Is a Cane Corso a Mastiff? Everything, Explained!

Yes, Cane Corsos are indeed Mastiff-type dogs. They are an Italian breed with a different history. But, all other Mastiffs, him included, are thought to be related to each other and are rooted in the ancient Molossus. Unlike the English Mastiff, the Bullmastiff, and the Neapolitan Mastiff, the Cane Corso’s name does not literally bear the “Mastiff” name, but, without a doubt, this dog does belong to the Mastiff family.

Several explanations support why Cane Corsos belong to the category and you can draw initial conclusions on various areas such as appearance, size, temperament, and most importantly, breed origins, and antiquity. Understand more why this is the case to clear up all misconceptions or fill in the gaps of information. Let’s keep reading!

Why Is a Cane Corso Considered a Mastiff?

Having an enormous size is not shared exclusively by Mastiff family members. In fact, other breeds like the Akita and Black Russian Terrier also have incredible masses. However, it is a commonly accepted fact that one of the indicators that a dog is a Mastiff breed is due to its dimensions which are prominently exhibited by the bulky and muscular Cane Corso. His history, purpose, as well as behaviors also contribute to this.


Long before the Cane Corso and other Mastiffs appeared, the Roman war dogs known as Molossian Hounds were first introduced to the world. They were widely known to be fierce, humongous, and menacing. They were already around, serving and fulfilling different duties alongside the Romans. This tradition was also prominent among the Egyptians, Greeks, and Persians. 

Due to these dogs’ reputation as ferocious, armies took advantage of them. In wars, long ago, it was normal to see dogs fighting alongside their legions. Wars paved the way for different Mastiffs to come about. Other stories suggest that the dogs Romans left behind were mated with the native canines, however, until now, this claim lacks historical evidence.

After a series of significant events, the Cane Corso emerged in Italy, hence its other name “Italian Mastiff”. 


Big dogs with phenomenal proportions were an advantage in the past. They are an extra helping paw in various tasks, not to mention how intelligent they can be. Cane Corsos are no different. Like what his cousins and close relative Mastiff breeds do, he was a consistent participant in activities like hunting as well as the obvious one which is to be a fighting dog. 

Most Mastiff breeds were commonly used as guardians of the flock in the past like the Spanish and the English Mastiff. The Cane Corso has a guarding background too and it is what probably makes him one of the top choices of dog lovers who look for a dependable dog that can protect their homes and family. Mastiffs like the Corso are highly territorial. Their roots that come from their Molossian hound ancestors spark their instinct when the need arises.

Size & Appearance

Another reason why the Cane Corso is a Mastiff is due to his image. He is threatening- a dog you shouldn’t be mocking. His eyes alone can be menacing. Although they are naturally available in brown, this striking eye color stands out thanks to his contrasting coat colors. 

If there is anything that shouldn’t be left out in the description of the Cane Corso, that would be his measurements. Like the Molossian hound, this big dog from Italy exhibits a weight that can reach 88 to 110 pounds and a height of 23 to 27 inches. Males are expected to be bigger than their female counterparts.

Another thing you would notice from a Mastiff is the large, bulky head. Cane Corsos have such a feature and rarely can anybody cover his face with only one hand. The ancient ancestor’s head comprises at least 40% of its total body height, so the same fact should not be that surprising when we talk about the massive Corso!


There is a widespread misconception that Mastiffs, no matter what breed, are dangerous. Although they can indeed be in a way, unpredictable, it is unfair to paint them as totally unfit house pets when the contrary is true. The Cane Corso, in particular, may look fierce on the outside, but like most breeds, he can also display desirable qualities such as being loving, protective, and smart. 

One thing you’d observe from most Mastiffs, however, is that they can grow up to be stubborn dogs. In the case of the Corso, he would highly need an owner who can handle him firmly with the right discipline and commitment so he matures into a dog who knows how to act right. 

The Common Denominator of All Mastiff-Type Breeds

Aside from the mentioned features and amazing proportions, being phenomenal canines is what makes the common denominator of the Mastiff family. They are there not just for mere display, but to actually serve a particular purpose. These are large and powerful house pets that entail a serious responsibility every owner must subject himself to. Mastiffs come in different sizes, shapes, and behavior, but they are superior in being competent at being the home protector except for the little Pug, of course. 

Additionally, expect them to drool. A LOT! The Cane Corso is lucky to have a low drooling rate. Nevertheless, this behavior is common to the Mastiff group.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Cane Corso Safe as a Mastiff Breed?

Without a doubt, yes, he is! In fact, no matter the breed, all dogs are safe as pets. It all boils down to how well they are raised by their owners. Cane Corsos have even temperaments and predictable personalities, so those alone can assure you that having this canine at home won’t end up becoming a liability. 

Are Cane Corsos Banned in Some States Due to Them Being Mastiffs?

In several American states, the Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) is enforced to prevent owners from owning “aggressive” dog breeds. The Cane Corso, unfortunately, belongs to the list, so make sure to check first if owning this highly coveted guard dog is legal in the state where you live in. Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, and South Dakota are just some of the places where the Cane Corso is either banned or restricted.

How Can You Properly Raise a Mastiff Such as a Cane Corso?

By being informed concerning what the Cane Corso needs, it is highly plausible that this dog will grow up well-behaved. The first thing a prospective owner must recognize is that Mastiffs such as the Cane Corso need a different upbringing and lifestyle. Unlike a Golden Retriever, this Italian Mastiff will not instantly obey your commands. Meanwhile, if compared to a Chihuahua, the Cane Corso would require more time before he gets properly groomed, more food to sustain his normal energy levels, and more activities to suffice his physical and mental needs. 

All these things mentioned contribute significantly as to why the Cane Corso, the beloved dog of Italy, is a Mastiff. In all honesty, his history is enough to tell anyone that he is part of the Mastiff family!