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Cane Corso: A Complete Guide

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Introduction

The Cane Corso (KAH-nay KOR-so) is a pure-breed mastiff whose origins can be traced back to ancient Rome. The Cane Corso is known for its large, muscular body, squared head, and imposing appearance. A Cane Corso male can reach 28 inches from the shoulder, and a female Cane Corso can reach 26 inches. The Cane Corso can weigh up to 120lbs, depending on their height. Cropped ears and docked tails are other noticeable characteristics of the breed. Cane Corso Puppies can come in black, black brindle, chestnut brindle, fawn, gray, and red and grow pretty quickly into giant stately masters of their domain. The Cane Corso has an average life expectancy of approximately 10-11 years.

The Cane Corso is an excellent guard dog or watchdog because of its loyalty and protective nature. In Latin, Cane Corso Puppies’ name translates (roughly) to “bodyguard-dog.” Cane Corso Puppies are strong, confident, assertive, intelligent, and strong-willed. For these reasons, training and early socialization of Cane Corso Puppies with other dogs and humans are essential.

If you are an active family with older kids, then the Cane Corso Puppy is for you. Cane Corso Puppies thrive in a family with older children (age nine and up) but are not recommended for families with babies, toddlers, or families inexperienced with large dogs like Cane Corso Puppies. When socialized early and responsibly, Cane Corso Puppies can be docile and affectionate. Your Cane Corso Puppy is highly sensitive and attuned to your feelings and emotions and may think they are the source of your sadness, grief, or anger. Luckily, Cane Corso Puppies feel just as responsible for your happiness and excitement! Cane Corso Puppies are loving and affectionate, but they are also highly protective and will want to be by your side most of the time. Cane Corso Puppies thrive on companionship and connection with the humans in their lives. A relationship with a Cane Corso will be one of great connection, love, and depth. While they will be fully committed and connected to you, Cane Corso Puppies can be aloof around people who are not a part of their families and is not the kind of dog who makes friends with every human they encounter.

Because of their brilliant nature, it’s never too early to begin training your Cane Corso Puppy. Cane Corso Puppies can start training at eight weeks. Puppy classes for Cane Corso Puppies are highly recommended, beginning at 10 to 12 weeks. Working with a trainer who specializes in large breeds like the Cane Corso can be helpful. Cane Corso Puppies must learn to work and take commands from you directly. The Cane Corso is a working breed that does well in environments that allow them to be physical and require physical and mental stimulation. Taking your Cane Corso out for long hikes or runs can help keep them fit. Giving your Cane Corso Puppy a job to do will help burn energy and allow them to utilize their instincts and skills. Cane Corso Puppies excel at dog sports that include tracking, agility, and scent work.

The Cane Corso isn’t known for excessive barking. The breed is more known for their “roo-roo” singing and their vocalizations of howls, grunts, and snorts. Of course, a Cane Corso will bark to alert their family of any visitors or outside activity.

Due to their low shed level, grooming requirements for Cane Corso Puppies are relatively minimal. Cane Corso Puppies’ undercoat will require some care. Brush Cane Corso Puppies with a rubber brush or hound glove to help reduce any shedding. Every three to six weeks, your Cane Corso should be bathed, depending on its activity level. Cane Corso Puppies’ teeth should be brushed once or twice a week. A finger toothbrush can make the process easier for both you and your Cane Corso Puppy. They should also have their nails trimmed and ears cleaned regularly.

Black cane corso sitting down in an agility course

History of the Cane Corso

The Cane Corso descends from the Molossoid dogs of Ancient Rome. The Molossus was larger than the modern-day Cane Corso and was known to accompany Roman soldiers in times of war. After war times, the Cane Corso went home with their soldier companions and worked the farmland. Though they spent time driving livestock and helping to hunt large game, the Cane Corso’s primary job was that of a guard dog. 

As Italy marched into the modern era and World War I broke out, the Cane Corso became rare. Farmers who bred Cane Corso Puppies left to fight in the war, and many were abandoned. There was a brief resurgence of the breed, but the breed was virtually extinct by World War II. The modern-day Cane Corso is the result of selective breeding from less than 2,000 surviving animals. 

The first Cane Corso arrived in America in 1988. Though the Cane Corso was admitted to the American Kennel Club’s Miscellaneous class in 2007, they were not formally recognized by the American Kennel Club until 2010. 

The American Kennel Club ranks the Cane Corso as the 25th most popular dog breed in the United States. Despite this popularity, there is some controversy surrounding the breed. 

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) has been an ongoing threat for Cane Corso Puppies. Breed Specific Legislation often covers breeds that are considered “dangerous” or “threatening.” Pit Bulls are a prime example of a breed that is frequently banned due to BSL. Because they resemble these breeds, Cane Corsos are lumped into this legislation alongside them. The Cane Corso is not banned in the United States, but they are banned in certain cities. For example, the town of Wapato in Washington State has banned all Mastiff types, and many insurance companies here in the US have blacklisted coverage for Cane Corsos.

There has been one major incident of Cane Corsos attacking a human. In Michigan in 2015, two Cane Corsos mauled a jogger to death. The two Cane Corsos had a history of aggression and biting involving people in their neighborhood. As a result of the incident, both Cane Corsos were euthanized. The couple who owned the Cane Corsos were sentenced to time in prison. This is why training and socialization are so important for Cane Corso Puppies. Proper training will benefit both you, your Cane Corso Puppy, and those around you.

Breed Intelligence

Cane Corsos are more known for their formidable size, but they are highly intelligent and sensitive creatures. Words often used to describe Cane Corso Puppies are assertive, confident, strong-willed, and dominant. They were bred to be workers, and as a result, they are great at decision-making and concentration. If you do not give a Cane Corso Puppy something to do, they will find something to do! Give Cane Corso Puppies a task, and they will get it done since, for Cane Corso Puppies, mental and physical stimulation go hand in hand. Cane Corso Puppies cannot be left in a yard all day or sent off to spend the day in doggy daycare, but they do thrive in the outdoors, preferably doing an activity like running or playing. Because they are eager to please, Cane Corso Puppies are relatively easy to train and are considered easier to train than other mastiff breeds. Cane Corso Puppies retain information well and respond better to rewards and love than they do to harsh training methods. However, if training is not done early, the natural stubbornness of the Cane Corso Puppy can take over. 

Woman training a cane corso dog on the beach

Psychological Health

Cognitive Health

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is a syndrome that affects older (or senior) dogs of all breeds, including the Cane Corso. It is also referred to as Dog Dementia. It is reported that 85% of all cases of CCD in dogs go undiagnosed. As Cane Corso Puppies age, you may notice them slowing down, becoming confused, or anxious. Part of this is normal aging. But it can also be CCD. Dementia can be hard to diagnose because of the broad range of symptoms associated with it. Sometimes it can simply exhibit as a change in temperament. As your Cane Corso ages, its brain can atrophy (cells die), and this can affect brain function. Small strokes in older Cane Corsos are also common and can play a role in cognitive decline. The Cane Corso and other breeds can exhibit the same symptoms as humans in cognitive decline. The most common symptoms of CCD are disorientation, forgetfulness of training, extreme irritability, loss of appetite, incontinence, decreased desire to play, and anxiety. Your Cane Corso may have changes in how they interact with family as well as changes in sleep patterns.

Cane Corsos with disorientation, may wander around the house looking a bit lost or stare off into space, at walls, or the floor. They may even have a hard time recognizing people they know. Some Cane Corsos may become more clingy, while others may become withdrawn and spend more time alone away from their family. Anxiety is another primary symptom of CCD, and your Cane Corso may become fearful of going outside or become more reactionary around strangers. 

If your Cane Corso begins to exhibit the behaviors above, they must see a vet. Many things can mimic CCD, and your vet will need to rule them out. Diseases like diabetes, hyperthyroidism and Cushing’s can look like CCD, as can hearing or vision loss or side effects from medications. Your vet will perform a thorough physical exam, along with X-rays, ultrasounds, and blood tests to rule out any other conditions.

There is no cure for CCD, and it is a degenerative disease. But there are things you can do with the help of your vet to improve the quality of your Cane Corso’s quality of life. Your vet can prescribe medications as well as sleep aids to help keep your dog’s sleep patterns on track. Diet supplements rich in fatty acids and antioxidants can also help. Physical therapy may also be helpful for your Cane Corso to aid in keeping them active physically and mentally.

You can do some practical everyday things to make your Cane Corso with CCD more comfortable. Mental stimulation plays a significant role in helping slow the progression of the disease. Food toys and puzzle toys can help keep your Cane Corso engaged and excited. Though your Cane Corso may not be able to join you on your daily jog or run anymore, a nice slow walk outside will do wonders for them. Take your Cane Corso out on “sniff,” or “smell” walks where they can walk slowly and smell whatever they encounter. This is a great source of stimulation for Cane Corsos without being too physically strenuous. Try to keep your schedule as consistent as possible, with walks, feedings, and playtime at the same time every day. Routine will help reduce some of the anxiety your Cane Corso may be experiencing due to CCD. Be sure to keep your Cane Corso’s surroundings familiar to them, make sure their doggy beds, food and water bowls, and toys are where they expect them to be. Invest in puppy pads for when your Cane Corso experiences incontinence and can’t make it outside, or install a doggy door to make it easier for Cane Corso Puppies to go out when needed. Even with CCD, the Cane Corso can still be an incredibly loving companion. Though they may slow down physically, spending time with your Cane Corso at this period in their lives is vital.

Because CCD generally occurs in Cane Corso’s senior years, life expectancy can be hard to estimate when they may already have other health conditions.

Stress

Like us humans, Cane Corso Puppies can experience stress. It’s important to recognize the physical signs of stress in your Cane Corso Puppy. A stressed Cane Corso Puppy can be reactive, jumpy, and hard to settle. Other symptoms of stress to look for in your Cane Corso Puppies are dilated pupils, rapid blinking, sweaty paws, pacing, whining, and barking. Additional symptoms in Cane Corso Puppies include a change in posture, hiding, excessive shedding, and a sudden need to pee. Cane Corso Puppies may pin their ears back against their head.

Being familiar with your Cane Corso Puppy’s temperament will help you recognize these stressors. For example, your Cane Corso Puppy may pace at the front door out of excitement to go for a walk. But when stressed, your Cane Corso may pace around the living room.

Fear-Based Aggression

Another major sign of stress to look out for in your Cane Corso Puppy is fear-based aggression. A scared Cane Corso can sometimes be aggressive in an attempt to protect itself from a perceived threat. Many Cane Corso Puppies exhibit the freeze/fight/flee response. Your Cane Corso Puppy may at first freeze and seem okay in a group of people, but then suddenly, your Cane Corso lunges and attempts to bite before running and hiding. These are signs your Cane Corso is stressed and scared. Fear aggression is one of the most common causes of aggression in Cane Corsos.

The first rule of thumb when dealing with a stressed Cane Corso is to move them away from the stressor. Take your Cane Corso Puppy to a quiet area where they can calm down. Give Cane Corso Puppies simple commands like “sit,” “settle,” and “down.” Being given commands, they are used to will make Cane Corso Puppies feel secure. Do not be overly affectionate or attempt to play with your Cane Corso Puppy during this time. Allow your Cane Corso Puppy to earn these things by listening to your commands.

Once you have settled your Cane Corso, take them to the vet to rule out any conditions that may be causing their stress. Your vet may prescribe them anti-anxiety meds to help manage your Cane Corso’s stress. They may also refer you to a veterinary behaviorist to evaluate your Cane Corso Puppy and their stress level.

The most helpful thing you can do for your dog is to prevent stressful situations before they occur. Socialization and training can help tremendously in helping your Cane Corso Puppies get used to certain sights, sounds, and environments. Often stress and anxiety stem from traumatic (however small) moments for Cane Corso Puppies. Maybe a particular street had a lot of cars on it, and the noise scared your dog. Cane Corso Puppies retain that fear, which will then lead to stress when they encounter that street again. Being engaged with your Cane Corso Puppy on your walks will help you spot the signs of stress or fear, and understanding your Cane Corso Puppy’s likes and dislikes can also help with reducing stress.

Exercise can play a vital role in reducing stress in Cane Corso Puppies. Going for a run or playing can help your Cane Corso Puppy release any stress or tension they may be feeling.

Crate training is an excellent option for reducing stress in Cane Corso Puppies. You can train them to go to their crate when they are stressed or worried. Supply your Cane Corso Puppy with stress-relieving toys that can provide mental stimuli. Security blankets and towels with your scent can also be great for relieving stress in Cane Corso Puppies. Place them in your Cane Corso’s crate or doggy bed. Also, try playing classical music or calming sounds to soothe your Cane Corso Puppy.

If you are interested in alternative ways to help your Cane Corso reduce stress, you can look into Doggy Yoga or Dogya. Yoga can be a great way to bond with your Cane Corso Puppy as you do relaxed poses together and incorporate gentle massage and stretching. If yoga is just not your thing, you may want to try a CBD supplement. CBD oil can also help to reduce anxiety and stress in Cane Corso Puppies, just as it can with humans. Of course, check with your vet first before giving your Cane Corso Puppy any supplement.

Outside all of this, one of the most significant factors in helping to reduce your Cane Corso Puppy’s stress is you. Yes, you. If your dog is stressed, how you respond can play a massive role in just how stressed they become. In short – don’t freak out, stay calm and confident, and chances are they will follow your lead.

red cane corso puppy lying down outdoors

Anxiety

Separation Anxiety

There are many reasons why Cane Corso Puppies experience separation anxiety. It could be due to a recent loss in the family, it could be due to a change in surroundings due to a recent move, or it could simply be because your Cane Corso misses you. Cane Corso Puppies are devoted to their owners and families and can sometimes experience separation anxiety when left on their own for long periods. Cane Corsos can also exhibit “stalking” behavior, where they follow their owners around wherever they go. The tendency to stalk is because they view you as essentially the leader of their pack, and where the leader goes, Cane Corso Puppies must follow. So how do you deal with separation anxiety in your Cane Corso? The behavior can be modified much like any other in the Cane Corso Puppy with activity and conditioning.

Cane Corso Puppies can be left alone and can do well alone if they receive adequate exercise and attention. Create a routine that allows your Cane Corso Puppy to burn energy daily. Try taking your Cane Corso on a long walk or with you on your morning run before you leave for work. If you have a Cane Corso Puppy, start by leaving the house for just a few minutes each day. Begin with five minutes and slowly increase the time, never going further than outside the front door. Avoid saying goodbye to your Cane Corso when you leave, and don’t say hello when you return. This routine can make your absence seem like less of a big deal. Leave your Cane Corso Puppy toys with treats in them; your Cane Corso Puppy will begin to associate your departure with something they enjoy.

Destructive behavior stemming from separation anxiety can be a common issue with the Cane Corso. Cane Corso Puppies’ anxiety will show through increased vocalization, damaging or destroying items in the home, and peeing in the house. These behaviors most often happen right after the owner has left. If your Cane Corso Puppy is exhibiting these behaviors, there are a few things you can do:

Create an area of rest. Establish a space where your Cane Corso Puppy can go for relaxation. This area can be a bed or mat in a room, pen, or crate. Place your Cane Corso’s toys in this area with him. Begin by training your Cane Corso Puppy to go to this area before you leave. You will have to do this multiple times until your dog learns to simply do it on their own. Eventually, your Cane Corso Puppy will view you leaving as a cue to go to their special place.

Crate training is another great option to help combat separation anxiety in Cane Corso Puppies. It is recommended that crate training be started early with your Cane Corso Puppy. You would start the training as mentioned above by leading your Cane Corso Puppy to their crate with their toys and treats and then leaving. Start by only leaving a few minutes at a time and then increase the amount of time you are gone. A crate can function as a safe space for Cane Corso Puppies and will decrease the likelihood of destructive behavior.

Train your Cane Corso to “settle.” This is a training method used to teach Cane Corso Puppies to settle on command. As with the area of rest technique, it is about teaching your Cane Corso Puppies to relax on cue. This can be done using a space such as a pen or a crate, as mentioned above. Take your Cane Corso Puppy to the place you want them to rest and work on getting them to stay in that place for longer and longer periods of time. Ignore any attention-seeking behavior. You want your Cane Corso to understand that only a “settle” will get a response from you.

Creating a routine for Cane Corso Puppies before you leave the house is vital. Take your Cane Corso for their walk, and then make sure that any activities, such as getting dressed, are done out of the view of your Cane Corso. 15- 30 minutes before you leave, take your Cane Corso to her place of rest, give your Cane Corso Puppy her toys and treats, and then do not interact with her after this. The purpose of this time is to distract your Cane Corso Puppy from your departure.

Physical Health

Allergies

Like humans, the Cane Corso can experience allergies. Allergies are the result of the body’s hypersensitive response to outside or external triggers. The causes of allergies in Cane Corso Puppies can be divided into three categories, food allergies, environmental allergens, and flea dermatitis. So how do you spot allergies in Cane Corso Puppies? Your Cane Corso may show the following signs that they are suffering from allergies; watery eyes, paw chewing, nasal discharge, and chronic ear infections. Your Cane Corso may also experience excessive scratching, sneezing, vomiting, and trouble breathing (see a vet immediately if your Cane Corso exhibits this symptom!)

Food Allergies

Food allergies are not as common as we think. What is often called a food allergy in Cane Corso Puppies is usually a food sensitivity. A true food allergy is an immune response with symptoms that range from hives, facial swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, and even anaphylaxis. Food sensitivities are a gradual reaction to ingredients in your Cane Corso’s dog food. The sensitivity can present in Cane Corso Puppies as vomiting, diarrhea, chronic ear infections, and itchiness. The best way to diagnose food sensitivity is to work with your vet to discover which ingredient is causing the reaction. Your vet may recommend your Cane Corso Puppy goes on a restricted or hypoallergenic diet. Diet restriction involves removing extra foods like treats or table scraps. Also, make sure your Cane Corso Puppy isn’t eating anything they shouldn’t – like digging in the garbage or eating things they find during your walks.

For a hypoallergenic diet, you may have to remove specific proteins from your puppy’s diet. For example, if your Cane Corso eats chicken-based food, your vet may suggest you try beef or lamb-based food. Additionally, adding extra fiber can help ensure your Cane Corso’s dog food is high in protein. Foods high in fat can be harder to digest for Cane Corso Puppies. Cane Corso Puppies may benefit from home-cooked meals of bland food like chicken and rice. Keep in mind, not every food sensitivity in Cane Corso Puppies can be resolved with commercial food or homemade meals, and your vet may prescribe a prescription-grade food for your Cane Corso.

Acute allergic reaction or anaphylaxis is the most alarming and severe of all the types of allergic responses. Cane Corsos can go into anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal if not treated.

Environmental and seasonal allergies are caused by substances that exist wherever Cane Corso Puppies spend time, whether that be inside the home or outdoors. The allergen can be inhaled (such as pollen or perfumes) or absorbed through your Cane Corso Puppy’s skin when your dog touches them. Common causes of environmental allergies in Cane Corsos are dust, mold, grass, pollen, and perfumes. Latex, shampoos, and cleaning products can also attribute to allergies in your Cane Corso Puppy.

Flea allergies or flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is one of the leading causes of skin allergen in dogs. A bite of just one to two fleas can cause a Cane Corso Puppy to itch for days. Flea saliva is the allergen that causes a reaction in some Cane Corsos. Once affected, the Cane Corso’s skin can become red, itchy, and scabbed. Fleas do not typically remain on Cane Corso Puppies after feeding, which is why you may not see live fleas unless there is an infestation in the Cane Corso’s environment. Cane Corso Puppies do not need to be infested with fleas to be itchy. FAD can develop at any time but typically develops around the ages of 2-5. If your Cane Corso Puppy has other allergies, it can make them more susceptible to FAD. FAD is diagnosed by visible signs such as hair loss and itching in the affected region (usually the base of the tail and down the rear legs – also known as the flea triangle). Your vet may perform an intradermal allergy test or an IgE blood test to determine if your Cane Corso Puppy has a flea allergy. Typically, medication and implementing a diet rich in fatty acids will help many Cane Corso Puppies find relief.

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Gut Health

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), also known as “bloat,” “stomach torsion,” or “twisted stomach,” is a condition when a dog’s stomach fills with air or fluids and twists on itself. It is considered a life-threatening illness, and large dog breeds like the Cane Corso are particularly susceptible to GDV. If you suspect your Cane Corso has GDV, contact your vet immediately. Symptoms include a swollen stomach, vomiting, retching, pale gums, excessive drooling, and collapsing. You may also notice your Cane Corso is struggling to breathe.

Gastric Dilatation (bloat) is the part of the condition where the stomach fills with air and puts pressure on the organs and diaphragm. Volvulus is the second part (the torsion or twist), where the stomach twists on itself. The pressure of the stomach on the diaphragm makes it hard for the Cane Corso to breathe. The stomach compresses the veins in the abdomen, preventing blood from flowing to the heart. Once the stomach is filled with air, it can easily flip or twist on itself, cutting off its blood supply. Once this occurs, your Cane Corso can deteriorate quickly. It is imperative they see a vet immediately. Cane Corso’s can die of bloat within hours, and even with treatment, the percentage of dogs who die from the illness is over 30%. Unfortunately, the cause for GDV is unknown.

Large dog breeds like the Cane Corso are particularly susceptible to GDV. There are certain risk factors to pay attention to when it comes to your Cane Corso developing GDV, such as age (older dogs are more likely to develop GDV), gender (male dogs are twice as likely to develop GDV), and temperament (nervous Cane Corso Puppies are at an increased risk for GDV). Also, a Cane Corso fed only once a day is twice as likely to develop GDV compared to a Cane Corso fed twice a day. Eating rapidly and/or exercising immediately after a meal may also put a Cane Corso Puppy at increased risk.

Treatment for GDV usually involves stabilization of the Cane Corso with the administering of fluids. Blood work is done on your Cane Corso Puppy, and the air in the stomach is removed by passing a stomach tube or inserting a large needle into the stomach to release the gas. X-rays are also taken to determine if volvulus is present. Once your Cane Corso is stabilized, surgery is usually needed. Your vet will want to look at repositioning your Cane Corso’s stomach and then suturing it to prevent it from twisting again. This procedure is called a gastropexy. If gastropexy is not performed, 75-80% of dogs will develop GDV again.

Your vet will also want to look at the health of the stomach and surrounding organs. If parts of the stomach or the spleen have been damaged, they will be removed. Chances of recovery in Cane Corso Puppies when this occurs are low, and euthanasia may be necessary. Though there is no known way of preventing GDV, there are things you can do that may help: feed your Cane Corso Puppy 2-3 times a day, water should be available at all times and especially after your Cane Corso is done eating, and avoid walking your Cane Corso 1-2 hours after meals.

Parvovirus

Parvovirus is a potentially fatal disease that is transmitted directly through dog feces of infected dogs. The disease mostly affects Cane Corso Puppies and unvaccinated dogs. It is classified as a disease of the stomach and small intestine. Parvo can live in feces for up to three weeks after infection and can be spread by direct and indirect transmission (touching contaminated items). After entering the body through the mouth or nose, it enters your Cane Corso Puppy’s bloodstream and attacks blood cells throughout the body. Specifically in the small intestine. Infection can result in diarrhea and severe damage to the intestine. Cane Corso Puppies can experience damage to the heart due to infection, including heart failure. Symptoms of the disease can develop between a few days to two weeks after infection in Cane Corso Puppies. Signs of Parvo in Cane Corso Puppies are lethargy, fever, weight loss, and bloody diarrhea. If your Cane Corso Puppy is showing signs of any of these symptoms, they should see a vet immediately. Your vet will determine whether your Cane Corso Puppy has Parvo by running a test called an Elisa to search for the virus’ antigen. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Parvo in Cane Corso Puppies. Your vet will offer supportive care to help your Cane Corso Puppy’s symptoms. Parvo is preventable! Make sure your Cane Corso Puppy receives their Parvo vaccination, and don’t allow your Cane Corso Puppy to come into contact with unvaccinated dogs.

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Eye Health

Cane Corso is susceptible to three eye conditions: Eyelid Ectropion, “Cherry Eye,” and Eyelid Entropion.

Eyelid Ectropion

Eyelid Ectropion is an eyelid abnormality where the lower lid rolls outward, causing it to droop. As a result, the tissues that line the inner surface of the lids and cover the eyeball are exposed, causing them to dry out, causing conjunctivitis. The cornea may also dry out, resulting in corneal inflammation. These conditions are painful and can result in scarring that obstructs the vision. Typically, both eyes of the Cane Corso are affected. Congenital Ectropion is the most commonly diagnosed form and is frequently found in Mastiff breeds like the Cane Corso. The condition usually presents in Cane Corso Puppies less than a year old. Acquired ectropion can happen at any age and means something other than an inherited trait has caused the condition. Some causes of acquired ectropion in Cane Corso Puppies are hyperthyroidism, facial nerve paralysis, and chronic inflammation or scarring around the eyes. Alongside eye drooping, the following symptoms in Cane Corso Puppies are also signs of eyelid ectropion, mucous or eye discharge that will stain around the eye (red, black, or brown), watery eyes, and your Cane Corso pawing at its eyes.

Ectropion can worsen over time as your Cane Corso grows older and the muscles around the eyes become less taut. Surgery is the only way to treat eyelid ectropion. This involves your vet shortening and tightening the eyelids. Your Cane Corso should recover quickly after surgery, typically taking 2-4 weeks to recover.

Cherry Eye

Cherry Eye refers to the prolapse of the third eyelid. Your Cane Corso – like other dogs – has six eyelids! Three for each eye. The third eyelid serves as a protective layer for the eye. This comes in handy for dogs like the Cane Corso, who are especially active. The third eyelid sweeps dirt and other debris off the surface of the eye. It also keeps the eye moist. The third eyelid also contains a lot of tissue associated with the immune system. This tissue helps heal wounds or infections. The third eyelid also has a gland that is responsible for the eye’s tear film. When this gland pops out, it is red, and the condition is referred to as “Cherry Eye.” Symptoms of Cherry Eye in the Cane Corso Puppy include dry eye, squinting, excess tear production, and an oval protrusion from the edge of the third eyelid.

While there is no way to prevent Cherry Eye, the condition isn’t difficult to treat. Cherry Eye must be treated quickly to prevent further damage to the eye. If not treated quickly, your Cane Corso Puppy can develop dry eye, leading to issues with its vision. Treatment calls for surgical replacement of the third eyelid. One procedure that your vet may perform on your Cane Corso Puppy is called the “pocket technique.” A new pocket is made near the original position, and the gland is “tucked” into it and sutured closed. This is a successful surgery for most Cane Corso Puppies, but no surgery for Cherry Eye is 100% effective at preventing future issues. And, like other Mastiff breeds, recurrence for the Cane Corso is common.

Eyelid Entropion

Eyelid Entropion is the exact opposite of Eyelid Ectropion. With eyelid entropion, the eyelid rolls inward. This causes the hair on the surface of the eyelid to rub against the cornea, causing painful corneal ulcers and perforations that affect the vision of the Cane Corso Puppy. Entropion can affect the upper and lower lids or, sometimes, both. Entropion can occur in any breed, but it is considered to be a genetic disorder. The Cane Corso is one of the breeds most affected by it. Secondary causes of Entropion include eye trauma and infection. Symptoms of Entropion are excessive tear production, eye redness, and eye discharge. Your Cane Corso may also have staining around the eye from tears.

Like Ectropion, Entropion is treated with surgery. The procedure involves removing the extra skin around your Cane Corso’s lids and tightening them. If untreated, Entropion can cause other eye diseases. A primary major surgery will be performed in many cases, followed by a secondary minor corrective surgery. Two surgeries are performed to reduce the risk of Ectropion due to over-correction. Post-surgery, the prognosis for Cane Corso Puppies with Entropion is good. Recovery takes between 2-4 weeks.

Black Cane Corso running through seawater

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Ear Health

Ear Infections

Ear infections in the Cane Corso are not uncommon. It is estimated that as many as 20% of all dogs have some form of ear disease. There are three types of ear infections: otitis externa (infection of the outer canal), otitis media (infection of the middle ear), and otitis interna (infection of the inner ear). Otitis externa is the most common form of infection in Cane Corso Puppies, and often infection of the middle and inner ear is due to the infection spreading from the outer canal. Ear infections are painful, but some Cane Corso Puppies may not show any signs of an infection. You may see a significant buildup of wax and discharge in your Cane Corso’s ear. Your Cane Corso Puppy may be shaking its head or scratching at its ears. You may also smell a strong odor coming from your Cane Corso Puppy’s ears and see crust or scabbing in the ears. Cane Corso Puppies have ears that are more vertical than our human ears. They form an L-shape, which can tend to hold fluid; this makes Cane Corso Puppies more prone to ear infections. An ear infection can be caused by yeast, bacteria, or ear mites, with infections caused by ear mites being more common in Cane Corso Puppies. Your Cane Corso can be predisposed to ear infections due to the following factors: wax buildup, autoimmune disorders, endocrine disorders, excessive cleaning, and parasites (ear mites). Additional symptoms in Cane Corso Puppies includes trauma to the ear, foreign bodies in the ear canal, allergies (allergies and food sensitivities can increase the risk of Cane Corso Puppies developing an ear infection by 50% to 80%, respectively).

If you suspect your Cane Corso Puppy has an ear infection, it’s time for a trip to the vet. Your vet will examine your Cane Corso Puppy and run tests to determine where the infection is located and how severe. Your vet will examine your Cane Corso’s ear with an otoscope which will determine if the eardrum is intact. If your Cane Corso Puppy is in a lot of pain, it may be necessary to sedate them. A sample of the material from the ear is then removed and tested.

Another critical part of the exam is ruling out any underlying conditions that may be causing the infection. Cane Corso Puppies, who are prone to chronic ear infections, usually have some other health issues, such as allergies or hypothyroidism (low thyroid function).

When properly diagnosed, nearly all ear infections can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Your Cane Corso Puppy will need several recheck exams to make sure the infection has cleared up. In cases of chronic ear infections, your Cane Corso may develop a condition called hyperplasia or stenosis. A condition where the ear closes due to swollen tissue. When this occurs, no medication can get through into the ear canal. Your Cane Corso will require surgery if the issue does not resolve.

Your vet may perform several surgical procedures to fix hyperplasia. One surgery involves removing the vertical part of the ear canal and removing swollen tissue from the horizontal canal. This is called a lateral ear resection. In some cases if too much tissue needs to be removed, it’s necessary to remove the entire ear canal (a total ear canal ablation), resulting in permanent hearing loss in a Cane Corso Puppy.

One procedure that is often viewed as a preventive measure for the Cane Corso is the practice of ear cropping. For many years it has been touted as a way to prevent ear infections in Cane Corso Puppies. The thinking is that dogs with floppy ears (Mastiff breeds like the Cane Corso) are more susceptible to ear infections. However, the AAHA (The American Animal Hospital Association) has spoken out against ear cropping in recent years. And there have been no studies to show a definitive link to ear-cropping and a reduction in ear infections in the Cane Corso Puppies. The AAHA strongly encouraged its member veterinarians to discontinue the practice.

Additionally, the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) made a statement opposing the practice of both ear-cropping and tail docking. These two procedures are still prevalent among Cane Corso Puppy owners. Though ear-cropping of Cane Corso Puppies has not been banned in the United States as in other countries, many vets will no longer perform the procedure. Some Cane Corso owners still advocate for ear-cropping, while others feel the practice is more aesthetic and makes the Cane Corso look more intimidating. There is currently no breed standard in regards to ear-cropping Cane Corsos. If you are considering ear-cropping as an option, speak with your vet about whether it is the right option for you and your Cane Corso Puppy.

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Immune Health

The Cane Corso is generally a healthy breed. Cane Corso Puppies aren’t more prone to autoimmune disease than any other breed. As a vigilant dog owner, it’s crucial to make yourself aware of the potential for autoimmune disease with your Cane Corso.

Autoimmune Disorders

The phrase autoimmune disease is an umbrella term that covers many types of disorders and conditions in Cane Corso Puppies. Like humans, Cane Corsos have an immune system that protects them from infection and disease. When that system is firing on all cylinders, it will keep your Cane Corso Puppy strong and healthy. Sometimes Cane Corso Puppies’ immune systems can misfire, causing it to attack the body or destroy healthy tissue and cells. Autoimmune diseases can affect a single body system or multiple systems in a Cane Corso Puppy. They can affect the Cane Corso’s skin, connective tissues, endocrine and digestive systems, red blood cells, nerves, and muscles. The complexity of autoimmune diseases can make diagnosis very hard. Though autoimmune diseases are rare in dogs overall, the cause of autoimmune disease in Cane Corso Puppies is not known. If left untreated, the complications can be severe and affect multiple systems. The most common autoimmune diseases among all breeds are Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis (joint inflammation), Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia (platelet destruction), and Pemphigus Foliaceus (a skin disease).

Joint Inflammation

Joint inflammation (Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis) is a form of arthritis that can affect any dog regardless of size, age, or breed. The most common symptoms of Polyarthritis in Cane Corsos are reluctance to walk, an altered gait, and swollen joints. A Cane Corso with Polyarthritis often looks as if they are walking on eggshells. Spinal pain due to swollen joints may also be present. Diagnosis of Polyarthritis can take some time, and your vet will have to review your Cane Corso’s medical history, complete a full physical exam, and run tests.

Platelet Destruction

Platelet destruction (Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia) is an autoimmune disease where the immune system destroys blood cells it can no longer recognize. Thrombocyte is another term for platelets. The term “-penia” indicates a deficiency of the cells. Platelets are a type of cell produced in Cane Corso Puppies’ bone marrow and then move into the bloodstream. Their function is to coagulate (or clot) the blood. When platelets are severely decreased, they cannot clot the blood, and the Cane Corso is at risk for uncontrolled bleeding. When ITP becomes severe clinical signs may exhibit as small pinpoints of red spots on the Cane Corso’s gums and belly. Thrombocytopenia is common; as many as 5% of dogs admitted to hospitals have a low platelet count. The condition is easily diagnosed with a blood test. If the blood platelet count is very low – between 20,000-30,000per microliter of blood, a normal range is between 175,000-500,000. Your vet may perform a blood transfusion on your Cane Corso Puppy. The prognosis for ITP, when treated, is good with 50% responding well to treatment, though your Cane Corso may require life-long drug therapy for the condition.

Pemphigus Foliaceus

Pemphigus Foliaceus is a disease where the immune system attacks the connections between its cells. There are three possible causes of Pemphigus Folicaceus; internal (endogenous), external (exogenous), or unexplained (idiopathic). Internal or endogenous is Pemphigus Folicaceus is caused by something within the Cane Corso Puppy. It can be triggered by underlying health issues in Cane Corso Puppies, such as skin allergies or cancer. Symptoms of Pemphigus Folicaceus in Cane Corso Puppies are hair loss, scabs, and open sores (ulcers) around the head, face, and ears. The lesions can spread and cover other areas of the body. Exogenous or external PF can be caused by outside factors that trigger an overactive immune response from your Cane Corso. Many cases in Cane Corso Puppies are idiopathic, and no cause can be found for them.

To diagnose Cane Corso Puppies with PF, your vet will perform a biopsy. A small plug of skin is taken from your Cane Corso Puppy and tested. This can be done with a local anesthetic or sedation. Because PF is an autoimmune disease, it requires suppression of the immune system. The prognosis of PF is good but can vary; some Cane Corso Puppies will see rapid improvement, while others may require lifelong therapy.

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Joint Health

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is the abnormal or faulty development of the hip joint. It is not genetic but is common and is often caused by activity over time and can often present later in a Cane Corso’s life. Cane Corsos are an active dog breed and are predisposed to this condition. Hip dysplasia can cause pain, decreased activity, and range of motion in your Cane Corso. Your Cane Corso may show a reluctance to jump, run or climb stairs. Hip dysplasia isn’t a life-threatening condition, but there’s no cure for it. Lifestyle adjustments are generally encouraged, and surgery can be an option for improving your Cane Corso’s quality of life. There are a few things you can do at home to help prevent hip dysplasia: 

Don’t over-exercise your Cane Corso Puppy. Cane Corso Puppies should not start jogging until they are over a year old. Too much pressure on the hip joints of Cane Corso Puppies can cause damage that worsens over time. 

Don’t overfeed your Cane Corso. Keep your puppy fit by feeding them a diet filled with healthy fats. Weight gain can cause stress to the Cane Corso’s joints, so feed your Cane Corso Puppy a diet with high iron proteins, such as beef and chicken. Also, incorporate into your Cane Corso’s diet leafy greens like kale and spinach that are high in Vitamin C and can help repair connective tissues. 

If you suspect your Cane Corso may have hip dysplasia, a visit to your vet is vital. The condition can be diagnosed with an exam, X-rays, or a radiograph. Depending on your Cane Corso Puppy’s diagnosis, a care plan may include physical therapy, exercise restriction, dietary changes, weight reduction, and in some cases, surgery. Surgical intervention can be:

Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (DPO/TPO): This procedure is usually performed on Cane Corso Puppies when they are less than a year old. With this surgery, the movement of the joint is improved by cutting selectively at the pelvic bone and rotating the segments for better hip laxity.

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO): This procedure can be performed on Cane Corso Puppies of any age. It involves your vet removing the femoral head or the “ball” of your Cane Corso’s hip joint, leaving the acetabulum empty. The leg muscles will initially hold the femur in place, but as scar tissue develops between the femur and the acetabulum, a “false joint” will grow over time. This procedure can restore most mobility to the hip joint and allow your Cane Corso to lead a pain-free life.

Total Hip Replacement (THR): This is the most effective treatment for hip dysplasia in Cane Corsos. Your vet will remove your Cane Corso’s entire hip joint and replace it with metal and plastic implants. This procedure returns the hip to normal function and can eliminate the pain associated with the condition.

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow Dysplasia, like hip dysplasia, is a condition that often begins in Cane Corso Puppies and worsens over time. The term “elbow dysplasia” is a catchall phrase used to describe multiple abnormalities in the Cane Corso’s elbow joints. Elbow dysplasia is essentially arthritis of the elbow joint. Is it not a life-threatening condition. Common symptoms of elbow dysplasia in Cane Corso Puppies are a diminished range of motion and intermittent lameness of the joint during physical activities. Your Cane Corso Puppy may begin holding the affected limb away from its body as a sign of discomfort or pain. Elbow dysplasia is directly connected to a genetic development issue. There isn’t a whole lot that can be done to prevent elbow dysplasia. However, like with hip dysplasia, how you exercise your Cane Corso Puppy can directly affect how your Cane Corso’s elbows develop into adulthood, as can their diet. Feed your Cane Corso a diet rich in Vitamin C and iron. Elbow dysplasia cannot be cured in Cane Corso Puppies, but it can be managed. Elbow dysplasia can be diagnosed with a vet visit for an exam and X-rays. Your vet may prescribe reduced activity, exercise, and rest. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. Treatment of elbow dysplasia in Cane Corso Puppies depends on the severity of the condition. Surgical options include removal of loose cartilage and coronoid fragments and surgical alteration of the elbow joint. Your vet may also remove the medial joint or perform a complete joint replacement if the joint is severely damaged.

Four cane corso puppies

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Skin and Coat

A Cane Corso isn’t a high-maintenance dog when it comes to grooming. Its coat is short and smooth. It’s double-layered, which depending on the climate you live in, your Cane Corso Puppy may experience some shedding throughout the year. Brush your Cane Corso Puppy with a rubber grooming mitt or a medium-bristle brush to reduce shedding. Bathing Cane Corso Puppies once every three months should be enough. If your Cane Corso gets dirty, you may need to bathe them more frequently. You will also have to clean your Cane Corso Puppy’s ears once a week to remove any buildup of wax.

Keeping Cane Corso Puppies’ nails trimmed is important. Clipping a dog’s nails is a tough job on a good day, and this may be especially difficult with a large breed dog like the Cane Corso. Giving your Cane Corso Puppy a treat, such as peanut butter on a silicone mat, will make the process more pleasant. Your Cane Corso Puppy will be distracted by the exciting task of eating all the peanut butter. If you still find cutting your Cane Corso’s nails to be difficult, you can have them professionally trimmed.

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Mange

Mange is a common skin disease amongst Cane Corsos. Usually seen in stray or neglected dogs, it can occur in any dog, especially if they have a compromised immune system due to other illnesses. So what exactly is Mange? Mange refers to skin diseases caused by two types of mites: Sarcoptic Mange (also known as scabies) and Demodectic Mange (also known and Demodex Mange or Red Mange).

Sarcoptic Mange is mites that bury into the skin of healthy adult Cane Corsos and Cane Corso Puppies and feed on the material on and in the skin. The presence of these mites on your Cane Corso Puppy can cause severe itching, leading to hair loss, specifically around the legs and belly. Over time, Cane Corso Puppies’ skin can darken and harden. Also known as scabies, Sarcoptic Mange is easily transmissible from Cane Corso Puppies to humans. Although Sarcoptic Mange may not complete their life cycle on humans, they will cause severe itching until they die. Diagnosis of Sarcoptic Mange in Cane Corso Puppies is made by your vet via a skin scraping examined under a microscope. Mites may not be visible on Cane Sorso Puppies during a skin scraping because they can burrow deep into the skin. Your vet can make a presumptive diagnosis based on the clinical signs. To prevent re-infection, discard any bedding your Cane Corso Puppy sleeps on.

Demodex (or Demodectic) Mange is a parasite that lives on the hair follicles of dogs. Demodex Mange is the most common form of mange in Cane Corso Puppies. All normal Cane Corso Puppies (and humans) have some of these mites on their skin. When the immune system is working properly, these mites don’t cause any harm to your Cane Corso Puppy. DM most often occurs in Cane Corso Puppies with immature immune systems. Because of this, DM usually occurs in Cane Corso Puppies between the ages of 12 to 18 months old. Adult Cane Corsos who have the disease usually have a compromised immune system. Demodex Mange is not contagious for other dogs or humans.

Demodex Mange does not cause excessive itching in Cane Corso. Cane Corso Puppies may show signs of hair loss around the face and eyes due to the condition and is called localized mange. If the disease spreads to other areas of your Cane Corso’s body, it is called generalized mange. Similar to Sarcoptic Mange, to diagnose DM, your vet will take a skin scraping from your Cane Corso Puppy. If larger than normal numbers are found on your Cane Corso’s skin, the prognosis is confirmed.

The localized form of DM in Cane Corso Puppies is treated with topical medications applied to the affected areas. Generalized DM requires more aggressive treatment. Treatment of Demodex Mange is usually successful. However, in Cane Corso Puppies with maturing immune systems, there is the possibility of relapse. Demodex can be slow to resolve in Cane Corso Puppies, taking anywhere from 2-6 months.