American Bully Association

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Cane Corso / Italian Mastiff

The Cane Corso aa descendent from the Roman canis Pugnaces is a large Italian breed closely related to the Neapolitan Mastiff. The breed's name came about from the words guardian and protector. This breed is becoming ever more popular in America as the population continues to grow.


Of all breeds the Cane Corso probably is as close to the old Roman war dogs as any breed. Majestic, fierce, confident and loyal. All the great traits or a truly terrific dog breed. The Cane Corso no doubt in its history played a significant role in the development of some of the great molosser breeds like the American Pit Bull Terrier, Neapolitan Mastiff, Great Dane and others.


Cane Corso is used just as much as an adjective as it is a noun as it is a description based on tasks historically performed by the breed, which is supported in written documentation as early as 1137 AD. The Latin influence on the name is evident with the term canis influencing the term Cane in Italian, which itself means dog. Also in Latin Cohors means bodyguard that later influenced the Italian term Corus, which is an adjective meaning sturdy or robust all of which the Cane Corso is.


Artistically dogs very similar to the Cane Corso have been depicted throughout various points in history. From the III-IV century a mosaic shows a very similar dog on a boar hunt. Again in 1390 a miniature sculptor exists depicting a similar breed and The Reggia di Caserta a fountain from 1790 includes two. Several other examples also exist from 1100's, late 1400's and mid 1500's.


Over time as people moved more into cities there was less need for the hunt and for protection the breed served to provide. This led to a decline in the breed. WWI later further reduced the breed as it was called to duty but soon after the war ended a resurgence began until WWII where the need for able body men, their care takers was necessary, which in addition to natural disasters and food shortages once again severely impacted their numbers.. By the 1970's the breed was nearly extinct with only a few examples left in the back country.


In 1974 Dr Poalo Breber began to resurrect the breed again through collecting some of the few remaining examples. Breber soon began to work with some other notables in the breed's history being Stefano Gandolfi and the Malavasi brothers from Mantova.


In 1988 Michael Sottile Sr. imported the first Cane Corso litter to America and then again another litter in 1989 of the same parentage.


Now in recent times the breed has found that it enjoys a new surge in popularity and enthusiasm.


Because the breed shares much of the same history as other molosser breeds it is not a surprise that it bears a strong resemblance to the American Pit Bull Terrier. As such this breed can be considered a good candidate in the now developing American Bully breed.



23.5-27.5 inches



Proportional to height



Dark eyes for those with dark muzzles and lighter eyes for those with lighter coat colors. Yellow and blue eyes are not natural to the purebred Cane Corso.



Even to slightly undershot



Short, stiff and shiny



Balck, gray, darker shades of red and fawn. Brindling is also allowed. Small levels of white are permissible on the chest, throat, chin and back of pasterns and on toes.