Cane Corso vs Rottweiler: Comparing Guard Dogs

If you are looking for a guard dog to watch over your house and family, the two breeds you should consider getting are the Cane Corso and the Rottweiler. Both canines belong to the Mastiff family which indicates that they are massive, fearsome, and reliable. Appearance-wise, these two look different from each other despite their common roots. Their personalities also generally differ a lot, so take a closer look at what makes up the profiles of these two handsome dogs before ultimately deciding which one to adopt!

Breed Origins

Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is the pride of Italy. It is believed that his ancestor is no other than the Roman Molossian also known as the Canis Pugnax. From the name Cane Corso, a more simplified meaning can be derived. Cane means dog while “cohors” which is a Latin term equates to “guardian” or  “protector”. The Italian Mastiff’s name is indeed appropriate for him since his purpose was to be a guard and hunting dog.

Due to industrialization and the occurrence of the two world wars, the number of Cane Corsos rapidly declined. Luckily, a few remained to exist in some remote areas of Italy as documented in the 1970s. These dogs were used in the breeding program spearheaded by Dr. Paolo Breber who showed genuine fascination to the dogs which he would always see from his youth. 

This effort paved the way for the Cane Corso to become an official breed recognized by several prestigious clubs such as the well-known American Kennel Club that gave him recognition last 2010.


Hailing from Germany, this working dog has been bred around the 1st century. His ancestors used to accompany the Romans over the alps while protecting and herding the cattle. Likewise, the Rottweiler breed was also used as a herding guard dog, which then, later on, shifted into just pulling carts and wagons. 

When the 19th century came, modernization and industrialization took place. Rottweilers were deemed no longer needed and their numbers started declining at a fast rate. They even almost became extinct! However, several groups joined together in saving the Rottweiler from vanishing from the list of existing canines.

Now, their fame continues to rise in thousands of households and they have also been repurposed to another noble duty which is to become police or service dogs. Rottweilers of today are wonderful pets and their instinct to protect makes them excellent guard dogs.

Size, Appearance, & Coloring

Cane Corso 

An adult Cane Corso laying on top of a log in a city park.

It’s evident that the Cane Corso is a large, powerful dog. The breed is predisposed to reach over 100 pounds and 27.5 inches in its ideal  height. In his entire appearance, what you’d notice the most is his large bulky head with ears that are sometimes cropped to make him look even more dangerous. Both conspicuous eyes contrast his short, double-coated fur color no matter if it’s black, gray, red, or fawn.

There can be a few white markings that can be found in this breed, but they should never appear in the face. He stands strong in all four paws and the body’s figure streamlines smoothly down to the tail which is often docked by some owners. His incredible jaws have to be square-shaped and nicely angled.  


A Rottweiler with his alert stance while standing confidently in a playground.

If you’re into medium to large dogs, the Rottweiler is the best choice to have. He has a stocky, proportionate build and his body is mostly longer than tall. Rotties are, perhaps, one of the most recognizable breeds there are thanks to their easy-to-identify features such as the coat color and markings. Usually, the combination found on the breed can be black with tan, rust, or mahogany. There are two contrasting points above their eyes and several others in some parts of the body.

Rotties are medium-sized dogs with broad heads, strong jaws, and wide muzzles. The eyes are always alert and the same with the triangular ears that hang down close to the cheeks. He’s double-coated as well, but the texture is flat, dense, coarse, and water-resistant.


Cane Corso 

In general, Italian Mastiffs are highly trainable. For several years in the past, they were bred for a purpose and they did their tasks excellently with fair judgment on situations. A Cane Corso that is thoroughly exposed to training and drills knows when to act, react, and ignore. 

When this dog is relaxed, he usually shows off his soft side. This is not a rambunctious dog except if he’s still a puppy and that’s natural. Around kids, he’s aware of his size and, therefore, exhibits careful and gentle manners to avoid unwanted accidents. Still, parents are advised not to leave their toddlers around big dogs such as the Corso. 

He’s naturally assertive and confident. He’ll try to dominate his owners, so be firm in handling him. As early as possible, establish with him that you’re the leader of the pack.


There are several attractive qualities found in the Rottweiler breed. Among these include being fearless, confident, loyal, and loving to his family. Although he’s highly protective of his loved ones and territory, the dog mustn’t be considered aggressive and unpredictable. He’s even-tempered and reliable always provided he’s been trained since he’s a puppy. 

Should he have to deal with interactions, strangers, even if they are kids, need to be properly introduced and the whole moment has to be firmly supervised. Nevertheless, in many situations, the Rottie is happy to be clownish or relax and just observe his surroundings. 

Exercise Needs

Cane Corso 

Be prepared if you are planning to adopt a Cane Corso because this is one sporty dog! His size is not an obstacle for him to romp or chase after fast, small prey. It’s best if you are into active lifestyles as well as this best complements the exercise requirements of the Cane Corso. It’s important for him to stay fit and in good shape as the breed can be prone to obesity. An hour per day is enough to sustain his need to steam off.


As a puppy, the Rottweiler breed tends to have endless amounts of energy. He might maintain the same vigor to adulthood, but others would be happy to have relaxed, and laid-back vibes. Some Rotties will have a consistent inclination to play a tug-of-war, so ready a durable rope for this canine. Each day, allocate at least 2 hours for his exercise needs. To avoid over-exhaustion, divide this into smaller sessions. 

Grooming Requirements

Cane Corso 

If you don’t want to inhale the flying dander from your pet, dedicate a bit of your time brushing his entire coat a few times a week using a slicker brush. This helps in removing all the loose hairs and spreading out the natural oils to keep the coat healthy. During the winter, the coat automatically gets thick for the Corso, so groom him more often as spring approaches. The same applies during the fall as he takes off his light summer coat. 


For owners who don’t want to spend loads of time maintaining a dog, the Rottie’s grooming requirements might be good news to you! His coat type requires minimal grooming even during the shedding seasons. Brush him weekly using a bristle brush and wipe down his coat so he’d look at his best. The nails are prone to cracking and splitting, so trimming them down would prevent this.

Health Problems

Cane Corso 

Cane Corsos live an average of 9-12 years which is pretty impressive for such a large breed. But, you can definitely help add in more years through proper diet and appropriate lifestyle. Should he exhibit concerning signs and symptoms, have him checked immediately as he can be diagnosed to have the following:

  • Entropion
  • Ectropion
  • Gastric torsion
  • Hip dysplasia


With around a 9-10 years life span, it’s just necessary to provide the best lifestyle for a Rottweiler puppy. After all, he’s prone to developing various health issues that need the immediate attention of the vet. Some of these include:

  • Vision problems
  • Heart problems
  • Lymphoma
  • Hip dysplasia 

Breed Popularity

The American Kennel Club sets out the current rankings of the following Mastiff dogs based on breed popularity. Check it out below:

Cane Corso: 32nd 

Rottweiler: 8th

Which Mastiff Should You Adopt?

Assess which dog suits what your family needs. As guard dogs, both rival each other. Apply after your preferences and if you can provide the indispensable needs of the breed. To highlight a few differences, the Rottie is more active while the Cane Corso enjoys a longer lifespan despite being the bigger one of the two.