Skip to main content

The Cane Corso is an Italian dog breed that has been long valued in Italy as a companion, guardian and hunter. It is a muscular and large-boned breed, radiating a noble, majestic, and powerful presence. The Cane Corso received official AKC breed status in 2010.

Physical Characteristics

The Cane Corso is a medium- to large-sized, robust dog. It has a broad head with a square muzzle that is as wide as it is long, giving the Cane Corso superior bite strength. Its coat is dense and coarse, usually in black, light or dark shades of gray, or in light or dark shades of fawn, red, or brindle. White patches are common, and are accepted by the AKC on the chest, toes, chin, and nose.

The average height of a Cane Corso ranges from 24 to 27 inches tall, with males at the higher end of the spectrum and females at the lower. Weight is anywhere from 88 to 110 lbs.

The ears of a Cane Corso are naturally dropped forward, though it is the preference of breeders to crop the ears into small, equilateral triangles that stand upright. Breeders also typically dock the tails of Cane Corsos.

Personality and Temperament

The biggest factor in a Cane Corso’s temperament is that one should never be fearful, as this would go against the natural instincts of a guard dog. The Cane Corso is reserved and confident, territorial, and keenly alert to its surroundings. It tends to be a quiet breed, indifferent to others approaching unless a real threat is perceived.

Always eager to please, it is also easy to obedience train. It forms a strong bond with its primary owners and is very protective over them. However, don’t be fooled by the Cane Corso’s guard dog instincts, it is docile and loving with its owners, and affectionate with children and families.


The Cane Corso is quite simple to care for. As a short haired breed, it does not require much grooming; just a bath and a brush now and then. Shedding is minimal. It is also flexible when it comes to living arrangements as the Cane Corso can settle just as happily into apartment dwelling as outdoor living. If left outdoors, adequate shelter needs to be provided. If dwelling in an apartment, owners need to make sure to provide enough daily exercise. The Cane Corso can make excellent jogging companions, but for daily exercise needs it need at least one long, brisk walk.


Life expectancy for a Cane Corso is 10 to 11 years. As a large and robust dog, it has the typical bone and joint problems of giant breeds. These can include hip dysplasia and degenerative joint disease. Providing proper nutrition and preventing obesity from occurring can help reduce the risk of degenerative joint disease. Hip dysplasia is more genetically based.

Cane Corso’s are also prone to common eye defects, such as entropion, ectropion, and glandular hypertrophy, or "Cherry eye."

History and Background

The Cane Corso descends from a Roman breed of dog that was once used in war. It is now one of two Italian "Mastiff" type breeds, along with the Neapolitan Mastiff, that descended from this war dog. The Cane Corso is the lighter version, and is more adept at hunting.

The breed was nearing extinction when it was rescued by enthusiasts in the 1970s. It was cross-bred with select breeds, and as a result is a very different looking Cane Corso than the pre-1970s Cane Corso.

It was brought to the U.S. in 1987 and has gained widespread popularity. The UKC recognized it as a breed under the name Cane Corso Italiano in 2008. The AKC then recognized it as the Cane Corso in 2010.

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?