The Cane Corso is a descendant of the Canis Pugnax,
dogs used by the Romans in warfare.
Its name derives from cane da corso, an old term for those catch dogs used in rural activities (for cattle and swine; boar hunting, and bear fighting) as distinct from cane da camera which indicates the catch dog kept as a bodyguard. In the recent past, its distribution was limited to some districts of Southern Italy, especially in Basilicata,Campania and Puglia
The Cane Corso is a catch dog used with cattle and swine, and also in wild boar hunts. It is also used by night watchmen, keepers, and, in the past, by carters as a Drover. In the more distant past this breed was common all over Italy as an ample iconography and historiography testify.
The breed was recovered from near extinction through the efforts of enthusiasts in the 1970s by means of cross-breeding appropriate type selected breeds. The Cane Corso of today is a very different looking dog in comparison to its pre-80's forefathers. The drive has somewhat come down, the breed has more bulk and generally due to the shortening of the muzzle and widening of the skull it has lost its scissor bite. It was recognized by the United Kennel Club on July 15, 2008 under the name Cane Corso Italiano, and subsequently by the American Kennel Club in 2010 as Cane Corso. (WIKIPEDIA)
The origins of this breed could be traced back to the Mesopotamical Molossians, as could most Mastiff type dogs of Europe. These ancient Molossors are depicted in a number of sculptures and paintings from the period. These relics depict a large ferocious dog with heavy bone a short blunt muzzle and cropped ears. There are differing theories on how these predecessors to the Cane Corso eventually arrived in Italy; one hypothesis is that they traveled through China, India, finally reaching Europe with the migrations of the Assyrians of Alexander the Great, Phoenicians and Romans. Another school of thought is that ancient tribes (called Molossians) arrived in Greece during the Greek-Persian wars, with Xerxes and the Cirrus Army. The Greeks and Macedonians brought with them large dogs that they utilized for warfare and the hunt. Marco Polo described these dogs as "large as donkeys" The Greeks colonized Italy and brought these ferocious Molossans with them. When the Roman Empire conquered Italy they discovered the Molossiod dog’s virtue as a fighting dog. The Romans developed from these Molossiod dogs what came to be known as Canis Pugnax (the Roman war dog).
It is believed that from this Ancient Molosser the modern day Cane Corso and Neapolitan Mastiff have been developed. The name doesn’t derive from the geographical origin of the breed, some believe that the name comes from the Latin "cohors", which means "guard" or "protector" (examples are: "praetoria cohors"= Praetorian guards and, more recently in the Vatican City, "Cohors Elvetica"=swiss guards) with regard to this theory, its very interesting the hypothesis which identifies the roots of the Corso in the Greek word Kortos, which means "enclosed court", and from which derives the above mentioned cohors.
Consequently, Cane Corso would mean "the dog that watches the court". This hypothesis, if true, would take us back to the "Magna Grecia" (the ancient Greek colonies of southern Italy) and to the attractive oriental origins of the Molossian. Others believe that Corso is derived from an ancient Celtic-Provincial acceptation under which "strong and powerful" was understood. This latter theory is equally plausible, as it is nowadays in some words like the English "coarse" (as opposed to "fine") and in some southern Italian dialects where "Corso" means coarse, strong or bold. What is certain is that from the origination of the Italian language, the Molossian was always called "Corso". There are numerous references to the Cane Corso throughout history in terms of art and literature i.e. Teofilo Folengo in the "Maccheronee" (1522), Konrad von Gesner in the "De Quadrupedibus" (1551), Erasmo di Valvasone in his poem "Hunting" (1591), Mina Palumbo in the "Mammiferi di Sicilia" (1868), Giovanni Verga in the "Malavoglia" (1881), Erasmo di Valvasone’s (1523-1593) poem "La Caccia" (the hunt) from 1591, Giovanni Battista Marino (1569-1625) mentions Cane Corso, in his book "La Sampogna" paintings and sculptures of Corso like Molosser’s appear in the Royal palace of Caserta and the prints of Bartolomeo Pinelli’s (Roma 1781-1835) Pinelli’s depictions in particular stand out as they are grafic in their detail, they show the Pugnaces devouring Christians in the coliseum, locked in combat with each other, and bull-baiting. After the fall of the Roman Empire the Cane Corso proved its versatility by being employed in numerous varying tasks mostly in Southern Italy in provinces like Foggia, Puglia, Bari and Campobasso.
The primary task’s where that of guardian, hunter and farm dog. The Cane Corso’s versatility made it an idea farmhand. He was well suited as a flock guardian, often deployed in the war with the wolves. In these times the Cane Corso often wore collars made of