Must Love Corsos Rescue is a community-based non-profit rescue dedicated to saving the lives of neglected and abandoned Cane Corsos.

The Breed

Is a Cane Corso the right dog for you?

It has been said that nothing worth doing is easy. This holds true for the Cane Corso. They are not for everyone….there are over 200 breeds of dog out there and most will be “easier” than a Corso. Often described as a “coursing mastiff,” the Cane Corso can exceed the other mastiff breeds in athleticism, agility, speed, energy level, and sense of adventure.

This robust dog needs her/his share of exercise, but above all requires personal interaction and lots of companionship. A Corso lives for her/his family.

Ask yourself what attracts you to the breed. If the first thing that comes to mind is related to their appearance, you may want to rethink things. That adorable smooshy-faced puppy is going to grow into a 100 + pound protection-oriented mastiff who is going to require socialization and training. Even after all that, they are not social butterflies.

Cane Corso puppies should be friendly and trusting with strangers. With proper socialization, they become more aloof and discerning as they mature. As with all mastiffs, socialization is an absolute requirement to promote the correct temperament, which is protective, but in a calm, stable, and discriminating way. Though the Cane Corso was NOT used for dog-fighting, dog aggression can become a problem. She/he should be thoroughly socialized with other dogs from an early age.

The Cane Corso is instinctively protective of his home and family and distrustful of strangers. It is important to understand that you and the members of your household can work with your dog. Training can’t be passed off to someone else. He/she needs to respect you and your family. Lack of socialization and training can lead to all sorts of serious problems as time goes on and letting these go is the primary reason for one of these dogs to wind up needing rescue.

There is much more to a Cane Corso than intimidating looks. These are sensitive and intelligent souls who live for their people and want to be near them as much as possible. The Cane Corso is a unique dog that comes with his/her own set of challenges and rewards. They require firm but patient handling and will not respond well to rough treatment. The Cane Corso is attentive and responsive to training and though quite dominant, will respect an owner who is confident and consistent.

These dogs need a job. If you don’t give them one, they will likely find one that is annoying and/or destructive. Cane Corso were bred to be working dogs. It’s in their DNA. Corsos also need to be with their people and may become destructive if left alone too much.

Vet bills are often more expensive for large dogs as well as spot treatment for fleas, heartworm prevention, etc. Not to mention the cost of feeding. Cane Corsos have tighter skin than other mastiffs and drool less; however, the Cane Corso will sometimes slobber/drool, particularly if there are snacks involved. Corso lovers often refer to this phenomenon as a ‘stringer’, which often appears hanging from the jowls or succinctly strewn across the muzzle or head. Some Corsos love to dig, and most enjoy splashing in water, whether it be the pond, a mudhole, the lawn sprinkler, or their water bowl. These are not dainty dogs.

If you have more than one, their style of play can be alarming at first. Introducing a new Corso to any existing pets must be done carefully for the safety of all involved. Slower is better and usually takes a minimum of two weeks. An introduction that happens too fast, in an uncontrolled environment cannot be undone if it goes poorly. Rescue volunteers will be happy to walk you through the process.

The Cane Corso is a lifetime commitment. The time you put into working with yours will pay off exponentially and is something you will never regret doing.

So, if you want a dog who…

  • Is a massive and powerful dog

  • Has a short easy-care coat

  • Is calm and quiet indoors as an adult

  • Makes an imposing guardian

  • Is serious and self-assured with strangers, yet generally mild-mannered

  • More energetic and athletic compared to other mastiffs

A Cane Corso may be right for you.

Cane Corso History

Cane Corsos originally came from Italy, mostly in the southern areas of the country. These dogs may also be referred to as the Cane da Macellaio, the Italian Corso Dog, and the Italian Molosso. The Cane Corso was used to hunt large game and it was especially skilled at hunting wild boar. When big game hunting was on a decline these dogs were used to guard property and livestock for Italian farmers. This breed came to America around 1987, but can still be found throughout Italy fulfilling the role of its old working duties. The Cane Corso derived its name from the Latin word “Cohors” which means guardian or protector.

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Cane Corso Appearance

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Cane Corso dogs are very big, standing between 23 and 27 inches tall at the withers (the top of the back between the shoulder blades). Even though Cane Corso mastiffs are large, they are also lean and generally have heavily muscled bodies, causing them to weigh, on average, between 88 and 110 pounds. These dogs also typically drool and shed quite a bit for short-haired dogs. An unaltered Cane Corso has a long tail and ears that drop forward. Owners of Cane Corso kennels, however, often dock both ears and tails if they live in an area where doing so is legal. They were bred as working dogs for hundreds of years.

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Usually, Cane Corsos are either black or fawn-colored. However, these basic colors can have several different shades, such as:

  • blue
  • brindling
  • formentino (“blue mask”)
  • red

Full brindling is called tigrato. Most of the time, Cane Corsos’ noses are black. Sometimes blue Cane Corsos have gray noses, but they should still be darker than the fur. While white patches on their face, toes, and chests are common, from a show perspective, smaller white patches are better.

Breed FAQ

What are some characteristics of a Cane Corso?

A Cane Corso is one of the most intelligent dogs you will encounter; they love to learn and love to please their people. For these reasons, a Corso’s mental stimulation is just as important as her/his physical stimulation. They truly enjoy learning to be obedient and receiving approval from their human. They thrive in environments where boundaries are established and consistently reinforced. A few strategies that have proven successful in addressing the intelligence and people-pleasing tendencies of the Corso are: Basic and Advanced Obedience Courses, Agility Training, and Therapy Dog Certification.

Since most Cane Corsos have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of “good guys.” Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful and purposeful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone. Training, such as the three mentioned previously, helps socialize the Corso as does structured walks and visits to local animal-based stores.

Cane Corsos bond strongly with their family members and are often referred to as ‘velcro dogs’. Corsos have a strong desire to be with their humans, so if you are in the bathroom expect company; if you are cooking in the kitchen expect a helper; and if you are indoors and your Corso is outside, expect two eyes peering at you through the window with an occasional ‘stink eye’. It is a rarity that a Corso’s human has privacy. A favorite game in our household is, how many Cane Corsos can fit in the half-bath with the human.

Expect to hear snorts, grunts, and loud snoring. While the sounds are endearing to some, they can be nerve-wracking to others.

Expect Cane Corsos with heavy jowls to drool and slobber. While those with “tighter” lips tend to drool and slobber less, expect to experience this phenomenon to some degree.

Expect gassiness (flatulence) that can send you running for cover. Fortunately, Cane Corsos who are fed a natural (raw) diet of real meat and other fresh foods have much less trouble with gassiness.

What is the proper balance of exercise for a Cane Corso?

Younger Cane Corsos need enough exercise to keep them lean and healthy, but not so much that their soft-growing bones, joints, and ligaments become over-stressed and damaged. Since you have to minimize their exercise, young Cane Corsos can be very rambunctious. They will romp with uncoordinated gawkiness all over your house. While adult Cane Corsos need more exercise to keep them in shape, most senior Corsos benefit from daily structured walks with their human. Regardless of age, humans must be mindful of exercising a Corso in hot or humid weather for fear of overheating, which can result in heatstroke.

What age of a Cane Corso would be best for my family?

Before you add a Cane Corso to your family, you must decide if you want a puppy, adolescent, adult, or a gray muzzle. Puppies are a huge commitment (and a rarity in rescue), you will need to spend many months training a puppy and will need to endure the extra energy and mischievousness a puppy will grace you with. If a puppy is too daunting, consider an older Corso.

Many wonderful Corsos are available through Must Love Corsos Rescue. Corsos frequently find themselves in rescue through no fault of their own: they are often the product of a divorce, a result of an illness or death of an owner, a consequence of a family’s financial hardship, such as homelessness, and a statistic of impulsive decisions based on immediate gratifications rather than long-term consideration of responsibility and possible changes in circumstance. These Corsos CAN and DO make wonderful companions in the proper environment.

How are Cane Corsos with children?

In general, Cane Corsos do very well with children. They have a high pain tolerance and are not likely to snap in reaction to a pulled tail or tugged ear. It is imperative, however, that Cane Corsos be taught to respect children, and that children be taught to respect a Cane Corso. Remember that these are large dogs, and what is meant to be a playful swat with a paw could knock a small child over easily. Never leave a child unattended with your Cane Corso or any dog. A Cane Corso’s size should certainly be considered when children are involved. Accidents can and do happen. A Cane Corso simply turning their head quickly to one side can produce a fall or damage to a small child. It is also important to keep in mind that all dogs are individuals, and no blanket statement applies to all Cane Corsos. Raise your Corso appropriately, and use common sense. A Cane Corso is not a Golden Retriever or a Beagle. You cannot allow them to raise themselves. They are pack animals and will find their natural place in the pack if left to natural processes. That place may be at the top of the pecking order instead of below younger family members if left unchecked.

  • Must Love Corsos Rescue will NOT place an older Cane Corso in an adoptive or foster home with small children unless the dog has a known history of being in the accompaniment of young children.
How are Cane Corso’s with other animals?

Some Cane Corsos cannot share a home with small animals because of a high prey drive and an inability to lose the temptation to give chase. In most cases, males and females will get along, but a Cane Corso with another dog of the same gender (any size/breed of dog) can be troublesome. If you share your home with a Cane Corso and another dog of the same gender, you must be prepared to possibly deal with a fight breaking out among them. Because of this we typically recommend bringing a dog of the opposite sex into your home.

  • Must Love Corsos Rescue will NOT place a dog with a known high-prey drive into a home with small animals.
  • Must Love Corsos Rescue will RARELY place a dog into a home with a same-sex canine companion.
What is the best living environment for a Cane Corso?

Cane Corso’s are best as family companions who live indoors with their loved ones. Despite their large size and tough-guy good looks, a cane corso can have a very soft temperament where loved ones are concerned. They are happiest when they are spending time with their family, and are best suited as indoor pets. Cane Corsos should never be allowed to roam the neighborhood or surrounding areas unattended. They are guardian dogs and as their territory expands so will their commitment to protecting that area from other dogs and people.

  • Must Love Corsos Rescue will ONLY consider placement of a rescue as an indoor companion to the family.
What are the grooming requirements of a Cane Corso?

It is often said that the cane corso is a “wash and wear” breed. Their short coats don’t require a lot of care, though they will certainly benefit from a quick daily brushing to remove dead hair and keep their coats shiny. Like all dogs, their ears and teeth must be cleaned regularly, and their toenails should be kept short. Neglect in these areas can and often produce ear infections, flattened pasterns, splayed feet, and expensive tooth removal.

Must Love Corsos Rescue recommends the following grooming items or protocols:

  • A heavy-duty Dremel or a high-quality pair of clippers for nail trims
  • A good quality brush and a Furminator for daily dead hair removal
  • A high-quality brand of Salmon Oil, such as Zestypaws Pure Salmon Oil or Grizzly Salmon Oil for healthy skin, coat, and additional benefits
What is the expected health and longevity of the Cane Corso?

The average life expectancy of a Cane Corso is 10 to 11 years. All dogs are subject to health problems, and Cane Corsos are no exception. Common health issues are cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, torn anterior cruciate ligaments, bloat, skin and coat problems, thyroid problems, and entropion.

  • Must Love Corsos Rescue recommends Glucosamine Joint Supplements, such as TerraMax Pro Hip & Joint Supplement or Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM.
What is the approximate cost associated with a Cane Corso?

When you are thinking of adding a Cane Corso to your family, please take into consideration not only the initial cost of adoption but also the cost of health care for a Cane Corso. Remember that all dogs need annual veterinary visits and that even routine medication, such as those to prevent fleas and ticks, are very expensive for such a large dog. If your dog should need special care for more serious problems, costs can easily spiral into thousands of dollars. Medical costs associated with large breed dogs are higher primarily due to size in general. Bigger does mean more in this area. Other costs to consider include the purchase of quality food, toys, and supplies. A teething puppy requires many items to occupy their time otherwise you may find your favorite table lacking a leg or the TV remote in many tiny pieces.

Must Love Corsos Rescue recommends researching and considering the following:

  • Review types of high-quality kibble (dry dog food, such as Orijen, Wellness Core, Earthborn, or Acana ), and pay particular attention to the types of recalls on certain brands and the effects that caused the recall. Investigate raw diets (e.g. Aunt Jeni’s or BARF) to determine benefits and downsides. This type of research provides an informed decision to be made based on what would be best for your family and Corso.
  • Contact trainers in your area to determine experience with the breed. Inquire about the availability and cost of a basic obedience course. Personally, my dog trainer did an amazing job training me!!!
  • Contact your veterinarian to determine his/her recommended care of and cost associated with a large breed. While speaking with them, inquire about heartworm and flea/tick preventative care and cost.
  • Contact the emergency veterinarian in your area to inquire what the average cost is to treat a dog with bloat, blockage, or an injured limb.
  • If adult members of the family work similar hours and the Corso will be left alone for long periods, investigate dog walkers and/or canine daycare facilities. Inquire into requirements and associated costs for utilizing this type of service.
  • If a family vacation is an annual occurrence and dogs are not permitted, examine boarding kennels ensuring you know in advance their requirements and fees.

Are You Sure?

Still unsure if a Cane Corso is right for you?

Review Adoption FAQ

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