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Boerboel Vs. Cane Corso: The Ultimate Battle of the Most Powerful Dogs

boerboel vs cane corso

Boerboels and Cane Corsos are two loyal family breeds that get a bit of a bad rap due to their appearance!

While they may look tough or intimidating, these large dogs have a wealth of positive attributes that have enabled them to stick endure throughout history to enjoy their growing surge of popularity today.

Because they’re both mastiff types, the Boerboel and the Cane Corso share many similarities in appearance, behavior, and intelligence.

However, there are also more than enough differences between the two to require careful consideration before adopting either one or both of these powerful and courageous breeds.

Boerboel vs Cane Corso At a Glance


Pronounced burr-bull, the Boerboel is a relatively heavy mastiff breed that hails from South Africa. It dates back more than a hundred years and was originally bred as a hunting dog before it transitioned to being more of a guard dog.

Boerboels are not any more aggressive than any other large breed, but they are often viewed with suspicion or outright fear by many countries around the world due to their mastiff-like appearance.

The Boerboel is outright banned in at least six countries, and their breeding or import is heavily restricted in most other countries around the world, including Singapore, Romania, and Denmark, among other nations.

Cane Corso

Pronounced cah-nay COR-so, the Cane Corso is another large mastiff breed that is very similar in appearance to the Boerboel.

Unlike the Boerboel, however, the Cane Corso is believed to trace all the way back to Ancient Rome.

Despite this illustrious provenance, the Cane Corso almost went extinct in the 20th century and was brought back from a handful of dogs to the popular breed of today.

Like the Boerboel, the Cane Corso is a loyal, patient dog that is often used to guard the home or watch over the family. However, it does not have the same reputation for aggression that the Boerboel suffers from.

Where Do They Come From?

Boerboel Origin

As previously mentioned, the Boerboel was originally bred in South Africa. Its name comes from the Afrikaans word for “farmer” (boer) and an abbreviation (boel) of the Afrikaans word for a bulldog, boelhond.

The earliest reference to an early Boerboel ancestor appears in 1909, describing events that took place in 1857.

Since then, the Boerboel has primarily been used as a hunting dog or a guard dog. Over the years, the primary cross between a mastiff and a bulldog has been refined to produce the dog we know and love today, even if the Boerboel is still extremely rare outside of South Africa.

Cane Corso Origin

Once found throughout the Italian peninsula, the Cane Corso traces its lineage back to the herding and guard dogs of Ancient Rome.

Their ancestors may have been larger or more powerful-looking, but the Cane Corso of today can still be clearly recognized in Ancient Roman art.

As Italy went through several social and political shifts, the Cane Corso became increasingly rare until, by 1980, there were less than twenty individual animals left.

Since then, the Società Amatori Cane Corso has carefully bred them back from the brink to produce a healthy population of these ancient and noble dogs. Today, they are popular around the world as reliable guard dogs.

What Do They Look Like?

Boerboel Appearance

Boerboels are slightly larger than Cane Corso, standing between 24 and 28 inches high at the shoulders and weighing up to 200 pounds.

They also tend to be significantly lighter, typically ranging in color from fawn to brown. Boerboels can exhibit black fur, but this is usually not accepted by the breed standard.

Like most mastiffs, the Boerboel has a square head and a muscular build, although the muzzle of the Boerboel is more developed or pronounced than that of the average Cane Corso.

Some owners prefer to crop the ears, but when left in their natural state, the Boerboel has large, triangular ears that point downwards.

Cane Corso Appearance

The Cane Corso is slightly less bulky than other popular mastiff breeds, including the Boerboel.

Although they’re only a little bit shorter (24 to 27 inches), they weigh nearly a hundred pounds less, ranging from 99 to 110 pounds!

The Cane Corso is most often black, dark brown, or dark gray, although brindled and fawn coats are also common.

Like the Boerboel, the Cane Corso has a blocky head that makes up nearly a third of its height, thus giving it a powerful and imposing appearance.

The Cane Corso is less likely to have its ears or tail cropped, although some traditionalists prefer the cropped ears appearance.

What’s Their Personality Like?

Boerboel Temperament

Despite their stern appearance, Boerboels are friendly and often goofy dogs who are intensely attached to their families. Due to this attachment, they are also incredibly protective and may be suspicious of strangers.

Boerboels are also renowned for being able to “pick up on” their owner’s moods. In other words, if they notice that you seem uncomfortable around a visitor, they’re more likely to treat them with suspicion.

Boerboels are particularly fond of children, even beyond the normal measure associated with mastiffs, and are usually patient and tolerant with any kids that they consider to be part of their family.

Cane Corso Temperament

As compared to Boerboels, Cane Corso have a reputation for being a little bit sillier and more willing to play around.

Like the Boerboel, however, the Cane Corso is a sweet-tempered and almost fanatically loyal animal that harbors a deep attachment with his or her chosen family.

Due to their history of working with livestock, the Cane Corso is more likely to get along well with other pets.

While they still like children and humans, they are more likely to enjoy spending time with other animals, particularly herd animals.

They are also extremely protective of their family and friends and not overly receptive to strangers.

What Are the Exercise Requirements?

Boerboel Exercise Requirements

All mastiffs are working dogs, which means that they naturally have plenty of energy and intelligence.

As a result, it’s easy for breeds like the Boerboel to get bored when cooped up at home all day, which can quickly lead to destructive behavior.

As a general rule, the Boerboel needs at least one hour of high-intensity exercise per day.

This could include agility training, as Boerboels are famously the most agile mastiffs, tagging along on your morning run, or even just running around in the backyard with the rest of the family!

Make sure you read up on local leash laws before you take your Boerboel out for a stroll.

Cane Corso Exercise Requirements

Like Boerboels, Cane Corso needs a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise in order to keep from getting bored or frustrated.

In addition to this devoted exercise, you may also want to make sure that the Cane Corso has something to keep them busy throughout the day in order to prevent them from becoming destructive.

Fortunately, because the Cane Corso is such a great fit for families with children, the Cane Corso is often able to burn up all of that extra energy by clowning around with the kids or goofing off with them around the house or in the backyard!

What About Training?

Boerboel Training

Both Boerboels and Cane Corso are incredibly intelligent and hardworking dogs, which makes them a great choice for any specialized training programs that you may be interested.

However, the single most important factor in raising a friendly and well-adjusted Boerboel is socialization.

Because Boerboels have more of a reputation for being an aggressive dog, you’ll want to go out of your way to make sure that your dog disproves that stereotype.

Start socialization early and put in the extra work to ensure that your dog is comfortable around humans and other animals alike.

Cane Corso Training

The Cane Corso is another dog that, properly socialized, is an incredibly sweet and outgoing dog.

Like the Boerboel, however, the Cane Corso takes a lot of work to get to the point where they feel safe and confident around other humans and other dogs.

The most important thing to remember while training your dog is to be patient. Cane Corso and Boerboels are both smart, hardworking dogs, but they both will look to you to set the tone for their personality.

Positive reinforcement has proven time and time again to be more effective than negative reinforcement, so work with your dog, encourage their behaviors, and celebrate their progress.

Are There Any Health Concerns?

Boerboel Health Issues

In general, both Boerboels and Cane Corso are relatively healthy dogs, although this may change as both breeds become more and more popular.

Boerboels in particular are known for being especially healthy dogs as compared to most other purebred examples. However, they do still have some issues to keep an eye on.

As with most purebred lines, Boerboels are susceptible to hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, painful genetic conditions that stem from improperly formed joints and may lead to partial or complete lameness.

Boerboels are also prone to entropion and ectropion, two eye conditions in which the eyelids turn either inwards to rub the lashes against the cornea (entropion) or outwards to expose the sensitive lining of the eyelid (ectropion).

Juvenile epilepsy has also started to appear in Boerboels as of the time of this article’s writing.

Cane Corso Health Issues

Like the Boerboel, the Cane Corso is unfortunately susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia. Both of these conditions can be diagnosed with an x-ray, although there aren’t many non-surgical treatments for either. Instead, many veterinarians focus on managing the pain and reducing some of the worst symptoms.

The Cane Corso breed is also increasingly at risk for dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart swells unnaturally and struggles to pump blood, resulting in weakness and fatigue.

What Are the Dietary Needs for Each Breed?

Boerboel Nutrition

Because the Boerboel is a heavy breed, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this dog needs a pretty large amount of food. In general, the Boerboel will eat more than the Cane Corso, consuming around five cups of food daily.

If you feed your dog kibble, pay close attention to the health of their teeth, as they may develop cavities or other issues over time.

A raw diet can help them “brush their teeth” as they eat, but it’s still not a completely infallible approach.

Either way, check with your veterinarian to make sure that your dog is getting all of the vitamins and nutrients that they need from their food.

Cane Corso Nutrition

As compared to the Boerboel, the Cane Corso is a relatively light eater, coming in at around three cups of food per day.

Again, whether you feed your dog a raw diet or a kibble diet, check with your vet to get a more specific idea of what your dog might need to feel healthier than ever.

Like the Boerboel, the Cane Corso is well-known to have a bit of a sweet tooth. While they should be getting all of the vitamins and minerals that they need in their meals, they may be eyeing some of the snacks on your counters.

Keep a close eye on any sweet foods, in particular, to make sure that your dog stays safe.

What About Grooming?

Boerboel Grooming requirements

Both the Boerboel and the Cane Corso have short coats, which means that they don’t actually have a lot of grooming needs.

A weekly brushing should be plenty to ensure that their coat stays clean and shiny (and ensure that dog hair doesn’t pile up on your furniture).

Like most mastiffs, Boerboels are known to occasionally develop dental problems, so their teeth need to be brushed every two or three days.

As with any other long-eared dog, they may also be prone to buildup in their ears, so you should plan on cleaning their ears at least once a week or whenever you notice any general waxiness.

Cane Corso Grooming requirements

Like the Boerboel, the Cane Corso has a short, almost wiry coat that really only needs a perfunctory brushing every week or ten days to stay clean and healthy.

Depending on whether the dog’s ears are cropped or uncropped, they may have different grooming requirements.

If your dog’s ears are uncropped, make sure you clean them out once a week. If the ears are cropped, however, your dog has less protection against irritants that work their way into the ear canal and may require more frequent cleanings to reduce their chances of getting a painful and frustrating ear infection, so make sure you keep an eye on those ears!

Are There Any Other Things I Should Know About?


The most important consideration with Boerboels is the simple factor of where you live. Depending on where you’re located, there may be local ordinances in place that restrict your options when it comes to choosing a dog.

While a well-socialized Boerboel is as harmless as any other well-trained dog, some areas may still hold on to those old fears and prejudices.

In addition, the Boerboel is usually a little more expensive than the Cane Corso, due to its relative rarity.

A healthy Boerboel puppy should cost somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000 at a minimum. Anything more affordable is either a puppy mill or a scam, so be careful!

Cane Corso

Compared to the Boerboel, a Cane Corso puppy is slightly more affordable, but only slightly, usually costing between $1,500 and $1,800.

In both cases, look for breeders that are well-recommended, are willing to provide health reports and screenings for both canine parents, and who don’t separate the puppies from their mother before at least eight weeks.

Because both Cane Corso and Boerboel puppies are in such high demand, a lot of backyard breeders and puppy mills are looking to produce as many new dogs as they can.

Make sure you do your research before you purchase or adopt a Cane Corso or a Boerboel to ensure that you have your best shot at a happy and healthy dog!

At the end of the day, Boerboels and Cane Corso are both brave and powerful breeds that are loyal to their families and protective of their homes.

If properly trained and socialized, they’re also patient and gentle with small children and other pets.

However, both breeds also suffer from typical mastiff health issues and temperament concerns that may make them challenging for the casual or first-time dog owner.

If you’re thinking about providing a home for either of these two noble breeds, make sure you take the time to research their needs and requirements before welcoming them into your home!