The Cane Corso (pronounced /ˈkɑːneɪ ˈkɔrsoʊ/ kah-nay-kor-soh in English) is a large Italian Molosser. It is well muscled and looks more athletic than most other mastiffs, tending less toward sheer bulk like the Neapolitan Mastiff and more towards definition like the original Old English Bulldog. The official Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) standard expects ideal dogs to stand 62–69 cm (24–27 in) at the withers, with females in the lower range and males in the higher. Weight should be in keeping with the size and stature of these dogs, ranging from 40 to 50 kg (88 to 110 lb).
The overall impression should be of power, balanced with athleticism. A Corso should be moderately tight skinned; however, some dewlap on the neck is normal, and the bottom of the jawline should be defined by the hanging lip.
The Corso head is one of its primary features. Its muzzle should be as wide as it is long, and should be 33% of the length of the entire skull (a ratio of 2:1). This head size and type also means that a Corso has superior bite strength. Its ears are naturally dropped forward, but (where legal) many breeders crop them so that the remaining stubs are equilateral triangles, standing upright. Most Corsi have docked tails as well. The standard calls for docking at the fourth vertebra, although often they are docked shorter; this is considered an eliminating fault under the Italian FCI 343 standard.
This is further modified by genetic pigment dilution to create blue (from black) and formentino (from fawn) colours. Brindling of varying intensity is common on both basic coat colours as well, creating tigrato (full brindle), black brindle, and blue brindle.
The Cane Corso is a descendant of the canis pugnax, dogs used by the Romans in warfare. Its name derives from cane da corso, an old term for those catch dogs used in rural activities (for cattle and swine; boar hunting, and bear fighting) as distinct from cane da camera which indicates the catch dog kept as a bodyguard.
In the recent past, its distribution was limited to some districts of Southern Italy, especially in Basilicata, Campania and Puglia
The Cane Corso is a catch dog used with cattle and swine, and also in wild boar hunts. It is also used by night watchmen, keepers, and, in the past, by carters as a drover. In the more distant past this breed was common all over Italy as an ample iconography and historiography testify.
The breed was recovered from near extinction through the efforts of enthusiasts in the 1970s by means of cross-breeding appropriate type selected breeds. The Cane Corso of today is a very different looking dog in comparison to its pre-80’s forefathers. The drive has somewhat come down, the breed has more bulk and generally due to the shortening of the muzzle and widening of the skull it has lost its scissor bite. The Corso is now popular globally. Since coming to the United States in 1987, the breed has gained popularity. It was recognized by the United Kennel Club on July 15, 2008 under the name Cane Corso Italiano, and subsequently by the American Kennel Club in 2010 as Cane Corso. Celebrity ownership of Cane Corsi has increased the breed’s visibility.