Cane Corso Breed Information & Statistics

General Information

When looking at the Cane Corso your first impression is that he is an athlete, reminiscent of a Greco-Roman wrestler. He should be balanced with substantial bone and great muscularity. He should be alert, fearless and confident. The Cane Corso is a dog of function, he was developed to perform multiple tasks from combat to herding, and the Cane Corso should appear still capable of these tasks. The ideal Cane Corso should be free of defilement from other breeds. You should know instantly when looking at the dog that this is a Cane Corso and nothing else. Many Cane Corso's have influences from of other breeds such as the Rottwielers, Boxer, Bullmastiff and Neapolitan Mastiff; in Italy they even label certain Cane Corso's "Boxer type" or "Mastino type". It is important that you be able to identify certain traits as undesirable. Black & Tan and Blue & Tan are not listed as acceptable color patterns in the American or European standards and should not be considered in the selection of this breed, it is the equivalent to awarding points to a white Boxer. Cane Corso's that have "brindling" where a Rottwieler would have tan markings or points should also be penalized. Another color fault that should be mentioned is excessive white on a subject, while a small bit of white on the toes is acceptable you may see a Corso with white "socks" going up the hock or elbows and should be faulted. White on the muzzle and large blazes of white on his chest or chin are also to be faulted. Eye color should always be dark especially in the dark colored dogs. For example a black subject with yellow eyes should be considered a major fault. Nose color should also always be dark (black); the exception would be a blue/gray subject in which case the nose is self-coloring.

The Cane Corso should not resemble the Neapolitan Mastiff, he can have minimal wrinkle in the facial region. The Cane Corso can have a minimal dewlap but it should not be excessive. When he is moving you should not see a rippling of loose skin vibrating through his body, what you should see is taunt sinewy muscles being flexed with each movement. The Cane Corso is considered a medium to large sized dog. In America we prefer the larger sized dog, this means that all things being equal the larger dog is preferred. While there is no weight limit at this time on the American standard there is language that dictate’s what would be considered oversized. "While the larger size is preferred, it should not come at the expense of the dogs working ability or movement." If the dogs size inhibits his movement, stamina, or ability to perform the tasks for which he was bred then he is oversized. It is important to remember that until about 12 or 13 years ago this dog was used solely as a working dog. If a Cane Corso was not up to the tasks on the masseria, then he did not eat. Undersize should also be faulted, it is important to remember that this is a mastiff type breed. The smaller dog may move better, but that does not necessarily make it the best Cane Corso. This dogs history as a war dog; hunter of bear, boar and stag required that he be a dog of great substance and power. These dogs are depicted in paintings and sculptures attaching themselves to horses and pigs.

The head should be prominent, and should immediately draw your attention. It is powerful and large in relation to the rest of the body. The muzzle is always short, square, deep and wide. The axis of the skull is slightly convergent with a deep stop. The eyes should be almond shaped, dark a set in a sub frontal position. The teeth should align in a relatively straight line (not rounded like the Rottwielers) this is to accommodate the rather wide muzzle of the Cane Corso. The following excerpt should provide you with a good impression of the Cane Corso. This is taken from the Swiss naturalist Konrad von Gesner (1516-1565) in his "Historia Animalium", from the section "De Quadrupedibus", this chapter about the De Cane Venatico Robustus, Adversus Magnus aut fortes Feris describes a the Cane Corso and his ancient utilizations. "There are many ferocious canines, fearless in the chase and grip of every type of animal. One must choose those endowed with an impressive muzzle, large head, with the upper lip hanging atop the lower, with reddened eyes, with dilated nostrils that seem to throw fire, with sharp teeth, with a powerful neck and a large chest. They should pursue like lions, with large paws and nails spread, the claws are hard and curved in a way to better violently throw and hold his prey to the ground. With this type of dog, the hunters can better reach and capture the wild game. In Italy and especially Rome, it is said that one is best served by using Cane Corsos against wild boar and wild bulls."

"The molosser is of great size and a great biter, like the Cane Corso. I think that one considers him to be a great biter not because he bites without reason, but because he has an energetic grip and has difficulty releasing the bite he inflicts on a wild beast. Besides, I know that the Cane Corso, when he has struck his fangs into a wild boar or wild bull, he can not be separated from the prey without the intervention of the hunter to his locked mandible."

Cane Corso’s that have long and or narrow muzzles, round eyes, parallel axis of the skull, light bone or "leggy" construction are to be faulted as these traits are undesirable and are more reminisant of a herding dog than a Molosser. On the opposite spectrum, excessively convergent axis of the skull, which is generally accompanied by disturbingly undershot bite should be viewed as just as serious a fault. The Cane Corso’s bite should not exceed more than 1/2 cm undershot. If a scissor bite is presented it should be very tight, evidence of an overbite should be considered a severe fault. When evaluating the Cane Corso character must also come into the equation. The Cane Corso should never be fearful. If a Corso is afraid of people how can he effectively perform his duties as a guard dog? Timid or scarce character should be severely faulted. A fear biter should not be considered for the selection of this breed. A Cane Corso that shows belligerence towards other dog’s should not be considered a fault (as long as he poses no threat to others) This breeds history as a combat dog predicates a somewhat belligerent attitude towards other dogs, particularly dogs of the same sex. He should never be overly agitated or figitty like the Boxer, he is always reserved and confident. The Cane Corso should be territorial, he should be in tune and aware of his surroundings and show a keen interest in them. The Cane Corso should never be fearful, and always ready to meet a challenge. You must not mistake indifference or standoffish behavior with fear or aggression. Most Cane Corso’s are not likely to look at you and wag there tail, some yes, but in most cases this will not be so. He should not be outwardly aggressive towards you; he must be under control at all times. The Cane Corso should be a very balanced animal mentally as well as physically, he should be confident, secure, vigilant. He should be a perfect blend of Combativeness, aggressiveness, docility, sociability, and curiosity. The firmness of his nerves represents the true mental strength of the breed. The Cane Corso requires a great deal of socialization at a young age, this is recommended to combat the breed’s natural aversion to strangers. We require all Godiva Cane Corso’s attend puppy kindergarten. These class’ are an excellent environment to socialize your puppy with other dogs, people, children and stimuli they might not otherwise be exposed to (i.e. wheel chairs, walkers, strollers) they also are a great help with typical puppy problems such as housebreaking, destructive chewing and crate training. The Cane Corso will bond quickly to your family, particularly the children, however as mentioned he has a natural aversion to strangers, so it is best to supervise all your children’s house guest and keep the horse play to a minimum.

Compiled by Michael Ertaskiran




Translation: Dr. Antonio Morsiani , Dr. J.M. Paschoud and Prof. R. Triquet
Date of publication of the original valid standard:
Guard, protection, police and tracking dog.
Classification F.C.I. :
Group 2 Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossian and Swiss Mountain-and Cattledogs. Section 2.2 Molossian, Mountain type. Without working trial
Brief Historical Summary:
Its direct ancestor is the old Roman Molossian. Formerly scattered all over Italy, in the recent past, the breed was only prevalent in the Province Apulia and in the adjacent regions of Southern Italy. His name derives from the Latin "cohors", which means "protector, guardian of the farmyard".

General Appearance:  Medium to large-sized. Robust and sturdy, nevertheless elegant. Lean, powerful muscles.
Important Proportions: The length of the head reaches 36% of the height at withers. The dog is somewhat longer than high.
Behavior/Temperament : Guardian of property, family and livestock; extremely agile and responsive. In the past, it has been used for herding cattle and hunting big game.
Head: Large and typically molossoid. The upper longitudinal axes of the skull and the muzzle converge slightly.

Cranial Region

Skull:  Wide; at the zygomatic arches its width is equal to or greater than its length. convex in front, it becomes fairly flat behind the forehead as far as the occiput. The medio-frontal furrow is visible

Facial Region

Nose: Black and large with ample, open nostrils, on the same line as the nasal bridge.
Muzzle: Noticeably shorter than the skull (ratio muzzle: skull approximately 1:2). Strong, square: the front part of the muzzle is flat; the lateral surfaces are parallel; the muzzle is as wide as long. The profile of the nasal bridge is straight.
Lips: The upper lips hang moderately and cover the mandible, so that the lower profile of the muzzle is determined by the lips.
Jaws/Teeth: Jaws very large, thick and curved. Slightly undershot. Level bite acceptable, but not sought after.

Eyes: Medium-sized, ovoid, looking directly forward, slightly protruding. Eyelids close fitting. Color of iris as dark as possible depending from the color of the coat. expression keen and attentive.
Ears: Triangular, drooping, with a wide set on high above the zygomatic arches. Often cropped in the shape of an equilateral triangle.
Neck: strong, muscular, as long as the head.

Body: The body is somewhat longer than the height at the withers. sturdily built, but not squat.
pronounced, rising above the level of the croup.
Rectilinear, very muscular and firm.
short and strong
Long, wide, slightly inclined
Well developed in three dimensions, reaches to the elbow.

Tail: Set on fairly high; very thick at the root. The tail is docked at the fourth vertebra. In action carried high, but never curled nor erect.


Shoulder: Long, oblique, very muscular
Upper arm: Strong
Forearm: Straight, very strong carpal Joint and pasterns: Elastic
Forefeet: cat feet.

Upper Thigh: Long, wide, back line of thigh convex
Lower thigh: strong, not fleshy
Hocks: Moderately angulated
Metatarsals: Thick and sinewy
Hindfeet: Slightly less compact than the forefeet.

Gait/Movement: Long  stride, extended trot. The preferred gait is the trot.

Skin: Fairly thick, rather close fitting

Hair: Short, shiny, very dense with a light undercoat.
Color: black, lead-grey, slate-grey, light grey, light fawn: stag red and dark fawn; brindle (stripes on different shades of fawn or grey); in fawn colored and brindle dogs the clack or grey mask on the muzzle should not go beyond the line of the eyes. a small white patch on the chest, on the tips of the feet and on the bridge of the nose is acceptable.

Size and Weight:
Height at Withers: Males from 64 to 68 cm; females from 60 to 64 cm. Tolerance of 2 cm more or less.
Weight: males from 45 to 50 Kg; females from 40 to 45 Kg.

Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

Severe Faults:

  • Axes of muzzle and skull parallel or too converging; lateral surfaces of the muzzle converging
  • Partial depigmentation of the nose
  • Scissor bite; pronounced undershot mouth
  • Ring-tail, tail in vertical position
  • Permanent amble when trotting
  • Over-or undersize

Eliminating Faults:

  • Axes of muzzle and skull diverging
  • Total depigmentation of the nose
  • Bridge of nose very hollow, rams's nose
  • Overshot mouth
  • Partial or complete palpebral depigmentation. Wall eye;  strabism.
  • Tailless, short tail (docked or not)
  • Semi-long, smooth or fringed hair
  • All colors not indicated in the standard: large white patches.

N.B. Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully desc



Standards Provvisorio I.C.C.F.
Revised, March 2000

General information and history: The Cane Corso is a large working dog. It is a descendent of the ancient Mollosser. They are native to Italy and represent a modern day continuation of the war dogs that were pitted against lions in ancient Roman eras. They possess great strength, courage, and have a stable temperament. They were used for hunting large game such as wild boar, stag, and as a cattle catching dog. Today the Cane Corso makes an excellent guard dog, extremely loyal to it's family and quite aloof with strangers. He has a very protective nature and yet is able to discern friend from foe.


Head: Mollossiod, massive, broad and flat across the skull, when viewed from the top, the lines of the skull are parallel. The upper longitude axes of the skull and muzzle are slightly convergent with a well defined stop.

Muzzle: The muzzle should be almost as wide as it is long. The muzzle should not exceed 34% of the total length of the head. The muzzle should be deeper then it is long. When viewed from the front the muzzle appears as a slight trapezoid (widest at the bottom).

Lips: The lips are thick and heavy. The upper lips are moderately hanging covering the mandible so the lower profile of the muzzle is framed by the lips. Should be pigmented.

Nose: The nose must not stick out past the vertical line of the front of the muzzle. The pigmentation is black except in blue's where it is slate gray.

Eyes: The eyes should be of medium size, almond shaped and wide-set. Dark eyes are preferred, but allowances may vary with coat color. The eyes should be tight fitting, although with all mastiff type breeds a minimal haw is acceptable. They should look intelligent and alert.

Ears: Cropping varies greatly from close to the skull to triangular in shape. Uncropped ears are acceptable and should not be faulted/penalized

Bite: The teeth should meet in a level bite, however scissors and slightly undershot are acceptable. Full dentition is desirable.

Neck: The neck should be muscular, powerful and well arched. The neck may have a moderate amount of dewlap, but should not be excessive.

Forequarters: Shoulders should be muscular, well laid back and free in there movement. Elbows are straight and tight against the body. The front legs should be straight with heavy bone. Pasterns should be upright but must have flexibility. Feet are tight and oval shaped, with thick pads and toes well knuckled over. Feet should not turn in nor out. Rear dewclaws if any should be removed.

Hindquarters: The hindquarters should be broad, well developed and very muscular. The thigh is moderately long and powerful. The stifles should be well angulated and commensurate with shoulder layback so as to produce a well balanced dog. Hocks are let down and parallel when viewed from behind.

Body: The chest should be broad and deep, descending below the elbows with ribs well sprung. The topline should be straight and show no weakness. It should flow smoothly into the hindquarters, which are slightly rounded when viewed from the side. The belly is slightly tucked. The dog should appear longer than it is tall, (approx. 10%) Most important is that the dog appear balanced and athletic.

Tail: The tail is set high as to appear as a continuation of the topline and is docked to one-third the length. When the dog is excited the tail is raised but never held straight up.

Coat: The coat is short and dense, in the cold weather the Cane Corso develops a dense undercoat.

Movement: The movement should be free flowing and powerful, yet effortless. The front legs should reach with long strides. The rear should thrust with great drive and extension. When viewed from the front the legs should move parallel to each other and cover a great deal of ground with each step. When viewed from the side the topline should remain on a level plane with a minimum roll or bounce and should converge as to single track. The dog should move with a great deal of ease and confidence.

Temperament: The Cane Corso is very intelligent. He should appear self confident and alert. He should never be shy or vicious. Indifference to strangers should not be considered shy or vicious.

Height: Minimum height for adult males is 24 inches. The minimum height for adult females is 22 inches

Weight: Minimum weight for adult males is 100lbs. The minimum weight for adult females is 80lbs

While the larger size is preferred, it should not come at the expense of the dogs working ability or movement.

Color: Black, Blue, Chestnut, Fawn, Red, or any of these colors brindled. Tawny subjects often have a black mask. White is permitted on the chest, chin, toes and the back of pasterns.


  • Excessively long muzzles
  • Wry mouth
  • Parrot mouth
  • Disturbingly undershot
  • Continuously ambling gait
  • Converging sidelines of the muzzle or skull
  • Excessive dewlap or wrinkle

Any departure from the standard shall be considered a fault. The seriousness of the fault shall be proportionate its degree, i.e. a very crooked front is a serious fault, a slightly crooked front is a slight fault, etc.

Disqualification’s: Monorchis, Cryptorchid. Blue eyes, except in puppies. White on any other parts of the body, except where allowed. A few white hairs do not constitute a marking. Tail not docked. Rear dewclaws