The Cane Corso is a very rare and ancient Italian molosser that has been derived from the now extinct "Canis Pugnax". It is believed that, in ancient times, this historic Roman Molosser gave rise to two very different breeds of dog. One dog was massive and became known as the Neapolitan Mastiff, the other was a taller, lighter more agile mastiff which has become known as the Cane Corso. As the Romans bred dogs based on their usability, the Cane Corso was used primarily for hunting big game such as wild boar, wolf and bear. The hunters would release their Cane Corsos once hounds had flushed out the prey and it was the job of the Corso to hold the prey allowing the hunters to draw near and dispose of the wild animal.
Over the years, as big game hunting declined, the Cane Corso was used by farmers to herd cattle, protect the livestock and as a guard for the family home. Cattle were raised in rural areas and were driven many miles to market towns where they were to be sold. The long quiet roads to the market towns meant that cattle were in danger of being attacked by wild animals or being stolen by cattle thieves. It was the important job of the Cane Corso to ensure that the cattle and the farmer could go about there journey without coming to any harm.
The breed prospered with the flourishing agricultural economy during the 19th century and the years between World War I and World War II.
After World War II, farms became increasingly modernised and there was little need for farmers to rely on Cane Corsos thus breed numbers decreased and the breed almost became extinct. Luckily, there were a few specimens which existed in isolated parts of Southern Italy where traditional activities were carried out. In these isolated places, the breed lived on, maintained for passion and tradition. It was due to the desire of a few families who wished to conserve the dogs inherited from their ancestors that the breed survived.
In the 1950s Prof. Giovanni Bonatti wrote about the Corso in books and in articles and was convinced that some Corsi had survived in the region of Puglia.
In the 1970s and 80s, a small group of Italian enthusiasts took the first steps to re-establish the breed and create a breed standard. This group of people founded the Societa Amatori Cane Corso (SACC).
In 1994, the ENCI accepted the Cane Corso Italiano as the fourteenth Italian Breed.
In 1996, the Cane Corso also became a recognised breed of the FCI.
Owners, breeders and enthusiasts have described the Cane Corso as being extremely bold, intelligent, easily trained, keen to please and having a strong sense of territory.
Today Cane Corso's are owned primarily as pets. The Cane Corso makes a wonderful family pet and they adore the company of children, being protective yet surprisingly gentle.