THE CANE CORSO*
Welcome to the world of the Cane Corso, or Italian Mastiff, or Sicilianos Branchiero; which ever you wish to call it. It is a wonderful breed and gaining in popularity at an incredible rate.
Italian authorities believe that the Cane Corso is one of two breeds which stem directly from the Roman Molossur. It is said that, in ancient times, the historic Molossus gave rise to two quite different breeds. One dog was very massive and became the progenitor of the Neapolitan Mastiff. The other was a taller, lighter and less cumbersome dog, known for his quickness and agility. From this very athletic Molossus sprang today's Cane Corso.
In medieval times, the Cane Corso was used as a big game hunter. His power, courage and agility made him especially valuable on wild boar. It is also reported that he was used on stag and bear. Italian fanciers of the breed say, proudly, the Corso is "the only true coursing mastiff."
With the decline in big game hunting, the Corso found a home with Italian farmers. He was often used as a drover, moving animals to market or to the slaughterhouse. On the farm, he protected protect livestock from both human thieves and animal predators. He also doubled admirably as a guard dog for the home. Indeed, to this day he can still be seen throughout rural Italy performing these old duties.
The breed first came into the United States around 1987 or so when it was first brought to the Sottile family in North Jersey. It was there, and at the dog shows, that I first came to admire the breed for it's elegant look, it's trainability, and it's loyalty to it's owners. It wasn't until last few years that I was able to acquire my first Cane Corso and instantly fell in love. I found the breed extremely loyal, intelligent, and very attentive. Also, Cane Corsos don't seem to suffer from the various ailments that affect other large breeds.
The standard for the Cane Corso is a dog with massive bone. His body length is a little longer than tall. The chest is broad and deep, while the hindquarters are moderately angulated and very muscular. The Cane Corso's tail is docked to one-third of its natural length. "Most important is that the dog appears balanced and athletic," the standard states.
The breed has a short dense coat which comes in a wide range of colors. The standard allows "black, black-red, chestnut, fawn, blue or any of these colors with brindling." White markings may appear on the chest, neck, chin and the tips of the toes. White on any other part of the body, including the face, is a disqualification. Eye color corresponds to coat color and may range from black to hazel.
What is the Cane Corso like to live with? "They're great dogs," Mike Sottile says. "Although they are superb protection dogs, they are quiet around the house. They're not at all noisy. They love their family and need lots of personal hands-on attention. There's a lot of eye contact with this breed. I'm very impressed with their intelligence. They always seem to be thinking. It's like you can just see the wheels turning. They are so eager to please that they are usually at your side just waiting for your next command."
Despite the breed's size, they make excellent housedogs. The Cane Corso definitely needs socialization, and it is strongly urge that owners obedience train their dogs. Properly raised and trained, the breed is suspicious of strangers, but wonderful with the family. When raised correctly, the dog should be submissive to all members of the family.
"This breed gets along very well with children. They are protective, yet gentle. The Cane Corso has a very stable temperament," Mike observes. Ettore Frassinetti says that the breed "devotedly loves his owners, his family and in particular children with whom he behaves delicately and gently."
It is not suggested to breed for the biggest Cane Corso's, nor the type of Cane Corso's with the pit bull or rottweiler type of head and body, but rather the True Italian type of Cane Corso that is as close to their standard as possible. The breed seems to be very healthy and sturdy, and it is hoped that they remain like that though proper breeding practices.
The following images show the proportions, angulation, and head structure specified by the Italian standards.
* NOTE: This information has been contributed by, and is property of the Working Cane Corso Club, and is gratefully used here with permission