Cane Corso Breed Magazine - Showsight


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard of the Cane Corso General Appearance: Ancient Italian breed medium-large size Molossus Dog. Sturdy, with a strong skeleton. Muscular and athletic, it moves with considerable ease and elegance. It has always been a property watchdog and hunter of difficult game such as the wild boar. Size, Proportion, Substance: A muscular, balanced, large-boned dog, rectangular in proportion . The length of the dog, measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of buttock is approximately 10 percent greater than the height of the dog measured from the highest point of the shoulder to the ground. Height - Dogs 25 to 27½ inches; bitches 23½ to 26 inches. Weight - Proportionate to height. Head: Molossus, large, its total length reaches approximately one third of the height at the withers. Planes of the skull and muzzle are slightly convergent; they are not parallel. The circumference of the head measured at the cheekbones is more than twice the total length of the head; skin is firm and smooth. Skull - Viewed from the front, skull is wide and slightly curved; width is equal to the length. From the side, a prominent arch begins above the eyes and then flattens backward toward the occiput. Viewed from the top, it has a square appearance due to the zygomatic arches and powerful muscles swathing it. Stop - Well-defined due to developed and bulging frontal sinuses and prominent arch above the eyes. Expression - Very alert and attentive. Some wrinkling on forehead occurs when alert. Eyes - Medium-size, almond-shaped, not round or bulging, tight fitting rims preferred with only a minimal amount of haw being visible. Eye color-Dogs with black muzzles (coat colors of black, fawn or red, and these colors brindled) dark brown eyes are preferred. Gray muzzles (coat colors of gray, fawn or red and these colors brindled), lighter shades are approved. Pigmentation of the eye rims is complete, pigmentation of eye rim matches pigment color of dog. Disqualification - Yellow bird of prey; blue eyes. Ears - Set well above the cheekbones. May be cropped or uncropped. If cropped, it is in an equilateral triangle. If uncropped, they are medium size, triangular in shape, held tight to the cheeks, and not extending beyond the jaw bone. Nose - Large with well-opened nostrils, pigment color to match pigment color of the dog. Dogs with black pigment have black noses; gray pigmented dogs have gray noses; pigmentation is complete. The nose is an extension of the topline of the muzzle and does not protrude beyond nor recede behind the front plane of the muzzle. Muzzle - Very broad and deep, width is almost equal to its length, which reaches approximately one third of the total length of the head; the depth of muzzle is more than 50 percent of the length of the muzzle. The top and bottom muzzle planes are parallel, and the nose and chin form a perpendicular line. Viewed from the front, the anterior face should look flat and form a trapezoid, wider at the bottom. Muzzle is not overly narrow or snipey. Lips - Rather firm. Upper lips moderately hanging, they join under the nostrils to form an inverted "U." Pigmentation matches color pigment of dog. Dogs with black pigment have black lips; gray pigmented dogs have gray lips. Bite - Slightly undershot (no more than ¼ inch) and level preferred. Scissor bite is acceptable, if parameters of the head and muzzle are correct. Dentition is complete. Incisors are in a straight line. No more than two missing teeth. Disqualification - More than two missing teeth; wry mouth. Undershot more than ¼ inch. Neck, Topline, Body: Neck -Slightly arched, flowing smoothly into the shoulders with a small amount of dewlap. The length of the neck is approximately one third the height at the withers. Body - Depth of the ribcage is equal to half the total height of the dog, descending slightly below the elbow. Ribs are long and well sprung. Moderate tuck up. Chest - Broad, well-muscled, strong

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forefront. Back - Wide, strong, muscular. Highest part of shoulder blade slightly rising above the strong, level back. Loin - Well-muscled, and harmoniously joined to the back. Croup - Long, wide, slightly sloping. Rump should be quite round due to muscling. Tail - Tail set is an extension of the backline. It is thick at the root with not much tapering at the tip. When not in action, carried low, otherwise horizontal or slightly higher than back, not to be carried in a vertical position. It is docked at the fourth vertebrae. In the case of natural tails, the tip reaches the hock but not below. Carried low, it is neither broken nor kinked but supple. Hanging when the dog is in repose; generally carried level with the back or slightly above the level of the back when the dog is in action, without curving over the back or being curled. Disqualification - A natural tail that is atrophied or a natural tail that is knotted and laterally deviated or twisted. Forequarters: Strong and muscular, well-proportioned to the size of the dog. Straight when viewed from the front or side; height of the limb at the elbow is equal to 50 percent of the height at the withers. Shoulders- Muscular, laid back. Upper arms - Strongly muscled, with good bone, powerful. Elbows - Held parallel to the ribcage, turning neither in nor out. Forelegs - Straight and with good bone, well muscled. Pasterns - Almost straight, strong but flexible. Feet - Round with well-arched toes (catlike). Lean, hard, dark pads and nails, except in the case of white toes. Front dewclaws - Can remain or be removed, if left intact should only be a single dewclaw on each leg. Hindquarters: As a whole, they are powerful and strong, in harmony with the forequarters. Straight when viewed from the rear or front. Thighs - Long, wide, angulated and well-muscled. Stifle - Should be moderately angulated, strong. Legs - Strong bone and muscle structure. Hocks - Wide set, thick and clean, let down and parallel when viewed from behind. Rear pastern - straight and parallel. Rear dewclaws - Any rear dewclaws are removed. Hind feet - Slightly more oval-shaped and less-arched toes. Coat: The coat is short, stiff, shiny, adherent and dense with a light undercoat that becomes thicker in cold weather. Color: Acceptable colors are black, lighter and darker shades of gray, lighter and darker shades of fawn, and red. Brindling is allowed on all of these colors. Solid fawn and red, including lighter and darker shades, have a black or gray mask. The mask does not go beyond the eyes. There may be a white patch on the chest, throat, chin, backs of the pasterns, and on the toes. Disqualification - Any color with tan pattern markings as seen in black-and-tan breeds. Gait: The movement is free flowing and powerful, yet effortless, with strong reach and drive. As the dog accelerates, the feet converge toward a center line of gravity in a near-single track. When viewed from the side, the topline remains level, with minimal roll or bounce. Temperament: The Cane Corso as a protector of his property and owners is unequaled. Intelligent, he is easily trained. Noble, majestic and powerful his, presence is impressive. He is docile and affectionate to his owner, loving with children and family. Summary: The overall conformation of the dog should be well-balanced and proportionate. The foregoing description is that of the ideal Cane Corso; any deviation from the above described dog is penalized to the extent of the deviation. Disqualifications: Yellow bird of prey; blue eyes. More than two missing teeth; wry mouth. Undershot more than ¼ inch. Any color with tan pattern markings as seen in black-and-tan breeds. A natural tail that is atrophied or a natural tail that is knotted and laterally deviated or twisted.

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Approved: October 20, 2009 Effective: June 30, 2010


By Joe Hovorka

S ince the Cane Corso fi rst appeared in the AKC show rings in July of 2010 we have seen a dramatic increase in the popularity and subsequent recognition of this magni fi - cent breed. Th e breed has gone from relative obscurity to Rock Star-like status seemingly overnight. Obviously, there are some upsides to this sudden rise in popularity but for those of us that know and love this breed it’s also clearly a valid reason for concern. An example I typically site when new people call me with interest about the breed is this: Many years ago when we fi rst started out no matter where we would go the mere

presence of these dogs with their impres- sive physiques and imposing looks would literally stop tra ffi c in an e ff ort to get a closer look. Today, the same can be said with the main di ff erence being that back then no one knew what breed of dog they were. Now the fi rst thing we hear is “ Th at’s a Kane Corso” (wrong pronunciation) the 2nd thing we hear is that they know some- one that has one and the 3rd thing we hear is “Do you want to breed that dog?” Th e reason I’m mentioning any of this in an article about judging the Cane Cor- so is with this huge interest increase it is more important than ever for those who love this breed to preserve the best exam- ples of breed type, characteristics, health

and temperament that we possibly can. So for those particular Judges in the AKC whose job it is to now accurately judge the Cane Corso—as if their job is not di ffi cult enough—clearly looks to get more chal- lenging in the future as a result of this popularity explosion. Again; as the breed quickly made its presence felt in the summer of 2010, it was clear that the judges were at best apprehen- sive when given the assignment to judge this breed. Th is was expected and after all under- standable, given the varying accounts and di ff ering descriptions of who and what these dogs were bred for and are capable of. In that fi rst year all of us that had seen

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Gait/Movement I like to refer to this description as basi- cally “balance’ and “soundness”. We must always remember the Cane Corso is a working dog bred for a purpose— fi rst and foremost they should exhibit the clear abil- ity to move soundly and e ff ortlessly as any working dog should. For me a sound dog is of critical impor- tance when judging the Cane Corso. Th e movement should be powerful with an almost e ff ortless appearance. Th e reach and drive should be strong and impressive while the feet converge towards a center line of gravity in a seemingly single track and must never cross over in the front or the back. Side gait in the “Around” moment should show a level topline with minimal bounce and roll with the head held slightly above level and the tail fl owing at a natural angle and not tucked up against its rear. In my opinion, more important than the side gait is the “Down and Back”. It is critical to sound movement. In the “Down” movement the feet should not splay outward and both the feet and hock should closely resemble the up and down motion of piston

this breed evolve to this point worked diligently to present the best examples of the breed in conformation but even more importantly in temperament. Th is was in a concerted e ff ort to put our judges at ease and allow them to begin to judge our dogs without feeling apprehensive based on knowledge (or possibly the lack thereof), or fearful based on the esthetic qualities of the breed – there’s no other way to explain it—the Cane Corso has presence. To that end and for all things con- sidered, I believe the judges have done a pretty good job when given the challeng- ing assignment of Judging the Cane Corso over their fi rst three years in the AKC. With that being said, I think it is fair to say the future of our breed and its ultimate destiny in the years to come will rely heav- ily on what we see in and around the AKC show rings throughout the country. Obviously, it would be impossible in this short article to address every aspect of the Cane Corso standard so what I will attempt to do here is touch upon some of the areas that I think are of critical impor- tance when judging the Cane Corso.

rods in a motor as the dog moves away. Th e hocks should move solidly and deliberately with the feet with no giggle, wobble, or movement from side to side. In the “Back” movement the front feet should also not splay outward or be thrown from the shoul- der, elbow or wrist. Th e front legs and feet should appear to work in unison with the rear with minimal distraction of any kind. Head Type With regard to head type, I would like to make it clear that I am against referring to or classifying the Cane Corso as a quote “Head Breed”. I think this leads to too much attention being given to the head; however, I believe proper head type is another critical area when judging the Cane Corso. When I look at correct head type I also take several things into consideration that are obviously part of the head. In this area I will touch upon a few of the most important, namely: HEAD: Th e head should also be large with the total length being approximately ⅓ the height of the dog at the withers. Th e planes of the skull and muzzle should be

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slightly convergent and never parallel. Th e skin should be fi rm and smooth and void of excessive wrinkling. Th e skull viewed from the front is wide and should not have a round appearance in the area between the ears. We seem to be seeing more and more of these round skulls in the ring and it is simply not correct. Th e stop should NOT be a right angle, but should be pronounced and fl ows into the convergence of the skull.

EYES: Th e Eyes should be of medi- um size with a clear almond shape, never budging or big and round. Th e rims should be tight fi tting with minimal haw visible. Placement of the eyes is also a very impor- tant part of the head piece. Th e eyes should set slightly above the bridge of the muzzle thus allowing for a clean line of sight with turning its head from side to side. When viewing from the front, correct eye place- ment should be set at 15 degrees for females

and 10 degrees for males as shown in the diagram above. NOSE: Th e nose is another area I concen- trate on. Th e nose should be large with open nostrils. We are seeing too much of what I call “Boxer nose” (a nose more comonlly seen on a boxer) with closed nostrils show- ing up in the rings these days as opposed to the correct larger Molossoid nose with open nostrils. Th e pigment should be that of the overall pigment of the dog. Dogs that have

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ANGULATION Every breeder has his or her “gotta have” or “absolutely hate” areas when it comes to our dogs. For me one of those areas is angulation or more importantly the complete lack thereof. To my early point—these are working dogs bred to do a job. Th e Cane Corso needs to have some kind of angulation not only to avoid injuries such as ACLs and hock issues, but it is also needed to per- form even the simplest of tasks be it work- ing, hiking, moving in the ring, or out on the trial fi eld. For me personally, having a dog that is straight in the rear gives o ff the impression of half a dog and it almost always has a negative e ff ect on the topline. Examples of Cane Corsos that not only have no angulation, and are straight in the sti fl e can be seen in any show ring across the country on any given weekend. Th e standard calls for “moderate” angu- lation. My preference is slightly more mod- erate than anything less than moderate. I believe the overall structure of the Cane Corso has to include a solid, pow- erful rear. Speaking as an experienced breeder; who has an ethical conscience, we must strive to keep the balance correct by always being mindful of proper angulation and strong rears. I can see this as being an area that if not closely watched by judges

grey pigment should have a grey nose dogs with black pigment should have a black nose and so on. Th e nose should be seen as an extension of the muzzles topline and should not protrude beyond nor should it recede the front plane of the muzzle. MUZZLE: One of the most important aspects of the head should be its square muzzle. Th e muzzle should be wide and deep, the width should be almost equal to its length which should be NOT less then 1/3 the total length of the head. Correct muzzle depth should be more than 50% of the length of the muzzle. As viewed from the front the muzzle should also be as wide and it is deep and should appear as a trapezoid. Th e dowm- ward view of the muzzle should closely resemble a square. Muzzle should never be narrow or pointy. LIPS: Lips should be fi rm, thick and hang moderately without excessive dewlap. When viewed from the front they should form an upside down U as opposed to the upside down V. Again the pigment should be that of the rest of the dog. BITE: Slightly undershot (not more than ¼ inch) is preferred, however scis- sor bite is acceptable if the parameters of under jaw allow for proper expression and muzzle stop. Dentition should be complete with no more than 2 missing teeth.

in the ring we could even begin seeing less of it moving forward. Many breeders in Europe feel that in America, we like too much angulation and most of us here feel that the dogs in Europe lack in this area as well as the rear area overall. Again, I think it is critical not only in the development of the breed but also in judging these dogs for many years in the future. Something I am always looking to main- tain and continue to build upon is a solid rear with balanced and proper angulation. Above are examples of angulation both good and bad and a diagram of the proper way to measure correct, moderate angulation.

BIO Joe Hovorka has

been active in the breed since 2000. He is a breeder of the: 2X Westminster Breed Winner 2012, 2103,

1st Cane Corso Best in Show in AKC His- tory, #1 Cane Corso 2012 (All Breed), #1 Female Cane Corso 2011, 2012, 2013 (All Systems) and the 1st Cane Corso in Canadian History to achieve an IPO- 2A Title. For more information contact:

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J udging for all breeds of dog is a very sensitive topic, in the Cane Corso even more so, therefore this requires a large premise. DIFFERENT STANDARD The breed standard is the description of the somatic characteristics of a breed. In earlier times there was complete liberty to describe the ethnic characteristics of a breed. In more recent times there exist two schools of thought with regard to stan- dards; synthetic or analytical evaluation. The first focuses on more than synthetic regulation and leaves greater discretion to the evaluating judge. In this type of stan- dard many adjectives and adverbs are used (moderately, somewhat, a little). The ana- lytical type offers a detailed standard, con- structed with precise dog measurements (measurements, relationships between dif- ferent parts, degrees, etc.). It is quite evi- dent that the analytical standard is based more on evidence and scientific rigor. On a practical level it requires much more effort in its application. With time, international dog experts decided to adopt outlines for preparing standards that were more adapted for the purpose of consulting (one imagines for judges). This decision, understandable from an organizational perspective, has created many practical problems in its implementation, especially for the revision of the existing standard. In this context, it is not surprising that the major adaptations have been based on standards put together in an analyti- cal way. Bad practical implementation then followed this controversial decision. Indeed, the changes have not been made by the writer of the original standard,

but by others. Therefore, with the neces- sity to sum up, cut and translate, often they have created authentic zootechnical havoc. The Cane Corso breed is a good example of this. The first iteration of the Cane Corso standard was officially recognized in Italy in 1987. The author was Dr. Antonio Mor- siani, a world renowned student of canine zoology. The document consisted of 19 typed pages. Now the FCI and AKC stan- dards have only 3 pages respectively. Unfortunately, there are also some additions, generally not for the better. For example, in the AKC standard it is indicated there is a tolerance for up to two missing teeth, without the indication which teeth (the importance of the teeth is not the same and the missing of some teeth cannot be absolutely accepted). I think that the tolerance of missing teeth must be only for P1, P2 and M3 (which presents itself only in the lower jaw). In the interest of intellectual honesty, I want to be precise that in any case the biggest responsibility of the Cane Corso’s problems come from the country of origin, where some serious errors were made. For example, the pressure for premature inter- national recognition, the lack of solid base of breeding and/or a zootechnical pro- gram. However, it is impossible to breed and/or to judge correctly without a correct and precise standard. Continuing on the topic of the stan- dard, I can say that the use of a synthetic standard is always dangerous because it leads to subjective judgments. This may be a problem for every breed, even in those that are more fixed in type and selec- tion. In the case of the Cane Corso it can become a true disaster. This is one of the

most important clarifications because after 20 years the Cane Corso has so few homogeneous examples. Now let us identify some of the most important aspects that define type in Cane Corso. They are derived from the original breed standard and from the general prin- Cane Corso is a trotter. Therefore, he needs to have a rectangular construction, 11% longer than the height at the withers. Here is an important footnote. In the AKC standard it states “to measure the height at the shoulder, from the highest point of the shoulder to the ground.” This is very strange because all animals are measured from height of the withers to the ground. The AKC standard also indicates the mea- sure of the head with regard to its rapport with the measure of height at the withers. In the FCI, the measure of height is indi- cated traditionally at the withers. I think it’s useful to explain that this diction is also not precise, because the measurements are from a reference point to a reference point and the withers are not a point, but it is a region. In fact the correct measure must be made from the 4 vertebra of the withers to the ground tangent the elbow. Size: medium-large size Molossus Dog. This is on the basis of Pierre Megnin clas- sifications. In fact, the Cane Corso belongs with breeds marked by sexual dimor- phism, in which the subjects exhibit two “size ranges”--medium size in females and large in males. ciples of classical canine zoology. GENERAL APPEARANCE Another important (and current) part is the evaluation with respect to the habi- tus (habitus=meaning general constitu- tion, especially bodily build) using the


Figure 1: Duerst’s Classification Habitus respiratory predominates aspect respiratory: rib cage, limbs and neck are long Habitus muscular predominates muscular aspect, harmony of forms. It’s the intermediate type between the respiratory and digestive Habitus digestive Abomen very developed, wide thorax, short neck, limbs ar short and robust

Figure 2: Hyper-Type & Type

Left: a subject that is hyper-typical (construction too heavy, lowered ventral line, axes skull/facial too convergent, short muzzle, nose backlog); Right: Cane Corso in type.


moderately retracted VENTRAL PROFILES


basis of the Duerst classification (see Fig. 1), the Cane Corso must have muscular a habitus, he would be the intermediate type between respiratory (Greyhound) and digestive (Neapolitan Mastiff). Morsiani, regarding this part notes “with an almost imperceptible tendency to the respiratory habitus” Why did Morsiani feel the need to specify this, when he wrote “imper- ceptible”? The meaning can only be: if an example of Cane Corso, may move a bit from the central desired position in the muscular habitus, the tendency cannot be in the direction of digestive habitus. This topic is bit complex, but it’s important that it is explained well, because it is one of the inherent problems of the breed. To do so I am forced into a digression of canine zoog- nostic. Essentially the increase in the mass can be obtained in two ways: with the change of classification or with the change of the habitus. We find a good example of different classification in the Schnauzer breed. They have three formats or classifications; min- iature, standard and giant (Riesenschnau- zer), in this situation we are in front of an enlargement (like a photo). The range in the size fixed in the standard follows this approach. Completely different is the case of change to habitus, the mass increases, and the consequences result in changes

in the construction of the dog. One of the biggest mistakes committed by the breeder (and often not penalized by the judges) is to use this wrong way to increase the bone structure and the mass. They not only cre- ate the hyper-type (incorrect over typey Cane Corsos, see Fig. 2), but in this man- ner they also warp other characteristic of breed. In the end I have serious doubts whether to consider them poor examples of a Cane Corso or another breed entirely). In fact, the brilliant insights of Duerst were recently borne out by studies of constitu- tionalists. Digestive situations connected to Habitus can occur, penalizing from a functional point of view the endocrine system to which the subjects are hypo- oxidative and hypo-thyroid. These situa- tions have the consequence of less capabil- ity to utilize the muscular energy and less reactivity—vivacity. In fact Morsiani also there refers to normal build (“or slightly hyper-oxidative”). The increase in mass, which seems the fancy of many Cane Corso lovers, has other drawbacks related to the functional nature of a working dog. In animal mechanics; canines includ- ed, there are passive organs of move- ment (skeleton and viscera) and active ones (muscles). Since the latter are linked to the external body; as size increases,

their growth in proportion to body weight is lower. This means that dogs of a smaller size (in proportion) are faster and have more resistance than larger breeds. There is a brilliant demonstration of this by Professor Giuseppe Solaro in his book (see Fig. 3). For those that are not convinced, here is another clarifying example in the case of attack of a man or another animal-the force of impact, the kinetic energy (Ec) expressed in kilogram- meters causes the subject to be influ- enced more by the speed than the weight. This is calculated using the formula for kinetic energy Ec: • Ec = ½ W x S ² x 9,81 • Ec = kinetic energy, S = speed in m/ sec, W = weight in kg, • 9.81 = conversion coefficient J (Joule) to kgm (kilogram-meter) With reference to the formula we can deduce that a subject weighing 50kg launched at a speed of 40 km/h (equal to m/s 11,111) will have an impact force equal to 314 Kgm (kilogram-meters), whereas a subject with a weight of 40 kg and a speed of 50 km (equal to m/s 13.890) will have a higher impact force; equal to 393 Kgm. The extreme example would be that of the bullet, its devastating strength comes from its impact velocity; its weight is in fact a few grams.

Figure 3: Solaro’s Cubes

Superimposing the 8 small cubes you will get a larger cube equal weight of 8 kg, but with a surface area lower than the sum of the individual small cubes, because only half (3) of the faces are external. Whereby:

8 small cubes of 1 kg weight, they have the side 1 cm, each with 6 faces. Each face is 1 cm, for which each cube has a surface area of 6 cm 2 . Whereby:

B = surface 48 cm 2 (the sum of the areas 8 cubes x 6 cm 2 )

B = total weight of 8 kg (8 cubes x 1 kg) unvaried

A = 8 kg (the total weight 8 cubes x 1 kg)

A = surface 24 cm 2 (8 cubes x 3 cm 2 )

+ mass = – liveliness and speed


Figure : )raRJic /ass DisRersion *eat

Figure : ConXergence oH tJe #Zes





AB = longitudinal axis of the skull CD = longitudinal axis of the muzzle

Another penalty coming from the increase in mass is the greater difficulty in heat dispersion, as shown efficiently by a study of Mr. Coppinger (see Fig. 4). There- fore, big dogs have less resistance to work, especially during warm days. In conclusion it is important to pay close attention to the correct construction of the dog, as the Cane Corso is a wonder- ful example of balance between strength and agility, which leads to a functional beauty that expresses harmony of form and the optimum capability of work. Additionally, the section of the AKC standard that pertains to body that I find would not be an accurate description is the following: “Depth of the ribcage is equal to half the total height of the dog, descending slightly below the elbow”. In the original Italian standard it is “descend- ing at the elbow”. This difference in writ- ing might seem very small but it is danger- ous because it leaves an opening for a dog with heavy construction to be able to hide the fault of a short arm. HEAD A sensitive topic is the head. This is especially so in Europe where, with the goal to obtain the undershot bite, they produce dogs that far exceed the “slight- ly undershot” bite indicated in the breed standard, trespassing into hyper-type.

Normally in these cases the problem is not only the dentition, but we find grave dif- ference in other regions. Generally there is an accentuated convergence of the axes of the skull and the muzzle. In this case it also changes the position of the eyes from a sub-frontal to frontal position. The con- sequence of this change is also seen in the shape of the eyes, because in frontal position they become round. This scenario leads to the muzzle often being too short and nose backlog. English is not my first language, how- ever reading the AKC standard, “the depth of muzzle is more than 50 percent of the length of the muzzle” I can understand incorrectly that depth could be few more of the half of muzzle. I think it may be better to write “the depth of the muzzle is 50% greater of the length of the muzzle (one time and half).” It is just the case to remember that the measure of the depth of the muzzle is an axis from the top line of the muzzle to the inferior referral points the commissure of the lips. See Fig. 5. Another important characteristic of the Cane Corso is the alignment of the inci- sors, these teeth must be in a straight line, and the canines are meant to be far apart. Mr. Morsiani put in evidence of this situa- tion and gave us the indication that in the males the distance of the canines at the top must be at minimum 5, 5-5, 7 cm (about 2,

16-2, 44 inches). This type of dentition is useful, the lateral sides of the muzzle are parallel, therefore more width of the jaw, more bone, more muscle, more power to the bite. Referring to the parallelism of the lat- eral side of the muzzle, it is very important to note that in the AKC standard it is not indicated, while another section states, “The top and bottom muzzle planes are parallel.” I sincerely don’t understand this description, because it is impossible. The lower profile is determined by the lips and them having a rounded form that remount in the direction of the nose. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding during the transla- tion from Italian language. CONSTRUCTION As I said earlier, the Cane Corso is a trot- ter. Zoognostic science describes the differ- ent characteristics of a trotter as compared to a galloper and they must be made clear. In addition to a rectangular construction, they have good angulation, good angle of the metacarpal, oval feet. All these parts are connected. When we read of moder- ate angulation the meaning is for it to be not so extreme like the German Shepherd (that is considered the prototype of the trotter). The angle of the metacarpal and the oval shape of the feet it is very impor- tant, because they act as shock absorbers



Figure : 'ZaOination oH tJe 6runM topline topline is concave topline is influenced by the straight rear

Figure : DiHHerent Feet  /etacarRus


Cane Corso

German Shepherd


during movement (see Fig. 6). Looking at the picture you can understand exactly how wrong the description of the Corso’s feet in the standard is “Feet—Round with well-arched toes (catlike)”; this probably happened because round feet may be con- sidered more elegant, but it’s contrary at the principles of zoognostic science and in fact the Cane Corso does not have the same feet as a galloper like a Doberman. To pretend the Cane Corso (trotter) has round feet is like having an off-road car with slick tires! An aspect of the breed that judges should pay attention to would be the topline. The AKC standard states “High- est part of shoulder blade slightly rising above the strong, level back”. I don’t think this is the best description, and it doesn’t address the breed’s profile, the top line is the outline of the dog from the with- ers to the tail set (following the spine). The original standard states “upper line dorsal region straight, slightly convex at loin, the withers are clearly highest of the dorsal plane and the croup. Slightly con- vex at loin”. It must not be confused with convexity of the entire top line; this is of value, because it acts as a bridge between the front and back, it should be short, a slight camber gives further strength. The observation of the top line is also impor- tant because it may be a sign of other faults. For example if we note that the topline line doesn’t go up to the withers, but the rear is higher, probably we will have subjects with limited angulation (see Fig. 7). If the dog has correct angulation, then it is likely that the subject will have short arms (see Fig. 8). EYE Another aspect that is very important in the judging of the breed is the knowl- edge of particular situations in relation to the eyes. Dogs have the capability to

reflect light onto the retina, by means of the so-called “ tapetum lucidum ”, in this way amplifying the rays of light. For this it’s important to pay attention to backlight, otherwise the eyes will seem lighter. For the judges it’s important, during the judg- ment, to remember that the human eye is subject to optical illusion (in truth the illu- sions are not due to the eye, as it acts like a camera in fixing the images, but by our brain during the image’s processing). This is important during the evaluation of the dimension, in fact a white mass appears to be 20% larger than the equivalent in black. This can lead to errors in the evaluation in the Cane corso breed with coats of differ- ent tones. The same for the brindle dogs, because vertical lines tend to stretch the vision, while horizontal ones widen it. PRESENTATION The last topic that I want to address is presentation. In the past, there were a lot of dogs presented at the shows without any ring training. This was not good and made it difficult for the judges to judge dogs that were without composure. Today, especial- ly in the important shows, this problem was been solved, but perhaps it is exceed- ed in the opposite direction, because the dogs are now too much manipulated dur- ing the presentation. This is not good, with the training it’s possible to present the dog in an unnatural manner to hide the fault. I think that the judges must look at the dogs like they are presented and after (moving the position) revise them in a natural position. I understand the important role of the handler, especially in a vast country like the US. They permit the participation of an important number of dogs that otherwise, because of the problem of the distance (and costs) would stay at home. This said, I want to always remember that the dog is judged, not the presentation itself.

Following studies in management and finance, Renzo Carosio worked in corporate management and finance as well as offer-

ing his services to business organizations as management consultant. His passion for dogs and the study of canine zoognostic led him to present seminars, conferences and university lessons in Italy and over- seas, including the US and Russia. He has published over fifty articles on the subject in Italy and abroad, is author of a mono- graphic book on the Cane Corso, a illustrat- ed guide “ Zoognostic of the Dog ” and has also published a novel, “ A metà del guado ”. He has bred Cane Corsos since 1993 under the Kennel name “Saxellum”. Figure 8: 'ZaOination oH tJe 6runM  6oRline

original image: note the rear up (short arm)

rotated image




I t doesn’t take much observation to see a significant size variation in the Cane Corso. It’s all over the place. From ringside to the sporting course, and the working field to the family couch, it is clear that the breed lacks consistency in this area. Some dogs are heavy-boned, void of muscle definition, and cumbersome. At the same time, others are wispy sprites that a good stiff wind could sway. Along with the dogs’ variance in stature, the community has variance in opinions too. How big should a Corso be? This is one of the age-old debates, and to be fair, the different sizes can be validated through histori- cal iconography, photographs, and accounts. It’s not hard to find evidence to justify one’s preference. Add the complication that just 50 years or so ago, the Corso was a “type” of dog—not a solidified breed—and the size fluctuation isn’t surprising. However, this is a trait of a breed in its infancy, and it’s time for breeders, owners, and judges to face the challenge, narrow the size gap, reach a balance, and achieve congruency in the Cane Corso. The best place to start is the very first line of the AKC Breed Standard: “Ancient Italian breed medium-large size Molossus Dog.” This one sentence contains the parameters that will resolve the variances. So what does this line of blueprint describe? First, “Ancient Italian breed” refers to the utilitarian tasks Corso-type dogs performed for centuries. This cluster of jobs makes clear that the Cor- so is balanced in his physique and abilities. Each task tells us something. In some regions, the Corso is a guardian of people and flocks. This indicates not only a specific temperament requirement, but it calls for a body built to run hills and valleys each day or hold his ground behind the garden gate. He is hardy enough to withstand the elements; not frail so the cold could penetrate nor flabby where the heat would exhaust. In addition, this guardian had significant athletic prowess, able to engage in tireless combat, defeating threatening foes whether man or beast.



Other regions and eras called for the Corso to be a mighty hunter of boar and bear. This required them to run with the hounds or follow behind the horses, all day, through dense brush and miles of deep forest. Once the Corso arrived on the scene to engage the fierce beast, he must have the power and size to subdue it until the master arrived, holding on until it was dispatched. At times, the Corso earned his keep as a beast of burden, carrying loads or pulling carts. He could catch and hold a bull, root out a ferocious badger, and work as a general farm dog. This long list of abilities defines the structure and mass of our breed. The Cane Corso is physically fit, has substan- tial muscle mass, and is powerful. He is capable of feats of endurance, is impervious to environmental hardships, and is simultaneously sturdy and nimble. (This kind of sounds like The Three Bears nursery rhyme: “Not too big, not too small, but juuuuust right.”) Now, let’s talk about the second part of the sentence, “…medium-large size Molossus Dog.” Unknowingly, many have misread these words and determined that the Corso is supposed to be a medium/large breed. This is not correct! The Standard states, “medium-large… Molossus!” There is a vast difference. The AKC generally defines a “medium” breed as being between 45 and 75 pounds. The Cane Corso is not a medium-sized breed and should not be in this size range. So, if the Corso is a medium-large Molos- sus, what does that mean? The simple English definition of Molossus is “Mastiff-like.” Molossus traits include larger heads and stature, wide chests, and muscle mass. They are dogs of ancient origin that were bred, generally, to protect, defend, and fight. The Breed Standard calls for the Cane Corso to be a Medium-Large “Mastiff-type” dog. When we combine the description of the jobs the Corso was bred to do and the correct categorization as a Mastiff- type, a clear picture presents itself regarding size. The defi- nition is not determined by a scale or even by the wicket, but by the ability to function at peak performance while still within the parameters of the Molossus categorization. So, what size matters? A Cane Corso should be athletic enough to pursue foe or prey without tiring AND be large and powerful enough to subdue it once he arrives. As with all things Corso, balance is always the answer.

© Laura Essenmacher


Fiercely, Hopelessly, Eternally Devoted to the Cane Corso Since 1995. Shauna DeMoss is the first AKC Cane Corso Breeder- Judge. She’s been a member of the Cane Corso Association of America (National Breed Club) since 1997 and a member of the CCAA Board of Directors for 16 years. Most of her tenure was as Director of Breed Education and Standard revisions. Shauna is the author of Breed Education materials and breed articles published in five countries, and she’s an AKC Cane Corso breed mentor and National Breed club seminar presenter. Shauna is the Breeder of 74 AKC Champions, 35 AKC Grand Champions, 38 AKC Companion and Sport-titled dogs, AKC Best in Show Winner, AKC RBIS Winners, CCAA Breeder of the Year 2011, 2017 & 2020.


Cane Corso CANE CORSO ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA BREED EDUCATION T he lack of consistency continues to be a major problem in the Cane Corso. We believe the lack of

CORRECT MUZZLE LENGTH: IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK! Th e standard calls for a 1:3 ratio, yes. But this measurement is often misinter- preted as the “Midpoint.” Th at is incorrect. Th e 1:3 is a boundary measurement put in place to guard against excessively short muzzles. If the muzzle is shorter than 1:3, it changes expression, causes the convergence to be extreme, and is associated with excessive undershot, round/bulging eyes, and pinched nares. In a nutshell, a muzzle that is too short fundamentally changes the head type; and this head type, however popular or common, is not correct. Th is concept is clear when we review our breed history. During the recovery, many examples of Corso farm dogs were measured and cataloged. As a result, a dog named Basir was determined to have the ideal muzzle. His muzzle measured 38% of his overall head length. Th at is 5% longer than the boundary in the standard. So, as you evaluate muzzle length, remember history; 33 to nearly 40% is correct Corso type. Anything shorter will typically lack correct breed head type. ANTERIOR FACE OF THE MUZZLE IS FLAT: NOTHING SHOULD BE STICKING OUT! Th ere is always a lot of talk about which bite is correct for the Corso. Almost always a muzzle with the correct front will always accompany a functional bite. Here’s the trick; when viewed from the side, the line from the nose down to the chin is per- pendicular. Th e de fi nition is critical here. Perpendicular lines are de fi ned as two lines that meet or intersect each other at right angles (90°). So, the nose appears as the top “corner” for front of the muzzle and the horizontal line of the bridge of the muzzle. Th e chin is the bottom “corner” for the muzzle front and the horizontal jawline. Th e nose should not stick out over the chin and the chin should not jut out beyond the point of the nose; neither is prominent. SLIGHT CONVERGENCE: NO DOME FOREHEADS OR SKI SLOPES, PLEASE. education and the misunderstanding of breed traits is a signi fi cate factor. Th erefore, the Breed Educa- tion department of the CCAA has put together some points that may help judges and the fancy sort out problems areas. 1 2 3 Th e parameters de fi ning the space between the stop and occiput (little bump at the back of the skull between the ears) may be one of the breed’s most misunderstood. Over the years, and with the shortening of the muzzle, we have seen a radical change in the shape and incline of the forehead. A change that has made correct convergence uncommon. We must retrain our eyes. When viewed from the side, the skull gradu- ally fl ows back from the pronounced brow and slightly inclines toward the back skull. Th e forehead does not ascend directly up from the brow. Th e forehead’s side pro fi le should not bulge or be rounded, like a football helmet. If the slope of the forehead is steep and is at an angle suitable for skiing, this is a clear sign of outside breed in fl u- ence. *Note: no convergence will exhibit parallel planes, which is also unacceptable. >




WELL-DEFINED STOP. PUT YOUR THUMB IN IT. Corso eyes are wide-set. Th ey have a pronounced brow that serves as a protection for the slightly inset eye. From the side, the stop looks kind of like a step

length; creating moderate angulation. We often see long thighs and short hocks in the Corso. Th is incorrect framework places a tre- mendous amount of weight on the knee. A correct, moderate hock bears the brunt of quick direction change. Moderate angulation, along with a moderate pelvis tilt and balanced rear, is critical to the breed’s ability to function. Properly built, the massive rear end is less susceptible to knee and hip injuries.

from the horizontal muzzle bridge to the forehead that slopes gradually back from the brow. When viewed from the front, there is a distinct depression between the wide-set eyes. Th is well-de fi ned depression should be wide and deep enough for your thumb to easily rest down into it.


DISTINCTLY RECTANGULAR IN PRO- PORTION. IF YOU THINK IT MIGHT BE TOO SQUARE…IT IS! Correct length of body is a critical component to function in the breed. When the front and rear

signi fi cant ground with an e ff ortless, elongated trot. He carries his massive head down and forward as he glides; topline rigid and level. He takes long, clean strides, utilizing his energy e ffi ciently. His movement is smooth, aerodynamic and almost surprising consider- ing his mass. Short, delicate steps and head held high may be fl ashy, but it’s not correct for a Corso. SIZE AND SUBSTANCE.

assembly are put together correctly, the Corso is capable of extended reach and drive, allowing it to cover ground most e ffi - ciently. Short backed Corso often take shorter steps or are forced to turn their bodies sideways to move correctly. Ten percent body length is a boundary measurement to protect the breed from becoming too “square.” Most Corso that travel in an elon- gated trot are longer and certainly fall within the parameters of correct breed type.

Th e Corso is a perfect blend of bone, substance, stark muscle de fi nition and athletic ability. Static, he gives the impression of mass and power. In motion, he

moves with e ffi ciency. He is never sloppy or cumbersome. When asked what size a Corso should be, the answer should be something like this: “Athletic enough to run tirelessly after large, formidable game; substantial enough to dispatch it once he arrives.” Th ere is nothing about the breed that says fi ne bone or sloppy couch potato. HIS PRESENCE—A NOTE TO JUDGES.


end is exceedingly essential. Th e weight of the large head, pow- erful neck, and muscular chest account for over 60% of the total mass of the dog. Th at mass bears down on the front, and if that weight is not evenly distributed, injury is likely, and per- formance is a ff ected. Short upper arms and straight shoulders are becoming commonplace in our breed. Th is poor structure places tremendous strain on elbows and shoulders and pasterns. It restricts reach and often creates a pinched, narrow chest. Cor- so shoulders are well laid back, the upper arm is of comparable length to the scapula and that elbow sits directly beneath those withers. When viewed from the side, the correct front assembly creates a vertical, even line of weight distribution from the with- ers down to the elbow, down the leg, pastern and rests squarely on the pads of the foot, not the toes! BALANCED REARS—ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL.

Powerful and imposing? Truly distinct char- acteristics of a Cane Corso stacked and waiting

for examination. A judge that wishes to see the dog at his full poten- tial should remember the least amount of intrusion by a stranger accomplishes this best. Here are a few helpful tips: 1. Always approach from the front, avoiding imposing stares into the dog’s eyes. 2. A judge should not expect a mature Corso to be a “wag and greet” kind of dog. An obedient, stoic participant is more than acceptable from this Guardian breed. However, stoic should not be confused with “asleep at the wheel”. A Corso should be alert and watchful at all times. His expression should be distinctly intelligent. Fearfulness or aggression is not acceptable. 3. Greet the handler fi rst and ask them to show the bite when the time comes. Limit extensive, heavy-handed exams. If a puppy seems apprehensive, make it fun. 4. Th e Corso is very sensitive to his surroundings and is quick to pick up on unsettling situations. Anyone who is apprehensive about the breed should not judge them.

Just as the front end of the Corso should be built to distribute weight evenly, the muscular rear is

con fi gured for correct weight placement, and is capable of pow- erful drive and quick direction changes. Th is is accomplished when the bones, the pelvis, both thighs and hocks, are of similar


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