Original Cane Corso standard by Dr Antonio Morsiani 1987


by Dr Antonio Morsiani

ENCI (Italian Kennel Club) Judge’s Committee and Executive Committee have approved this Standard during 1987.

Position in the scientific classification: dog belonging to the Molossian group (according to Pierre Mégnin’s classification), concave short-haired breed (according to Paul Déchambre’s classification).

Position in the utilitarian classification: watch-, protection-, police- and race dog.
Origin: Italian, more exactly southern
General specifying features of the breed: the general conformation is the one of a mesomorphic animal whose trunk is longer than the height to the withers, harmonious as regards to the form and disharmonious as regards the profile.

Corporal index: approx. 80
Thoracic index: approx. 70
Constitutional type: muscular habitus (1). Normal constitution (2)

The height of the limb to the elbow is 5/10 of the height of the withers. Of medium-big size, strongly built but elegant with powerful and long muscles, very distinguished, he expresses strength, agility and endurance.
Intelligent, active and even-minded, he is an unequalled watch- and protection dog.
Docile and affectionate with the owner, loving with children and with the family if necessary he becomes a terrible and brave protector of people, house and property.
He is easy trainable.
Nowhere, in any way, the “Corso” must remind of a Neapolitan Mastiff.

Brachycephalic. Its total length reaches 3,6/10 of the height of the withers. The length of the muzzle is equal to 3,4/10 of the total length of the head. The bizygomatic width, which is equal to the length of the skull, is more than half of the total length of the head, reaching its 6,6/10. The cephalic index varies from 64 to 66.
The upper longitudinal axes of the skull and the muzzle are convergent and the backward extension of the upper line of the nasal pipe always out- stretches under the external occipital protuberance.
The perimeter of the head, measured at the cheekbones, is more than twice the total length of the head even in the females.
The head is moderately sculptured with zygomatic arches stretched outwards. The skin is firm and sticking to the tissues underneath, it is smooth and quite stretched.

It is on the same line as the nose pipe. Seen from the side it mustn’t stick out the front vertical margin of the lips but be, with its front, on the same vertical line as the front of the muzzle.
Its sides, upper and frontal, seen from the side, form a right angle.
It has to be voluminous, rather flat on top, with wide nostrils, opened and mobile, wet and cool. The nasal wings are quite thin. The pigmentation is black.

Nose pipe
Straight, rather flat. For the length and the direction in the connection with the skull axis, see “head”. The width, measured at half-length, is equal to approx. 20% of the total length of the head and to approx. 59% of the length of the nose pipe.

Lips and muzzle
Seen from the front, the upper lips form at their lower margin and, more precisely, at their disjunction, an upside down “U”. The front side of the muzzle is flat and square.
Its square shape is due to the parallelism of the muzzle sides and to the fullness of the width of the whole jaw.
As the front side of the muzzle is greatly developed transversally and vertically, the triangular patch is wide, the groove from the nose to the lips is long and the distance between the top-frontal margin of the nose and the disjunction of the lips is considerable.
The upper lips, seen from the side hang moderately (3), so the profile of the lower side is given by the lips.
The lower lips, which hang a little, form with the upper ones a rightly marked commissure in such a way to show the lip mucous membrane.
The commissure always represents the lowest point of the lower margin of the muzzle and is place, orally, a little further of the perpendicular line from the outside corner of the eye; therefore the rima oris is long.
The lips are rather firm.
The width of the muzzle must be almost equal to its length, which reaches 3,4/10 of the total length of the head. Its depth, measured from the upper margin of the nose pipe to the commissure, is more than 50% the length of the muzzle and is equal to approx. 51% of the total length of the head.
The suborbital region shows a very slight chisel.

Very wide, strong and thick, with a very slight shortening of the upper jaw with the subsequent light prognathism (undershot). From here, a contained prolonging of the lower arch, as the jaw incisors pass of only ½ cm their correspondent ones on the upper arch.
The sides are very strong and, seen from the side, are quite curved. The body of the jaws, solid, swollen and very arcuated forward, has its main feature in a marked chin on which rest the upper lips at their disjunction.
The teeth are white, big, and complete in growth and number. The incisors are firmly placed on a straight line. The canine teeth are divergent and spaced out because of the considerable transversal growth of the jawteeth (in males the canine teeth should be at no less than 5,5-5,7 cm far from each other at the apex of the crown).

It is wide, with several muscles as the whole upper line of the trunk, slightly climbing from the back to the front and with a strictly straight profile.
Its length is approx. 32% of the height of the withers.

The lumbar region, a bridge between the back and the front parts, must be short, wide, well joined to the back and to the rump, with plenty of muscles, very solid and, seen from the side, slightly convex.
Its length, slightly higher than its wide, is equal to 20% of the height of the withers (measured from the vertebral insertion of the last rib to the outside angle of the ileum).

Abdomen and sides
The abdomen, which is well joined to the sides and to the hypochondriac region, is not hollowed and, seen from the side, rises up from the sternum edge to the groins with a smooth curve.
Being the lumbar region very compact, the ribs very bent backwards and coxal region slightly inclined, the sides are very short, like the loins. The hollow on the side is not very marked.

It’s long, wide, quite round due to the big growths of the muscles.
The length, measured from the ridge of the hip to the ridge of the nates (4), is equal to 32% of the height to the withers.
Its average width (5) is equal to 23% of the height to the withers. Its inclination on the horizontal line, on the basis of the ileum and ischiatic line (coxal axis) is of 28˚-30˚, on the basis of the sacrum and coccyx line (the top profile of the rump (6) is of 15˚-16˚. Therefore the rump is slightly inclined (7).

It’s inserted quite high on the rump line, it’s thick at the root and not too tapering at the tip, and if stretched is not too much over the hock.
When not in action is low, otherwise is horizontal or slightly higher than the back, it must never be bent to from a ring or in a vertical position. It gets amputated at the 4th vertebra.

Sexual organs
Male: testicles grown normally, mobile in their involucres and down in the scrotum.


It’s long, oblique, strong, equipped with long, powerful and well-divided muscles, is adherent to the thorax, but free in the movements.
Its length, from the top of the withers to the ridge of the shoulders, is equal to 30% of the height to the withers and its inclination of the horizontal line is between 48˚-50˚.
In relation to the median plane of the body the ridges of the shoulder-blades are slightly swerved.

Ís slightly longer than the shoulder, strong, with very well grown bones and muscles, well joined to the trunk in its top 2/3, measured from the ridge of the shoulder to the tip of the elbow, it has a length equal to 31/32% of the height to the withers and an inclination with the horizontal line of approx. 58˚-60˚.
Its longitudinal direction is parallel to the median plane of the body. The angle between the shoulder blades and the humerus is between 106˚ and 110˚.

It is perfectly vertical with oval section, with several muscles, in particular in the top-third, with a very strong and compact bone structure. Its length from the tip of the elbow to the one of the arm is equal to 32/33% of the height to the withers. Its perimeter, measured straight underneath the elbow, is equal to 39% of the height to the withers. The carpus-cubital groove is quiet marked.
The elbows, long and protruding, adherent but not too close to the ribcage, covered with lean skin, must be like the humerus, on a strictly parallel plane to the sagittal plane of the trunk; this condition is indispensable to have a regular perpendicularity.
The tip of the elbow (olecranon epiphysis) is located on the vertical line lowered from the caudal (or the back) angle of the shoulder blade to the ground.

Seen from the front, it follows the straight vertical line of the forearm; it is lean, wide (8), mobile, thick (9) and without marks of hestosis.
Its perimeter reaches 26% of the height to the withers.
At its top margin the pisiform bone is strongly projected backwards.

It is quiet smaller than the forearm (perimeter 22-23% of the height of the withers), is very strong, lean, elastic, slightly flexed, not very long. Its length must not be over one sixth of the height of the forelimb to the elbow.
Seen from the front, it follows the perpendicular line of the forearm and of the carpus.
Seen from the side it forms with the ground and angle of approx. 75˚.

It has a round shape, with very arcuated and gathered fingers, (cat’s food). Lean and hard soles. The nails are strong, curved and pigmented. There is a good pigmentation also in the plantar and digital pads.


It is long and wide, with prominent but clearly divided muscles, and is slightly convex at its back margin; it has a perimeter, measured to the groin, not lower than 70% of the height to the withers. The nates ridge is well marked.
Its length is over 33% of the height to the withers and the width (10) is never lower than 25% of such height.
The thight-bone axis, quite oblique from the top to the bottom and from the back to the front, has an inclination of 70˚ on the horizontal line and forms with the coxal axis an angle which is slightly more than right (coxo-femural angle)
The vertical plane going through the thigh, in relation with the median plane of the body is imperceptibly diverging downwards, which means almost parallel.

It is long with a strong bone and muscle structure. It is free from sub-cutaneous cellular tissue and has a well-marked groove.
Its length is equal to 32% of the height to the withers and its inclination from the top to the bottom and from the front to the back is approx. 50˚ on the horizontal line.
The angle between the thighbone, the kneecap and the shinbone is of approx. 120˚. Its direction is parallel to the median plane of the body.

It is wide, thick, clean, with well-marked bone.
The protruding hock ridge shows clearly the continuation of the leg groove. The distance from the ridge of the hock to the sole of the foot (to the ground) shouldn’t be over 26% of the height to the withers.
Seen from the back the vertical line going though the ridge of the hock (top of the heel) must match the line lowered from the ridge of the nates to the ground. Its direction, in relation to the median plane of the body is parallel.
The angle between the shinbone and the metatarsus is of approx 140˚.

It is very thick, lean, rather short, cylindrical, and is always perpendicular to the ground, seen from the side and from the back likewise.
Its length is equal to approx. 15% of the height to the withers (tarsus and foot excluded).
When the dog is placed, seen from the side, it is regularly perpendicular if the vertical line lowered from the ridge of the nates skims the fingers tip.
Its internal side is without spur.

It has a shape slightly more oval than the fore one and a less arcuated phalanx.

Short hair (11), with vitreous texture, shiny, adherent, stiff, very dense, with a light layer that become thicker in the winter (but it never crops up on the covering hair).
Its average length is approx 2-2,5 cm.
On the withers, the rump, the back margin of the thighs and on the tail it reaches approx. 3 cm without creating fringes.
On the muzzle the hair is very short, smooth, adherent and is not more than 1-1,5 cm.

Colors of the coat
Black, plumb-grey, slate, light grey, light fawn, deer fawn, dark fawn and brindle (12).
In the fawn subjects there is a black mask only on the muzzle and shouldn’t go beyond the eyes’ line.
A small white patch on the chest, on the feet tips and, in the fawny subjects, on the nose duct is accepted.

It is rather thick, has limited subcutaneous connective and therefore is adherent everywhere to the layers underneath. The neck is practically without dewlap. The head mustn’t have wrinkles.
The pigment of the mucous membranes and of the sclera is black. The pigment of the soles and the nails must be dark.

Height to the withers
For males            from 62 cm to 68 cm
For females        from 58 cm to 64 cm
                                with allowance of ± 2 cm

Males from 42 to 50 kg           ratio weight/size(13)            0,710
Females from 38 to 45 kg      ratio weight/size                    0,680

Long steps, stretched trot, some steps of gallop


General features
General look: uncouth, stocky, heavy or too light.
Disharmony between the head and body. Spongy or thin bone structure, lack of symmetry. Similar to the Neapolitan Mastiff or Greyhound.

Parallelism. Divergence (disqualification). Too short, too long, uncouth. Incorrect ratio between skull and muzzle. Disharmony in the ratio between length and width.

Small, low or high in relation to the nose profile, protruding or backwards in relation to the vertical line of the frontal side of the muzzle, nostrils not well open, thick nose wings, traces of lack of pigmentation, complete lack of pigmentation (disqualification).

Nose pipe
Short, long, narrow, roof-like. Hollow or ram-like (disqualification), converging side lines.

Lips and muzzle
Muzzle too short or too long.
Scarce transversal or vertical growth of the frontal side of the muzzle (very serious fault). Converging sides of the muzzle and subsequent scarce squaring of the frontal side of the muzzle (if too much, disqualification).
Lips not enough or too much grown or descending so much to be over the lip commissure. Lip cummissure open. Lip disjunction like an up-turned “ V” or starting directly from the triangular plaque, short groove between nose and lips. Sub-orbital region too chiseled, hollow or full.

Weak. Enognatism (overshot) (disqualification), excess of prognathism. Jaws profile too straight (spatula-like) or too curved. Receding chin. Small teeth, insufficient, incisors set up on a curve, worn away horizontally or transversally, dental anomalies.

Short or too long in relation to the total length of the head, small, narrow at the cheekbones, too wide, too flat, dome-like, spherical, frontal eminences protruding forward a little (serious fault), too raised, flat (very serious fault).
Hollow between nose and forehead marked a little (serious fault) or too much. Narrow frontal sinuses, flattened superciliary arches. Insufficient or exaggerated growth of the chewing muscles, over-occipital and sagittal crest little or too marked. Middle groove not visible (very serious fault) or too marked. Over orbital hollows (conch) too deep or full.

Masseter region flat or lean or excessively heavy, swollen and hypertrophic.

Small (microphthalmic). Too small (disqualification). Prominent (exophthalmic), sunken (enophtalmic).
Too close, too apart. Ogive perfectly round or almond-shaped. Not in sub-frontal position, i.e. scarce inclination of the palpebral axis (below 5’) or exaggerated (over 15’). In a lateral or extremely lateral position = disqualification.
Partial palpebral lack of pigmentation; total: if monolateral, very serious fault, if bilateral, disqualification.
Ectropion, entropion, squinting, indirect look, suspicious.

Insertion too low, too narrow, too wide, covered with non-short hair, badly cut, badly borne.

Too broad, heavy, stocky, short, weak, not well joined to the withers, to the chest and to the shoulders, disjunction of the nape not clear, scarce convexity of its upper profile, marked dewlap.

Longitudinal diameter higher or lower than the prescribed length.

Little descending, narrow (definitely under 35% of the heights to the withers), too wide (definitely over 35% of the height to the withers), with few muscles, with a flat profile, sternum “ Y” bone not on the same level as the shoulders, (if located low, very serious fault).

Carinated, barrel-shaped, scarce or exaggerated growth of even only one of the three diameters (vertical transversal and sagittal), insufficient perimeter, excessive transversal diameter of maximum width not at half height of the rib cage.
Xiphoid appendix bent inwards, short sternum region.

Flat, short, little oblique, insufficiently bent backwards, rib arches little open, narrow intercostals spaces, short false ribs, little circled, not open and low.

Short, flat, short and low (very bad fault), short and high, not well joined to the neck and to the back.

Short (i.e. definitely less than 32% of the height to the withers), long (i.e. definitely over 32% of such height), with a discontinuous profile, cyphosis, lordosis, horizontal or, worse, inclined from the back forward.

Long (definitely over 20% of the height to the withers), flat, narrow, sharp, very arcuated, with few muscles, hollow (very bad fault), too sensitive to pressure, not well blended with the back and the rump, unsteady.

Abdomen and sides
Abdomen badly joined, hollow, retracting, with straight profile. Sides long, hollow or too full.

Sexual organs
Monorchidismus (disqualification), cryptorchidismus (disqualification). Incomplete growth of one or both testicles (disqualification).

Short, narrow, thin, sharp, hollow

Aniurismus, brachiurismus, low insertion, deviation.


Short, straight, thin, with insufficient muscles, open with a hollow behind the shoulder blade, heavy, full, loosened ridges of the shoulder blades too apart or too close.

Short, too inclined or too straight, with few muscles, light bone structure, not parallel to the median plane of the trunk.
Angle between the shoulder blade and the humerus too open (over 115˚) or too closed (below 100˚).

Short, round, weak, badly directed, lean, thin, weak bone structure, uncouth, spongy, arcuated outside the readius, groove not well marked, elbows open, closed, oscillating, not parallel to the median plane of the trunk, olecranon little protruding or away from the vertical line lowered from the caudal angle of the shoulder-blade to the ground.
Low hollow of the armpits, height of the elbow to the ground less than half the height to the withers or much over.

With spongy texture, fat, hypertrophic, traces of hesostosis, narrow, small, weak, jaded, hollow, varius, little mobile.

Weak, fat, little elastic, little solid, relaxed, forming with the ground an angle considerable higher than 75˚ (usually short and joined straight), or considerable lower (usually long and joined low), not perpendicular seen from the front (deviation inside or outside the vertical line).

Hare-like, too wide, too big, left-hand, with fingers open or little arcuated, flatm plantar and digital soles with this tissue, with insufficient pigmentation, fleshy digital pads, wrong disposition of the plantar pads, weak nails, little bent, partially or totally without pigmentation (bad fault).


Short, narrow, flat, too oblique (clearly below 70˚) or too straight (clearly over 70˚).
Back margin straight or, worse, hollow perimeter considerably below 70% of the height to the withers.

Weak, short, (definitely below 32% of the height to the withers), light bone structure, groove not well marked. Too much or little inclined. Angle between thighbone, kneecap and shinbone quite over or below 120˚. Not parallel to the median plane of the body.

Narrow, light, thin, unsteady, inverted, too high (over 26% of the height to the withers) not perpendicular.
Angle between shinbone and metatarsus over or under 140˚.

Thin, weak, long, and not perpendicular, spur.

Like the fore one.

Very short haired, semi-long, slightly wavy, not adherent, fringed, with non-vitreous texture, not shining.

All colors not prescribed, black masks extended beyond the line of the eyes, white patches too wide.

Too thin, too thick, loose, superabundant, rich of cellular tissue underneath, forming plicea and wrinkles, dewlap marked.
Traces of depigmentation, (truffle, eyelids, lip edges, plantar and digital pads, nails, vulva, anus);
total bilateral depigmentation of the palpebral margins and total of the nose (disqualification).

Height to the withers
Insufficient or exaggerated

Short, hopping, rocking, amble, rear unsteady, stiff movements.
(1)    With an almost imperceptible tendency to the respiratory habitus
(2)    Or very slightly
(3)    They are never heavy and rich like the Neapolitan Mastiff
(4)    Anatomically: from the outside frontal angle of the ileum to the ischiatic tuberosity
(5)    i.e. the mean between the width (between the ridges of the two hips), the width (between the two trochanters) and the width (between the ridges of the two nates).
(6)    i.e. from the ridge of the hip to the insertion of the tail
(7)    according to the inclination of the coxal:
the rump is called        horizontal                           from 15˚ to 25˚
the rump is called        inclinded                             from 25˚ to 35˚
the rump is called        oblique or hollowed          more than 35˚
(8)    between the two lateral sides
(9)    between the front and the backside (thickness)
(10) from one edge to the other of its external side
(11) not too much
(12) very well marked black stripes on different shade of fawn
(13) Kg/cm