Breed Information

Italian Corso Dog

Group: Utility
Size: Large
Lifespan: 12 years plus
Exercise: low
Grooming: very low
Trainability: high
Watchdog ability: very high
Protection ability: very high
Area of Origin: Italy
Date of Origin: ancient times
Other Names: Italian Mastiff Cane Corso, Cane Corso Italiano
Original Function: Watchdog, protection, police and tracking


Its direct ancestor is the old Roman Molossian. The breed was formerly scattered all over Italy. However, in recent time the breed was only prevalent in the Province of Apulia and in the adjacent regions of Southern Italy. His name derives from the Latin “Cohors” which means protector or guardian of the farmyard.

Official Breed Standard


A medium to large sized dog. Robust and sturdy but nevertheless elegant. Lean with powerful muscles. He is now used as a guard, protection, police or tracking dog. Important proportions: The length of the head reaches 36% of the height at the withers. The dog is somewhat longer than high.


He is a guardian of property, family and livestock and is extremely agile and responsive. In the past it has been used for herding cattle and hunting big game.


The head is large and typically molossoid. The upper longitudinal axis of the skull and the muzzle converge slightly.

Skull: Wide. At the zygomatic arches its width is equal to or greater than its length. Convex in front, it becomes fairly flat behind the forehead as far as the occiput. The medio-frontal furrow is visible.

Stop: MarkedNose: Black and large with ample, open nostrils, on the same line as the nasal bridge.

Muzzle: Noticeably shorter than the skull (ratio muzzle to skull approximately 1 to 2). Strong and square, the front part of the muzzle is flat. The lateral surfaces are parallel. The muzzle is as wide as it is long. The profile of the nasal bridge is straight.

Lips: The upper lips hang moderately and cover the mandible, so that the lower profile of the muzzle is determined by the lips.

Jaws: The jaws are very large, thick and curved.


Medium sized, ovoid, looking directly forward and slightly protruding. The eyelids are close fitting. The colour of the iris is as dark as possible, depending on the colour of the coat. The expression is keen and attentive.


Triangular and drooping, wide, set on high above the zygomatic arches.


Slightly undershot. A level bite is acceptable but not sought after.


Strong and muscular. As long as the head.


Shoulders: Long, oblique and very muscular.
Upper arm: Strong
Forearm: Straight and very strong
Carpal joint and pasterns: Elastic.


The body is somewhat longer than the height at the withers. The Corso is sturdily built but not squat.

Withers: Pronounced, rising above the level of the croup.
Back: Rectilinear, very muscular and firm.
Loins: Short and strong.
Croup: Long, wide and slightly inclined.
Chest: Well developed in three dimensions. Chest reaches to the elbow.


Upper thigh: Long, wide, back line of thigh convex.
Lower thigh: Strong, not fleshy.
Hocks: Moderately angulated.
Metatarsals: Thick and sinewy.


The forefeet are cat feet and the hind feet are slightly less compact.


Set on fairly high and very thick at the root. The tail is docked at the fourth vertebra. In action carried high, but never curled nor erect.


Long stride with extended trot. The preferred gait is the trot.


Fairly thick and rather close fitting.


Short, shiny and very dense with a light undercoat.


Black, lead-grey, slate grey, light grey, light fawn, stag red and dark fawn, brindle (stripes of different shades of fawn or grey). In fawn coloured and brindle dogs the black or grey mask on the muzzle should not go beyond the line of the eyes. A small white patch on the chest, on the tips of the feet and on the bridge of the nose is acceptable.


Height at withers: Males from 64 to 68 cm
Females from 60 to 64 cm
Tolerance of 2 cm or less.
Weight: Males 45 to 50kg
Females 40 to 45 kg


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in the exact proportion to its degree.

Serious Faults:

  • Axis of the muzzle and skull parallel or too converging. Lateral surfaces of the muzzle converging.
  • Partial depigmentation of the nose.
  • Scissor bite or pronounced undershot mouth
  • Ring tail or tail in vertical position.
  • Permanent amble when trotting.
  • Over or under size

Very Serious Faults:

  • Axis of muzzle and skull diverging.
  • Total depigmentation of the nose.
  • Bridge of nose very hollow, ram’s nose.
  • Overshot mouth.
  • Partial or complete palpebral [of the eyelids] depigmentation. Wall eye, strabism [squinting].
  • Tailless, short tail (docked or not).
  • Semi long, smooth or fringed hair.
  • All colours not indicated in the standard. Large white patches.

N.B. Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.