Cane Corso

Cane Corso

The cane corso is an affectionate, protective working dog. These dogs are best suited to experienced owners because of the intense training needed for this breed.

Cane corsos are large dogs that grow between 23.5 and 27.5 inches tall and weigh between 80 and 120 pounds depending on their height. This breed lives for 9 to 12 years, on average.

This breed has a strong personality and is highly protective of its family. The dog is aggressive around strangers, unruly children, and pets that it hasn’t properly met.

Families and dog owners, who are experienced with dogs and have the time and energy to offer firm guidance and attention to their dog, make good companions for cane corsos.

Cane Corso Quick Summary

Here are the main facts about the cane corso dog breed:

Breed typeLarge, working dog
Size23.5–27.5 inches
Weight80–120 pounds
Lifespan9–12 years
Coat typeSmooth, short-haired coat
Coat colorBlack, gray, fawn, red, brindle, or chestnut
Coat markingsBlack or gray mask
Shedding tendencyBi-annually, moderate
TemperamentHighly protective of family, wary of strangers
PersonalityIntelligent, affectionate, and confident
Suitable forExperienced owners and families
Exercise requirementsA 2-mile run or walk every day, split into two sessions
Dietary needs4–5 cups of high-quality dog food per day (adults)
Common health problemsHip dysplasia, gastric torsion, and demodectic mange

Cane Corso Appearance

cane corso puppy next to basket of flowers

Cane corsos are large, majestic, bulky dogs that come in various colors. The breed has almond-shaped eyes in various shades of brown, yellow, and blue.

These dogs have muscular bodies, wide skulls, broad chests, wrinkled foreheads, and floppy ears. Some owners choose to have their dogs’ ears cropped.

Height and Weight

As a large breed dog, adult cane corsos usually measure between 23.5 and 27.5 inches tall. Female cane corsos generally stand between 23.5 and 26 inches tall. Males are larger, at 25 to 27.5 inches tall.

A cane corso adult weighs between 80 and 120 pounds depending on its height. Puppies normally take one year to grow to their full adult height, and two years until the dogs reach their full weight and overall size.


Cane corsos have a short-haired double coat that consists of a stiff, coarse topcoat and a light undercoat. The coat of this dog breed may or may not have a brindle pattern — irregular streaks of lighter or darker colors that contrast with the rest of the coat.

Cane corsos commonly have the following coat colors:

  • Black
  • Gray
  • Fawn
  • Red
  • Gray brindle
  • Chestnut brindle
  • Black brindle

These dogs are moderate shedders throughout the year and have two shedding seasons, in which shedding increases.

Cane Corso Origins

The cane corso breed comes from Italy and is believed to be a descendant of Roman war dogs. In English, these dogs are commonly referred to as cane corsos, while the Italian plural name is cani corsi.

This breed is a mastiff-type dog that was bred to guard property and people, hunt large game, and round up cattle and pigs for the market.

Although cane corsos almost became extinct when farming activities became mechanized, the breed was revived by dog enthusiasts.

The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2010. Today the dogs work as trackers, military dogs, and alongside law enforcement officers.

Cane Corso Personality and Temperament

Cane corsos are intelligent, intimidating dogs that demand lots of attention due to their large size and affectionate nature. These dogs are clever and may dominate their owner, if not trained with firm, strong, and caring methods. Despite the dog’s large size, this breed is sensitive and can be highly aggressive in response to harsh treatment.

The breed portrays a confident and strong personality. When trained and socialized correctly, the dog mimics professional bodyguard mannerisms. Cane corsos are rarely outwardly aggressive and are likely to quietly push away strangers when the dogs sense their family is threatened.

These dogs are protective and loving toward children and other pets as long as the cane corso is socialized from a young age. However, the breed may associate running and squealing children with prey, so interactions with hyperactive children should be closely monitored or avoided.

Taking Care of a Cane Corso Dog

black cane corso lying in grass

Cane corsos are only suitable for experienced dog owners and shouldn’t be considered by first-time dog owners. These dogs need specialized care, plenty of exercise, and consistent stimulation in the form of a job to do or robust mental stimulation. Cane corsos need a form of work such as herding or dog sports to stay stimulated and well-behaved.

Food Needs

Feed an adult cane corso 4 or 5 cups of high-quality dry dog food, split into two portions, per day. The exact amount of food the dog needs depends on the dog’s size, build, metabolism, activity level, and age. Follow the directions on the kibble bag, or follow a homemade diet designed with the help of a veterinarian. Puppies generally need to eat two to four times more than adult dogs to support their own growth.

Grooming Needs

Brush your cane corso weekly throughout the year, and daily during the spring shedding season. These dogs need regular baths, about once or twice a month, and weekly for puppies. Train your puppy with firm instructions to accustom the young dog to the grooming practice.

If your dog’s nails don’t wear down naturally, trim the dog’s nails as soon as they make clicking sounds on the floor or bother the dog, such as when the dog limps, slides on the floor, or continuously licks its paws.

Brush your dog’s teeth two or three times weekly and check its ears during each grooming session for dirt build-up and signs of infection.

Exercise Needs

Cane corsos are active dogs that need serious daily exercise, such as brisk mile-long walks or runs twice a day, to stay healthy. This dog breed needs a large fenced-in yard, and doesn’t do well in small living spaces. Puppies need more exercise than adult dogs, and should go on two small walks per day. Strenuous exercise can damage puppies’ muscle and bone growth.

Mental Needs

In addition to exercise, cane corsos need at least 20 minutes of mental stimulation each day. Involve your dog in a job such as herding, a dog sport, or teach the dog obedience skills and new tricks. Stimulating activities can be split up throughout the day. Without stimulation, this breed may become bored and destructive.

Common Health Concerns

Cane corsos are generally healthy dogs, but are susceptible to the following conditions:

  • Hip dysplasia — a genetic condition that occurs when the hip joints don’t develop properly, and causes pain and arthritis, usually in large-breed dogs. Hip dysplasia can be treated with diet, exercise, medication, and sometimes surgery to ease discomfort
  • Gastric torsion — a digestive complication that needs immediate medical attention. Symptoms of gastric torsion, or bloat, include dry heaving, excessive drooling, and shallow breathing. Bloat can be prevented by feeding the dog smaller meals and refraining from exercise soon after meals
  • Eyelid abnormalities — conditions that are clearly visible by bulges and eye growths. Cane corsos can develop various eyelid problems such as cherry eye, ectropion, and entropion. Treatment includes medication administered by a veterinarian
  • Demodectic mange — caused by microscopic mites that live in the dog’s fur. Symptoms include excessive scratching and missing or thinning fur. Mange is highly contagious and veterinarian care is needed to treat the condition
  • Idiopathic epilepsy — a genetic disorder that causes involuntary muscle movements, collapse, and involuntary bowel movements in dogs. Treatment involves medication to help minimize the chances of seizures

How to Train a Cane Corso

Train cane corsos from a young age to prevent them from becoming overbearing, overly powerful, and hazardous to property, pets, and people. Training the breed is a challenging task and only experienced dog owners who have plenty of time to commit to training should take on the task.

Early bonding and crate training for puppies is important to prevent a cane corso from becoming entitled, and to accustom the dog to uncomfortable handling, such as grooming and trips to the vet. Involve cane corsos in obedience training as young as possible.

A cane corso is a stubborn dog and gets bored easily, so make training sessions as exciting and fun as possible to keep the dog engaged. Use treats and positive-reinforcement obedience training to reward good behavior. Begin leash training and impulse control with a cane corso as early as 16 weeks old.

Cane Corso Price

The cane corso’s large food consumption and significant grooming and veterinary needs make this breed expensive to buy and to care for. Cane corsos from a prized lineage can cost up to several thousand dollars.

How Much Is a Cane Corso?

A cane corso costs between $350 and $4,000 to buy. Adopting the breed from a rescue center will cost between $350 and $500.

Buying a cane corso from a reputable breeder will cost between $1,000 and $4,000. Pedigree dogs with a prized, purebred lineage can cost up to $9,000.

How Much Does it Cost to Raise a Cane Corso?

Cane corsos need a lot of high-quality food, and regular check-ups at the vet. These costs, plus grooming, toys, and training, average $2,000 per year.

The initial year of owning a cane corso is more expensive because the initial year includes the costs of first-time vet visits, a new bed, toys, and a stock of dog food. Expect to pay between $4,500 to $5,000 in the first year of owning this breed.

Should You Get a Cane Corso?

Cane corsos are highly loyal and affectionate dogs that are excellent protectors when trained and socialized correctly by an experienced owner and/or trainer. However, these dogs are not suitable for certain owners because of the breed’s high maintenance costs and needs.

Cane Corsos are Suitable for:

Cane corsos are loyal dogs that suit highly involved owners who have the knowledge, time, and patience to nurture and train this breed. Cane corsos are good with children and other pets that they are introduced to from a young age, although this doesn’t mean that the dogs will treat other pets and children with the same affection.

A cane corso makes a great guard dog and exercise partner. This large, intelligent breed is perfect for strenuous jobs such as working on a farm, tracking, guarding, and law enforcement with an officer.

Cane Corsos are NOT Suitable for:

Cane corsos are not suitable for first-time dog owners or families who don’t have time to train and spend time with their dog. This dog is also not suitable for owners who won’t be able to afford the high cost of vet trips, food, training, and exercise needs throughout the dog’s life.

Cane corsos are not suitable for owners who aren’t strong-willed, confident, and assertive, because the dog will overpower its owner. Small apartments aren’t suitable for the dog because this high-energy breed needs a large, well-fenced yard with plenty of space to run.

Cane corsos aren’t suitable for high-energy, loud, and boisterous children, nor instances where they are exposed to neighborhood pets. These dogs can easily become aggressive and protective if they feel their family or property is threatened.


About John Woods 299 Articles
John Woods is the founder of All Things Dogs, member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, graduate in Animal Behavior & Welfare and recognized author by the Dog Writers Association of America.

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