What Were Cane Corsos Bred For? History of the Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is a handsome, powerful dog often kept either as a companion pet or as a guard dog. Their intimidating appearance makes them look quite fearsome, but these dogs tend to be even-tempered and highly trainable dogs that show a lot of loyalty to their people. They are even-tempered enough that some people even keep Cane Corsi as livestock guardian dogs.

Originally, these dogs were bred to hunt large game, like wild boars, but they were also used as guardians of households and livestock. Today, they are not routinely used as hunting dogs, but many people who still hunt game like wild boars do still use Cane Corsi to help them hunt. Early Cane Corsi and their predecessors were also used as war dogs, often carrying buckets of flaming oil into enemy lines.

divider-pawWhere Did Cane Corsi Originate?

The history of the Cane Corso goes all the way back to ancient Rome, making them one of the older dog breeds today. They are a variety of Mastiff that falls under a subcategory called Molossers. It’s believed that they were bred from the Greek Molossus dog, which is extinct today. The Greek Molossus dog was a fearsome and fearless dog breed respected across the ancient world. It only makes sense that this breed’s offspring would have been highly prized and bred to create more breeds containing the genetics of the Greek Molossus.

As the Romans rapidly took over the ancient world, the Greek Molossus dog was brought from Greece and the Greek isles back to Rome. Once in Rome, the Greek Molossus dog was crossed with other Italian Mastiff breeds. The Neapolitan Mastiff is another breed that descended from crossbreeding between the Greek Molossus dog and native Italian Mastiffs.

cane corso sitting on grass
Image Credit: Hoika Mikhail, Shutterstock

What Happened to Cane Corsi After the Fall of the Roman Empire?

When the Roman Empire began losing power, many soldiers and war dogs needed jobs that weren’t related to war and conquest. This led to the Cane Corso becoming primarily a guardian dog of both people and livestock. It was during this time period that the Cane Corso was bred away from its original lumbering, slow body type and into its more modern sleek but powerful body. For centuries, the Cane Corso simply functioned as a companion and working dog, primarily in the Italian countryside.

The 20th Century and the Cane Corso

As time went on and farming moved toward more modernized functions, the Cane Corso decreased in numbers. With the implementation of better fences and ways to repel pest animals, the Cane Corso was needed as a livestock guardian far less. It was also not needed to aid in farming or hunting anymore, and the introduction of other dog breeds to the area over time also decreased the Cane Corso population. As of the mid-20th century, the Cane Corso was almost functionally extinct.

Luckily, there was a small population of Cane Corsi that still existed in the Italian countryside. In the 1970s, a group of Cane Corso enthusiasts began a breeding program to save their beloved breed. By 1983, they had formed The Society of Cane Corso Lovers. In the late 20th century, these dogs began making the rounds in European dog shows. In 1988, Cane Corsi arrived in the United States, but it wasn’t until 2010 before the Cane Corso was recognized by the AKC.

Image Credit: Lucie-Malouin, Pixabay

Are Cane Corsi Effective Guardians?

In appearance alone, the Cane Corso easily discourages trespassers. Standing between 23.5–27.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing around 100 pounds, the Cane Corso is quite intimidating. Coupled with its dark, glossy coat, dark eyes, and regularly cropped ears, there’s very little that would encourage someone up to no good to approach this dog. Not only are they large, but they are fast and move with graceful, smooth movements.

Aside from its intimidating appearance, the Cane Corso is known to be an intelligent guardian that shows a cool and calm demeanor that is often compared to that of a professional bodyguard. They are highly trainable dogs that aim to please, but they can be quite stubborn. They require an experienced handler who knows how to train willful dogs. Cane Corsi should be properly socialized with other people and dogs at a young age to prevent behavioral issues from arising as the dog ages.

divider-pawIn Conclusion

The Cane Corso is a wonderful dog breed, but it’s not for everyone. They can be stubborn dogs, and their powerful bodies may make them difficult to manage without proper training. Introductions to other dogs and visitors from a young age, as well as a strict training schedule, can help properly socialize your Cane Corso and ensure your dog is well-trained and manageable. Due to their breeding background as guardian dogs, a poorly trained Cane Corso can be a problem that is difficult to handle.

Featured Image Credit: Bruno Simões, Pixabay

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