and can end up owning an unwitting owner. As with any other big guardian dog, responsible breeding and early socialization with people and other dogs is vital.
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The Cane Corso’s coat is short, but double-layered. The undercoat, which varies in length depending on the climate the dog lives in, sheds throughout the year, especially during shedding season in the spring. Weekly brushing—daily during shedding season—with a medium-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove will remove the dead hair before it can fall onto the furniture, and it helps remove dirt and promotes new hair growth as well. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can be painful to the dog and cause problems walking and running.
Cane Corsos need serious exercise. A brisk walk—or better yet, run—of at least a mile in the morning and again in the evening will sustain their health and muscle tone. They make great companions on long walks, hikes, or bicycle rides. The Cane Corso was bred to work and is happiest when given a job to do. He needs mental as well as physical stimulation, or undesirable behavior will result. Many Cane Corsos compete in agility, obedience, dock diving, protection sport, and tracking events.
Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended for all dogs, but for a breed as big and strong as a Cane Corso, they are a must. Many Cane Corsos can be dominant and protective; socialization will help ensure that they grow into well-adjusted, well-mannered adults. Obedience training will keep them from becoming the boss in the household. Cane Corsos are intelligent and eager to please, so they are generally easy to train. Despite their appearance, Cane Corsos are all heart, and respond to love and rewards far better than to harsh corrections or training methods.
Cane Corsos are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, idiopathic epilepsy, demodex mange, and eyelid abnormalities.v Large and deep-chested breeds are susceptible to bloat, a sudden, life-threatening stomach condition. Cane Corso owners should learn what signs to look out for, and what to do should they occur. As with all breeds, a Cane Corso’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs.
Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:
- Hip Evaluation
- Elbow Evaluation
- Cardiac Exam
The Cane Corso (KAH-neh-KOR-soh; plural: Cani Corsi) belongs to a subcategory of working breeds called mollosus dogs, or mollosers, named for the Molossi, an ancient Greek tribe thought to have bred giant, big-boned guardian dogs of Mastiff type. At the height of the Roman Empire’s power, the legions that subdued and occupied the Greek islands brought mollosers back to Italy and bred them to native Italian breeds.
The offspring produced by these crosses were ancestors of the modern Corso and it’s larger relative, the Neapolitan Mastiff. The original Corsi were used as dogs of conquest who earned their stripes as “pireferi,” fearless dogs who charged enemy lines with buckets of flaming oil strapped to their backs. It is supposed that these early Corsi were bigger, more lumbering dogs than today’s sleeker version, which moves with a catlike grace.
With the dissolution of the Western Empire in the fifth century, Italy’s legions and their dogs were out of work. Corsi adapted to such civilian jobs as wild boar hunting, farming, livestock droving, and most famously, guarding farmsteads and henhouses. The Corso was for centuries a familiar sight on the farms and pastures dotting the Italian countryside. But the effects of constant invasions of the Italian peninsula and Sicily, economic and political upheavals, and mechanized farming conspired to reduce the Corso population to precariously low numbers. By the mid-20th century, the breed was all but extinct.
Specimens did survive, however, in Italy’s back country. In the 1970s, a group of Italian fanciers banded together to revive the breed of their rustic ancestors. The Society Amorati Cane Corso (Society of Cane Corso Lovers) was formed in 1983, and by the following decade Corsi were being exhibited in European dog shows. The first Corso import arrived in America in 1988, and in 2010 the breed was recognized by the AKC.