The Cane Corso is one of many Mastiff-type dogs. They were developed in Southern Italy, but nowadays they are popular in the whole world.
Cane Corsos were bred to hunt game like lions, wild boars, and reindeer. Like many other dogs, they were also used to protect their home and family.
Do you know what Cane Corso means? The word “Cane” is actually Latin and comes from the word “canis” or “dog”. But, the word “Corso” is a little bit of a mystery. Some people claim it comes from the word “cohors” which means bodyguard. Other people believe it comes from the old Italian word “corsus”, which means robust or sturdy. Either way, both translations make sense for this dog.
Cane Corso Origins
Like we already said, Cane Corsos originate back to 4th century Italy. But back then they were called “Italian shepherd dogs”. Also the Cane Corso was already used by the ancient Greeks and the Romans as a herding dog. Especially on farms in southern Italy, the breed is to this day very popular. Due to his independent way of working, he has been a great help to his people for many centuries.
Despite their intimidating appearance, Cane Corsos are very loyal to their families and treat the people they love and trust very lovingly. They can take their protective instincts careful from strangers and other animals.
The American Kennel Club lists black, lighter and darker hues of gray, lighter and darker shades of fawn, and red as acceptable colors for this breed.
Brindling and black or gray masks that do not extend past the eyes are also permitted. Even a stray white patch is allowed. But tan pattern markings or points, such as those seen in Rottweiler and Doberman breeds, are not.
Not only do different coat colors have a significant impact on the Cane Corso’s overall appearance, but some tints have a shorter life expectancy than others. Which is why it’s important to consider the many colors available.
Cane Corso colors
Even though there are many Cane Corso colors, not all of those colors are accepted by kennel clubs like the AKC. According to the American Kennel Club the only acceptable colors of Cane Corso are:
- light gray
- dark grey
- darker shades of fawn
Certain Brindle colors are accepted too:
- chestnut brindle
- black brindle
- gray brindle
Many people wonder if the AKC recognizes the Blue Brindle Cane Corso, but they don’t.
Short info on the breed
Size and appearance
As we said previously, the Corso is a large, muscular, and powerful dog. One picture at Cane Corso dog breed pictures will tell you that this is a giant breed. Males stand 25 to 27.5 inches at the withers; females are 23.5 to 26 inches. Weight is proportionate to height and typically ranges from 90 to 120 pounds. But, they don´t only have a large body, but also a large head. They can be your true bodyguard-dog, a protector of your family.
So do they have a good temperament? Corso’s history describes him as having a “vigorous temperament, ready to accept any challenge”, and to be loyal until the end. However, that type of temperament can be a double-edged sword. In the wrong hands, these dogs can become aggressive and be a danger to everyone, especially the public. This is also quite a stubborn pup, so you will need to know how to treat them.
The Corsi is bright, loyal, ready to please, versatile, and deeply loyal to their humans, yet they can also be pushy and headstrong and end up owning an unwitting owner.
The ideal Corso is docile and affectionate toward his family, including children. Getting him to that point requires adaptation, early socialization, and training from an early age. So train puppies if you want a well-behaved dog. As we already said, the Corso is a highly intelligent dog breed. However, they also have a bossy nature, so it’s easy to see how he could come to dominate the household without firm boundaries. But, don´t worry, you shouldn´t have any trouble training your dog, this is a smart little guy, a very intelligent animal.
Socialization helps to ensure your Corso puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Without a lot of experience of the world, he can easily become fearful or aggressive, same as with humans. The more you socialize him, the better mannered will your White Cane Corso be.
The Cane Corso is an intelligent dog and can learn any trick. But they do need a lot of training and early socialization. That’s how you’ll make sure they grow up into well-rounded and well-behaved dogs. If they have a good owner they can be very affectionate, loving, and a good family pet. But, with the wrong owner, they can easily become aggressive and dangerous.
Health and care
Corsos are in general healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. The white Cane Corso is prone to the same diseases as the regular Corso.
The most common diseases these dogs are prone to are hip dysplasia; eyelid abnormalities such as entropion, ectropion, and cherry eye; demodectic mange (which can be heritable); and gastric dilatation or torsion, also known as bloat.
This is a very complex dog with special needs when it comes to health, food, training, and so on. Every dog has different needs, and this working breed needs plenty of physical activity to stay in shape. If you are a passive person, then think about taking a Corso for your dog. Plan on taking him for a brisk walk or jog of at least a mile, morning and evening, every day. If you like to bicycle, get an attachment that will allow him to run alongside you.
When it comes to food and food intake, you need to consider your dog´s activity level. When your dog is a puppy they will need less food, but as they grow, their needs change to promote healthy growth. And the profit margins are far narrower than you may anticipate. Being even little overweight will increase your Cane Corso’s risk of developing a variety of ailments such as arthritis and diabetes.
What determines the color of a Cane Corso?
Now this is an interesting question. The Federation of Cynologique Internationale has actually done an excessive study on this topic. While we won’t bother you with some excessive nerdy talk, you can always go and read the full study on their website.
In the Cane Corso Imbreed standard allows the following colours: black, black brindle, brindle, fawn, grey and grey brindle.
It’s also allowed for them to have a black mask around their muzzle. As you can see, there is no “blue”, “gold” or “color red” variations, even though some questionable breeders advertise their dogs as such.
Blue refers to a light gray, the gold is usually a cream-yellow color caused by a fawn gene, and a the color red probably refers to a more vibrant fawn coat.
In case you paid attention in biology class, you probably already know that there are dominant genes and recessive genes. All dominant genes will result in a solid black Cane Corso. That is because darker color genes are usually the more dominant ones. The brindle dilute gene is actually a recessive one. The brindle or merle pattern describes a coat in which there are lighter patches on the usually darker coat. There is also an inverted brindle pattern when there are darker patches on a lighter coat.
A a blue brindle dog usually has a color gray coat with a merle pattern of an even lighter and more washed out gray color.
Gray Cane Corsos therefore do have inherited a recessive diluted gene that cause them to have this light gray blueish color. The main focus should however be on the health aspects on these genes. You can read more about that down bellow.
Is Color Important?
The short answer is that a dog’s coat color, including the Cane Corso’s color, does matter. Even though there isn’t enough evidence that it affects its temperament or how it acts. So you might not understand why. Several studies have found that certain colors in a puppy’s coat mean that it was born with some health issues.
According to a study in Science Daily by the University of Sydney, the color of a puppy’s coat has a direct effect on how long he or she will live.
Different colors have different effects. Having liver or chocolate-colored dogs is more likely to make a dog overweight, hurt its joints, or get an ear infection, the researchers said in their study.
Besides this, another study looked at how 11,000 dogs would do on the BAER test (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response). They say that dogs with merle, white, and piebald coat colors are more likely to have congenital hearing loss.
There are some health risks to buying a puppy with darker coats. If you aren’t aware of this, you might buy a puppy that doesn’t have good health and end up having to pay a lot of money for doctor visits in the long run.
Does the color of Cane Corso puppies change over time?
Yes, but not drastically. If you have a light gray Cane Corso, for example, it can change into a much darker gray shade, but it can’t change into a red or pink color. When it comes to genetics, that is not the case.
Puppies may lose or gain their markings as they get older, but they won’t change into colors on the other end of the spectrum. Their color changes are very small, and they are usually caused by the following things: Maturity Sunlight Nutritional health Medications There is something wrong with your skin.
In that case, when do you register them? The AKC says that registration must be done within 12 months of the litter’s registration. When a pet owner registers a dog, it doesn’t matter if he or she changes colors.
They’re still the same sweet puppy on paper and in person! Most people, on the other hand, register their puppies when they’re 12 weeks old, but not everyone does.
Is the color of a Cane Corso related to his lifespan?
Different studies and statistical methods have found that there really is a correlation between the color of his coat and a lifespan. It seems as if the recessive and dominant gene of any color variation also cause different health issues in a Cane Corso. The recessive gene is problematic in particular, as it brings a greater risk of different diseases.
This data collection studied information from over 232 naturally deceased Cane Corsos owned by 73 individuals/kennels, living in 25 countries.
Even though this is the biggest study of it’s kind, it’s still pretty small generally speaking. While it is reliable data, still take it with a grant of salt, because of the size. Further, bigger studies need to be done to know things for sure.
In addition to that, this study was mainly done on Eastern European Cane Corsos. Which is something to think about as well. But anyway, let’s take a look at the results now:
Cane Corso colors and their life expectancy
- Black Brindle: 10.30 years
- Brindle: 10.13 years
- Grey Brindle: 9.84 years
- Fawn: 9.01 years
- Black Cane Corso: 9.00 years
- Grey: 9.00 years
- Other: 8.09 years
But don’t despair too soon. There is still data on Cane Corsos that lived even up to 18 years!
If you want to improve the lifespan of your Cane Corso, you have to take good care of his overall health. There are several things that you could improve, for example:
- Being on point with his vet appointments
- Low-stress environment
- Healthy and balanced diet
- Regular exercise
Cane Corso Eye Color
The Iris should have a color that is similar to the darkest section of the coat (excluding the mask). Eye color in Black Cane Corsos should be dark Hazel. As the coat color lightens, the color of the eyes lightens as well, thus dogs with lighter coat colors should have slightly lighter eyes.
There are limits to how light an eye color should be. Eyes that are lighter than a light hazel should are not in line with the breed standard. The color of the iris is genetically linked to the color of other facial features such as the nose and eye rim. The tone of the related of color should not surpass that of a light hazel eye.
The darker the color, the better. Iris should be “as dark as feasible but according to the coat color,” according to the FCI standard, which recognizes that dilute colors are genetically incapable of having dark eyes.
Dogs with black muzzles (with black, fawn, or red coats) should have dark-brown eyes, while dogs with gray muzzles (usually gray and the dilutes of fawn or red) can have lighter hues. It also applies to all Brindle patterns.
Dark brown eyes are desirable in dogs with black muzzles (black, fawn, or red foundation coats, and brindled varieties). Lighter colors in Gray Cane Corsos, Blue Fawm or other light variations are pretty common. The eye rims should be completely pigmented and match the dog’s pigment hue.
The Iris should be quite similar in color to the coat’s darkest tone (not including the mask). As a result, the darkest base colors tend to produce the darkest eye colors.
All black Cane Corso
The all black Cane Corso is one of the most popular Cane Corso colors. But they’re also very rare. Usually, they will have some white spots on their bodies or other markings. Their color comes from the pigment eumelanin, and it’s genetically dominant in these dogs.
Now you might think there are many blacks, but the all black Cane Corso is different. These dogs are rare. This is because finding a black Cane Corso isn’t that easy. In fact, it’s a real task to find a black dog that will fit all the breed standards of the AKC.
The black Cane Corso can have a white patch on the chest, throat, chin, backs of the pasterns, and toes. If they have white spots anywhere else, they don’t fit the standard.
Chocolate or Liver
Although these chocolate or liver-colored Cane Corsos are gorgeous, they are not acceptable to kennel associations. They may seem like AKC-approved red Cane Corsos, but the lack of pigmentation in their noses and the skin surrounding their eyes tell the difference.
Some people claim that these uncommon Cane Corsos are less healthy than regular Corsos since they were bred for their distinctive coloration rather than for health or temperament.
However, non-standard colorations do occur, and they aren’t always indicative of cross-breeding. However, a chocolate or liver Corso should not be more expensive than any other color.
Brindle Black Cane Corso
The black brindle, although being half-black, is a beautiful animal. Corso’s basic color is either red or brown, with tiger stripes that are mostly black. This is a typical colour for the breed and does not suggest a hereditary defect.
These lighter-colored dogs, like the fawn, were frequently employed for hunting and were characterized as “tiger-striped or tawny striped with big teeth” by Dr. Flavio Bruno, a Corso aficionado.
This colour is known in Italy as tigrato, which means “tiger-like,” and just as no two tigers have the same stripe patterns, so does the brindle pattern vary greatly from dog to dog.
The AKC and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale both recognize the black brindle Cane Corso (FCI).
Fawn Cane Corso
The fawn Cane Corso has a coat color that can be cream to a brownish tan color. What’s special about them is that they have a black or grey mask on their face but it should never go beyond their eyes. These dogs also have the name “formentino“.
The fawn-colored Cane Corso has been around since the 3rd or 4th century. Even back then their owners would take them to hunt because their light-colored coats made them difficult to see.
Now, if you’re wondering if there’s a solid-colored fawn Cane Corso, the answer is yes. But they are very, very rare.
Formentino Cane Corso
Because the Formentino Cane Corso has such a distinct appearance, some breeders may try to persuade you that it is a distinct breed.
The term “Formentino,” sometimes known as blue fawn, comes from Italy and refers to the hue of fermented wheat. The Formentino Corso has a carbon-colored coat with a blue nose and mask, as well as gray patches across his shoulders and back, and is a dilution of the fawn colour.
The Formentino coat has a dilute tint, similar to the blue or gray coat, making Formentino Corsos more susceptible to skin diseases. Furthermore, because they lack the brindle pattern associated with a longer longevity, the Fomentino has a shorter life expectancy of 8 years, compared to its brindle cousins’ 10-year lifespan.
Red Cane Corso
The red Cane Corso is rare, but it’s still a standard color. Their color can vary widely. Some dogs can be as pale as champagne and others can be a rich mahogany color. They also usually have a black mask.
It’s important to say that the same pigment, pheomelanin, is responsible for all the shades of red Corso, but the genetic pathway it takes influences the exact hue.
The red color in Cane Corsos is only possible when both parents carry the genes. Now, the parents don’t have to be red, they can be either red/fawn or black themselves, but it’s important that they carry this gene.
Blue Cane Corso
The blue Cane Corso is often mentioned either online or by dog lovers. But what is all the fuss about?
Literally no breed standard does include a blue Cane Corso. The color gray is most likely what people are referring to when they say blue.
It’s not a major concern if the breed’s color is incorrectly labeled, but a breeder who brands his Cane Corso puppies as blue-colored should be an immediate red flag.
This indicates that the breeder hasn’t bothered to search up the breed standard, which is a must for conscientious breeders.
Ask these questions of your breeder to expose backyard breeders that are attempting to dupe you into purchasing a puppy that is likely undersocialized and lacking in health certificates.
Straw Cane Corsos
Straw Cane Corsos are also known as “Paglia”. But how rare are they? And are they accepted by the American Kennel Club, and part of the Cane Corso AKC breed standard?
Some breeders will try to convince you that these cream-colored puppies are rare and they can charge as much as $5,000 for one of them. They can additionally have a bit of a gray pigment or black pigment. Surprisingly, straw hay-colored Cane Corsos have appeared in the show ring in the last couple of years.
Breeders have different views on straw color Cane Corsos. Some say it’s just a lighter variation of shades of fawn, while others say it’s an unacceptable deviation from the standard.
It looks like the straw Corso isn’t the result of a modern cross, but rather a return to a historical color. The straw Corso likely came from crossbreeding with the Maremma or Abruzzese Sheepdog, which is the Kuvasz or the Great Pyrenees of the Italian regions. A light-colored Cane Corso, known as the “straw hay dog,” was said to be a favorite of farmers in Italy’s meridional region, no matter where it came from.
Brindle Grey Cane Corso
These milder Cane Corsos have a brown base color with gray or blue stripes, similar to the black brindle. The grey brindle is less frequent than the gray Corso, but it is quite straightforward to breed for, and two grey brindle parents will produce a litter with at least 50% grey brindle puppies.
Grey brindle was the “color of choice for the traditional Italian cowboy,” as opposed to the fawn Corsos that were favored for hunting. The grey brindle Corsos were better able to ambush unsuspecting predators by blending in with the environment, assisting the cowboy in protecting his herd of semi-wild horses.
Grey brindle Corsos with gray noses are more likely to have brindling on the tips of their muzzles than black brindle Corsos.
The gray Corso, like the other brindle Corsos, lives longer than its solid-colored brethren.
Cane Corso Price
If you want a Cane Corso puppy, or any breed of dog for that matter, you should get it from a high-quality breeder. Obviously, reputable breeders will charge you more for a puppy.
So, the average Cane Corso price is anywhere between $1000 and $4000. The Cane Corso price depends on the area you live in, if there is only one Cane Corso breeder in your are, then he can put any price he wants. The puppies parents, the color of the puppy and so on. If you want a certain coloration or bloodline, it may even be higher. For example if you want a Blue Cane Corso puppy it could easily cost more than the average $4000.
When people read that a puppy costs between $1000 and $4000 dollars is that they think that’s all they will have to pay. But that’s not true, obviously. You will have to pay for vet visits, vaccinations, deworming and so on. So you’re looking at an additional cost of around $200.
Also, keep in mind that anything below those $1000 should make you suspicious and you shouldn’t accept the offer. Because no breeder can afford to sell his dogs at a bargain price. These cheap prices come at the expense of the animals.
Cane Corsos are prone to hereditary diseases, and a reputable breeder will make sure he is selling you a healthy puppy that has been tested and cleared for hereditary health problems.
But how do you find a reputable breeder? You can do this through a breed association, the American Kennel Club or ask people who already have a healthy Cane Corso where they got them.
You can also recognize an honest breeder by the fact that he gives you the opportunity to visit him and get to know the little puppy’s parents and siblings. He will be at your disposal for all questions, not only when making a purchase, but also beyond. Do not be surprised that the breeder asks you questions about your life situation.
Is this the right dog for me?
Before you decide to get a Cane Corso, you should carefully consider whether you can give him the attention he needs. The breed is not suitable for living in the city or as an apartment dog. He needs a lot of space and its own territory to guard. But in this case, he can by no means be left to himself for too long. The four-legged friend related to his pack needs family connection and a lot of employment in the form of movement and tasks.
A cane corso owner should be sporty and like to spend a lot of time with his four-legged friend – preferably in the great outdoors. The stately Italians are considered very fond of children, although of course older children, who know the rules for respectful treatment of animal family members, can cultivate an intense friendship with a Cane Corso. If the dog has been socialized as a puppy with cats and other pets, he can live peacefully with them.
Be sure to keep in mind that your Cane Corso will take up a lot of your time every day for over a decade – care during the holiday or in the event of illness should also be planned carefully. Before moving in, take care of the basic equipment in the form of collar, leash, possibly chest harness, dog blankets and/or cups, toys, transport safety for the car, bowls, brushes and useful helpers such as lint brush or tick tongs.
The Cane Corso is a wonderful dog with beautiful coat colors. We don’t know which is prettier, the all black Cane Corso, the fawn Cane Corso, or the white Cane Corso.
We didn’t mention the white Cane Corso in this article because it’s not a standard color. But, you can read more about them in our article titled “White Cane Corso: The Italian Mastiff.”