Standard of Cane Corso

Standard Cane Corso 2003

Official Standard of the A.I.C.C. (Italy) and the I.C.C.F. (USA)



Basir, the model for the official breed standard.

Origin: Italy

Utility: Guard dog, protection dog, police dog


FCI Classification

Group 2: Pinscher and Schnauzer type, Molosser and Swiss Mountain Dog

Section 2: Molossers Without working trial



Standard Cane Corso 2003 - This is the standard that the AICC (the largest Italian breed club), ACCP (molosser breeds) and Arcicaccia CSSA (all breeds) use. The ICCF(the largest American breed club) also adopted this standard as of January 1,2004. The largest annual Cane Corso show in the world (100+ entries) was held in Rome the summer of 2003 and this is the standard they used. Most importantly, this is the standard that reflects the necessary changes to the FCI Standard that we hope will be recognized in 2006, when revisions will be permitted (The AICC Proposal and changes are noted in underlined text below - thanks to Nick DiCroce for translating!

FCI Standard No. 343 - This is the worldwide standard, the country of origin standard that FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale) recognizes. FCI is the world canine organization, not to be confused with FIC (Federation of International Canines), a small privately-owned registry.

ICCF Standard - The old "American" standard no longer exists, as the ICCF adopted the Standard Cane Corso 2003 as of January 1,2004. As the ICCF is the largest Cane Corso breed club in North America, this is a significant improvement towards unifying our breed internationally.

AICC PROPOSAL - It seems logical to us that before undertaking any program of zootechnical selection, it is necessary to focus on the reality of the breed and to verify the functionality of the tools that are at our disposal to get the preset results.

PREMISE - If it should be used as a guide by the breeders in the selection (the breeders should be breeding according to the standard and the judges should be judging within its parameters'), we believe it is indispensable and necessary that the breed standard should be revisited again in those parts that contain errors, omissions and / or incongruities, as it would be common to all the initial drafts of any standard. It should be noted that today there are no political demands that would force us to select a dog with specific characteristics only to distance it from another dog.

The necessary changes for its functional adjustment should not sound as disrespect towards Dr. Morsiani, prematurely departed, but the continuation and the development of his work, that among a lot of difficulties, has been conclusive for the recognition of the breed. Changes have been proposed to the standard to make it more harmonic in its various parts, as for instance the constitutional aspect of a trotter that introduces its incongruities with the angle of the pasterns, the feet and the angles of the posterior.

Particularly important are the points regarding the head, where a serious gap exists around the nose color. The bite, for a long time the object of discussion in the Cane Corso, finds in the proposal a greater match to the history of the breed (as broadly documented") and functional without twisting the type, as well as the recovery of an important reference cinometric for the canine teeth, pointed out by Dr. Morsiani in the first draft. As far as the eyes, we are proposing a clear distinction of the colors in regards to the coat, distinction that should allow greater clarity in judging. We also propose the cancellation of the characteristics of the protruding eyes, because besides not being a characteristic of the breed, it further forces us to select a morphological /functional defect. The neck is one of the parts, together with the bite, that has seen the need for diversification of the standard of the Cane Corso from that of the Neapolitan Mastiff. It seems to us that the formulation proposed regarding the skin of the neck is more consistent with the reality of the breed.

The height and weight, although object of small changes in July 1QQ5, are still an inaccurate indication. The proposal, besides being more adherent to the reality of the breed, proposes the reduction of the distance /width of a bite (as in the distance/width of an open scissors") as it relates to the size of the subjects and it also proposes the recovery of consistency, especially in the females (since today's Cane Corsos are not as massive as they were in the past) to give the breed some more homogeneous and functional image. The weight is compared relative to the height, also specifying tolerances.
Proposals of change in the interested areas: (see additions to the standard below in underlined text)



Medium-large sized molossoid, unicolor, compact, with a strong skeleton, muscular and athletic, it moves with considerable ease. Its head is massive, with a dignified and proud expression. It has had a selection parallel to that of the mastiff, it comes from lighter progenitors but has maintained that original conformation. It has always been a property watchdog and hunter of difficult game, such as the boar. It originated in the central-southern regions of Italy where it was used as a cowherd for cows and swine raised in the wild. It also defended travelers and carters from highwaymen. Its name is the one by which it has always been known in the south, having the same root as "corsiero" (courser), the medieval war horse; perhaps it derives from the Latin "cohors" (courtyard, bodyguard. Due to environmental changes, the Courser risked extinction. A few enthusiasts initiated its recovery which today is complete. Its modern functions are watchdog, defending people and their belongings. An adaptable and courageous worker, of proverbial loyalty, alert and reactive, able to withstand difficult environmental conditions and experiences due to its solid equilibrium. A strong bud but not without elegance. Built on a rectangle, it absolutely must not resemble the Neapolitan Mastiff. Its skin adheres to its body and does not form wrinkles.

BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY - Its direct ancestor is the "Canis Pugnax" (the old Roman Molossian) of which he is the light version employed in the hunting of large wild animals and also as an "auxiliary warrior" in battles. For years he has been a precious companion of the Italic populations. Employed as property, cattle and personal guard dog and used for hunting purposes too. In the past this breed was common all over Italy as an ample iconography and historiography testify. In the recent past he has found a excellent preservation area in Southern Italy, especially in Puglia, Lucania and Sannio. His name derives from the Latin "Cohors" which means "Guardian", "Protector".

GENERAL APPEARANCE - Medium-big size dog, strongly built but elegant, with powerful and long muscles, very distinguished, he expresses strength, agility and endurance. The general conformation is that of a mesomorphic animal whose body is longer than the height at the withers, harmonious as regards the form and disharmonious as regards the profile.

IMPORTANT PROPORTIONS - The length of the body is about 11% over the height at the withers. The total length of the head reaches 36% of the height at the withers. The length of the muzzle is equal to 34% of the total length of the head. The height of the thorax is 50% of the height at the withers and it is equal to the height of the limb at the elbows.

Important proportions

BEHAVIOR AND TEMPERAMENT - Intelligent, active and even-minded, he is an unequaled watch and protection dog. Docile and affectionate with the owner, loving with children and with the family. If necessary, he becomes a terrible and brave protector of people, house and property. He is easily trained.

HEAD - Brachycephalic. Its total length reaches 36% of the height at the withers. The bizygomatic width, which is equal to the length of the skull, is more than half the total height of the head, reaching 66%. The upper longitudinal axes of the skull and of the muzzle are slightly convergent. The perimeter of the head, measured at the cheek-bones, is more than twice the total length of the head, even in the females. The head is moderately sculptured with zygomatic arches stretched outwards. The skin is firm and sticking to the tissues underneath, it is smooth and quite stretched.


Skull - Seen from the front it is wide and slightly curved, seen from the side it draws an irregular curve that, accentuated in the subregion of the forehead, becomes flat along the external saggital crest. Seen from the top, it looks square because of the outstretching of the zygomatic arches and the powerful muscles swathing it. Frontal sinuses well developed and stretched forward, deep forehead hollow and visible median furrow. Occipital crest not much developed. Supraorbital fossae slightly marked.

Stop - Very marked because of the very developed and bulging frontal sinuses and because of the prominent superciliary arches.


Nose - It is on the same line as the nose pipe. Seen from the side, it mustn't stick out from the front vertical margin of the lips but be, with its front, on the same vertical line as the front of the muzzle. It has to be voluminous, rather flat on top, with wide nostrils, opened and mobile, wet and cool. The pigmentation is black.
It should be expected to be dark grey in color for the subjects of grey color, grey brindle and tawny with a grey mask.

Muzzle - Very broad and deep. The depth of the muzzle must be almost equal to its length, which reaches 34% of the total length of the head. Due to the parallels of the muzzle sides and to the fullness and the width of the wholejaw, the anterior face of the muzzle is flat and square. The nasal bridge has a rectilinear profile and it is rather flat. The lower side profile of the muzzle is determined by the upper lips, the suborbital region shows a very slight chisel.

Lips - Rather firm. Seen from the front, the upper lips form at their disjunction an upside down "U" and, seen from the side, hang moderately. The commissure is rightly evident and it always represents the lowest point of the lower side profile of the muzzle. The pigmentation is black.

Jaws - Very wide, strong and thick, with a very slight shortening of the upper jaw with a subsequent light prognatism (undershot mouth. The branches of the lower jaw are very strong and, seen from the side, are quite curved, the body of the lower jaw, well accentuated forward, points out well the marked chin. The incisors are firmly placed on a straight line.
Very wide, strong and thick. They can have a slight shortening of the upper jaw and consequently, a slightly undershot bite. White, big, complete in growth and number. The canines should be divergent and very distant among them (in the males, in the apex of the crown, they would need to be no less than 5.5cm-5.7cm or 2.16"-2.24" apart).

Cheeks - The masseter region is full and evident, but not hypertrophic.

Teeth - White, big, complete in growth and number. The lower jaw incisors pass only slightly (about 0.5 cm or 0.19") their correspondent ones on the upper arch, so the bite is slightly undershot.
The bite should be slightly undershot (maximum 0.5 cm or 0.19") or level. A scissors bite would be tolerated only if all the other parameters (length of the muzzle, parallel muzzle sides, the upper longitudinal axes of the skull and of the muzzle are slightly convergent) are correct.

Eyes - Of medium size compared to the size of the dog, in a sub-frontal position, well spaced. Rima palpebrarum nearly oval, eyeballs slightly protruding, adherent eyelids with the borders pigmented with black, the eye mustn't let the sclera be seen. Third eyelid strongly pigmented. Iris as dark as possible according to the color of the coat. Look intelligent and alert.
To delete: "slightly protruding" (defect"). Color for the subjects with a black muzzle (black, tawny and brindle"): iris as dark as possible. For the subjects with a grey muzzle (grey, tawny and brindle"): light brown color, lighter colorations are approved.

Ears - Of medium size in relation to the volume of the head and to the size of the dog; covered with short hair, of triangular shape, with rather pointed apex and thick cartilage, in a high position, much above the zygomatic arch, with a wide bottom. Hanging, they stick to the cheeks without coming down to the throat. Quite outstretched and slightly protruding at the joint, they become semi-erect when the dog is watchful. They usually get amputated in a equilateral-triangular shape.


Top line - Slightly arched.
Length - 36% of the height at the withers, that is equal to the total length of the head.
Shape - Of oval section, strong, very muscular, with a marked disjunction form at the nape. The perimeter, at hall length of the neck, is about 80% of the height at the withers. Harmoniously joined with the withers, shoulder and chest, the neck has its ideal direction at 45° from the ground and at right angle with the shoulder.
Skin - The lower margin of the neck is practically without dewlap.
To delete: "...the neck is practically without dewlap." To insert: "The inferior part of the neck introduces more abundant but elastic skin."


Compact, strong and very muscular. Its length is 11% over the height at the withers, with an allowance of ±1%.

Top line - The back region is rectilinear with a slightly lumbar convexity.
Withers - They clearly rise on the dorsal line and over the rump level, are high, long, wide. They are lean and join harmoniously the neck to the back.
Back - It is wide, very muscular as the whole upper line of the trunk, slightly climbing from the back to the front and with a strictly rectilinear profile. Its length is approx. 32% of the height at the withers.
Loins - The lumbar region has to be short, wide, well joined to the back and to the back and to the rump, very muscular, very solid and seen from the side, slightly convex. Its length, slightly higher than its width, is equal to 20% of the height at the withers.
Croup - It is long, wide, quite round due to the considerable growth of the muscles. The length, measured from the ridge of the hip to the ridge of the nates is equal to 32% of the height at the withers. Its average width is equal to 23% of the height at the withers, its inclination on the horizontal line, on the basis of the ilium-ischiatic line is of 28°/30°, on the basis of the line from the ridge of the hip to the insertion of the tail is of 15°/16°. Therefore the rump is slightly inchned.
Chest - Wide, well inclined and open, with well grown muscles. Its width, in close relation with the width of the thorax, reaches 35% of the height to the withers, the breast-bone is at the same height as the tip of the shoulders. Seen from the side, the chest is outstretched forward between the fore legs and slightly convex.
Thorax - It has to be well grown in the three dimensions with long, oblique, wide and well hoped ribs with wide intercostal spaces. The 4 false ribs are long, oblique and open. The thorax reaches down at the elbow and its height is equal to half the height at the withers. Its width, measured at half of its height, is equal to 35% of the height at the withers and decreases slightly towards the sternum region without forming a carina. The depth (saggital diameter) is equal to 55% the height at the withers. Its perimeter is over 35% the height at the withers.
Underline and belly - The sternum region is lean, long, wide and seen from the side it outlines a semicircle with a wide radius which causally goes up smoothly to the abdomen. The abdomen region is neither hollowed nor relaxed and seen from the side, rises up from the sternum edge to the groins with a smooth curve. The hollow on the side is not very marked.
Tail - It is inserted quite high on the rump line, it is thick at the root and not too tapering at the tip. If stretched, it is not too much over the hock. When not in action is low. Otherwise it is horizontal or slightly higher than the back. It must never be bent to form a ring or in a vertical position. It gets amputated at the 4th vertebrae.



FOREQUARTERS - Perpendicular, seen from the front or in profile. The height of the limbs at the elbows is equal to 50% of the height at the withers. Well proportioned to the size of the dog. Strong and powerful.


Shoulder - Long, oblique, strong, equipped with long, powerful and well divided muscles, is adherent to the thorax but free in the movements. Its length, from the top of the withers to the ridge of the shoulder, is equal to 30% of the height at the withers and its inclination on the horizontal line is between 480/ 500. In relation to the median plane of the body the ridges of the shoulder-blades are slightly swerved.
Arm - It is slightly longer than the shoulder, strong, with very well grown bones and muscles, well joined to the trunk in its top 2/ 3, measured from the ridge of the shoulder to the tip of the elbow, it has a length equal to 31/32% of the height at the withers and an inclination with the horizontal line of approx. 580/600. Its longitudinal direction is parallel to the median plane of the body. The angle between the shoulder-blades and the humerus is between 1060 and 1100.
Elbows - The elbows, long and protruding, adherent but not too close to the ribcage, covered with lean skin, must be like the humeri, on a strictly parallel plane to the sagittal plane of the trunk. The tip of the elbow (olecranon epiphysis) is located on the vertical line lowered from the caudal (or back) angle of the shoulder-blade to the ground.
Forearm - It is perfectly vertical, oval section, with several muscles, in particular in the top-third, with a very strong and compact bone structure. Its length, from the tip of the elbow to the one of the arm is equal to 32/33% of the height at the withers. Its perimeter, measured straight underneath the elbow, is equal to 39% of the height at the withers, the carpus-cubital groove is quite marked.
Carpal joint - Seen from the front, it follows the straight vertical line of the forearm; it is lean, wide, mobile, thick. Its perimeter reaches 26% of the height at the withers; at its top margin, the pisiform bone is strongly projected backwards.
Pastern - It is quite smaller than the forearm, is very strong, lean, elastic, slightly flexed (it forms with the ground an angle of approx. 7500. Its length must not be over one sixth of the height of the forelimb at the elbow. Seen from the front, it follows the perpendicular line of the forearm and of the carpus.
Pasterns form an angle with the ground of 72 / 73°
Forefeet - They have a round shape, with very arched and gathered toes (cat's foot). Lean and hard soles. The nails are strong, curved and pigmented, there is a good pigmentation also in the plantar and digital pads.
Foot is of oval form with very arched and gathered toes.


HINDQUARTERS - Perpendicular, seen from the front or in profile. Well proportioned to the size of the dog, strong and powerful.


Thigh - It is long and wide, with prominent muscles, therefore the nate ridge is well marked. Its length is over 33% of the height at the withers and the width is never lower than 25% of such height. The thigh-bone axis, quite oblique from the top to the bottom and from the back to the front, has an inclination of 70° on the horizontal line and forms with the coxal axis an angle which is slightly more than right (coxo-femural angle).
Second thigh - It is long, lean, with a strong bone and muscle structure, has a well marked muscular groove. Its length is equal to 32% of the height at the withers and its inclination from the top to the bottom and from the front to the back is of approx. 50° on the horizontal line.
Stifle - The angle of the stifle joint, is of approx. 120°. Its direction is parallel to the median plane of the body.
The angle of the stifle joint is of approximately 110°.
Hock joint - It is wide, thick, clean, with well marked bone. The protruding hock ridge shows clearly the continuation of the leg groove. The distance from the ridge of the hock to the sole of the foot (to the ground) shouldn't be over 26% of the height at the withers. Its direction, in relation to the median plane of the body is parallel. The tibio-metatarsal angle is of approximately 140°.
The tibio-metatarsal angle is of approximately 130°.
Hock (Metatarsus) - It is very thick, lean, rather short, cylindrical, and is always perpendicular to the ground, seen from the side and from the back, its length is equal to approx. 15% of the height at the withers (tarsus and foot excluded). Its internal side has to present itself without spur.
Hindfeet - They have a slightly more oval shape than the fore ones and a less arched toes.

GAIT/MOVEMENT - Long steps, stretched trot, some steps of gallop, but with inclination to stretched trot.

SKIN - It is rather thick, has limited subcutaneous connective tissue and therefore is adherent everywhere to the layers underneath. The neck is practically without dewlap. The head mustn't have wrinkles. The pigment of the mucous membranes is black. The pigment of the soles and the nails must be dark.


Hair - Short hair but not smooth, with vitreous texture, shiny, adherent, stiff, very dense, with a light layer that becomes thicker in winter (but never crops up on the covering hair). Its average length is approx. 2-2.5 cm (o.78"-0.98"). On the withers, the rump, the back margin of the thighs and on the tail it reaches approx. 3 cm without creating fringes. On the muzzle the hair is very short, smooth, adherent and is not more than 1-1.5 cm (o.39"-o.59").
Color - Black, plumb-grey, slate, light grey, light fawn, deer fawn, dark fawn and tubby (very well marked stripes on different shades of fawn and grey. In the fawn and tubby subjects there is a black or grey mask only on the muzzle and shouldn't go beyond the eye line. A small white patch on the chest, on the feet tips and on the nose bridge is accepted.


Height at the withers

Males: 64-68 cm (25.19"-26.77"). With allowance: 62-70cm (24.41"-27.56")
Females: 60-64 cm (23.62"-25.19"). With allowance: 58-66 cm (22.83"-25.98")
Males: 65-68 cm (25.59"-26.77"). With allowance: 63-70 cm (24.8o"-27.56")
Females: 62-65 cm (24.41"-25.59"). With allowance: 61-66 cm (24.02"-25.98")


Males: 45-50 kg (99.2-110.2 lbs.) Ratio weight/size 0.71 (kg/cm).
Females: 40-45 kg (88.2-99.2 lbs.) Ratio weight/size 0.68 (kg/cm).
Males: 47-53 kg (103.6-116.8 lbs.) With allowance: 44-56 kg (97.0-123.5 lbs.)
Females: 40-46 kg (88.2-101.4 lbs.) With allowance: 38-48 kg (83.8-105.88 lbs.)
To delete: the index ratio weight/size, since it is not meaningful.

FAULTS - Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and diffusion.


Head - Accentuated parallelism of the axes of the skull and the muzzle, very marked converging axes of the skull and the muzzle, converging side lines of the muzzle, scissors bite, pronounced and disturbing undershot mouth.
Scissors bite paired with incorrect muzzle parameters.
Nose - Partial de-pigmentation.
Tail - Forming a ring or in a vertical position.
Size - Oversize or undersize.
Gait/movement - Continued amble.


Head - Diverging axes of the skull and the muzzle, overshot mouth, nose bridge resolutely hollow or ram-like.
Nose - Total de-pigmentation.
Eyes - Partial and bilateral palpebral de-pigmentation, wall-eye, bilateral strabismus.
Sexual organs - Monorchidism, cryptorchidism, obvious incomplete growth of one or both testicles.
Tail - Tailless, short-tail, artificial or congenital.
Hair - Semi-long, smooth, fringed.
- Al colors not prescribed, white patches too wide.
Note - Males should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Standard        AICC website -
Diagrams       "IL CANE CORSO: Origini e prospettive del molosso italico" by Fernando
Casolino and Stefano Gandolfi, published by MURSIA