History of the Cane Corso Protection Dog

History of the Cane Corso Protection Dog

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One of the best personal protection dogs is the Cane Corso. Also called the Italian Mastiff, this dog has a storied history as a hunter and a guard dog. When looking at personal protection dogs for sale, the Cane Corso protection dog should definitely be on your list. Here is the long and fascinating history of this dog.

Ancient History – Dog of War

The Cane Corso is a descendant of a dog used in Ancient Roman hunting and warfare. Art from around 700 BC. shows a dog similar to the Cane Corso we know today assisting in the hunt, so the dog has been around for a very long time. The name Cane Corso, derived from words meaning dog and bodyguard, wasn’t used until around 1137 A.D.

The Cane Corso had a major role in Roman warfare. One thing the dogs were used for was piriferi, a practice where buckets of flaming oil were strapped to the dogs’ backs and sent to the front lines of the enemy. The dogs were warriors and had no hesitation about fighting.

Cane Corso as Farmhand

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Roman war dog became a dog devoted to hunting, farming, and guarding. War had taught these dogs to be extremely versatile and this versatility was very helpful in being a protective guardian for people. As a farmhand, the dog guarded livestock and farm buildings.

Often, more than one Cane Corso was employed to guard different areas of a farm at the same time. To keep them apart, a system of chains and pulleys was used that gave each dog a free range of motion over its designated area to guard. The collars were often decorative, generally featuring the family’s coat of arms. In some cases, the collar was also adorned with spikes, something that came in handy when a wolf was encountered.

Another farm duty for the Cane Corso was assisting in the breeding of swine. After giving birth, a sow would often try to hide her litter. The Cane Corso protection dog was used to find and incapacitate the sow, allowing the farmer to come and gather her litter. Upon hearing the command, the dog would release the sow and all would travel back to the barn where the sow and her piglets would be reunited. The Cane Corso was also used to keep wild boars under control and was known to step in and protect its master when a wild boar went on the attack.

Yet another job on the farm for the Cane Corso was to help with cattle. In particular, the dog was used to incapacitate a bull in order to separate it from the herd. The dog would just clamp down on the bull’s nose or ear. This became known as “bull-baiting.” The dog was also used to protect the herd from predators, both animals, and human thieves.

Cane Corso as Hunter

The Cane Corso didn’t just protect people and animals from wild boars; it also hunted them. Hunting for wild boar was pretty dangerous, and the Cane Corso made it a safer proposition for a hunter. A pack of dogs would chase and ultimately corner a boar. A dog would then incapacitated the boar, allowing the hunter to kill it with a spear. The Cane Corso was employed in a similar manner in the hunting of badger. In this case, the dog would actually do the killing by biting the animal in the neck. Finally, the Cane Corso was also used to hunt porcupine. This was a dangerous situation for the dog because of the porcupine’s sharp quills.


Work dwindled for the versatile Cane Corso as the economy changed and farms changed. The World Wars further changed the outlook for the once proud and busy working dogs, in part because there was little to no food available for them. The golden age of the Cane Corso was over. By the 1970s, the Cane Corso was nearly extinct.

Renewal for the Cane Corso

Italian men who had grown up seeing these hard-working dogs in their childhoods began to wonder what had happened to the once-thriving breed. After some research, the breeding of the Cane Corso began anew. By 1994, the Cane Corso had official ENCI recognition. By 1996, it had FCI recognition. In 2010, the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club. The breed’s popularity continues to grow.

Cane Corso as Personal Protection Dogs

After understanding the breed’s history, it’s easy to understand why this breed makes such a good protection dog. Its history of hard work, great versatility, ability to respond to commands, and a longstanding tradition of being a guard dog make it perfect for work as a personal protection dog. The Cane Corso is strong, muscular, and athletic. It also moves with elegance and grace. The breed is truly ancient, and there is certainly wisdom in this breed. The Cane Corso protection dog is smart and can make a loving companion, despite its ferocity. These characteristics combine to make it exactly the kind of animal you want by your side. When looking at personal protection dogs for sale, you shouldn’t ignore the Cane Corso. It’s hard to find a better breed for protection.

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