Guest Author - Debra Kelly
The Cane Corso is a study, powerful dog native to Southern Italy and only recently brought back from the edge of extinction by breeders. Reminiscent of the mastiff, this powerful dog can be a handful in the wrong home, but an intelligent and loyal companion when placed with the right family.
The modern Cane Corso can trace its lineage back to the same parent breed as the Neapolitan Mastiff. This original breed, which later diverged into both the Cane Corso and the Mastiff, was used by ancient Romans for a variety of purposes. The lighter, quicker dogs that became the Cane Corso were often used for hunting and controlling game, while the heavier dogs -- later developed into the Mastiff -- were used mainly as guard dogs. Both types were known for being highly intelligent, easy to train, and often accompanied their masters in battle.
It was this loyalty and inherent willingness to fight that made the Cane Corso one of the most popular types of dogs in ancient Rome. (Dogs were not divided into breeds, but into types -- that which gave rise to the Cane Corso was known as Canis Pugnaces, or dog warrior.) When Rome fell, the Cane Corso made its way to England where its natural abilities were repurposed into a hunting and guard dog. Its willingness to charge into battle made it an invaluable companion for boar hunting, as well as an ideal guardian for livestock. Not only would the dog not allow a temperamental bull to get the better of him, but he would also not hesitate to run down wolves and other predators that would otherwise slaughter his charges.
The Cane Corso fell from popularity when the jobs he was best at faded from the European landscape. Once the agricultural and hunting world declined, so did the need for a dog with his specific abilities. The resurgence and rescue of the breed only came in the 1970s, with a handful of breeders and a careful look at what they desired in this old breed.
Today, the Cane Corso remains a powerful dog, built for strength and endurance. Adult dogs can weigh up to 120 pounds, necessitating a strong, alpha human and obedience training from puppyhood to make this dog into a good canine citizen. Boundaries are an important thing to establish in this dog that has long been bred and raised to be a war dog and hunter, but these intelligent creatures learn very quickly and can settle into their pack rank among their human companions.
Cane Corsos that are properly socialized and trained are well known for making excellent family pets. Their energy, strength and stamina make them a perfect companion for children who might accident hurt another dog with their unintentional rough-housing. A Cane Corso can bond extremely strongly with the children of their household, giving that child a friend for life. But at the same time, their play should always be supervised as this extremely strong dog can also easily hurt a child even in play.
Those with experience with these dogs will often describe them as gentle giants, with loving natures that respond best to positive reinforcement and a strong leader.