From: (Allen G.)
Date: Sat, Dec 18, 1999, 1:39pm (MST+1)
Subject: Requesting info on Cane Corsos

Dear Mr. Todd,

I am interested in owning a male Cane Corso. I like Rotweilers but I'm looking for something different. I saw your add in the Dogs USA magazine and I was impressed. Moreover, some day I hope to own Hereford beef cattle and I need a good herding and guard dog.

1.I would be very interested if you could tell me the history of the breed. I know about them being descended from the giant Molossus and fighting in the colosseum but that's all that I know.
2. The Italian standard calls for a dog that weighs 99 -110 LBS. I wonder what you think of this. I also would like to know weather your dogs have had any health problems because of the extra weight.
3. What are your prices?
4. How are they around other dogs?
5. Could you please give me the Title and author of a book about Cane Corsos?

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Michael G.

From: (Randall C. Todd)
Date: Mon, Jan 3, 2000, 9:29pm
To: (Allen G.)
Subject: Re: Requesting info on Cane Corsos


Sorry about getting back to you so late. December was a busy time. I hope your holidays were nice.

Here is the info you requested...

1.I would be very interested if you could tell me the history of the breed. I know about them being descended from the giant Molossus and fighting in the colosseum but that's all that I know.

A1: I don't know that the Cane Corso itself came on the scene in time to spend time in the Roman Empire's coliseums like its main progenitor, the Roman Molossus, did, but there are pictures from middle ages (a little later than the days of active Roman coliseums) depicting a definate mastiff type but lighter and with a unique athletic body tackling large game in the hunt -the Cane Corso. As the economy changed and hunting became less necessary while herds of domesticated meat became more popular, plentiful, and accessable, the Cane Corso's responsibility shifted from hunter of large game to 'cattle catcher' and 'guardian of the herds' from predators and thieves. The Cane Corso was NOT a cattle 'herder' as some have erroniously stated - there were other breeds -the shepherd types- MUCH more suited to and efficient at that purpose. I personally feel the Corso isn't mentally "set up" or temperamentally equipped to be a very efficient 'herding dog' and certainly isn't as efficient at that task as the shepherd breeds which were developed for that purpose. The Cane Corso mentality is much more molosser or "mastiffy" rather than "shepherd" -they are much more independant and geared to working on their drive and instinct alone as guardians of herds and flocks in the absence of the owner or in chasing down game away from the hunter's direct presence... whereas the shepherd breeds are much more suited to work under the direct command of man and are known for a much quicker response to command ("take 'em left, Shep - bring 'em right - bring 'em around").
Guardian of the home and family -especially at night- was another of the Corsos jobs -something it is driven to do and does well all on its own instinct. Guarding is the hallmark of the molossers or mastiff family of which the Corso is a part and no other breed types can compare in their ability to guard and protect. Herding is the shepherd family's domain & talent, and a Cane Corso will not be able to come close to a shepherd dog's ability to, following the shepherd's direction, move a herd to a desired place.


2. The Italian standard calls for a dog that weighs 99 - 110 LBS. I wonder what you think of this. I also would like to know weather your dogs have had any health problems because of the extra weight.

A2: According to what Italy's ENCI registered Cane Corso BREEDERS actually produce, there is no "extra weight" on the average sized Cane Corso lines which have been imported and transplanted to U.S. soil. To answer the confusion over Cane Corso conformation which many new to the breed have, we have to determine what is the REAL or more accurate Italian standard between TWO ITALIAN standards. There is a new Italian CLUB standard of SACC (the one you refer to) and a MUCH older unwritten standard still bred to by the BREEDERS of Cane Corso in Italy. The so-called "Italian standard" -the new version- is the opinion of a couple of men in Italy (Stephano Gandolphi and a couple friends) who took advantage of the fact that there was no formal written standard for the Cane Corso in Italy in the early '90's (because there was little to no interest in the breed there other than among the families of some of the rural people -farmers, country folk and the like- who worked them and had no interest in showing or clubs). We already had prior to this a very rapidly growing club formed here in the U.S. in late '80's AND we had the original written standard for the breed which was drawn up in conformation to what the Cane Corso WAS ALREADY BEING BRED TO by the Italian BREEDERS in Italy. You see, Michael, the difference ISN'T between the Americans & the Italians but is between the Italian CLUB (SACC) & the Italian BREEDERS (Cerberus Kennels, Leone, etc.). The Italian BREEDERS disagree (and this disagreement shows in the very size & form of their product) with Gandolphi's Italian CLUB'S new standard which aims to convince the world that all Cane Corso's should look exactly like Gandolphi's opinion of what a Cane Corso should look like. But the Italian BREEDERS of Corso there in Italy -again, some of them ENCI registered breeders no less- STILL produce AS THEY ALWAYS HAVE, Cane Corsos which are in conformation with the 1st and original formal written standard for the breed (the International Cane Corso Federation standard) which we adhere to here in the west, in particular regarding size and weight!! The only thing I've found that our original written ICCF standard seems to ignor is the fact that an underbite is as much a part of the breed as a scissor bite (depending on the line) and probably should be included as acceptable by the ICCF standard.
The fact of the matter is, the vast majority of registered Cane Corso owners of the world (by far) are here in the U.S. and are adhereing to the original Italian standard for the breed adopted & upheld by the ICCF - which standard is (and this is most important in my book) IN AGREEMENT WITH the Corsos being produced by the ENCI registered ITALIAN BREEDERS IN ITALY (with the exception of the fact that Italy's breeders produce Corsos with BOTH scissor and underbite while our standard -the original 'written' standard- questionably discourages the underbite).
So, to summarize my point-- Here in the USA, 99% of Corso breeders and owners of Corsos (which is probably about 75% or more of the world's registered Corso owners) register their dogs and show them under the registry and club which upholds the 1st and original written Cane Corso standard which happens to be more in conformity with the ACTUAL AVERAGE Cane Corsos produced in Italy by ENCI BREEDERS than that newer standard of the very small Italian CLUB which is more or less a "family affair".
There is a little more behind the scenes or between the lines to this story concerning the interpersonal relationships between the men involved in the organizing of both clubs (Gandolphi & Sottile) -pride & ego stuff- which caused the schism or rift between the clubs. **It's instructive to note that Gandolphi's Italian club, the SACC, once recognized NOT ONLY the man (Michael Sottile) responsible for the establishment of the Cane Corso club in the west as their liaison for the breed in America (as stated on a cover page in the 1st Italian Corso book "IL CANE CORSO" authored by one of their own club officers) BUT ALSO RECOGNIZED HIS IMPORTED ITALIAN CANE CORSOS which had been transplanted to the USA. Yes, Gandolphi and his club recognized Sottile's American foundation stock of imported Italian Cane Corso AS PURE CANE CORSO -the very Cane Corsos which some who are ignorant of the facts -or just plain ignorant- renounce as "not Corso". To know where much of this slander is coming from is to know more about WHY it originated. It's called "poor competitive spirit" - from a lone Cane Corso breeder who adheres to his canines rule of "dog eat dog" in his efforts to sell his Cane Corso. You can learn more details of this sad situation here at the CSCC website at the page "RUSTIC CANE CORSO: RURAL WORKER - FARMER'S FRIEND".
Suffice it to say that Cane Corsos produced both here in America AND by the breeders in Italy are not much different -especially in size and weight. I know I've been pretty redundant here in my explanation of this point, but I don't want there to be any misunderstanding of my position or the situation regarding the difference you see in "standards" -much of which has been muddied by the false statements and half-truths of some particularly dishonest and misinformed individuals. I personally own a nearly 3 year old, 28 inch, 140 lb male Cane Corso which I produced (one of the few at that weight) and I know 1st hand (as do those who have come to visit to see for themselves) that ability in the areas of agility and speed are NOT a question of size and weight as some would ignorantly or deceitfully have you believe, but are a question of bone/skeletal structure, and muscle, joint & ligament placement. It's a DIFFERENCE of BREEDS! A 150 lb Cane Corso will run circles around a 120 lb. Neapolitan because that's what it's built or DESIGNED to do. They are unquestionably two different breeds! And my 140 pound Cerberus moves as agily and quickly and leaps into the air nearly as high as my 115 pound Primus. And when I go on a hard weekend backpacking excursion, or have the dogs run along with the truck in a wide desert wash, Cerb goes as long and hard as Primus does. Don't believe me? Come and see. By the way, it's that 140 pound Corso of mine, Cerberus Del Colosseo, that you can see "floating" in the air in that photo posted on the picture gallery of the ICCF's website. He goes 7 1/2 to 8 feet up and has had his nose against my hallway ceiling going after one of my kid's helium balloons. For those of us who are "in the know" -those of us who either own medium to large sized Corsos, or those who have taken the time to research PERSONALLY by going to see for themselves- there is no question about the agility of the larger Cane Corsos. We sit here and smile with smug (as in "self-satisfied") knowledge while we read or hear the misinformed or malicious state their "fact" that there's NO WAY a Corso over 115 or 120 pounds can be agile or healthy -and make fools of themselves by proving with that very statement that they've not even SEEN a larger Cane Corso. 140 lb. Cerberus and 115 lb. Primus are equally athletic healthy dogs and the many who have come to visit here have left knowing that there are certain individuals out there who will lie to you about large Corso agility (among other things). Out of 44 [over 100 now as of Feb.2002] Corsos produced here at Colosseum Shadows, ONLY 4 that I am aware of are larger than 140 lbs. I just received an update yesterday on one of them -from a customer in Albuquerque, New Mexico whose VET just told him his male COLOSSEUM SHADOWS Cane Corso could stand to gain another 5 to 10 lbs (he's slightly on the lean side at 164 pounds!!) He's height/weight proportionate at 30 1/2 inches at the shoulders and definately an aborration at that height and weight, but Jerry tells me he's like lightening in his movement and never out of energy! Just like a Cane Corso! If you ever get the chance to watch either 164 lb. Murphy or my 28 inch, 140 lb. Cerberus, or ANY of my very few 135+lb. Corsos play ball or get put through some paces, your questions about the agility or health of the large Cane Corsos will be blown away. You should also know that most of the males produced by COLOSSEUM SHADOWS Cane Corso are between 120 and 140 lbs. which is right about the average size and weight of the average Cane Corso produced in Italy. You might also be interested to know that I've had -0- reports of any crippled dogs -small or large- from any of my customers [as of 8/2005, out of 180+ Corsos out there now, I've had only 3 or 4 reports of stiff or bad hips from any of them]. Find me another breeder who can match that!


3. What are your prices?

A3: ...Price is $1800 for quality Corsos that conform to the standard for the breed and don't have any serious or disqualifying faults (show/breeder quality) - the deposit for reservation is $500 - delivery is $250. Compare that to the price of 5 [now 4 as of late 2001] Cane Corso breeders who last year raised their price to $2500-$3000 for conforming show quality pups where you still have to pay for the ear crops which are usually $350 per pup. And according to 5 of my customers who have purchased another one or two Cane Corsos from other Corso breeders in addition to my COLOSSEUM SHADOWS pup, my product is better: in health, in drive, in movement & appearance! Two of these customers actually ended up with pups from the other breeder(s) which were crippled with dysplasia before they were a year old. One of them was purchased for $5000! It's interesting to note that both of these other Corso breeders OFA/x-ray their breeding stock. There's a lesson here! One of these two customers is now advertising as a breeder themself but could not, as intended, breed the expensive $5000 male they obtained from the other Corso breeder to my $1800 COLOSSEUM SHADOWS female because the male was crippled with dysplasia before it was a year old. They had to take their Colosseum Shadows female, which was OFA certified healthy, to another stud for breeding. ...The other customer who says my Corso is the best dog he's ever had (actually both of them have said that as well as MANY other COLOSSEUM SHADOWS customers) decided not to get involved with breeding as originally planned as he was very disappointed & frustrated that his other top-dollar Corso obtained from a program called RAVENCREEK which advertizes the fact that she OFA/x-ray's her breeding stock ended up crippled before it's 1st birthday (and note, according to Greg, she DID NOT honor her guarantee to him).
The lesson here: Regardless of whether a kennel or breeder x-ray's their breeding stock or not, the hip certification of the kennel's breeding stock is not NEARLY as important as the health of the hips of the actual PRODUCT -the pups produced- of that kennel's breeding stock! Consistently healthy PRODUCT/pups is more important both to the breed and to the purchaser than the kennel's advertisement of their breeding stock's OFA ratings. The customer is afterall not purchasing the breeder's breeding stock, but is spending their hard earned dollars on the breeder's PRODUCT. The COLOSSEUM SHADOWS excellent track-record for our hip-health is what OFA X-raying/certification is trying to achieve and what other breeders would like to match.


4. How are they around other dogs?

A4: This mainly depends on YOU. If you socialize them well (regularly) and properly, they will most often do well with other dogs (unless another dog tries to dominate him). If you neglect socialization, you WILL have a dog aggressive Cane Corso. You should talk to two of my customers who have had positive experiences because they took the time to socialize their CSCorso. Jerry in Albuquerque called to tell me his neighbor's 2 dogs broke thru the wood slat fence last week and came into Murphy's domain. He rushed them, postured, the intruders froze and allowed Murphy to "check them out". After he determined they weren't a threat to his dominance, he didn't hurt them. That's quite the contrast to the scene 6 months ago when the other neighbor's 3 Rotties (all over 100 lbs: 120, 125, & 135) broke thru the fence and attacked Murphy in his own backyard. These same 3 Rotties have on two separate occasions gotten out onto the street, attacked and killed 2 dogs. They also had, about a year and a half before, broken into Jerry's backyard and had to be beaten off his Welch Springer Spanial with shovels. The Springer Spanial almost died. This time they tried to kill a 141 lb. 1 year/1week old Cane Corso (still just a pup). Though they tore off a chunk of Murph's ear and chewed his head up pretty bad (a few days later Murph almost died of a systemic infection due to his many head wounds from the attack), Murphy saved his own neck by ending the fight by himself, without any help from man or dog. By the time Jerry got out there, one Rottie was laying on it's side and wouldn't or couldn't get up and a month later could barely shuffle it's back legs, another Rottie was down but got up hopping on 3 legs as Murphy had apparently crunched down on one of its front legs, and the third Rottie (the 135 pounder which had some scrapes on his front legs) who had gone back thru the hole in the fence, was sitting on his own back step wanting to go into the house. Murphy accompanied Jerry in the Rotties' backyard when Jerry walked thru the hole in the fence to inform the Rottie owner about what had happened, Jerry said it was obvious the male Rottie who remained by the door, wanted nothing more to do with Murphy and made no move to run Murphy out of his yard. A few days later when Murph's wounds went systemic, he was hospitalized and his vet bill climbed to $3000. The Rottie owner paid all of his own vet bill for his Rotties and agreed to pay half of Murphy's as well as this was the second time Jerry had a large vet bill because that neighbor's Rotties had broken thru the fence and attacked one of Jerry's dogs. With this story revealed, you might have a better understanding of why Jerry so excitedly and proudly called me last week to inform me that when the other neighbor's Golden Retrievers broke into Murph's yard, he (Murphy) took the time to find out if they were a threat and when he decided they weren't, he didn't hurt them. That's pretty discriminating, eh? (by the way, the fencing between Jerry's neighbors is an old wood-slat fence which had weakened with age which the Rottie owner has replaced & strengthened on his section since the day his dogs ran into a solid wall called Murphy).

Then there's my customer in Alamo, California who called mid-December to inform me of their "Reno's" new CGC (Canine Good Citizen) title, which in order to earn, he had to prove his ability to tolerate other dogs. SOCIALIZATION is the key. And that's up to you.


5. Could you please give me the Title and author of a book about Cane Corsos?

A5: It's not a book specific to Cane Corso, but the best info I've found on the CC is in the book by Cathy J. Flamholtz called "A Celebration of Rare Breeds, vol. 2"... Chapter 10 is devoted to the Cane Corso.

Hope this helps, Michael. I'm all typed out...

Randall C. Todd
Tucson, Arizona
ph: 520-297-4554


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