By Antonio Morsiani and Stefano Gandolfi
The following comment explains and complements the standard compiled by Dr. Antonio Morsiani and the Judges’ Committee of ENCI in 1987
Place in scientific classification. Mègnin (1897) divides all dog breeds into four groups: lupoid, braccoid, molossoid, graioide. For molossoids specifically he means dogs with the following characteristics: voluminous head, round or cubal; ears small and dropped; short muzzle; lips long and thick; massive body of great structure. Dèchambre (1924) adopts a classification which, in relation to the longitudinal superior axes of the skull and muzzle, reduces all canine types to three profiles: rectilinear, concave, or convex. We will discuss this in the section on the head.
Place in working classification. We have seen that in the past the breed had an ample field of utilization, confirming his eclecticism.
Origins. History and iconography are witness that the breed was once found in all of Italy, although with different regional characteristics.
General characters describing the breed. Dogs are divided into three fundamental morphological types, which are deduced by the comparison of the longitudinal diameters with the transversal ones. – Mesomorph type in which the proportions between height and width are balanced (e.g. pointer); – Delicomorph type in which height predominates over width (e.g. sighthounds); – Brachimorph type in which width predominates over height (e.g. bulldog). Such classification can be expressed by an “index”: that is, the rapport in hundredths of a measure in respect to another, taken as a point of reference. These indexes are fundamentally three: corporal, thoracic and cephalic. – The corporal index expresses the intensity of the mass in relation to the length of the trunk and has the following formula:
Length of trunk x 100 Corporal index =
The three morphologic types have the following corporal indexes: – brachimorph: from 50 to 70; – mesomorph: from 70 to 85; – dolicmorph: from 85 to 100. In the Cane Corso the corporal index is about 80 (mesomorph). The thoracic index expresses the development of the thorax in respect to the morphologic type, and has the following formula:
Width of thorax x 100 Thoracic index =
Height of the thorax
The three morphologic types have the following thoracic index: -brachimorph: from 90 to 100; – mesomorph: from 60 to 90; – dolicomorph: from 50 to 60 In the cane Corso the thoracic index is about 70 (mesomorph). The cane Corso is harmonious in respect to its form (the form is given by height and mass: that is the volume) The Cane Corso is disharmonic in respect to its profile, since the profile of the head is concave (convergent) and that of the trunk is rectilinear.
Constitutional type. The habitus is the complex of the characteristics that distinguish an animal species. The famous French zootechnician Sigaud distinguishes 4 fundamental types, on the base of the prevalence of the volume of a certain anatomical part in respect to the entire: cerebral (prevalent head, e.g. bulldog), digestive (prevalent abdomen, e.g. Neapolitan mastiff), respiratory (prevalent thoracic region, e.g. sighthound), muscular (prevalent muscular mass, e.g. boxer). The constitution on the other had is a physical type of body. If classified based on the efficiency of the muscles in the transforming oxygen, carried by the cardiovascular system, in motor energy (contraction and extension of the muscle), it can be scarce, normal, or great.
Head. The head of dog breeds can be distinguished in 3 fundamental morphological types, according to the rapport between length and width. For this we use the cephalic index, expressed by the following formula: Width of head x 100 Cephalic index =——————————- Length of head
The three morphological types have the following index: – brachicephalic: index superior to 54 – mesocephalic: index between 50 and 54 – dolicocephalic: index inferior to 50.
In the Cane Corso the cephalic index varies from 64 to 66 and thus is definitely brachicephalic. We have seen that breeds are classifiable in three types according to the superior longitudinal axes of the skull and the muzzle (cranio-facial axes). Normally these axes are traced empirically by an expert eye, while in order to measure them with precision the use of a compass is necessary. The superior longitudinal axes of the skull go from the craniometric point “inion” (which is found at the top of the “protuberantia occipitalis externa”) to the craniometric “nasion” (which is found at the meeting point of the nasal and frontal bones). The superior longitudinal axis of the muzzle follows the upper profile of the nose from the nostrils to the stop. Determining in this manner the cranio-facial axes, we see that they can be: – parallel: the two axes never meet, e.g. german shepherd, great dane, mastiff, Neapolitan mastiff; – convergent: the forward projection of the two axes meet, the backward projection passes behind the occipital crest, e.g. Cane Corso, boxer, dogue de Bordeaux, pointer, St. Bernard; – divergent: the forward projection of the two axes never meets, the backward projection passes in front of the occipital crest, e.g. Italian bracco, borzoi, bloodhound, bullterrier. In the Cane Corso the convergence constitutes a necessary ethnic character. There are two types of convergence: – monoconvergence, in which only the cranial axes converges on the muzzle axis; – biconvergence, in which the cranial axis and the muzzle axis meet each other. The Cane Corso, like the pointer, the St. Bernard, the bullmastiff, etc. is monoconvence. The boxer, bulldog etc are biconvergence. True biconvergence is considered hypertype, parallelism hypotype, and divergence is not acceptable.
Nose. Generally, a small nose is associated with a cone-shaped head, and is not acceptable. Subjects can be found with an excellent square muzzle and a small nose. In this case the head lose type, especially in males, and should be penalized. The nose should never be low or protruding (frequent in dogs with cranio-facial axes parallel or divergent), nor should it have a “pug nose” higher than the profile of the muzzle (frequent in hypertypes).
The nasal bridge. Given the parallelism of the lateral sides of the muzzle, it must maintain the same width from the base to the extremity. A roman nose often is associated with parallelism or divergence. Occasionally a more-or-less accented gibbosity appears half-way up the muzzle, which is not pleasing. A slightly concave profile often goes with a short muzzle and a pug nose, and shows a tendency to hypertype. This should be penalized, as it affects the nobility of the subject.
Lips and muzzle. In some subjects the front of the muzzle is not large and flat, but has a tendency to merge and form a large curve with the lateral planes, as a result of insufficiently large jaw-bones. In this case, if the upper lips are sufficiently developed, they cannot find an adequate resting place, and fall in an upside-down “V” instead of the typical “U”. This is typical of subjects with convergent side planes of the muzzle and should be severely penalized. Lips which are insufficiently developed, taut, or receding should be penalized (they usually come with a cone-shaped muzzle). Overdeveloped lips often accompany a general laxity of the skin and modify the typical expression of the breed: to penalize. A necessary element of type in the Cane Corso is that the width of the muzzle equals its length, and that the muzzle measured at its root be at least 1/3 higher than it is long. Thus the muzzle is as long as it is wide.
The jaws. In the Cane Corso the lower incisors extend 5 millimeters beyond the upper ones, causing a slight prognathism (undershot). This measure of 5 mm is an average. The level bite (the edges of the upper teeth on the edges of the lower) an a prognathism of 10 mm are only tolerated. A straight mandibular profile (spatula-billed) is not permitted, since it impoverishes the skeleton and the muzzle. It often also accompanies a receding chin, which is not touched by the upper lip at the proper meeting point. This causes a lack of incisiveness in the muzzle and cannot be admitted. Enognatism (overshot) comes from a deficient development of the mandible, and is so serious that it compromises the dog’s chances of survival: dogs in this condition must not reproduce and should be disqualified. In synthesis, in a working breed like the Cane Corso a well-curved jaw with a marked chin is an essential for a solid and secure grip. On the other hand, an excess of prognathism becomes counterproductive for this grip. The notable distance between the canine teeth and the ample transversal development of the jaws cause the upper lips to hang out a bit, so that the face seen from the front has the shape of an isosceles triangle, with the long side on the bottom. The absence of the premolar P1 from one or both sides is not a serious fault, since the Cane Corso is brachicephalic. But the absence of the other premolars must be severely penalized, since it is almost always the consequence of an abnormal shortening of the muzzle. It is very important that the teeth be strong and in rapport with the volume of the head.
Nasal-frontal depression (stop). When the stop is clearly marked it is easily noticeable, observing the head in profile and calculating the degree of the seno-nasal angle. However, a precise and correct idea of the stop can be had only through the valuation of the cranio-facial angle. In the Cane Corso this angle should be about 130˚. There are subjects which, although they have a correct seno-nasal angle (105˚-110˚), because of an inadequate development in the three directions of the frontal bones have a stop too little or too well pronounced. These deviations, which bring about anomalous cranio-facial angles, must be strongly fought.
Skull. The skull, like the muzzle, is as large as it is long. This characteristic is a fundamental element in the type of the Corso. An excessively flat skull is due basically to two motives: the excessive prominence of the occipital apophyses and of the saggital crest (usually this will be found in dogs with parallel or diverging cranio-facial axes), or an over-developed temporal muscle which inhibits the development of the skull bones (the skull is equally round at the sides, but flat on the top and with flat frontal bones and eyebrow arch). We have a globular head, a sign of hypertype, when a subject combines a normal development of the skull bones and the zygomatic arches with a hypertrophic temporal: the head will be full at the parietals, round at the eyebrow arch, the slight depression above the eyes disappears, and the head becomes heavy with an untypical expression. The over-eye depression becomes too deep when the temporal and the muscles of the head in general are hypotrophic, and the head, in this case, seems boney, gaunt and aged.
Cheeks. Hypotrophic masseters lighten the head too much, while hypertrophic ones (e.g. bulldog) spoil its nobility.
Eyes. Deepset, small or protruding eyeballs should be severely penalized, because they alter the physiognomy of the breed. A frontal position of the eye (determined when the palpebral axes and the median axes of the head from a right angle) should be penalized as a sign of hypertype and heaviness, and is almost always associated with a round and exophthalmus palpebral fissure (bull’s eye). A still worse fault, in bitches as well, is an eye in semi-lateral position, known as the “almond eye”. In good males the eyes are far apart. Close-set eyes change the expression and often go with ill-developed frontal cavities and a flat head. The eyelids must adhere to the eye and show neither ectropion (turned out of its margin), typical of lymphatic subjects, nor entropion (turned into its margin). In addition, regardless of coat colour, including light red and light grey, they must, including the third eyelid, have black edges. In general the iris should be of the same tone as the darkest part of the coat, excluding the mask. So it should be dark hazel in black dogs and get lighter with red or grey coats. These tones should never go beyond a light hazel, because the colour of the iris is always in relation to the colour of the nose and the rim of the eyelids, which in the Cane Corso must be black. Wall eyes (in which one or both of the irises is discoloured from slate grey to blue) is an indication of arrested development, and is a genetic fault. It calls for disqualification.
Ears. The habit of amputating the ears leads breeders to neglect the proper insertion and the right proportions of this part of the dog’s anatomy. However, since amputation should be prohibited, it is necessary to pay attention to the ears, which give so much type and expression to the head. When ears are not cut, if their base is too large the auricles will tend to form a “butterfly”, while if the base is too narrow they will hang limp, depriving the upper part of the head of its desired angular and marked shape. In both cases the head loses nobility and type.
Neck. The marked detachment of the neck from the nape is important because it indicates the development and tonic of the neck muscles (the better part of which are inserted in the occipital bone). In addition, the slightly convex profile of the upper margin of the neck is an indication of adequate muscular development. The presence of the dewlap or excessive relaxation of the skin is a sign of lymphatism. The length of the neck is fundamental because of its function in the movement of the dog. In fact the cephalo-cervical equalizer (the neck with the head), moving the baricenter ahead, acts to regulate the balance of the body (the instability of which is the measure of its speed) and hence of the gait. In general, a long neck is a characteristic of galloper, while a trotter doesn’t need one quite so long. The Cane Corso has a relatively long neck, even though it is shorter than that of a pure galloper, and his characteristic gait is, in fact, a lengthened trot. A neck which is not well fused with the withers, should and chest should be severely penalized, since it almost always leads to low withers and a straight shoulder (the neck is inserted like a tube in the body).
Trunk. The Cane Corso is built in a rectangle, the length of the trunk being 11% more than the height at the withers.
Chest. The measurement of the width of the chest is taken by using the opposing points of the shoulder as reference. When, due to a deficient muscular development, the profile of the sterna margin is too evident (sharp chest) the subject should be severely penalized.
Thorax. Height. Summarily, we can decide if the thorax is adequately developed in height by verifying that the profile of the breast bone (in the part closest to the ground) and the top of the elbow bone are aligned. Nevertheless, a good thorax may appear too high because of low withers which, by reducing the distance between elbow and withers, lower the breast bone beyond the level of the elbow (and this is a fault to penalize). Sometimes it bitches, especially if in whelp, or in older and fatter animals, a perfect thorax may seem low. If it is actually not high enough it compromises the function of the animal and is a grave fault.
Width. In an empiric examination by eye, the width of the thorax and that of the chest should correspond. There is no place for a flat thorax, nor for a “barrel” one, which ruins the nobility of the dog and obstructs his movement, and these should be penalized, as should a narrow or keel-like one. This keep shape, caused by the abrupt reduction of the transverse diameters in the lower part of the ribs, causes an empty place between thorax and elbow, so that this last oscillates. This fault is mostly seen in young and long-limped dogs, particularly if they are large. When the transverse diameter is more than 35% of the height at the withers the do will be wide in front with upper arms too distanced; when it is less that 35% the dog will be narrow in the front with the upper arms too close. The latter fault is worse than the first and should be severely penalized.
Depth. The depth of the thorax is of great importance, because it is in relationship to the extension of the spaces between the ribs and to their obliquity. If it is not deep enough it will almost always bring straight ribs, with a consequent reduction of breathing capacity, a serious fault. A deficient thoracic perimeter will also effect the functionally of the dog. In the terminal point of the bottom segment of the breast bone is curved in as a result of rickets, the belly will be retracted, since several abdominal muscles are inserted there. Another fault to penalize.
Withers. The anatomical base of the withers if found in the first five dorsal vertebrae and the top of the shoulder, and they form the highest point of the top line of the trunk. Because the height of the spinal apophyses rises to the fifth dorsal vertebra and then descends gradually, the height of the dog is determined at this point. Long and prominent withers are a great quality in a working dog. They indicate the length and the consequent slant of the spinal apophyses of the dorsal vertebrae, which make a lever for the back muscles, the cervical ligaments and the trapezoid and rhomboid muscles of the shoulder. Consequently, the higher the spinal apophyses, the greater the contraction of the elevating muscles of the shoulder (and thus the amplitude of the movement of the limbs) and more efficient the action on the cephalo-cervical equalizer (the head with the neck) and on the rigidity and solidarity of the back and loins (factors which favour indirectly the propulsive forces of the hindquarters). In addition, high withers are usually associated with a well-sloped shoulder, a condition which favours, along with the other already mentioned, the maximum in the various gaits. Short and low withers make the back seem longer and, together with a closed scapular-humeral angle or an excessive inclination of the arm, move the center of gravity to the front. The dog will seem to be “thrown ahead” and will move with little energy and awkwardly because of the lacking amplitude in the oscillation of the front limbs and the reduction of impulse from the rear. High and short withers impede the harmonic fusion between neck and back, since they cause an abrupt break with the topline. When the points of the scapulae are too high and too close together they cause the so-called “sharp withers”, (a fairly rare fault). If the withers are too fat they are usually also low (a grave fault).
Back. The back’s function is to sustain the rest of the body, and to transmit the rear impulse to the front. A back with a straight profile and slightly rampant from back to front assures the best propulsive impulse from the hind legs to the front legs. In fact, since this conformation moves the center of gravity toward the back, in lightens the front, and permits a more efficient forward projection of the trunk. Cyphosis, or a convex or roach back indicates that the spinal column traces a convex profile in the dorso-lombar region, and is often caused by rickets with the consequent calcification of the intervertebral cartilage. Dogs with this pathology will be shorter and less flexible, suffering a reduction in their movement ad in their capacity to develop fast gaits, since the propulsion of the posterior is obstructed by the cyphotic profile which weakens the thrust. Lordosis, or a concave back, indicates that the spinal column has a concave profile in a part of the back region or, more often, from the withers to the croup, and is often correlated with a relaxation of the lower vertebral ligaments, with short withers, and a long back and loins. Such an anomaly should be severely penalized in the Cane Corso. Dogs in this condition are less solid and less mobile since they not only suffer, as in cyphotic subjects, from this obstacle to the transmission of impulse from the hindquarters, but must as well use more energy to offset the unnatural lowering of the spinal column.
Loins. A short, broad and solid loin is an important functional quality in the dog, and can make up for many other anatomical faults. The loin must be short because a short bridge is notoriously stronger than a long one. A long loin causes a fluctuating posterior, with subsequent damage to the transmission of the impellent impulse. The loin must be broad because, if the transversal apophyses are well –developed in length, the muscular masses around them will be equally developed. A narrow or weak loin will have little resistance. An inacceptable fault is a “sharp” loin, one that emerges at the sides, and we should penalize that which is short, dropped, or not well joined to the back and the croup (here the discourse is the same as that for the back, since the propulsive force of the posterior tends to break in this region and the subject must use a large part of his energy to oppose the lowering of the lomboid axis). The profile of the loins should be slightly convex, arched, because this shape is more adapted to the movements of distention and retraction the dog makes at the trot or a gallop. A flat loin is ill-adapted to modify the profile, making the movement rigid. It is a good idea to ascertain the solidity of the loins with one’s hand.
Stomach and flanks. The profile of the belly is strictly connected to that of the back. A belly with too much tuck-up generally goes with a convex back and a straight or falling one with a concave back. The same considerations made for cyphosis and lordosis of the back are pertinent here. However, a swollen or relaxed belly may be due to fat, wrong food, worms, or lyphatism.
Croup. The croup is of fundamental importance in animal mechanics, because it is the cornerstone of the transmission of the posterior impulse (hocks) to the anterior, and its inclination (accoriding to the axis of the coxa) is directly correlated to the length of the posterior muscles (gluteals and ischeo-tibials) and hence to their angulation. In fact, the femur forms an angle with the coxa which varies from 90° to 120°, and since the metatarsal is always perpendicular to the group, it is obvious that the inclination of the thigh (femur) and leg (tibia) will depend upon the slope of the croup. We will discuss this further in the section of hindquarters. A horizontal croup, typical for gallopers, presupposes long ischio-tibial muscles with a consequently greater ability to contract, and thus an ample oscillation of the limbs. An inclined croup, typical of trotters, presupposes shorter muscles. In the Cane Corso the croup is slightly inclined: in fact, its typical gait is a lengthened trot. The croup should be long, because it acts as the fulcrum of transmission; the efficiency of action is in relation to its length. The width of the croup is in relation to the schelectric construction, and consequently to the development of the muscular mass. The croup of the Cane Corso must be broad because he must develop more power than speed. A serious fault is a steep croup (over 35°) since it means an insufficiently angulated posterior, caused by the shortening and weakening of the ischio-tibial muscles; the dog, to avoid fatigue, puts one bone radius over the other as vertically as possible with incorrect articulation of the coxo-femural and the knee. The pathology often goes with a croup which is higher than the withers and rarer is a horizontal croup (under 15°) which determines a femur-tibial straightening and angles which are too open (If this is associated with a short croup, movement is seriously limited).
Forequarters Regular perpendicularity in profile: 1) a vertical line from the point of the shoulder should touch the point of the toes; 2) a vertical line from the center of the elbow should divide the limb in two equal parts and touch ground right behind the paw.
Regular perpendicularity from the front: 1) a vertical line from the point of the shoulder to the ground should divide into two equal parts the upper arm, the body, the pastern, and the paw; 2) the length of the front limb to the elbow should be one-half the height at the withers.
Shoulder. The shoulder is basic to the mechanics of movement in a dog, since it is the point of insertion of the muscles which control the upper arm and arm, and controls the length of gait. Because of this a long shoulder with long muscles is associated with a long stride. A short shoulder, often combined with a straight one, has a negative influence on movement and construction since it is always accompanied by an excessive slant of the arm, causing the body to lean ahead and move the center of gravity. The shoulder must be not only long and correctly slanted, it must be mobile as well, and for this reason we penalize those that are heavy, frail, badly moving, or too relaxed.
Arm. The length of the humerus is directly connected to that of the scapula, and its slant is a compensating factor to the scapula’s direction. We have already said that a “straight” shoulder goes with an over-inclined arm, with too much weight overloading of the front paws, and unlimber limbs. A shoulder with too much slant, on the other hand, will cause an excessively short arm. This moves the center of gravity backwards, overloads the hindquarters, and leads to an upright carriage of the neck. Both these faults are to be penalized. A correct slant of the shoulder in respect to the horizon (58°-60°) associated with a correct sacapolo-humeral angle (106°-110°) is fundamental.
Upper arm. The front of the upper arm is characterized by a groove, called carpo-cubital, determined by the insertion of the tendon of the cubital flexor muscle in the pisiform bone, which acts as a lever. The more the pisiform bone is developed, the more the lever will be efficient and the carpo-cubital groove will be noticeable. Turned-out or open elbows can cause the dog to toe in; turned-in elbows will cause the paws to toe out. The second fault is more common in Cane Corso than the first. We do not want short, thin, or weak upper arms, which come from a narrow chest, while arched ones are a sign of rickets.
Wrist. The carpal joint of the dog corresponds to the wrist in man. Normally in puppies and young dogs of the Cane Corso it is hypertrophic, with noticeable swelling in the bone. This is not to be credited to rickets in the young, while it should be penalized in adults. The presence of signs of esostosis (continued production of bone tissue) indicates a permanent irritation, and is serious. Sometimes the wrist is inclined to the front of the vertical line of the upper arm, or arched to the back. Both of these situations falsify the limbs. Often the wrist turns in, so that the pasterns and paws turn out, or turns out, so that pasterns and paws turn in. The first fault is more common in the Corso than the second. If the wrist is rigid, the dog will move “on his toes”, but this is rare in the Cane Corso.
Pastern. Among the various anatomical parts which make up the forequarters, the pastern can be called the “shock-absorber”. In fact, thanks to its obliquity and elasticity it interacts as a spring between upper parts of the limb and the paws, every time they touch the ground. In young subjects a long and low-joined pastern is frequent, and almost always disappears in adults.
Foot. Toes which are separated and not well-arched are a sign of hereditary lymphatism, and are not to be tolerated. Flat feet tire the animal so that he cannot move for long distances. In the Cane Corso the most common deviations from the norm is the forequarters can be reassumed thus: – in profile a) total deviation of the limb: 1. dog (a vertical line falls ahead of the toes); 2. dog (a vertical line falls on the paw), rare in the Cane Corso b) partial deviation of the limb: 1. dog (pasterns too long and sloping); – from the front a) total deviation of the limb: 1. dog (limbs converging towards the ground) 2. dog (limbs diverging towards the ground) 3. dog with upper arm arched (a ; b) partial deviation of the limb 1. dog toed-out 2. dog toed-in
Hindquarters. Regular perpendicularity in profile: 1. a vertical line from the point of the buttocks must touch the point of the toes; 2. the rear pastern is always perpendicular to the ground.
Regular perpendicularity from behind: 1. a vertical line from the point of the buttocks divides the entire leg in two equal parts.
Thigh. A long thigh is an important quality, especially in a working dog, because it means more oscillation of the leg and long and powerful muscles. A development in breadth is equally important. A narrow, flat, () indicates reduced development or even atrophy of the muscles. Even worse is a thigh with a rear rectilinear or caved-in profile, since it is usually due to a lack of development in the point of the buttocks, which acts as a lever of the ischio-tibial muscles and causes a greater use of energy in movement. In general, long thighs and well-descended buttocks go with a horizontal or slightly sloped croup, while short thighs and buttocks mean an inclined or, worse, falling-off croup. In synthesis, it is very important that the entire croup-pelvis-buttock-thigh complex be powerful and well-developed. If it is not, the functionality of the hindquarters will suffer, and in young dogs can lead to notorious subdislocation of the coxo-femoral articulation. An open thigh leads to cow hocks, and a closed one () to turning in.
Leg. The leg is almost as long as the thigh. We have already discussed, speaking of the thigh, the importance of a proper development of the muscles, bones, and length for an efficient movement. An insufficiently marked leg groove (a longitudinal furrow present in the outer part of the leg from the stifle to its bottom half) is a sign of muscular weakness. A correct bend of the leg indicates a correct croup and in general a correct angulation of the entire hindquarters. (straight leg = horizontal croup, oblique leg = inclined croup).
Hock. The hock or tarsal is a very important region, not only for its sustaining function, but also because it is the propulsive spring of the hindquarters (the breadth and length of the hock indicate the development of this spring). Given that the rear pastern is always vertical, the tibio-metatarsical angle is in relation to the tibia which, as we have seen, is in turn correlated to the position of the croup. In synthesis: horizontal croup = tibia almost straight = open angled hock , sloping croup = oblique tibia = close angled hock. If the metatarso forms an acute angle with the ground of center of gravity is moved backward and the hock overloaded (elbow hock). On the contrary, if the metatarso forms an obtuse angle with the ground the motorial impulse suffers. Both these faults are very serious, but the second is more common in the Cane Corso. False positions of the limbs can provoke a slowdown of the tibial-metatarsic articulation, with a hock vacillating in movement. In dogs which are there can actually be a tendency to the inversion of the angle of the hock.
Metatarso. The standard does not call for spurs, but in reality many of the more dubjects have a spur or fifth toe. We have noticed, empirically and without any scientific foundation, that modern selection of the breed has brought about the disappearance of the spur in the second or third generation and that, as breeders well know, without any reference to the blood lines of the rustic dogs. This, we repeat is simply statistical data, and has not, as far as we know, as yet been studied with scientific methodology. Be that as it may, the spur must be eliminated both because it is an impediment to casual movement and because its nail can cut the leg opposite to it or its own, causing infection.
Feet. In the Cane Corso the most common deviation of the verticality of the hindquarters can be summed up as follows: – in profile: a) total deviation of the limb 1. dog (the foot is in the front of the vertical line, the back legs are under the body, and the croup is too steep); 2. dog (the foot is in the front of the vertical line, the back legs are under the body, the leg is perpendicular, the hock is open, the croup is too steep); 3. dog (the foot is found well behind the vertical line, the hind legs are moved back, and the croup is horizontal), b) partial deviation of the limb: 1. closed hock (the deviation starts from the hock and the tarso, the metatarso, and the foot are bent forward); 2. open hock (the opposite of the above);
– from behind a) total deviation of the limb 1. dog (limbs converging toward the ground, inside the vertical); 2. dog (limbs diverging toward the ground, outside the vertical); 3. dog (the hocks are inside the vertical and the feet turned outward); 4. dog (the hocks are outside the vertical and the feet turn inward).
Coat colour. The variety of colours in the coat of the Cane Corso requires an extended discussion. At the beginning of the ‘80’s, when the recovery of the breed began, it was decided not to prefer any particular colour, but to take into consideration all the tones that history and tradition had given us. Nevertheless, it turned out that the coat colours we found at the time were basically four: black, dark brindle, ash grey and wheat (frumentino). As we have mentioned in earlier chapters, the colour of the dog was often directly connected to his function, the geographic area in which he lived, and superstitions which considered this or that particular colour tied to particular attributes. Actual had been created of subjects with the same colour and the same function.
A black coat was preferred by pig and goat breeders, and ,much used by cowboys as well. The black must be intense, bright but not shiny , and never tending to blue. White markings (on the toes and the chest but never large) are admitted, but total black is to be preferred. When the dog is in moult the black may because in colour.
Dark brindles were chose for wild boar hunts and were much used for herding. In the Cane Corso the striping covers many gradations of red and is not always clearly delineated but can, in certain cases, fade into the base color, most especially in the darker brindles. This gives subjects which, due to the mixture of black and red hair, have three tonalities: for example, black, dark red, and light red, all in a mixture of unclear lines in which, however, the black must prevail. Brindles must always have a black mask.
The ashen coat was the favorite of cowboys and herders. Lead and late grey are occasionally brindled, but more often this is found in the lighter shades, always with the red lines well-marked. In brindles with red lines the mask is rarely present.
A wheaten colour (red with the tone of ripe grain) was preferred for badger and sometimes wild boar hunting, as well as by goatherds. There must always be a black or grey (perhaps the most typical) mask. This is black in the darker reds and grows lighter as the coat colour clears toward wheaten. It is important that the mask does not overreach the eye line (when it does there is a foreign blood in the subject), but the most typical is a gradual blending as it approaches that point. A white band on the nose was much appreciated at the time. Together with wheaten, the most typical colour was the light red with pearly tones.
We have said that in the past entire of the same colour were formed (dogs were rarely exchanged for mating). Modern breeding has instead given no particular preference to colour, and the result of the coupling of subjects of different coats has been a proliferation of different colours, particularly grey and red. We believe, however, that in the future breeding should be oriented towards the four most coats: black, dark brindle, ashen (even if brindled) and wheaten. In conclusion, we should remember that there are many white dogs immortalized in the iconography of the Cane Corso.
Height at the withers. New methods of alimentation, using better balanced diets, have caused in recent years a growth in the height of dogs as compared to those used as models for the standard. We consider the ideal sizes for male to be 65 to 68 centimeters at the withers, and for bitches 62 to 65 centimeters.