top of page

Tommy Smith & Gweniece Owens   |   Perris, Ca   |   Ph: 619-315-8570   |

                          CANE CORSO HISTORY

The Cane Corso is one of two native Italian “mastiff type" dogs that descend from the Roman the canis Pugnaces. Both the Cane Corso and Neapolitan Mastiff are the rightful heirs to this legendary war dog. The Cane Corso being the light version, adept at hunting game or a versatile farm hand. Sturdy, strong and athletic, equipped with a vigorous temper, ready to meet any challenge. The Neapolitan Mastiff, the heavy version, a stout, imposing and fearsome guard dog. The very sight of him would be enough to frighten away any with ill intent.


The name;

The term “Cane Corso” is historically as much an adjective as it is a noun. It describes a type of dog you need to perform certain tasks, historically associated with this type of dog. There is documentation to support that as early as 1137 A.D. this term was synonymous with the lighter variety of the molossian dog. While the etymology of this term is open to debate, there are many valid hypotheses to its employment. Cane in Italian, even today means dog, a derivative of the Latin canis. Also in Latin, Cohors- this would mean bodyguard. Corsus, would be an ancient Italian provincial adjective which translates to sturdy or robust. The term however does not mean that the dog originates in Corsica. In the past this breed had been known by names with provincial connotations such as Dogo di Puglia. Cane Corso, however is a broader term that encompasses the breed’s diffusion throughout all of Italy and Sicily. The Cane Corso was so prized and held in such high regard that there are several metaphors and antidotes associated with its name; "can corso, a man of proud aspect and attitude." "He bites worse than a cane Corso;" “je’nu cors, is what an elderly peasant would say to describe a young man who was the essence of moral and physical virtue”



The Cane Corso is morpo-functionally representative of hunting dogs down through history. Dogs employed helping man in the hunt can be seen in Assyrian bas-reliefs circa 700 BC. These dogs differ from the heavy dogs seen in Nivinah and Mesopotamia 100 or so years earlier. They have much tighter skin around the neck; they present a much leggier construction with a retracted abdomen. In one scene these dogs are being restrained by their master’s while going to the hunt. In another scene the dogs are in full pursuit after wild stag with spears filling the air. In antiquity dogs were not classified by rigid breed names but by the geographical location in which they were found or by their particular utilizations. The “Molossian” traces its roots to the Epirus, the ancient Greek state which is now modern day Albania. Of the Molossian Oppiano writes “not speedy but impetuous, a fighter of great courage and incredible strength, to be employed against bulls and wild boar, undaunted even when confronted with a Lion” The reigning Dynasty in the 4th century BC were called Molossians, of which Alexander the Greats mother was a Princess. The Molossians and Macedonians shared an alliance and undoubtedly that is where the Macedonian army procured their fierce some war dogs.


With their majestic presence and regal appearance and willing nature the Cane Corso is increasing in popularity. They have a classic big dog look without being extreme in any of its features. Since they lack the mammoth size of some other Mastiff breeds, this breed is more ideal for indoor living. The Cane Corso is an athletic, agile dog that requires regular exercise. While they drool less than other mastiff breeds you should be aware that it still occurs, especially when they are excited, agitated, have just had a drink of water or have just eaten. The Corso has a squared off head with a muzzle to match. The neck is long and powerful, body is heavily muscled, and slightly longer than it is tall. The frame is dense and supported by strong, tight feet. The average male is 26-28 inches in height and 115-135 lbs. with the average female being 24-26 inches in height and 95-105 lbs. The coat is short, sheds twice a year like most breeds, but when a big dog sheds lightly, it can add up to a lot of hair to vacuum. They require only the occasional bath. Accepted colors include black, blue, fawn and red, with or without brindle markings.They are a devoted, protective, & obedient companion. They have a very discerning nature that can lend them to be aloof with strangers. Due to their wary tendency, the Corso must be introduced to other animals and people early in its development. They are a very powerful breed & must be handled sensibly. Obedience training and extensive socialization from an early age is mandatory. The Cane Corso often possesses a dominant behavior, and both sexes may challenge for the role of leader among their human family and canine pack. The Corso is best suited for the experienced dog owner who has the dedication and time needed to properly socialize and train. Extremely loyal to its' family, the Corso is an excellent watchdog. Their guardian instinct is focused greater on person rather than property. The bold and noble look of the breed is a serious deterrent for anyone thinking of doing harm. When alarmed their bark is loud and powerful enough to unnerve most. Their desire is to be with the family and do best living indoors. Though they are tolerable of most weather conditions, they cannot tolerate solitude. Isolating the Cane Corso can lead to nuisance barking, destructive behavior and other temperament problems. Cane Corsos love children, but they can inadvertently step on or knock over a toddler, so supervision is important. They enjoy being included in family activities and make excellent jogging and hiking companions. For centuries the Cane Corso has been a versatile friend to Italian Farmers.

bottom of page