Cane Corso Similar Breeds: How You Might Confuse a Litany of these Dogs

The Cane Corso {pronounced Kahn-ay Kohrsoh) is a large dog of Italian breeding. It is also referred to as the Italian Mastiff since its bloodlines and appearance fall in step with other Mastiff breeds.

If you were looking at one of these dogs, you might assume that it is one of several other breeds. Here’s a list of other dogs that the Cane Corso resembles.

Molosser Dogs: Mastiffs Around the World

Molosser is a category of dog that originates centuries ago in Greece. Their war dogs were massive and trained to protect and fight.

Mastiffs are direct descendants of these war dogs, and many different Mastiff breeds from around the world are descendants of the first Mastiffs. This includes the Cane Corso, as well as several other international variations of Mastiff.

The Old English Mastiff

The Old English Mastiff is one of the world’s oldest breeds. Julius Caesar in his conquest of Britain described having one of these massive protection dogs with him as he headed into battle. When the Holy Roman Empire took hold in Britain, these dogs found a new home there.

They are as large, if not larger, than their Italian cousins, and most of the Mastiff breeds can trace their ancestry from the Old English Mastiff.

By comparison, the English Mastiff is one and a half to two times the size of a Corso. The Corso is considered a “large” dog, while the English Mastiff is considered a “giant” dog.

Both were trained to be effective guard dogs, and if their size doesn’t intimidate intruders, their massive heads and powerful jaws will.

Bullmastiff

The Bullmastiff

The Bullmastiff was bred to be a smaller version of the English Mastiff. Because English Mastiffs were such enormous dogs, it was difficult for dog lovers to keep them and house them.

A smaller version of the dog was bred with other dogs until the Bullmastiff was born. The Bullmastiff and the Cane Corso have similar snouts, facial folds, heavy, thick bodies, and are roughly the same size as large dogs by comparison.

The unique feature of the Cane Corso that separates it in appearance from the Mastiff breeds is that it has small triangular ears that sit on the sides of its head, not the floppy ears of the Mastiffs.

Bully Kutta (Indian Mastiff)

Not surprisingly, most of the countries that came under the rule of the British Empire or under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire have a dog breed that originates with a Mastiff.

In the case of Pakistan and India, this would be the Bully Kutta. The Bully Kutta shares many physical traits with the rest of the Mastiffs around the world, namely the head shape, body conformation, tail, jowls, snout, and ears.

The Bully Kutta is used in Punjab for fighting and for hunting or guarding. It is also referred to as the Pakistani Mastiff, although some dog breeders argue that these are completely different breeds of dog.

Japanese Mastiff

The Tosa-Inu, or Japanese Mastiff

Tosa-Inus isn’t technically fully Mastiff. Their lineage includes bulldogs, terriers, and a couple of other breeds.

However, the head, snout, and upper body of the Tosa Inu look enough like a Mastiff to classify it as a Molosser dog. The Tosa-Inu has long slender legs that are ideal for leaping and running.

This Japanese Mastiff has been used for centuries as a hunting dog, but it is also the main dog Japanese preferred for dog fights. Today, the breed is dying out, and it is very rare. It may become extinct if it isn’t revived by breeders.

Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff)

Mastiffs have always been such popular guard dogs, which is probably why even France had developed their own Mastiff breed.

The Dogue de Bordeaux (Bordeaux Dog) looks like the Corso, except that it has several folds of loose hanging skin around its neck and upper body.

In this manner, the Dogue resembles a Sharpei crossed with a Mastiff crossed with a Corso. Both dogs are extremely similar in size and smaller than the Old English Mastiff.

Neapolitan Mastiff

Neapolitan Mastiff

The Neapolitan Mastiff and the Cane Corso hail from the same country; Italy. However, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a “giant” dog while the Corso is still considered a “large” dog.

Additionally, the Neapolitan Mastiff has extra neck folds that the Corso does not. While both dogs can be about the same height, the Neapolitan Mastiff is significantly heavier and bigger-boned than the Corso. The snouts and jowls of both dogs are what cause them to be confused with each other.

Pero de Presa de Canario

The Pero de Presa is the Spanish version of the Mastiff. These dogs were bred on the Canary Islands just off of Spain.

They are not well adapted to children or other pets and are banned in some countries because they have aggressively mauled people. Used as both guard and fighting dogs, the Pero de Presa is a formidable version of the Mastiff.

Both the Pero and the Cane mean “dog” in their native language. Both are of equal size, although the Spanish version leans toward a heavier, stockier build. Side by side, you may not be able to tell them apart.

You might have to weigh them to see which dog is heavier by at least twenty pounds. Then you know which one is the Pero because the Pero is always heavier.

Fila Brasileiro

This dog is the Brazilian version of the Mastiff. It is about the same size as a Corso, but a wee bit smaller.

It also has the ears of a hound dog or bloodhound, which make it appear more distinct from other Mastiff breeds, including its Italian cousin the Cane Corso.

The Fila is used for hunting and protecting livestock in Brazil, but it does make a good family dog.

Dogo Argentino

Dogo Argentino

The Dogo Argentino is also called the Argentine Mastiff. It has the floppy ears most often seen with other Mastiff breeds, but in all other ways resembles a Corso.

One other major physical difference is that the Corso has large, muscular shoulders where the Dogo has a much smoother physique.

The Dogo purebred also has the distinction of being only white as the color option. If you sit a purebred Dogo next to a white Corso, you will have to look at the ears to tell them apart. Both dogs are about the same size, complicating one’s ability to tell them apart.

American Mastiff

Like the English Mastiff, the American Mastiff is considered a “giant” dog. It is much larger than the Cane Corso, but its big thick snout and droopy eyes look a lot like the Corso’s. Both dogs have heavy, thick bodies built for intimidation and protecting livestock or humans.

Bulldog and Terrier Members That Look Like the Mastiffs

American Bulldog

American Bulldogs have the heavy heads and snouts of their English cousins, but their bodies more closely resemble a Boxer’s.

For this reason, you might think that an American Bulldog is a Cane Corso because the breeding of the American Bulldog makes it look somewhat less like a short stocky bulldog and more like the Corso.

Standing side by side, the dogs are almost the same height, but the American Bulldog is more slender in build.

boxer dog

Boxer

Boxers were bred in Germany centuries after the Corsos were bred in Italy. Both have stocky bodies, short muzzles, and wide faces, but the Boxer is quite a bit smaller than the Corso. Both dogs are lively, playful, easily trained, affectionate, and loyal to their families.

Boxers are sometimes mistaken for “mini-Corsos”, but because mini-Corsos do not exist, this is a major error.

Also, Boxers have ears that flop over sideways and forward, while the Corso’s remain is pointed, upright, and back.

A Boxer’s heavy head, thick short snout, powerful jaws, and short, pointy ears could be confused with a Corso’s.

However, the Boxer tends to be more athletic and more trim throughout its body. The Boxer also does not have some of the facial wrinkles that Corsos have.

American Staffordshire Terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier has a broad large head and small ears like a Corso. However, this Terrier is much smaller than the Cane Corso. It is almost half the size of a Corso.

You might even think it’s a miniature version of the Corso, except that a terrier is a terrier, and a Mastiff is a Molosser.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier

This Staffordshire Terrier is the original breed from which Americans get the American Staffordshire.

As such, both of these terriers have almost identical appearances, but with a few different traits.

This British dog is bigger than its American version, making it closer in size and appearance to a Cane Corso. It is also much more muscular than the American version.

Great Dane

Great Dane

Because the Cane Corso is a very large dog, and because of its ears and facial features, it can be confused for a young Great Dane.

However, as a Great Dane will grow and only get an exceptionally bit larger than the Corso, you can tell the adults apart rather easily.

Their bodies, legs, tails, and other physical traits are very similar in appearance, and their personalities are similar too.

Just remember that the Great Dane is one of the largest giant breeds there are and that a Cane Corso is only a “large” dog breed.

Sharpei

A Sharpei is a medium dog breed, unlike the Corso. Both dogs have short, wide muzzles, small pointed ears, and facial folds.

However, the Sharpei has significantly more skin folds around its head, neck, and shoulders than a Corso.

The Sharpei’s ears also fold down and forward, where the Corso’s ears remain upright. The Corso is much larger than a Sharpei too.

While the Corso was bred to be a guard dog, the Sharpei was bred to be a Chinese fighting dog.

The Sharpei can be a wonderful dog if raised from a puppy and treated well, but it does have an aggressive streak not ordinarily seen in a Corso.

Still, the protective nature of a Corso may result in biting someone more often than a Sharpei would bite; something to keep in mind if you want to buy either dog.

rottweiler

Rottweiler

Corsos are most commonly confused with Rottweilers because their profiles are almost an exact match.

Again, the trait that helps you tell them apart is the ears, although “Rotties” have coloration and coat patterns that Corsos do not. Both dogs are of equal size, musculature, and strength. Both make excellent guard dogs.

American Pitbull

The American Pitbull is a member of the terrier family, whereas the Corso is a member of the Molosser category of dogs.

However, both dogs have a tendency to look like the other, especially when the Corso’s ears are cropped.

They can be very affectionate and loving dogs, but the Pitbull has a reputation for being unpredictable and potentially dangerous around children and other pets.

The Pitbull is also quite a bit smaller than the Corso, which usually helps distinguish one from the other when they are in close proximity.

Valley Bulldog

This bulldog breed is a Canadian dog that can only be found in one area in one province in Canada. It is unlikely that you will ever see it, much less see it next to a Cane Corso.

However, if you do see one, and/or see one side by side with a Corso, you will immediately notice how much alike they appear. Their snouts and profiles are similar, as are their weight and height.

Both dogs are used as guard dogs, and that is especially true in Canada where the Valley Bulldog’s powerful jaws can make a short end of strangers it doesn’t recognize or know.

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