Great Danes come in many variations. One of them is the Cane Corso Italiano. The Italian Mastiff is its ancestor. The Cane Corso Italiano originates from exactly this dog breed. Today, only the “modern” breeding form of the Italian Mastiff with this Italian name can be found in the FCI standards.
Like all Great Danes, this dog has been classified as a guard and watch dog. He shows an impressive physique, which already earns him some respect. But he also has another side. When we look at an Italian Mastiff, we are always reminded that we should always look at both sides of the coin.
Character of the Italian Mastiff
Although it may not appear so on the outside, the Italian Mastiff is a very courageous and robust dog, in all respects. These traits have always enabled him to perform his duties: protecting herds and guarding them, but also farms and estates. However, this dog has the most fun guarding and herding herds. The urge to herd and guard is innate in him. It is the owner’s task to guide him consistently as well as lovingly in the right direction so that he can carry out this task responsibly and in the owner’s interest.
In contrast to these characteristics, he is also the ideal family dog, who especially loves children. He is affectionate, loyal, friendly and self-contained. This makes him the ideal companion. However, in order to bring these qualities to light, good training is a must, as well as a calm, steady and experienced handler. The Cane Corso must not have to doubt him. A good dog trainer, who is also very familiar with these dogs, and regular training sessions at the dog school will ensure that the cute puppy can become a trustworthy, self-confident companion dog. By the way, dog school should always be continued in regular sequences. This way, any problems that may arise in the course of time can be quickly recognised and eliminated.
Basically, the Cane Corso is an enthusiastic and quick learner. Nevertheless, one should be patient and give him enough time for the lessons. Consistency and assertiveness are a necessity. Those who wish to integrate the dog into the family must discuss this with the dog trainer so that the lessons on the protection dog are omitted. This makes family life easier.
The historical background of the Italian Mastiff
The origin of the Italian Mastiff goes far back into the Roman Empire and probably even further. Even today, this dog breed is one of the most common in Italy. In the Roman Empire, however, apart from guarding and herding herds and homesteads, it was used in the arena of the gladiators. Side by side she had to fight with them. The Romans also took them into battles to inflict great damage on the enemy, which was quite successful.
In the Middle Ages things became quieter for this dog. He had taken his ancestral place as a guard and protection dog. In addition, he was often used as a hunting dog during this period. A task in which he could combine several of his strengths. For him it was a matter of course to follow his master’s orders during the hunt and then to devote himself again to the protection of house, farm and herd – exemplary, courageous and independent. Neither bears nor wolves, let alone robbers, got past him.
Certainly, those times are over. But even today, the ancestral dispositions are still very strong in him. This is the reason why, as the owner of an Italian Mastiff, one must be a dominant, consistent and yet loving dog handler.
The colours of the Italian Mastiff
The Italian Mastiff is a short-haired dog. This makes grooming them relatively easy. Different colours are allowed according to the standard:
- Slate grey
- Light grey
Often a mask in black or grey can also be seen. Many dogs have a white spot on the chest or on the bridge of the nose as an identifying mark.
An important identifying mark of the dog is the shiny coat. This is a natural shine. This can be achieved with a massage brush.
This breed of dog has minimal undercoat. Certainly it can still keep the dog warm on cold autumn days. For a “real” winter with snow, ice and cold, however, it needs support in keeping warm.
What are the requirements of the Italian Mastiff?
For the Italian Mastiff only one thing is important: He wants to fulfil his task as a guard and protection dog without restrictions. It goes without saying that he must be given sufficient space or an adequate substitute task. This can be found in the area of dog sports. Agility and obidience are at the top of the list. Daily training and additional long walks are recommended. Jogging with the dog would also be a very good option, so that he can give vent to his urge to move.
It is already obvious that this dog is absolutely not suitable for beginners. Rather, it requires accumulated knowledge and understanding of dogs. Likewise, it is imperative that the owner of an Italinean Mastiff can easily assert himself as alpha and thus “command giver” in any situation. As long as it is ensured that this working animal can use its powers sensibly, the experienced dog handler has no problem.
However, there could be a problem with the authorities. Because there are German federal states where he has landed on the list of fighting dogs. But even if he is not listed on it, many municipalities have imposed high and strictly controlled requirements for keeping the Italian Mastiff. The minimum is the temperament test, which all owners of a Cane Corso Italiano must provide. With good socialisation from puppyhood, this should not be a problem for an accomplished handler. The emphasis here is on “experienced”. The temperament test is carried out from the age of 2 years. Experts check how the dog behaves in a variety of everyday situations. The dog must not show any aggressive tendencies during the test if it wants to pass. Veterinarians also attend the test. In order not to get into trouble with the responsible authorities at once, you should enquire about the relevant regulations in advance.
Basically, this dog is easy to feed once it is fully grown. When the dog is young, it is important to feed it a low-protein diet.
The Italian Mastiff and its health
The Italian Mastiff is a fundamentally healthy and very robust breed. Like many other large breeds, the Italian Mastiff shows a tendency to musculoskeletal disorders. In particular, look for signs of hip dysplasia (HD) and elbow joint dysplasia (ED). Eye problems and heart muscle diseases are also possible.
Advantages and disadvantages of the Italian Mastiff
The Italian Mastiff is a self-contained dog that is extremely affectionate. He will follow his alpha everywhere. However, for him the whole family needs protection, so that every member of the family, including the children, whom he particularly likes, can feel safe with him. However, in order to be able to integrate him into the family in the best possible way, it is important that lessons around protection are left out of the training. Too quickly they could get the upper hand and turn on other people the family is in contact with.
The Cane Corso is a dog that loves to be outdoors and moves around a lot. He also demands this ability from his humans. Couch potatoes are far too boring for him. In order to do justice to the dog’s urge to move and his traditional dispositions, a dog sport such as obidience or agility is recommended. Here he can let off steam to his heart’s content and thus release his superfluous energy. Of course, he requires his owner to be equally fit.
If the Cane Corso can be led on a leash without any problems, you can also take him jogging. However, you should be sure that he will not attack other joggers / sportsmen and other dogs. This could go wrong, because his reflexes are incredibly fast.
For one dog owner it is the optimal pedigree. For the other neighbour it is an imposition, because one does not know “what this dangerous dog” will do. The reaction of other community members can be correspondingly reserved.
The perfect person for an Italian Mastiff
- is a confirmed “dog person” who can look back on years of working with dogs and can now draw on this experience
- is an outdoorsman who enjoys spending time with his dog in nature and on the training field.
- is a family man who is proud and happy to have another member of the family.
- is possibly a hunter or a shepherd who appreciates a faithful and experienced companion at his side
- is someone who wants to show the world that this dog by no means belongs on the list of fighting dogs, but simply needs a handler with a dog’s mind and a lot of experience
Buying Italian Mastiff puppies
Please always make sure to buy an Italian Mastiff exclusively from a reputable breeder. And NO, it is not sufficient that the breeder can present a pedigree, which is rarely verifiable. It is important that he is organised in the VDH and adheres to the guidelines and requirements of the FCI standard as well as the VDH. The serious breeder will not only voluntarily present the history of his breeding animals, but will also make sure that you really have the necessary expertise about dogs that is required. Because this dog does not belong in the hands of beginners. Even for those who know dogs, it is advisable to find a suitable trainer to assist you with socialisation and the first basic lessons. This way, any problems can be more easily identified and “nipped in the bud”.
Nevertheless, if there are any questions about rearing, feeding or the best possible training, he will be happy to give the new owner lots of tips and tricks along the way. It is very important to him where “his” puppies find a new home. If the chemistry between the prospective buyer and the breeder is not right, he will not give puppies to these people. Breeders are somehow all agreed on this. And rightly so!
First equipment for the Italian Mastiff
- Dog collar
- Harness for the dog
- Leash for the dog, in addition possibly a drag line for dogs
- Water and food bowl, if possible easy to clean
- Dog bed / blanket for the resting place
- Brush for dogs
- Comb / lice comb
- Dog food
- possibly toys
- possibly treats
Dog food for the Italian Mastiff
Of course, the Italian Mastiff also tolerates ready-made food, no question about that. But he is a very grateful candidate for BARFEN. Should this be the feeding method of choice, it makes sense to get to grips with the art of BARFING in good time. There is more to it than “just feeding a little fresh meat”.
As unproblematic as the feeding of the adult Italian Mastiff may be, you have to be careful when feeding the young dog. Their food must not be protein-heavy. This would result in rapid growth. Unfortunately, this would only increase the tendency to musculoskeletal disorders.
It is advisable to divide the daily food ration into two meals. This way he has one good meal in the morning and one in the afternoon. This gives the dog a good start to the day every day. The other should be given after the afternoon walk or the corresponding work session. On these you can show the dog how much you appreciate and want to reward him.
The Italian Mastiff is a strong, robust and courageous dog that is unfortunately often misunderstood because it is in the hands of the wrong dog owners. In order to successfully manage this dog, a lot of dog experience and a lot of dog sense is necessary.
As a former guard and protection dog, a task assigned to him for centuries, he is used to working independently. An ability that is no longer welcome everywhere in this day and age. However, with consistent, loving training, he can be brought up to be a wonderful companion dog, in whom all who know him will have great pleasure.
Certainly, there are some requirements to be fulfilled, which are often imposed by the municipality. But in most regions these are kept within limits.
How much does an Italian Mastiff cost?
Basically, the Italian Mastiff should be bought from a reputable breeder who is registered with the VDH. If this is the case, it will not be possible to obtain it for less than £1,000. Unfortunately, one can also find offers starting at £400 in the classifieds of the internet and the free weekly newspapers. These offers should be avoided precisely because of the price. It can be assumed that these puppies come from so-called puppy mills. There, the bitches are regarded as “birthing machines” and kept badly. Also, the dogs are not examined with regard to possible hereditary diseases such as HD, ED or the like. What predispositions puppies bred in this way carry is questionable and will only become clear in the course of their lives. A roulette in which one can only lose. Moreover, this form of breeding should not be supported under any circumstances.
Where does the Italian Mastiff come from?
The Italian Mastiff, like its ancestors, has its roots in Italy. There it has a long tradition, which is still continued today by renowned breeders.
How old does the Italian Mastiff live to be?
The Italian Mastiff can expect a life expectancy of 10 to 14 years.
What is the size and weight of the Italian Mastiff?
The males have a height of 64 to 68 centimetres. The bitches are a little smaller at 60 to 64 centimetres.
The bitches are also somewhat lighter, weighing around 45 kilograms. The males, on the other hand, can weigh up to 50 kilograms.
How many puppies does the Italian Mastiff have?
The average litter of the Italian Mastiff consists of 5 puppies.
Is the Italian Mastiff a hunting dog?
Presumably, the Italian Mastiff has been taken hunting since before the time of the Roman Empire. After all, it is brave and strong enough. In the Middle Ages, too, it was common for owners to use this dog for a variety of purposes: Hunting, protecting and guarding the house and herds. In modern times, it is no longer customary to encourage the dog’s hunting instinct. However, it is of course possible to train him to be a hunting dog. The dispositions are still very much there and “only” require the right training and guidance by the dog owner and an accomplished trainer / coach.
Is the Italian Mastiff a family dog?
The Italian Mastiff is a true family dog, loyal, extremely devoted to people, especially children. It is hard to imagine him playing or cuddling with children. Certainly a watchful eye must be kept on this combination. No question about it. But it can be counteracted in the early stages of training. The lessons that encourage his protective instinct are to be neglected so that nothing can happen within the family.
Can the Italian Mastiff be kept in a (city) flat?
This question must be answered very consistently with a clear NO. This dog breed has such a great urge to move that it cannot be kept in a city flat. Therefore, the question whether the dog can be left alone for a long time is also automatically out of the question. Because this answer is also NO.
Besides, life in the city is not made for him. Too much hustle and bustle, too many people, too many potential dangers that could happen to his human. No, this dog simply has no business in the city.
If you could find a spacious flat with access to and use of a garden, you would have the option of keeping the dog in this flat. But this is the only exception. This dog belongs in a big house with a big garden. Point blank!