English Mastiff vs Cane Corso: In Choosing the Better Mastiff

For some, identifying a certain dog breed from another can be a difficult task. It makes it even harder when two dogs share the same ancestry which includes certain features, build, and size. 

An example would be the Mastiff family where more than 14 individual breeds are involved. They have come from an ancient line and they continue to maintain their massive sizes.

Since most Americans prefer owning large dog breeds, the English Mastiff and the Cane Corso are what usually appear in their options. But, anyone who has little knowledge about how they look, would mistake one breed for another. However, with this article, you’ll see clearly how both dogs are far more unique than you would think.

Let’s find out why!

Breed Origins

English Mastiff

If there’s any dog breed that is worth recognizing for giving a significant input in all modern-day Mastiff dog breeds, that would be the Molosser. Out of this ancient made-for-war colossal canine is the renowned English Mastiff. 

The English Mastiff was also bred to fight or get pitted in Ancient Rome’s arena where wild bears, lions, other dogs, and even human gladiators wait for their destiny to either get eliminated or seriously injured.

Aside from being entertainers or warriors, the English Mastiff was also one of the popular choices as guards for flocks to drive away or fight against lurking predators.

When this dog breed eventually arrived and got developed in England, its place of origin, he became an estate guard by day and a patrol guard by night. Despite his fame, when dogfights got banned, the demand for this canine declined. This got even worse when two world wars occurred and food supplies became insufficient.

Luckily, at the brink of extinction, a pair of English Mastiffs imported from Canada started to revive and flourish its line back.

Cane Corso

Photo from: jasoncorey411 (IG)

The Cane Corso originates from Italy, but its history leads us back to the Molossian Hounds. This dog has the same ancestor as the English Mastiff making him a dog worthy to be taken as a companion for hunts and wars in the former times. 

A 700 BC art depicts a dog similar to our Modern cane Corso assisting in hunts which proves that this breed has been around for a very long time. His excellent skills in fighting and going after numerous quarries match his name which means ‘protector’ or ‘guardian’ in Italian.

During Roman warfare, this dog served the significant purpose of distracting enemies by becoming fire bearers where buckets of flaming oil are strapped on the back. 

Just like the English Mastiff, the Cane Corso had it badly during the two world wars when famine spread throughout the land. Thankfully, Cane Corso enthusiasts saved the breed. Later on, a couple of Cane Corsos arrived in the US in 1988.

Size, Appearance, & Coloring

English Mastiff

By the time he reaches his full height, the English Mastiff can reach a height at withers of 27.5 to more than 30 inches with an incredible mass of 120 to 230 pounds! Some dogs have reportedly outdone this ideal weight range set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

This build makes the English Mastiff one of the largest dog breeds we know of today. Moreover, it isn’t just the size that makes him remarkable. The English Mastiff has a black mask around his eyes and muzzle making him quite mystifying. The ears are dark as well and his eyes are generally dark hazel to brown. 

His body is muscular with straight forelegs and wider yet powerful hind legs enough to support his massive body. The tail is medium in length and it tapers at the tip. This usually rests between his back legs and may wag depending on his mood.

When it comes to the coat, the English Mastiff can come in three limited colors: brindle, apricot, and fawn which is the most common among the three.

Cane Corso

Unsurprisingly, the Cane Corso is also a large and strong dog breed that is ideally 23.5 to 27.5 inches when measured up to his shoulders. The AKC has not set any ideal weight for this fierce Mastiff, however, it should healthily complement his height.

What remarkably composes this massive canine is his large head, a rectangular-shaped body, a deep and broad muzzle, and almond-shaped eyes that are either dark or dependent on the coat color. His tail is docked to prevent injury since hunting dogs who play with each other can end up biting without letting go.

The ears are cropped as well making them appear stiff and erect to prevent these parts from becoming the breeding ground of ticks and mites.

This kind of Mastiff enjoys more colors as he can be born with a coat in the shade of black, fawn, grey, red, chestnut brindle, & black brindle.


English Mastiff

Large canines can indeed be intimidating, but this isn’t always true for an English Mastiff. This dog is open to getting affection from his family members and can be sometimes too cheesy. If he wants to rest, the best spot in the house is your lap and he’ll instantly become unwary of his size and lay on you.

He’s great with kids thanks to his calm nature, but leaving them to interact without supervision is an accident waiting to happen. Since each dog is unique, if ever you’re expecting visitors, make sure that you properly introduce them to your dog. He is protective by nature and can be aggressive so taking early measures can deflect any onset of hostility.

Cane Corso

A fulfilling and meaningful relationship with the family is important for a Cane Corso. When he’s treated right, he’ll behave well and become a loyal guardian capable of protecting your kids from dangerous people.

Despite his traditional look of cropped ears that make him look more threatening, the Cane Corso can still be gentle and affectionate. Bonding should come early during his puppy years including proper dog handling.

Generally, some Cane Corsos can be intolerant of other dogs. This is where his natural sense of dominance comes into play. Moreover, a cat he’s not familiar with is a potential subject of a chasing game for him so make sure he knows all your other housepets to avoid this situation.

Trainability & Intelligence Level

English Mastiff

Training the smart English Mastiff is both easy and difficult. It all boils down to how you conduct the drills. Keeping each session short, challenging, and non-repetitive can make your big dog obey without any hesitations. 

Any tone or word that he would interpret as a sort of punishment or displeasure can hurt his feelings and make him stubborn. So, try to train him with love, patience, and consistency.

Cane Corso

Cane Corso puppies are easier to train thanks to their intelligence. They are like a clean slate waiting to be filled with all necessary house rules. One of the primary things they’d need to learn is proper socialization. They have an instinct to recognize the good and the bad, relying mainly on normal behaviors. If they aren’t properly exposed to other people, Cane Corsos will tend to become suspicious of everyone.

Mostly, this will lead to aggression as a means to self-defense triggered by fear.

Exercise Needs

English Mastiff

When it comes to sweating off, the English mastiff can be quite delicate about the topic. His heavy body prohibits him from doing exhaustive exercises such as running or even jogging. A gentle walk would suffice in keeping him in a healthy shape. The UK Kennel Club suggests that an English Mastiff should averagely get at least an hour of exercise per day.

Cane Corso

Photo from: rogueandreckless (IG)

For the sake of his heart and lungs’ health, a Cane Corso would typically need 2 hours of exercise daily. You can let him play off-leash on a secured area or opt by bringing him out for a brisk walk or a jog. Aside from physically stimulating this dog, let him work on his mental strength as well like throwing a ball away and commanding him to get it and bring it back to you.

A Cane Corso who is well challenged is far from exhibiting bad behaviors.

Maintenance Level

English Mastiff

With his short and dense double-coat, the English Mastiff is not that hard to maintain. He would only need a weekly brushing using a high-quality canine brush to help take off his loose hairs and baths that would usually be done every 6 weeks. This will depend on the kind of dog you have, however. If he loves to roll in the mud or get dirty whilst playing his favorite game, the bathtub needs to be filled up more frequently.

Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is a light shedder. He has short but coarse hair that can be brushed and bathed only when needed. Since he is a large dog breed, checking on his nails is essential. Once there are clicking noises every time he walks, your dog would need a trim.

His ears should also be checked regularly for any signs of infection. If your Cane Corso stinks, check his anal sac glands and ensure that they are clean. This part of the body contains many sebaceous glands that give off a foul smell.

Health Issues

English Mastiff

Photo from: mastiff_lovers_place (IG)

In a health survey done by The Mastiff Club involving 570 dogs, it was found out that half of the number died before they turned 7 while three-quarters passed away before they reached the age of 10. This short-lived breed has the following most common causes of death:

  • Bone cancer (osteosarcoma)
  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Gastrointestinal syndrome (bloat)
  • Heart disease

Cane Corso

Photo from: laveritacanecorso (IG)

If a puppy of this kind comes from a reputable breeder, the Cane Corso is guaranteed a healthy one who can enjoy at least 9-12 years of average life. Trusted sources screen their puppies for health conditions they might have which include:

  • Idiopathic epilepsy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Bloat
  • Life-threatening stomach conditions

Breed Popularity

Both Mastiffs are popular in their rights in the US. Since they are exceptionally large breeds, dog lovers who like a sizable cuddle buddy go for either the Cane Corso or the English Mastiff. 

Currently, the English Mastiff is 29th in the popularity ranking while the Cane Corso lands 32nd out of 200 recognized breeds. 

Dog Breed Facts

English Mastiff

  1. He is the largest dog breed in terms of mass.
  2. The biggest English Mastiff litter consisted of 24 puppies!
  3. This breed can reach 36 inches in height, especially if it’s a male.
  4. English Mastiffs are often suspicious toward strangers so be wary about approaching this dog!
  5. He does well in a sedentary lifestyle but exercise will make him happier. 

Cane Corso

  1. Your Cane Corso’s lifespan can be predicted through his hair color!
  2. He’s a serious guard dog and not always friendly.
  3. He is subtle about showing his affection to his family.
  4. Being a working dog, the Cane Corso would love a daily task.
  5. He tends to chew anything from furniture to your dearest shoes, so limit his freedom ‘til he becomes mature. 

Which Mastiff Should I Get?

Now that you have learned all the little tidbits and chunks regarding two of the great Mastiff dogs, which one should you get?

The English Mastiff has the edge when it comes to size, but the Cane Corso bags the trophy when it comes to “who’s the more serious guard dog?”. They might not be the right breeds for first-time owners since they mostly do well with experienced ones more so the Cane Corso, nevertheless, they are fantastic companions. 

Determine which one suits your lifestyle and that would start a great journey for you as a future Mastiff owner!