~Rural worker - Farmer's friend~

The following is a letter I had written to the Scandinavian publisher of a canine website specific to the Molosser group after I found that he had been posting articles in his Cane Corso pages that were aimed at damaging the reputation and credibility of probably the largest Cane Corso club in the world -the International Cane Corso Federation- which had been organized in North America with the advice, help, and assistance of Michael Sottile, the man who 1st brought the Cane Corso to the Americas, and whose family had formerly emigrated from Italy.

From: (Randall C. Todd)
Date: Fri, May 8, 1998, 1:08pm
To: Kare Konradsen
Subject: Fwd: Rustic Cane Corso: rural worker, farmer's friend


Below, you will find two sections. Don't miss either one. They concern the TRUE ITALIAN FARM Cane Corso.
I have read so much hearsay, so much assumptive musings by people "in the know" (Doctors -whom everyone assumes to be infalliable because of their title... 'dog show people' who automatically know it all and have 'set the standard' for many a good, sound working breed-- and have bred the work right out of them (and the negative traits right in)... breeders with a poor competitive spirit, $$$ signs in their heads, and misrepresentations & falsehoods on their breath. ALL OF THE ABOVE have had their negative impact on the best of breeds-- yeah, we can name them... German Shepherd, Rottweiler, etc. ...The Cane Corso is next.

I read the Corso section of your Molosser site, along with the accompanying article you posted by the "anonymous" (I wonder why??) "new-to-the-breed" Cane Corso "puppy shopper" who was just a tad-bit suspiciously over-educated about the recent history of the breed as he attempted to slander and misrepresent the Cane Corso lines being bred here in America. C'mon Kare, it's obvious to anyone who knows anything of the history of the rivalry started by the Italian club when they saw the popularity of the Cane Corso really start to balloon in America (we all know the market for this breed is weak in it's homeland and practically non-existant everywhere else, but has been growing astoundingly fast here in the United States)... and the Italian club watched with envy as it was the American breeders who were the ones supplying the growing demand for THEIR breed... While we Americans have watched as the Italians have so desperately and vainly attempted to discredit the American lines so as to gain a share of what they consider to be their market for their dogs... Yeah, it's obvious to anyone who is aware of all this and has seen first-hand and with their own eyes some of the nasty poor-spirited attempts by those who claim allegience to the Italian club to debase the American lines, that this "new-to-the-breed" American Cane Corso "puppy shopper" who submitted that slanderous article that you posted is undoubtedly someone who is in some way affiliated with the Italian club with an agenda to badmouth the American club's dogs in the vain hope of convincing the unknowledgable American public that there are no "good" Cane Corsos in the United States. They've already attempted to convince us that there are no "pure" Corsos in America. This is obviously just another slanderous attempt. But nothing surprises me anymore... where money is involved ANYTHING can happen (or better said-- where money is involved ANYTHING GOES- particularly if you fly the Italian club flag!).

I don't have "Dr." in front of my name (but neither do the REAL experts of the breed-- rural Italian farmers and country folk who developed, owned, hunted, and worked the Corso for centuries)... I'm not a 'dog show person' in search of the perfect 'COOKIE-CUTTER' physical specimin (neither were the rural Italian country folk-- they were looking for Corsos that could WORK- small,medium, or large- pretty or not)... I don't even consider myself a real 'breeder' as I have only one pair -two of the soundest, most stable Corsos in the world- who are companions to me and my kids first and foremost. ...I am just a regular guy... a lover of the true rustic Italian Cane Corso... with an ability to read and research and to go a step beyond: to THINK and REASON with just alot of plain old COMMON SENSE. More people ought to try it- especially those dog show types who think they know it all (even if they have "Dr." in front of their name)... we'd save more breeds from inevitable ruin if they could. Ah, but alas, they've probably been too narrowly selectively bred themselves...

Read on if you are truly interested in the real Cane Corso- rural worker, farmer's friend...

From: (Randall C. Todd)
Date: Sun, Apr 26, 1998, 11:45am
Subject: Fwd: Rustic Cane Corso: rural worker, farmer's friend

Just a note I would like to add to the following treatise/expose'...
When Michael Sottile first introduced the Cane Corso to the American public back in 1988, they took the shows by storm... As the author states in his book 'A Celebration of Rare Breeds, Vol.II': "...the breed is fast becoming the dog to beat at rare breed shows." We would do well to keep in mind that the very dogs winning those shows -the Sottile's first Corsos in America- had come DIRECTLY from the rural Italian farm... NO NARROW SELECTIVE BREEDING NEEDED... NO IMPROVEMENT NECESSARY!! This breed is so good, so sound, because they are yet a pure and undefiled working breed... developed and perfected over the centuries by farmers (NOT SHOW PEOPLE) who kept the gene pool strong & healthy by breeding for temperament and physical soundness rather than any particular size or physical characteristics. ALL SIZES (small males 100-114-lbs, medium males 115-129-lbs, AND large 130-140+) AND ALL PHYSICAL TYPES were utilized and bred on the farms of rural Italy- SO LONG AS THEY WERE SOUND- SO LONG AS THEY COULD PERFORM THEIR DUTIES! This breed is as strong, healthy, and sound as it is because of the VARIETY of genetics allowed to propogate & mix within the breed. THIS IS CHANGING...
As the breed has now been "discovered", there are some now involved with the breed (yet relatively few in number) who are intent on 'forcing' the breed into a VERY NARROW standard for "show" purposes. This treatise is written as a "WORD OF WARNING" and "a voice of reason"...
This breed is sound and beautiful- of spirit AND body. They have come to us that way from the Italian farm thru the refinement of centuries of use. Any attempt at correction by excessive selective breeding for ANY specific size -large, medium, OR SMALL- is nothing less than Tampering!

Randall C. Todd
Tucson, Arizona

From: (Randall C. Todd)
Date: Sun, Apr 26, 1998, 1:58am
Subject: Rustic Cane Corso: rural worker, farmer's friend

Will the REAL Cane Corso please stand up! ! !

In response to the confusion and questions generated by a second, smaller, narrower, and much more restrictive physical conformation standard for the Cane Corso... and the further muddying of the issue caused by the intentional misrepresentation of one of the club's standards by a breeder from "the other club" intent on tearing it down... First of all, BOTH of the standards are based on true, rural, working Italian farm dogs. The question is probably best asked, "which of the two most accurately represents that which is found working beside the Italian farmer- the developer and sole owner of the breed for centuries?" Thru all those centuries there was never a physical conformation standard for the breed (until 1988-89). Farmers don't show their dogs- they work them... and that's the ONLY thing they bred for- Temperament & Intelligence, workability & ability to learn. The average farmer (and that includes nearly ALL of them) doesn't have the time nor the inclination to "show". I suppose that might have a LITTLE something to do with why there was never a standard for them until ten years ago. So! when you breed ONLY for the NONVISUAL traits and characteristics of temperament & intelligence and for the ability to accomplish the task, WHAT HAPPENS?... You end up with a breed that is VERY stable of temperament and is workable and pliable (common to all unspoiled true working dogs),, AND IS IN POSSESSION OF A WIDE VARIETY OF PHYSICAL TYPES, CHARACTERISTICS, AND SIZES!!! It is ONLY when a breed is FORCED into a narrower physical conformation (for SHOW purposes- for aesthetics) through the selective breeding of FEWER, more SPECIFIC physical types and traits that we spoil or ruin good working breeds (and it is show people that are responsible for narrowing physical conformation, NOT farmers). Not only are there more problems with temperament & workability that can crop up thru narrow selective breeding for specific physical traits, but ALSO, upon narrowing a physical standard, we must reckon with any of the negative genetic problems that tend to piggyback along with the condensed gene pool of that narrowed physical standard. The first standard- the ORIGINAL standard (the standard adopted by the ICCF) for this rustic, rural, working Italian farm animal incorporated the broader range of physical type common to the breed (and indeed, common to ALL true working farmer's dogs). Probably the most obvious example of this would be the WIDE RANGE of size found in the breed on the Italian farm and reflected in the original standard that is embraced by the ICCF which states: "MALE DOGS TO BE FROM 100 LBS". This FACT (the varied size of the dogs on the Italian farm AND the incorporation of this wide weight range in the standard of the ICCF) is CONTRARY to what is stated in the ad of one of those "show" people in California who is affiliated with those few who are pushing for the acceptance of that new MUCH narrowed and so-called "Italian" show standard that has recently cropped up. In his 1998 Dogs USA ad he not only infers that most of the breeders in the U.S. (his competition) are selling impure Corso/Neo mixes, but he also boldly states that the "goals of the ICCF as a club are to breed the 150+lb type Cane Corso". Now I don't make it a practice to badmouth ANY breeder or club -OR LIE ABOUT THEM (I do in fact accept BOTH club's dogs as being 'Cane Corso'), but when one starts to sling false accusations and garbage at the other, I will defend the one being slandered... And I will say concerning the statement in the ad of one Brian Borg of Medieval Mastiffs regarding the ICCF's "goals as a club": that Brian has lowered himself to the practice of intentional misrepresentation- he has knowingly given false information here and is counting on your ignorance to get you to swallow it. Now at this point I would suggest that as you read the following revelations, you should bear in mind and remember that Brian also claims in the same ad that, "We pride ourselves on operating with the highest ethical and moral standard."... Well Brian, *We Shall See*!...
Just what ARE the breeding practices of the ICCF? I can't think of a better example to cite than that of Ed & Kris Hodas of Bel Monte Cane Corso (who just happen to be Target #1 of the slanders of Mr.Medieval Mastiff [Brian Borg]). Though he may not particularly like my tagging him with such a name, I consider Ed to be Mr.ICCF himself as he was very instrumental in the organization of the club and in it's continued operation. Ed Hodas is as "ICCF" as you can get! He was head of the club under the blessing of Michael Sottile, the original importer of the breed to the Americas. That fact alone -the trust Mr.Sottile placed in Ed's desires for the breed- speaks much of the enthusiasm and concern the Hodas' obviously have for the Corso as I will venture to say that there is NOBODY who admires the Cane Corso as much, or is as proud of them, as was Michael Sottile, the man who sought high & low along the backroads of rural Italy in search of the best Cane Corsos he could find... which Corsos eventually became America's first! Michael Sottile was the 1st to bring them across and establish them on American soil, and naturally had a strong desire to preserve and protect their soundness & quality. So what is Bel Monte doing with the trust Michael Sottile has placed in them?...
Through the years Ed & Kris have consistently utilized a breeding program which incorporates the best, most sound studs and bitches of ALL sizes, maintaining a strong VARIED gene pool, WHICH IS IDENTICAL TO THE WAY THEY ARE BRED ON THE FARMS OF ITALY. While Ed has a personal preference for medium-large to large size Corsos (130 to 145+lbs), he does not selectively breed ONLY those sizes (remember, Mr.Borg has lead you to believe, and wants you to think, that Ed's program [as well as everyone else's] is geared only for "150+lb Cane Corsos")... THE TRUTH: Ed's most prolific champion producing stud dog through the years- the one probably used more frequently than any of his others, was Ch.Rocco, who at 115-lbs, is just under the average weight of the true working farmer's Corso (now that's a FAR cry from Mr.Borg's accusation!). Ed has also consistently utilized several very sound 120-130-lb studs (still, NOT EVEN CLOSE to the false claims of Brian Borg). I believe that from the way Ed's breeding program has been handled, that his priority most certainly must be SOUNDNESS, ABILITY, & QUALITY over weight! It mirrors the philosophy and practice of the Italian farmers who breed for soundness above weight.
What Brian did in his ad is the same as if an ICCF breeder had said that the goal of the new so-called "Itialian" standard folks is to breed Corsos with a maximum weight of 70-lbs!! That would be a misrepresentation as well, as the standard for their males is 99-110lbs ...unless Mr.Borg is lying to us about that too- I have quoted their standard from his own ad.
I personally know of some 115-lb ICCF champion males (Bel Monte's Ch.Rocco is one of them. My Primus' grandfather- 2xCh.Czardus Di Morte is another- and though he's never been shown, Primus himself is a male Corso)... I know of MANY 120-125-lb ICCF champion males and several at a 125-130... I know of FEWER 130-135lb ICCF champion males... and fewer still at 140+lbs!!! Those at 140+ lbs are more rare than the more average sized ones (and that's as it should be).
The above facts are what define the ICCF's "goals as a club", not something Mr.Borg dreams up out of a poor competitive spirit because the "other club's" dogs are more popular or sell quicker. I am very sure that the goals of the ICCF breeders are, as always, TO PRODUCE DOGS WORTHY OF CHAMPIONSHIPS (and championships are awarded to neither "impure" mixed breeds, nor to UNSOUND dogs). And if it's 120-135-lb Corsos that are taking most of the points and championships, than THAT is the "weightiest" factor [pun intended] in determining the ICCF's "goals as a club"! If an ICCF breeder had said that Brian's club's goals were to breed Corsos with a maximum weight of 70-lbs, I would have the same thing to say about them- that they were lying and lacked integrity. Brian's dogs ARE Corsos and so are the ICCF dogs. Brian and a couple of other breeders simply "force" breed (my term for excessive selectivity) to a much more narrowed standard than the ICCF. The only problems I have with the new so-called "Italian" standard are...
  1. It isn't an accurate reflection of the variety of type and size to be found working the farms of Italy. Again, it is a rustic breed, bred for centuries to NO PHYSICAL standard (there wasn't one), but rather to the nonvisual characteristics needed for -and common to- all working breeds. With that type of breeding you NATURALLY get a broader range of physical characteristics. The first Corsos to the western hemisphere came to the USA in 1988 & '89. These were two separate litters that were imported directly from Italy... The first litter -in '88- consisting of 16 puppies, 6 of which became champions:
    • Ballo Orso, 135-lbs
    • Cocomo, 130-lbs
    • Duro, 125-lbs
    • Bruno, 125-lbs
    • Tori, 115-120-lbs
    • and Malocchia, the only female champion in the litter.
    The second litter came in '89. I am familiar with two of them: Tara, a female... and Santino, a male, who was a nice pointed dog, but just couldn't quite compete with the six champions in the first litter and never finished with a championship. When the dogs of these two litters matured, they were paired together and became the foundation stock of the Cane Corso in this country and in Canada. In subsequent years new imports were brought in to add to the gene pool. They are typical ICCF dogs as the conformation standard accepted by the ICCF WAS DEVELOPED FROM THESE TWO LITTERS which again were imported to the U.S. directly from the Italian farm...
    Here is an interesting tid-bit for you: Santino, the male from the second (1989) litter -an ICCF conforming dog who has produced MANY ICCF conforming dogs of 115-140lbs- was obtained by a man in California and used as the foundation stud and core of his breeding program. That man is none other than Brian Borg of Medieval Mastiffs!... There is no doubt he has had to cull the majority of pups in his litters from his breeding program as the breed naturally (AS THEY HAVE FOR CENTURIES) produces dogs weighing in excess of the much narrowed and smaller standard of his new so-called "Italian" standard (which narrowed standard "condenses" the gene pool creating the potential for the genetic problems that have been the bane of some of the finest and most popular of the working breeds- the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd. Leave it up to show-type folks and you will have "compromise" of some very important things in their relentless pursuit of PHYSICAL PERFECTION!).
  2. Another problem that a second and later standard causes is CONFUSION (hence, your questions). It also causes CONFLICT (hence, Brian's attempt at unethical undermining [the lies] of another club's standard- which happens to possess the original and much more REALISTIC broader standard for this working breed). **It's instructive to note that those in possession of the more accurate view (in ANY field) don't usually resort to slander and untruth... they don't have to- they have truth and COMMON SENSE on their side.
  3. As mentioned at the end of point '(1)' and earlier, I'm not interested in having to deal with the problems that can ride along with condensed gene pools. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT OF MY POINTS AGAINST the second Italian standard.
    *A note about dysplasia: Dysplasia -or any other negative genetic trait for that matter- is NOT caused ONLY by breeding exclusively for large size. Even frequent or excessively occuring dysplasia is not caused ONLY by breeding selectively for large size, BUT RATHER BY BREEDING SELECTIVELY FOR "SPECIFIC" SIZE... "ANY" SPECIFIC SIZE! Whether a person breeds ONLY for large size... or SPECiFICALLY for medium size... or EXCLUSIVELY for small size... it doesn't make a difference: If the gene is present in the line dysplasia WILL rear its ugly head, occur more frequently, and have to be dealt with. To narrow a standard to the breeding of ONLY those specimins of SPECIFIC SIZE (be it large, medium, OR SMALL) condenses the gene pool and has the tendency to magnify ANY negative genetic traits piggybacking along- including dysplasia. Smaller Rottweilers can have dysplasia as well as medium sized or larger Rotties. Smaller Corsos can be afflicted as well. It is the same for all of the breeds that carry the gene for dysplasia. One of the keys to keeping the negative trait of dysplasia "diluted" and the monster of frequent & excessively occuring dysplasia "at bay" is to avoid too much narrowing of a breed's physical standard (the 1992 "Italian" standard -males 99-110-lbs- is an example of a VERY overly narrowed standard)... We should ALL know better than to breed ONLY small specimins, or ONLY medium sized ones, or ONLY large ones. Especially among the working breeds physical conformation should be left largely as they have been developed by the usually rural peoples who have bred them and worked them, sometimes for centuries. It is true that for these particular breeds -the breeds subject to dysplasia (Rotties & G.Shepherds)- most of the selective breeding that has taken place has been to obtain larger specimins of each particular breed. These type breeds are generally desired by people who lke big dogs. And since most of the selective breeding has been towards obtaining larger dogs, that is where we begin to see the more frequent occurances of dysplasia. HOWEVER, it is JUST AS TRUE that if a breeder or club chooses to narrow the physical conformation standard of a breed to the using of ONLY the SMALLEST specimins for breeding- to FORCE a line or a breed into a smaller size, then ANY NEGATIVE TRAITS THAT ARE PRESENT -SUCH AS DYSPLASIA- WILL BE MAGNIFIED. and will begin to occur AS FREQUENTLY as when breeding ONLY for LARGE size. Therefore the best approach is to avoid overly selective breeding practices and utilize in our breeding programs ALL sizes available in a rustic working breed- large, medium, AND small... so long as they are sound in mind and body.
  4. I like an average sized Corso (120-130-lbs) better than a smaller one. That's just a matter of personal taste... a smaller Corso can do as good a job (with cattle... NOT necessarily large boar or bear) and be as good a companion to the family. But a 130+lb Corso can handle an intruder more effectively than a 100-lb dog... and UNQUESTIONABLY be a more visual deterrent!

Randall C. Todd
Tucson, Arizona


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