“EVERY IMPORTANT BREED SPECIFIC TRAIT SUCH AS A RELATIVELY SHORT MUZZLE, SKULL CONVERGENCE, STOP AND UNDERSHOT BITE SHOULD BE PRESENT BUT NEVER EXCESSIVE.”
“Medium large dog” not large or giant and that is a good thing but unfortunately it does not seem to be helping much. 5. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are bet- ter now than they were when you first started judg- ing? Why or why not? MI: The breed has increased in numbers, but necessarily in quality. Some people have bred well from the begin- ning and continue to have good dogs. Other people approached the breed only for commercial purposes and thus, have produced quantity, but not quality. Many years ago, the average quality in the judging ring was perhaps better. There were fewer examples with exaggerated type; and even if some dogs were unrefined, there was maybe more evenness. Now you can see everything in the ring, with judges rewarding these inconsistent dogs. JS: The dogs now are far better then the dogs of the past but we still have a very long way to go. There are a number of reasons for this but the biggest is the simple fact that this is a new breed in the sense of a modern day pure bred dog. Although the breeds origins are ancient and can be traced all the way back to the days of Rome the Cane Corso did not become an official registered breed in Italy until 1994. 6. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? MI: The thing that is difficult to understand for any breed is expression, which is created from the balance in the skull and snout with the correct shape, color and posi- tion of the eyes. Without all this, the breed’s expression is lost. This is not only difficult for new judges, but for judges at all levels. Thus, judges’ education must address this to truly understand the breed, as I’ve seen required in many parts of the world. A solid knowledge base ensures the breed’s welfare and improvement of judging standards and selections, and I hope in some ways, I’ve contributed to that learning. JS: Type is for sure the most misunderstood. And we have a wide range of type in this breed right now not making it any easier for judges not familiar with the Cane Corso. There are a couple main reasons for this. As I previously stated the breed was developed from a wide range of dogs scattered all over southern Italy that shared certain traits yet were also quite diverse. Many people do not know that both the modern day Cane Corso and Nea- politan Mastiff were both derived from the same basic
types of Mollosian dogs found in Southern Italy. The names even interchanged back then depending on who you talked to. Another major factor was the influence of other pure breeds by overzealous and inpatient breeders both in Italy and the US. Boxer, Bullmastiff, Rottweiler and Mastiff were some of the more common breeds put into the mix with the original rustic specimens. When any other obvious breed influence is present it should be faulted. A judge needs to really study type in order to do a good job judging this breed. A correct Cane Corso has very a distinct type. I always try and explain it in these simple terms. The Cane Corso is a brachycephalic breed but in moderation. Every important breed specific trait such as a relatively short muzzle, skull convergence, stop and undershot bite should be present but never exces- sive. It should also never ever have any mesaticephalic type. In addition the Corso should have very slight little wrinkle or dewlap. 7. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. MI: I would simply remember that the Cane Corso is not only a breed that is black with cropped ears. I’ve seen dogs win, albeit controversially, in the ring by the mere fact that they were black with cropped ears. Since there are no related breeds with these characteristics, it becomes convenient for the judge to base his or her deci- sion on these simplistic factors. The characteristics of the breed to watch for should not be just the color. The same dog, maybe with intact ears and a fawn color, fades into the background, although he may possess correct type. While popular, remember black is just a color and all colors should have their place in the breed. Chasing the black color will lead to a less genetically sound breed. JS: I am so passionate about the breed that I could consume the entire magazine answering that question. I will just say that the Cane Corso is a perfect combination of many things true to its heritage as a versatile and neces- sary aid and companion to the rural Italian farmers and their families. 8. What is your funniest experience at a dog show? MI: While I was judging a dog in the ring, like I always do, I asked the exhibitor, “How old?” She answered 52. Of course, I was referring to the dog, not the lady! JS: I have seen so many things of that nature it would be impossible to pick one. After all dog shows should be fun also right.
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