The Cane Corso’s geneology can be traced back to the Canis Pugnax, the Roman War dog of the first century.
They would accompany their handler onto the battlefields where they would act as an unprecedented guardian. The tenaciousness of this dog was so extreme they were used in the arenas to fight against lions, bears, and other wild animals.
The Romans were not the first, but may very well have used war dogs the most effectively. The Roman Army had whole companies composed entirely of dogs. They wore spiked collars around their neck and ankles, made more dangerous by the large curved knives protruding from its ring. Sometimes they were starved before battle, then unleashed on an unsuspecting enemy. Their dog of choice was the great Molossian dogs of Epirus, specifically trained for battle. These dogs, halved starved and ferocious, helped spread the Roman Empire across the ancient world. The Corso was also as a “auxiliary warrior” in battles for the Romans.
For years he has been a companion and worker of the Italian people. His job was to protect property and cattle, work as a cattle drover, and for large game hunting. Their power, courage, agility and tracking ability made them especially valuable with wild boar, stag and bear. His name comes from the Latin word “Cohors” which means Guardian or Protector.
With the decline in big game hunting the cane corso found a home with Italian farmers. They were often used as a driver, moving animals to the market and to the slaughter houses. On the farms they protected the livestock from both human thieves and animal predators, also doubling as a guard dog for homes and estates. With the transformation of the agricultural structure in many regions of Italy, this majestic dog was in danger of extinction. However, with the help of some skillful and caring dog lovers in the mid 1970’s success was made in procuring as many good subjects as possible. Selective breeding began and the cane corso was given a new birth.