The Cane Corso from Italian cane (dog) and "corso" from the Latin "Cohors" meaning "protector", also known as the Italian Mastiff, is a large Italian breed of dog, for years valued highly in Italy as a companion, guard dog, and hunter.
The Cane Corso is a large Italian Molosser, which is closely related to the Neapolitan Mastiff. In name and form the Cane Corso predates its cousin the Neapolitan Mastiff. It is well muscled and less bulky than most other Mastiff breeds. The breed is known as a true and quite possibly the last of the coursing Mastiffs. The official Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) standard expects ideal dogs to stand 58–70 cm (23–28 in) at the withers, with females in the lower range (58–66 cm (23–26 in)) and males in the higher (62–70 cm (24–28 in)). Weight should be in keeping with the size and stature of these dogs, ranging from 45–50 kilograms (99–110 lb) for males and from 40–45 kilograms (88–99 lb) for females. The overall impression should be of power, balanced with athleticism. A Corso should be moderately tight skinned; however, some dewlap on the neck is normal, and the bottom of the jawline should be defined by the hanging lip.
The head of the Cane Corso is arguably its most important feature. It is large and imposing. The forehead should be flat and convergent to the muzzle. The muzzle is flat, rectangular (when viewed from above), and generally as wide as it is long; approximately 33% the total length of the skull (a ratio of 2:1). The eyes are almond in shape, set straight and when viewed from the front, set slightly above the line of the muzzle. Darker eyes are preferred, however, the color of the eyes tends to emulate the shade of brindling in the coat. Traditionally the ears are cropped short in equilateral triangles that stand erect, however, as cropping is no longer legal in many jurisdictions, Cane Corso with ears are becoming more common, and should hang smoothly against the head, coming to at or slightly below the level of the eyes.
The tail of the Corso is traditionally docked fairly long, at the 4th vertebra. Again, with trends in cosmetic surgeries for dogs changing, many Corsos now have full tails, which should be carried erect, but never curled over the back.
Cane Corso appear in two basic coat colours: black and fawn. This is further modified by genetic pigment dilution to create "blue" (grey, from black) and frumentino or formentino (from fawn, where the mask is blue/grey) colours. Brindling of varying intensity is common on both basic coat colours as well, creating Tigrato (black brindle), and Grigio Tigrato (blue brindle). White markings are common on the chest, tips of toes, the chin, and the bridge of the nose. Large white patches are not desirable.
Details of a study of 232 Cane Corso across 25 countries was published in June 2017; it indicated the average life span of the breed is 9.29 years. The research also showed the results when the live span of different colour groups was determined. The longest living group are black brindle dogs (10.3 years) followed by brindle dogs (10.13 years), grey brindle dogs (9.84 years), fawn dogs (9.01 years), black dogs (9 years), grey dogs (9 years) and other colour dogs (8.09 years).