Neapolitan Mastiff vs Cane Corso: Who’s Bigger and Who’s Better?

Have you ever thought about getting a big dog? The Neapolitan Mastiff and the Cane Corso might just be what you’re looking for! Of the two, the Neapolitan is bigger but when it comes to having the reputation of a strong canine, you’ll hear people saying it’s the Cane Corso.

Both dogs are awesome family pets. They are more ideal for those who have had experience handling large dogs with challenging temperaments. If you can’t decide which between them is right for you, we will show you all the details you’d need to conclude. 

Breed Origins

Neapolitan Mastiff

Photo from: francotheneo (IG)

The great Neapolitan Mastiff or also known as the Mastino comes within the vicinity of Naples, Italy. He was a product of Roman war dogs and the British Mastiff. Originally, this dog was bred to protect families, farms, and real estate. 

What we can learn about the Mastino is that his whole look, primarily the folds on his skin, is a result of intentional breeding. His loose skin serves as protection in case he’s attacked by an animal. Instead of getting easily inflicted, the damage just stays on the skin and the bite won’t penetrate that quickly on his flesh.

During World War II, the dog almost got extinct. However, with the effort of Piere Scanziana, the breed was preserved and the standards were laid out. Eventually in the 1970s, the dog was all over Europe and the US.

Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is also an Italian breed that came from the Roman dogs. His ancestors are presumably from Tibet where most Mastiffs originally came from. He was a farmhand, a guardian, and a hunting dog for big games such as going after wild boars. 

When farming became more mechanized, the breed started to become low in numbers. World War II also gave a strong impact which pushed the breed further to near extinction. Thankfully in 1973, the remaining Cane Corsos were brought to Dr. Paolo Breber who dutifully started a breeding program. Later on, in 1996, the Federation Cynologique Internationale recognized the Italian Mastiff, and more canines of this type were gradually brought into the US.

Size, Appearance, & Coloring

Neapolitan Mastiff

Photo from: francotheneo (IG)

Aside from the impressive build of the Neapolitan Mastiff, the feature we’d not fail to first notice is the quality of his skin. He has extreme folds, especially on his face, and a loose dewlap and jowls. He’s prone to drooling so you might need to wrap a bib around his neck. His eyes are blue when he’s born and they start to change to amber or brown as he gradually matures. Meanwhile, the nose can be in different colors such as blue, black, brown, and isabella. 

As for the coat, the American Kennel Club recognizes four natural shades which are:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Mahogany
  • Tawny

When it comes to proportions, the Neapolitan Mastiff stands tall at around 24 to 31 inches and weighs about 110 to 150 pounds. He may grow even larger, but breeders advise owners to stick to the ideal measurements. 

Cane Corso

Unlike its Neapolitan Mastiff cousin, the Cane Corso is lightly built. He can be 23.5 to 27.5 inches tall and 120 pounds heavy. His body is rectangular and the head is prominently big. You can just easily tell he’s a strong dog just by his imposing looks. His muscles show well which makes him look more menacing than ever. 

Usually, some owners crop the Cane Corso’s ears and dock the tails. Although it is a common norm, if doing this is just for aesthetic purposes, let your dog have the natural look.

His eyes are brown and his nose can be in black and brown. The coat comes in a variety which includes:

  • Black 
  • Fawn
  • Gray
  • Gray brindle
  • Red
  • Black brindle
  • Chestnut brindle


Neapolitan Mastiff

Don’t mistake this dog for an overly serious one. In fact, despite his strong history as a guard dog, the Neapolitan Mastiff can still be mischievous and fun! Among all his traits, the one that stands out is his gentleness around kids and owners. This is why he’s often labeled as a “true gentle giant”. 

If you want him to get along with your other pets, socializing with them at an early age is recommended. Know how to properly introduce them to each other and always supervise their interactions. The Mastino must learn how to let his guard down when he’s around “friends”. 

Do the same thing if you want your kids to play with him. They have to be careful in handling such a large dog and tell them not to do things that might provoke him. Nevertheless, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a patient and understanding dog.

Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is known to be confident, intelligent, and protective. He has a stable temperament and a loyal personality, but still, training is imperative. He needs socialization during puppyhood and this has to be maintained at all times. Teach him that he has to learn to accept that you are the alpha or else he’ll become dominant and try to take charge.

Set the boundaries early and clearly. Be firm about these as the Corso will try to test them out. If he shows good behaviors, don’t forget to positively reinforce them. Meanwhile, bad behaviors should be discouraged. Moreover, this dog is great with kids and dogs, but monitoring is still important to avoid accidents. 

Exercise Needs

Neapolitan Mastiff

Photo from: madmagnumk9s (IG)

A good 30 to 45 minutes of daily exercise is enough for the Neapolitan Mastiff. His energy levels are not that high, so you can simply resort to taking him out on a walk or play little games that won’t over-exhaust him. If he’s still a puppy, be careful that when he plays, he doesn’t end up damaging his joints.

At times, you’d see this dog showing preference to laze around inside your home. Even if he shows no motivation to move his body even just for an inch, you have to keep on encouraging him to sweat off so he’d stay healthy. 

Cane Corso

Cane Corsos score pretty high when it comes to their exercise needs. A daily 2-hour rigorous activity will keep the breed happy and full of vigor. This active breed can be taken out for a walk or if you like adventure, he can surely cope with your pace when you decide to go for a hike or have fun on the beach. 

A home with a yard is an ideal environment for him, but an apartment-style living will do as long as he has an opportunity to go outside regularly. An outdoor lifestyle is okay too provided that he has a shelter and is in a comfortable condition.

Grooming Requirements

Neapolitan Mastiff

Grooming frequency depends on what kind of lifestyle the Mastino has. If he loves playing in the mud, then he needs a bath more often. Meanwhile, clean-freak Mastinos can take a bath every 6 to 8 weeks. He’s pretty low on maintenance, so the only thing you’d only worry about is who to ask for help in cleaning such a large dog. 

Running the comb all over his body regularly can help minimize his shedding and prevent loose hairs from flying all over your home. Other routine checks should be done as well such as cleaning the ears, teeth, and trimming overgrown nails. 

Cane Corso

This light shedding Cane Corso requires minimal grooming. Brushing can be done regularly still so his loose and dead hairs are removed early before they start sticking on your furniture. Check on his nails as well and trim them before overgrowth starts or when cracking appears. As for the ears, check for wax build-up and clean them with the right tools. Oral health should be given importance too. 

Health Problems

Neapolitan Mastiff

There are certain health conditions common to the Neapolitan Mastiff breed. Although not all dogs will acquire them, the fact that they are at risk remains to be true. Here are some issues he might have:

  • Dental disease
  • Eye problems
  • Thyroid issues
  • Hip dysplasia

Cane Corso

Cane Corsos are prone to various health issues despite being a healthy breed. So, what complications do they usually get? The list below will tell you the most common ones:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eyelid abnormalities
  • Bloat 
  • Cherry eye

Breed Popularity

The American Kennel Club’s Breed Popularity index currently places the following breeds in their respective ranks out of 200 recognized dogs:

Neapolitan Mastiff: 102nd

Cane Corso: 32nd

Which Mastiff Should You Go For?

There is a stark difference between these two Mastiffs. The Neapolitan is great for owners who want a low-maintenance, gentle, and low on energy breed. Meanwhile, the Cane Corso would need more physical exercise, moderate frequency of grooming, and an authoritative owner. Which of them sounds perfect for you? Only you would know!