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The Cane Corso - Italian Mastiff

History of the Breed

“At nearly 28 inches at the shoulder and often weighing more than 100 pounds, with a large head, alert expression, and muscles rippling beneath their short, stiff coat, Cane Corso’s are at a glance intimidating creatures. Their imposing appearance is their first line of defense against intruders. As one writer put it, “An understated air of cool competence, the kind of demeanor you’d expect from a professional bodyguard, is the breed’s trademark.”

The Cane Corso are intelligent, loyal, eager to please, versatile, and intensely loyal to their humans, but are also assertive and willful, and can end up owning an unwitting owner. As with any other big guardian dog, responsible breeding and early socialization with people and other dogs is vital.” - AKC American Kennel Club 

According to some theories, the Italian Mastiff came from the larger molossian dogs, common among the Middle East: Assyrian, Babylonians, Greeks of Epirus. They were commonly imported into Europe and used as Guardians.
The Romans had a very strong interest in fighting dogs. They bred these dogs during warfare, crossbred other bloodlines to create dogs suitable for big game hunting, but also suitable for the circus, where they fought against bears, lions and tigers. 

The most important purpose of breeding these dogs was for the war. They commonly wore a harness made by leather and some rostrums. These dogs had to earn a living and in case of absence of war, they had to do as best as they could to help their owners in the life and death struggle; people who lived in the countryside turned themselves to these dogs in order to take care of beef cattle. Among the few people who could afford to keep heavy bloodline dogs there were butchers who use the dogs to keep fixed bulls during the catch and during the killing; this is a custom that has been lasted until the first decades of the 20th century, getting a spectacular appearance, which is the heritage of the ancestral Tauromachy.
Another use of this breed was as a caretaker of pigs, sheep and sometimes as shepherd, in any case as a guardian and even as "bodyguard dog" to deter and intimidate suspicious persons.
Another ancient custom linked with Italian Cane Corso was hunting for porcupine. The Italian Cane Corso is fit for this because it is has strong reliance, nevertheless can face the porcupine quills, that often can blind dogs.
The preservation of this “dog population” (the idea of the breed, spread only in the 19th century) has been carried on mostly in the south of Italy by people who used working dogs (farmers, hunters, lords, land owners, soldiers, and gangsters) who seemed to be the last keepers of this cynognostic genetic heritage.