A Guide to the Cane Corso – Breed Information and Advice

The cane corso is a tall, muscular dog that’s historically been a popular working breed, hunting and guarding on farms with livestock. They tend to be energetic and eager to learn, and most of them enjoy working with their owners and being kept busy. Cane corsos are legal in England, although they do bear similarities with several illegal breeds and are illegal in several other countries, so travelling with a cane corso can be problematic. This breed is best suited to people with plenty of time to dedicate to training and care and a reasonable amount of secure outdoor space.

A Guide to the Cane Corso

Because people often underestimate the effort required for owning a dog of this size, there may well be a cane corso at a local rescue centre needing a loving home. However, a rescue cane corso could be more challenging than a puppy, so some prior experience will certainly be helpful. You should always do diligent research before buying or adopting any breed, to make sure it’s right for your life situation. We recommend checking the Pet Advertising Advisory Group to find out about responsibly and safely choosing and purchasing your dog. We’ve also put together a guide to buying a puppy or dog online to help you safely and sensibly assess your options.

Care

Cane corsos tend to be intelligent and energetic, so they probably won’t like being left alone to get bored. If you don’t want them to find their own hobbies – digging the garden up, for example – it’s a good idea to get involved in dog agility or sport. They might also happily engage with dog puzzles and toys at home to keep them occupied. Usually, a cane corso with a routine is a happy one. They may not be ideal in homes with smaller children, as they could accidentally knock them over. While they won’t necessarily get too cuddly – and likely won’t fit on your lap – your cane corso might start talking to you, making ‘woo woo woo’ noises to show that they’re joining in your conversation. To stop them wolfing down too much too soon, you should give them several smaller meals a day, ensuring the food is good quality and appropriate for their age.

Exercise

The cane corso is a heavy breed, so you shouldn’t expect them to dash around for hours. However, they’re unlikely to be lazy and will probably need at least two hours’ exercise per day. Most cane corsos love to be out and about on walks and enjoy plenty of playtime and training in a secure place. They shouldn’t be fed too soon before or after exercise as this can lead to a dangerous condition called ‘bloat’, which is explained below.

Grooming

This short-haired breed is usually pretty low maintenance when it comes to grooming. A brush once or twice a week, or when muddy, should be enough to keep on top of things. Like most dogs, they can shed a bit, although not excessively, and this will likely increase at the turn of the seasons. They can be quite a drooly breed, so it’s a good idea to keep a drool cloth with you at all times. You may need to be prepared to have anything at the dog’s head height – sofas, coffee tables, jeans, walls – getting a bit drooly from time to time.

Temperament and training

To nurture the best temperament in a cane corso, your dog should be well socialised and trained from a young age, with a positive reward-based regime. The more people and dog breeds a cane corso meets as a young puppy, the more laid-back and friendly it should be as an adult dog. Firm training will also help to avoid them thinking they’re the boss of the household. They tend to be family-oriented dogs, so once they know who their pack is, they should love to be around you constantly and be eager to please. Most cane corsos have a high prey drive, especially if the other animal (or even a small child) makes a high pitched squealing noise, so chasing people and animals should be discouraged from the get-go. While they may tolerate a cat or other pet if they’ve grown up with them, they’re always likely to see strangers’ pets as chase-able.

Health concerns

The cane corso is quite a rare breed in the UK, so there hasn’t been a lot of scientific study into the common health problems they face here. However, they may suffer from:

  • hip and elbow dysplasia – this is where the joint doesn’t fit together perfectly, leading to arthritis
  • gastric dilatation volvulus, also known as ‘bloat’ – this is an emergency condition where the stomach twists, and it can be avoided by not feeding too much, too soon before or after exercise, and generally splitting meals into multiple smaller portions

When buying any dog breed, it’s a good idea to find out if there are any health issues that could have been inherited from the parents – the Kennel Club or your local vet can advise you about this.

Thinking of buying a puppy? Take a look at what to expect in your puppy’s first year and the lifelong cost of owning a dog.

FAQs

What is a cane corso?

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A cane corso is a mastiff-type breed of dog, thought to have originally descended from a Roman war dog. They’re a working breed weighing up to 50 kg and standing 70 cm tall when fully grown.

Are cane corsos aggressive?

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While no dog is inherently aggressive, the cane corso is listed as dangerous and banned in several countries. They’re guard dogs by nature and are unlikely to have great affection for non-family-members. Therefore, they need firm but kind training and to be kept occupied.

How long does a cane corso live?

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It varies from dog to dog, but a healthy cane corso could expect to live anywhere from 9 to 12 years.

Why do some cane corsos have their ears cropped?

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Ear cropping was formerly practised to make dogs look more intimidating and is now illegal in England and Wales. It should be reported to the RSPCA. Sometimes, a vet may have operated on a dog’s ears if there was a serious infection, and it might looklike cropping.

Do cane corso dogs drool a lot?

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Yes. The cane corso is a drooly breed, so it’s always a good idea to have a drool cloth on you.