The Cane Corso is a dog intimately tied to the history and tradition of or people. It has always lived with man and for man who has selected and bred it with care and attention based on real human needs and environmental concerns. The range of uses have made it a “multipurpose” dog, useful in all circumstances and therefore extremely functional.
Thus its morphology, shaped through the centuries by the functional uses, comes from these basis and every morphological and temperamental feature that ignores them does not belong to it.
The Cane Corso has strength, agility, endurance, functional harmony in the shapes, It is an intelligent energetic even-tempered dog.
The Cane Corso is matchless as watch and defense dog and it is also well known as a great hunter; it is powerful and agile and has a build which is suitable for different kinds of work often carried out in extreme weather conditions. Overall it stands out for its strength, power and optimum dimensions; it expresses its great functional beauty through a morphology which consists in its general structural essentiality, as follows:
•large muscular head, compact and well proportioned to the whole;
•watchful and alert look that shows intelligence and balance; observing the look of every subjects – a somatic mirror of a frame related to a certain temperament – one might anticipate the assessment of its character;
•well developed and hard masseters;
•straight incisors, very well developed and spaced canines; scissor bite, a level bite (or pincer bite, a tenaglia in Italian, translators note) or reverse scissor bite;
•strong and very muscular neck; slightly convex and well connected with the back and the chest;
•wide chest with very well developed pectoral muscles;
•wide rib cage and well developed in height, depth and width;
•very muscular back, with evident withers; short and wide loins, very muscular and a bit convex;
•long wide and very well muscled rump; trunk is proportionately much longer than height to the withers; very muscular and strong;
•front and rear legs are strong muscular and vertical;
•wide and thick hocks;
•“closed” cat-like foot; tail is thick on the base. To assess a good hind morphology look at the tail: a tail thick on the base is an indication of an excellent development of both the coccygeal muscles and those of the rump (sign of strength and power).
A very important feature consists in the integument: the Cane Corso has a thick skin, a short-haired coat, with vitreous texture, shiny, adherent, very thick (called cow-hair ) and an a thick undercoat that is accentuated
The physical and aptitude features are the same in all Cane Corsos; what differs from a lineage to another is the colour of the coats: ashy wrapped of black, tawny, fawn, deer fawn, honey (tawny with yellow or white hair), brown, ashy (black and white hair), dark grey, light grey, slate grey (blackish grey), black striped on grey-haired, three colour striped hair.
As evidenced by the historical iconography of the Roman molossian, from which it follows undeniably our Cane
Corso, many individuals have more or less extensive white markings on the muzzle, chest and feet. Shepherds, but also landowners and hunters, historic owners of the Cane Corso, preferred the dogs with the frumentino coat, very light, almost white.
The approximate weight of the Cane Corso varies from 40 to 60 kgs and the height can vary from 60 to 70 cm at the withers, although once upon a time individuals with sizes well over these values were not uncommon.
For the best functional and morphological selection, it is necessary to use in the breeding all good individuals regardless of their height and/or weight, but granting instead perfect proportions and character.
About the type of bite a lot of information has been written and frequently talking nonsense……
The correct bite of the Cane Corso is scissor bite or level bite (pincer bite or in Italian “a tenaglia”) or reverse scissor bite. In reality puppies of the same litter can have different bites from the scissor bite to slight prognathism
(undershot), but this does not mean that all bites should be accepted “as correct”, it means simply that… it can happen! Now, without the support of scientists who are much more erudite than us and while passing over that there is no coincidence if Mother Nature has provided most of the carnivores an orthognathic bite…. .the simple
observation that man and nature have selected for the hold (presa) canids with scissor or lever bite (eg Canis lupus, neapolitan mastiff, dogo argentino, perro da presa canario, etc) leads by itself to the logical deduction that the breeding selection of these dogs must (or should…. ) follow the orthognatism rule (jaws of equal length) and reject
both the enognathism (overshot) and the real prognathism (that presents a real obvious shortening of the upper jaw and a positioning of premolar and molar teethtypical of undershot).
Furthermore since the Cane Corso, the so called catch-dog (cane da presa) and the Neapolitan mastiff are the same dog , by the fact that the Neapolitan mastiff has a scissor or level bite, we can deduce of course (maybe not for everyone… .!) that the Italian catch-dog (cane da presa) can only be orthognathic.
Unfortunately as everyone knows manybreeders in perpetual “search of standard cane corsos “ (then prognathous dogs, with convergent craniofacial axes) have used the crossbred of Cane Corso with boxer, bullmastiff, etc; others have done “the same thing”… .not referring to the “ standard” but with the reasons of unspecified and/or
justified “needs of revitalization” … .
Not wanting to even talk about the formers, to the latter we would like only to repeat, for peculiathe umpteenth time, that if “revitalization” had to be there, maybe it might have been more logical and appropriate to do it using
catch-dogs (cani da presa) as the Neapolitan mastiff, “old type” Neapolitan mastiff of course…. .instead of using completely different breeds.
Speaking about bite, muzzle, nose and features, we should note that, calling it since ancient times even “catch-dog” (cane da presa), the practical users of the Cane Corso have “fixed” with a highly meaningful word one of its most marked characteristics.
Then it is too logical that the possible real standard of a catch-dog must necessarily provide a bite that is primarily “ functional” : the “scissor bite” or the “level bite” (which always features the Cane Corso).Therefore if it is true, and it is, that the most market characteristics should be reflected in a possible true “standard” of the breed, it is impossible, at least for us and for the people who use the Cane Corso since ages, to accept what the current official
Nor, even if we can guess the reasons, we can lend the slightest attention to the pathetic acrobatics of some who, in the attempt to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, do nothing but increasing the confusion by suggesting an ambiguous mix of “slight prognathism”, level bite and scissor bite tolerated [ “Let your word be Yes, Yes or No, No ;
anything more than this comes from the evil one” (Matthew, 5.37)]
And with that we want to bring this aside to a close!
Then the Cane Corso must have a gnathic system mechanically perfect: the upper jaw must be of the same length of the lower one and the upper teeth should fit properly with lower ones.
On the other hand prognathism leads to a loss of efficiency not only in the hold, but also in the chewing and the use of teeth for the cleaning of hair and skin. If there is not a shortening of the upper jaw in comparison to the lower one and if the upper and lower canine premolar and molar teeth correspond properly, for the fact that the incisors close with a reverse scissor bite (as you can see in some Cane Corsos) the dog can not be defined as prognathous because
the prognathism is not given by the lengthening of the jaw but by the shortening of the muzzle; the true undershot infact is due to the back sliding of all set of upper teeth that causes a gap between upper and lower incisors.
The length of the muzzle is crucial to the health of the dog and its functionality.
The dog, like other animals, has skin almost without sweat glands; when it is subjected to effort (and especially when it takes a long run with high temperatures) its body temperature rises a few degrees and the heat can not of course be eliminated by sweating but only through an intense and rapid breathing (heat polypnea).
On the other hand as minerals are not removed through sweating, the dog is less prone to tiredness. However not every organ stands up well at higher temperature and, in particular, the brain must be maintained at a carefully regulated temperature. To keep it that way nature has put in place a sophisticated temperature control system that
runs the nose and mouth “like real heaters”.
These two organs in fact carry the draught of inhaled and exhaled air that, by evaporating moistness, allows the cooling of nasal mucous membranes, mouth and tongue. The blood returning to the muzzle has a temperature
lower than normal and runs through a vein in the shape of a sleeve that causes a real exchange of heat by which the refluent blood from the head cools the blood that goes to the brain which, therefore, does not suffer the harmful effects resulting from a high temperature. Well warmed muscles and cool brain are a winning combination. While muscles and the other organs are maintained at a higher temperature during and after an effort or long runs, the cooling system of the brain involves a lesser use of water in comparison to other animals that sweat. To compensate
the elimination of water only through respiration (as in dog) it is enough a good drink of water, while for the animals that sweat in addition to water it is necessary to complement also the minerals removed by sweat.
The real and true deformity named brachignathism of some short-nosed breeds (Boxer, Pekinese, English bulldog, etc) makes that even a very low effort brings an increase of temperature not only in the body but also in the brain; since the “heater effect” we mentioned before is absent, there arises a state of malaise that makes the dog
unfit for particular functions. The brachignathism thereby reducing the development of sinus whose ventilation allows the cooling of the brain, makes the dog not very suitable for sustained efforts and also to keep the hold (presa) because the breathing is impaired.
Short-nosed breeds (and therefore also thosewith very short nose) were obtained only by “targeted selection” through the mating of individuals which spontaneously have this kind of, we underline, “deformity” . Since the mechanism of “filtering” of the air usually breathed is greatly reduced, if not completely absent, in addition to a fast tiredness during effort the dogs of these breeds have several limitations: they are not very sensitive to smells (and therefore they have a reduced sense of smell that is the guiding sense for a dog… ), the inhalation of unfiltered air exposes them to risk of tracheitis, bronchitis and pneumonia, they have a limited presence of immune cells in
the nasal submucosa and this also exposes them to increased risk of both bacterial and viral respiratory diseases. Moreover when the nose is so flattened there is an alteration of the tear fluid elimination and eye infections
(such as conjunctivitis, etc) become more frequent.
If scientifically things are this way, how can we tolerate that in the name of a fatuous fickle personalistic aestheticism one might alter these physiological mechanisms that are essential to ensure the welfare of the dog?
If scientifically things are that way, how can we tolerate in an extremely functional dog, like Cane Corso is since ages, certain conformations of the muzzle that today we find in some so-called “champions” (of what?!?!?) or in many winners of “rosettes”(for what?!?!?!?).
Mother Nature never gave birth to short-nosed dogs ….. and even to snub-nosed dogs!
To end the Cane Corso has been preserved to us because to its morphology that is perfectly adapted to the habitat and its functional practical use.
Its environment were and are countryside, woods, pasture, masseria, farm; wherever you meet it the Traditional Cane Corso inscribed in its temperament and shapes the story of its survival, its ability to adapt has been forged through the centuries and its morphology has been adapted to the needs of working with its old companion, the man.
A dog that has gone through centuries of history free to reach us can not be a pet, a fragile dog or the nature and the time would have cancelled it.
What time and Mother Nature did not do in ages of history, we do not want today is made by man.
Copyright dott. Flavio Bruno