The Mastiff vs the Cane Corso: Key Differences Explained

Written by Peralee Knight
Updated: October 12, 2023
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The Cane Corso and the Mastiff are both working dogs and were bred as guard dogs and protectors. The Corso shares many physical similarities with the Mastiff, so one might mistake one for the other. The Cane Corso is a descendant of the Mastiff and is also called the Italian Mastiff by many breeders. Before choosing between these magnificent canines, it is important to learn all you can. So, let us get started and find out what makes the Mastiff and the Cane Corso breeds different.

The Mastiff vs Cane Corso: Comparison

Size is a key difference between Mastiffs and Cane Corsos.

The key differences between the Mastiff and the Cane Corso are in terms of personality, temperament, and of course, size.

The Cane Corso and the Mastiff have unique personalities and temperaments. While these two dogs may look similar, they have dissimilar training needs. Prospective owners of either breed will need to provide specialized obedience training suited to their dogs, especially in the case of the inexperienced owner.

The Mastiff vs Cane Corso: Size

Italian Cane Corso dog lies in the park in winter.

The Cane Corso descends from the Mastiff breed but is smaller.


The male Mastiff stands up to thirty-one inches tall and weighs up to 230 pounds, which is a lot more than the Cane Corso. The female Mastiff stands up to twenty-eight inches tall and weighs up to 170 pounds. Mastiffs have a heavy build and thick legs with large paws.

The Cane Corso is also a large breed, but it weighs less on average than the Mastiff. The male Cane Corso stands between 24-28 inches high and weighs up to 110 pounds. The female Corso stands between 23-27 inches high and weighs up to ninety-nine pounds. They have long legs and lean bodies.

The Mastiff vs Cane Corso: Appearance

Largest Mastiffs - South African Mastiff

Mastiffs have short and long coats of varying colors.

©Pavel Shlykov/

There are various Mastiffs, and coat colors and types may vary. Mastiffs have a double-layer coat that can be long or short and will shed seasonally. The Mastiff has a large head with long ears that are not traditionally docked and pronounced lower jowls. Tibetan Mastiffs also have a long ruff of hair on the head and neck that resembles a lion’s mane.

The Cane Corso has short hair that is not prone to shedding and four standard colors of coats. It has a large, mastiff-like head with long ears that may be traditionally docked and prominent lower jowls. Common markings may include white patches on the upper chest or lighter coloring around the muzzle.

The Mastiff VS The Cane Corso: Personality And Temperament

The Mastiff is a steady, loyal, and calm dog with a loving personality. It is loyal, eager to please, and makes wonderful family companions. However, the Mastiff is sensitive to harsh words and training methods and will become unresponsive or stubborn if not handled gently. This breed is easy to train and responds best to positive reinforcements like treats and effusive praise. With a firm and compassionate owner, the Mastiff shows high intelligence and learns obedience and commands fast.

Mastiffs are good with other pets but may be hesitant with strangers. They are great with kids but, as always, supervision is important. Mastiffs are kind, but they are also a bit clumsy and may injure a young child by chance!

The Cane Corso is a loyal dog that is protective of its owners. The Corso is a great family companion, provided it has a strong leader. This breed is not recommended for inexperienced dog owners, as it requires steady, consistent training specific to its breed.

With the proper owner, the Cane Corso is the most loyal and affectionate. Socialization is the key to bringing the best out of the Corso temperament. The Corso is good with children when professionally trained and socialized, but it is wary around strange dogs or people.

As with all dogs, supervision is necessary. Small children should always be monitored when interacting with any breed, to avoid accidental injury.

About Large Breeds And Joint Issues

Large and giant dogs like the Mastiff and the Cane Corso have an increased risk of joint problems. Both breeds have a higher risk of a genetic condition called hip dysplasia. While reputable breeders do all they can to minimize that possibility, they cannot eliminate it.

Owners of large breeds should monitor their dogs for signs of pain, discomfort, or trouble walking. Regular vet check-ups are also recommended. Hip dysplasia is painful and should be addressed as soon as possible. Surgery is the most common way to correct dysplasia and has an excellent success rate.

In addition, many large breeds experience joint problems later in life. Therefore, many veterinarians recommend breed-specific diets geared toward weight control. Excess weight places more pressure on your dog’s joints and can cause long-term damage. A good diet combined with exercise and regular check-ups will keep your best friend healthy and happy. Whether you decide on a Mastiff or a Corso, your dog will thank you in its senior years!

What About Grooming and Exercise?

The grooming requirements of the two breeds are much the same. Both are moderate shedders, so they need to be brushed only once a week and bathed every 8-12 weeks. The biggest problem with cleanliness for the Mastiff and the Cane Corso is the fact that they are both droolers.

As to exercise, the Mastiff needs less than the Cane Corso. For the Mastiff, 30-45 minutes each day are sufficient. In fact, a Mastiff is happy to lounge on its doggie bed and won’t be upset if its walk is missed. The Cane Corso, on the other hand, needs intense exercise for about 60 minutes each day. Unless the Cane Corso is kept busy with engaging activities, it might get restless and destructive.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © AnjavdR/

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