Spotlight On The Cane Corso

Spotlight On The Cane Corso

Obtained from Modern Molosser by Nicola Mille

Modern Molosser asked some specialist judges from around the world to answer these questions:1. Please briefly summarize your involvement and successes in the breed.2. Name three Cane Corsos you have personally seen that you admired most (not your own), and what their best features were. Which one of your own was the best?3. What important characteristics do you feel are most often overlooked in Cane Corso judging?4. What virtues do you think are most difficult to maintain in the breed? Which faults are the most difficult to eradicate?5. What part of the AKC, FCI or KC standards do you think is most misunderstood? Is there any part of the standard you would change if you could?

Nicola Mille

DELL'ANTICO CERBERUS • PAVIA, ITALY

Breed involvement: I got involved in the breed almost a decade ago, when Mrs. Anna Battaglia asked me to help her condition and handle one of the dogs from her “dell’Antico Cerberus” kennel. Eventually, my collaboration expanded to include other breeders. Over the years, in addition to handling, my relationship with these breeders grew to include public relations, marketing, placing dogs and helping select breeding pairs and raise the new generations. Today, I live with diverse examples of the Cane Corso. Of them all, certainly Desmo and Principessa are those with which I am most strongly associated, as I acquired them as puppies and they have always been with me. Principessa is co-owned with Anna Battaglia and my companion, Alexandra Kamencikova, a well-known breeder of Chihuahuas and a new fan of the Cane Corso. In these many years of work, I have shown dogs that have won the title of World Winner, as well as European, Italian, International, Austrian, Croatian, Slovenian, Polish, Bosnian, Serbian, Spanish, French and San Marino championships. Dogs of note: Sofia dell’Appio: A subject with a head that is ideal for its shape and proportions, even more importantly because it is that of a bitch. Her body was well constructed, angled and solid. She was a worthy point of reference in the years in which she competed – Best of Breed at the World Dog Show in Poznan, Poland, in 2006 and Euro Dog Show Winner in 2007, as well as numerous other titles and championships. Conan dei Dauni: Masculine in shape and substance, with strong bone and correctly muscled. A great producer, Conan is without a doubt one of the best and most used stud dogs of the last decade, a conformation and reproductive champion in Italy, and son of the World Champion Cerberus’ Paco. He passed a strong genetic legacy on to his get, and is the sire of a multitude of champions all over the world. 

Conan dei Dauni.  Guido Sangue Magnifica: A dog with a typey head called for by the standard, without excesses or deficiencies, correct in his construction, with strong bone without being oversized or too heavy in body. Guido, a Junior World Champion at the World Dog Show in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 2009, was by the World Champion Donald dell’Antico Cerberus. Although still young, he is already showing promise as a producer. 

Desmo dell'Antico Cerberus, above and below.

The best dog I have had up until today certainly has to be Multi-Ch. WW BIS Desmo dell’Antico Cerberus. Desmo’s head is devoid of any excess associated with hypertype, perfectly correct in diameter, proportion and expression. His totally balanced structure – thanks to a solid back, compact body and complementary angles front and rear – gives him reach and drive at the trot, which are fundamental characteristics of the Cane Corso, as much as head type. At the 2008 World Dog Show, he won the Intermediate class and the title of World Winner, bestowed by one of the most famous judges in the world, Paolo Dondina, who recently judged Best in Show at both Westminster and Crufts and who is considered a specialist in Molossers and the Cane Corso. In his career, which is still ongoing, Desmo has won in 12 different European countries in 40 international shows under more than 30 different judges, winning not just Best of Breed, but many Group 1s and Best in Show.  On judging: All too often, specialist judges are tied to the school of thought of the Italian Molosser; their judging stops at the elements that make a typical head, and they forget that the Cane Corso is a breed that is very athletic and agile. The correctness of the head should be the starting point for an excellent dog; judges should not tolerate muzzles that are too short, excessively undershot bites, or jaws that are curved like a mallard’s beak. But when the head is correct, a judge should not insist unnecessarily on every single detail, but rather evaluate the dog as a whole. One should never forget that hindquarters that have no angulation, splayed feet, a sway back or a high rear should count against a Cane Corso just as much as a head fault. The main problem is succeeding in seeing the Cane Corso as a Molosser breed that is athletic and active, not sluggish and apathetic. A Cane Corso is not a head in a photograph, with no body. He is a dog who needs an athletic and balanced structure, an almost feline agility. That is his great strength compared to other heavy and static Molosser breeds, without losing that power that distinguishes him from the Doberman or the Boxer, and without falling into the heaviness of the Bullmastiff or Neapolitan Mastiff. Virtues and faults: In my experience, and after having spoken with many of my fellow breeders, I think that the virtue that is most difficult to maintain consistently is the balance of form, arriving at producing in one’s kennel dogs that are all of correct type, sound and well constructed. Working with this objective, the average quality of litters increases, and so also the most correct dogs are born within this elevated norm of quality. An excellent puppy from a mediocre litter is less important and useful in the growth and development of a kennel than a puppy of average quality from a high-quality breeding program; perhaps he will not be exceptional, but one can be more assured of his heritable qualities and fixed traits for the future. The fault that is most difficult to eradicate isn’t a fault per se, but rather a reality that makes the work of selecting dogs problematic and very delicate: The Cane Corso is a breed with a mesomorphic structure accompanied by a brachymorphic head. This combination makes it easy to err on the side of excess (a brachymorphic body that follows the head). Having a dependable uniformity of dogs that do not carry faults that go against the standard in terms of both ends of the spectrum is one of the principal problems in qualitative section of dogs to advance the breed. Guido Sangue Magnifica.On the standard: I think that the original standard of the Cane Corso Italiano written by Prof. Antonio Morsiani is absolutely complete and detailed in all its particulars. I would not want anything to be changed, except that the FCI adopt the full standard, with translations in English and French that are technically precise and complete, in a way to permit all fanciers to have a correct interpretation, no matter where in the world they live, so that no descriptions that are incorrectly or incompletely translated can cause confusion and wrong assessments. Final word: It is impossible to describe in words what the Cane Corso Italiano is. You must have them and live together with them. Someone who has never had one could never comprehend the completeness of these dogs. They unite the ferocity of the Molosser with the agility of the panther. They are brilliant, learning easily, and they innately want to fulfill the wishes of their master, but without being clingy or psychologically dependent. They stay at a man’s side with their proud and resolute character, aware of being equipped with an explosive strength, but capable too of an incredible sweetness and delicateness. For this reason, so as not to lose their grand and unique character, one is always searching for the true and correct type Cane Corso, never heavy nor light, never sluggish nor neurotic. Singular and incomparable, he is the true pride of the Italian fancy.   

Ed Hodas

BEL MONTE CANE CORSOS • KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE

Breed involvement: My wife Kristie and I were among the original American pioneers of the breed along with Mike Sottile. We acquired a dog out of the first litter whelped in the U.S., Ch. Cocomo. We have won numerous Dog, Bitch, Puppy and Breeder of the Year awards, as well as numerous national events. One of my greatest accomplishments, I feel, was breeding the Cane Corso so that it had type and consistency; it got to the point that people were always able to recognize a Bel Monte dog. I have also had the pleasure and honor to be asked to judge the Cane Corso in Rome, Italy, as well as most recently judging a show for the U.S. club, SACCI, at their Raduno. Kristie and I also started the first breed-specific registry, the International Cane Corso Federation; it is the largest Cane Corso registry in the world, and still runs successfully to this day.  Dogs of note: In 1995, I went to the National Specialty show in Milan, Italy, and there I saw three of the best Cane Corsos I had ever seen: Dyrium’s Akira, Anita and Renzo Carosio’s Boris. At the time, the Cane Corso breed ring looked more like the Group competition, because the dogs, used for working and not showing, all looked so different. These three dogs had a beautiful type, head, body and movement. These dogs were just so impressive that they influenced me greatly to try and duplicate them in our Bel Monte breeding program. The best dog I owned was Bel Monte Nero. He was one in a million, a true mastiff with a weight of 145 pounds. Ripped and with effortless movement, he had great head and body type.  

Bel Monte Nero.On judging: Judges are overlooking breed type, substance and bone. By picking the smaller, lighter-boned dogs that have a greater tendency to move well, judges do more harm to our breed because they are promoting incorrect breed type. They must remember this is a mastiff breed. Renzo Carosio's Boris.Virtues and faults: Bone and substance are the most difficult to maintain, for sure. It’s much easier to breed a smaller dog with better movement, so people are taking short cuts for a showier animal. The fault that is most difficult to rid the breed of is straightness in the stifle. A lot of the dogs you see are high in the rear and straight in the stifle. On the standard: Confusion and misunderstanding of the standard are most reflected in the following areas: correct size in relation to bone, substance and eye color. In California last year, a third of the Cane Corsos entries at two AKC conformation shows were disqualified for “bird of prey” eye color. They should not have been disqualified; our breed historically and traditionally had eye color that corresponded with coat color because our dogs have light brindle, various colors of blue, fawn and red. The eyes in the Corsos are going to be lighter than the AKC judges are used to seeing in a Working breed.   The issues I have with the standard is that it has too many disqualifications. “Bird of prey” eyes should be removed. We allow all three bites in this breed; we are concerned with the exterior appearance of the muzzle and its proportions to the head. We are not concerned with the inside of the mouth because we have allowed three bites, but in the standard, we disqualify for missing teeth and ¼ inch undershot; these should be a fault, not a DQ. This is a dog that is aloof with strangers; you don’t need to have judges digging in their mouths. Also, in our standard we say the Cane Corso is a “medium-large” dog, and the AKC judges are interpreting that incorrectly. I believe we meant not as large as an English Mastiff, and I think we should take the word “medium” out.  

Ch. Cocomo.Little known: Everybody knows meas Bel Monte, but what a lot of people don’t know is that my wife, Kristie, has a better eye than just about anyone I know and would probably out-judge me. As for myself, most probably don’t know that I was the East Coast kickboxing champion, retaining three different black belts. I was also a Golden Gloves boxer, trained by former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson. I now work as a general contractor and live in Tennessee. 

Michele Marano

ALLEVAMENTO DELL'APPIO • VAIRANO SCALO, ITALY

Breed involvement: As a child, thanks to my grandfather, who in his time used this breed as a guard dog on his farm, I fell in love with the Cane Corso. Then, in 1984, for work reasons I moved from Villaricca in the province of Naples to Vairiano Scalo in the province of Caserta, and I got a house in the country. In the past, I had many Cane Corsos, however, they belonged to my family. My first real Cane Corso of my own was Pina, a brindle bitch of great substance and character who was gifted to me by a friend. From her in 1995 I began breeding the breed that is very dear to me. 

Pina, Michele Marano's foundation bitch.  Among the first successes resulting from my breeding was the title of Italian champion of beauty with Cico, my first champion. Following that came a Best of Opposite win with my “queen,” Ira (a Cico daughter), in 2004 at Morciano di Romagna at the first annual show organized by the Italian breed club, the Society Amatori Cane Corso (SACC). After that, Sofia dell’Appio, at only 14 months old, was Best Junior, Best Bitch and Best of Breed at the 2006 World Dog Show in Poznan. 

Moana dell'Appio, Best of Breed at the 2008 World Dog Show.   Two years later, at the World Show in Stockholm, the “princess,” Moana dell’Appio, went Best of Breed, taking the win after a contest for Best Bitch with my same female, Sofia dell’Appio. Other important wins were the Best of Opposite won by Cuma dell’Appio at the European Dog Show in Budapest in 2008, and the Moana dell’Appio’s Best of Breed at the European Show in Dublin in 2009. The year later, Moana took another BOS at the World Dog Show in Bratislava, together with Cuma, who instead took the reserve.  

Sofia dell'Appio as a seven-month-old puppy.Dogs of note: There are various dogs that have gotten my attention and that I admire, one for one virtue and another for a different one, but to name three doesn’t seem fair to me, and so I prefer not to name any. Also, my breeding experience has taught me that even if a dog is not beautiful he can be a big surprise when it comes to breeding. In fact, at one show annual club show, a dog of mine received a grade of only “Good” from the judge, and in the end he was laughed at by the other breeders. I told them to wait until I bred him. And that same dog in his first litter of six puppies gifted me with four Italian champions, one of which won a European Dog Show. Selecting the best from my own dogs is not easy, but certainly Ira deserves that title for her show record, and above all because out her came a super champion like Moana dell’Appio.  

Cica dell'Appio.Virtues and faults: The virtue that is most difficult to maintain in a breeding program, in my exerience, is to have a good consistency among the dogs; this is due to the few years that the breed has been bred. So I return to the fact that a dog who may only get a “Good” but who comes from a line of dogs where there has been meticulous selection over the years, might give some nice surprises when he is bred. The fault that is most difficult to eliminate, as in all breeds of great size, is hip dysplasia. This problem is getting better over time, with special attention paid to those dogs in their reproductive prime. 

Ch. Ira.On the standard: The standard itself is crystal clear; often it is the interpretations that are not.  I personally would not change the standard, and I would object to anyone who tried to change anything. I have been breeding for some years, and I select my stock following that standard. And I know for certain that years ago some people worked on this labor of love to allow the recognition of our beloved breed, and the creation of an adequate standard. And to this day I don’t have any problem with it.  Parting thought: Certainly the biggest virtue that this breed possesses and that merits mention is the love of its master. Anyone who acquires a Cane Corso will have difficulty changing breeds after that.   

Lazar Gerassi

GERASSI CANE CORSO • REHOVOT, ISRAEL

Breed involvement: Like many of us, my initial introduction to the Cane Corso was a pure coincidence. I read an article in 1990 that was written by a veterinary student who did his dissertation on the breed in the remote villages in Italy. It was before the Cane Corso was recognized as a breed by the FCI. I was fascinated by the unique character of the breed and its athletic, masculine, Molossoid look. I wanted to become involved in saving this almost extinct breed and contribute to its preservation. Since then, I have devoted my life and my experience as a vet to the preservation and improvement of these majestic dogs. My passion for the breed motivated me to visit the leading kennels in Italy. I was very careful in choosing dogs that combined the right look, character and health characteristics for my breeding program.One of my first imports was a champion Italian female, Eden, who was bred to Yurak, one of the leading Corso champions in Europe. From this breeding I got Angle, one of the best Corsos I have ever owned, and who brought my kennel worldwide recognition. Over the years, I have had over 20 Corso champions in Europe and the States. I was very fortunate to have the guidance and help of the wonderful Degli-Elme Kennel family. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Patrizia Colosimo, her husband Gian Carlo, and their daughter Denise for teaching me about the real Cane Corso type. Yurak Degli Elmi.Dogs of note: I chose three dogs that represent the most common color scheme of the breed: A. Jones Degli Olmi: Owned by Sarka Bajer of the Czech Republic, a powerful-looking dog with correct head type and strong bone. B. Yurak Degli Elmi: A massive dog with a correct head type, strong bone and a masculine body. C. Molly De La Valle Dei Lord: A well-balanced bitch with a correct head and the typical look of the breed. My favorite of the three is Yurak, who I found to be the most impressive, with a powerful, masculine look, the correct head type and an excellent topline. On judging: The error judges make in evaluating Cane Corso body type are rewarding heavy dogs. The Corso should be athletic.  Regarding head type, the areas of concern are: Axes of the skull and the muzzle. Stop. This of course is the angle of the sinuses and forehead, which in a Corso should be approximately 105 to 110 degrees. The angle of the skull and the forehead is approximately 130 dgrees. Too much stop is Boxer type. Muzzle. The front of the muzzle is an isosceles triangle. An acute angle with the lower plane less than 80 degrees is too “Boxerish.” The correct look is when the upper line of the muzzle forms a right angle with the lower plane.  Eyes. Position of the eyes and the expression; entropion and ectropion (the most important difference from Mastino and Boxer eye type). Lips. Too pendulous, with the commissure open. The lips are never heavy and rich like the Neapolitan Mastiff. Jaws. Dental anomalies; small teeth (Mastino and Boxer type). In males, the canine teeth should be no less than 5.5 to 5.7 cm. far from each other at the apex of the crown. Skin. Firm and sticking to the tissues underneath. When it is smooth and quite stretched, it is veering too much toward Mastino and Bordeaux skin type. 

Jones Degli Elmi.Virtues and faults: The most difficult virtue to maintain in the breed is the correct head type (skull + muzzle + jaws): The challenges are: 1. Ensuring that the upper longitudinal axes of the skull and the muzzle converge slightly. 2. Ensuring that the front of the muzzle forms an isosceles triangle with very strong, wide jaws, and ensuring the parallelism of the side planes of the muzzle. When you select for these features, you can get a bite that is too undershot and too short a muzzle. Then the profile of the nose will not be straight. The correct head type is when the upper line of the muzzle forms a right angle with the lower plane. 3. When you select for wide jaws, you can get less than 80 degrees, so the head becomes “Boxerish.” On the standard: I think that a scissor bite should be acceptable if the head is still in the standard range and is still typical Molossoid. As a veterinarian, I maintain that clinically a scissor bite is better than a level bite. The scissor bite is the normal bite in nature.I would change “pronounced undershot mouth (more than 1.5 cm)” from the category of severe fault to disqualification. Little known: My first dog was a Schnauzer. I am a breeder of Boston Terriers, too. I am the chairperson of the Scientific Breeding Committee of the Israel Kennel Club and president of the Israeli Molosser Club. 

Mike Ertaskiran

GODIVA CANE CORSOS • BRONXVILLE, NEW YORK

Breed involvement: In early 1993, I was researching Rottweiler breeders and came across the Cane Corso in the Dogs USA annual. Fortunately, some of the Rottie breeders I visited also bred Cane Corsos. Soon after I got my first Cane Corso. At the time, there was precious little known in this country about the breed, which had only been in here since 1988. Most, if not all, the information on the Internet was wrong. Those I met at the shows had very colorful, albeit false information as well. I started out trying to learn the truth about this breed and its history, spending many years and much expense, both financially and personally. I traveled to Italy to learn from breed’s forefathers; while there, I gathered up as many Italian books as possible and had them translated, quite costly at 15 cents a word. I used this knowledge to try and help bring American fanciers out of the Dark Ages concerning the breed’s history, morphology and character.

I like to think I was somewhat successful, since my initiatives were in no small part the genesis for the breed’s standard changes. I have served as the parent-club president for 12 of the last 14 years; under my administration we brought the membership from roughly 70 members to well over 400. During these years I was able to bring the American and European standards more in line with each other and open a dialogue between the U.S. and Italy for the first time since 1993. I spearheaded the formation of the first breed rescue and was a driving force behind the breed’s AKC recognition.

My accomplishments in the past are just that, in the past. Today I am most proud of the role I have played in the breed club’s judges education program. I think it is the most correct and comprehensive information on the breed in the world.

Boris.Dogs of note: The three best Cane Corsos I have seen personally would be Nero, Boris and Jones. Nero: A massive dog oozing breed type, huge bone and substance, but very agile. A judge once remarked to me that she could not believe how easily a dog this big got around the ring.Boris: Truly outstanding head, maybe the best I have ever seen. Proportionally large bone and wonderfully correct Cane Corso temperament. He was used as one of the models for the breed’s FCI recognition. Jones: I would put this dog a slight notch below Nero and Boris, but that is no insult. Outstanding musculature, very sound and typical. I was honored to have the good fortune to award him Best of Breed when I judged in Italy.

The best dog I have owned would be a dog I imported named Astro. He was a very nice dog typewise, sound and correct. He played an important role in the breed’s history here in America because he demonstrated that Italian dogs were not all small Boxer types. He so dominated the rare-breed show circuit in 2003 that the next year everyone rushed out and got new import dogs, thinking they would have similar results. They didn’t, but results are seen today in the many outstanding American-Italian-crossed dogs in the ring.

On judging: I feel there are many important characteristics overlooked in Cane Corso judging today. There are “essential characteristics in type” that are the foundation of the breed: slight convergence of the angles of the skull; proportionally large head; sound, powerful movement; heavy bone, and substance with agility. The worse mistake judges make is trying to judge the breed by using other breeds as a template. This is not a Rottweiler – there is no eye-color chart. The Cane Corso has moderate angulation – unlike the modern Boxer.

Astro.Jones.Virtues and faults: I think the most difficult virtues to maintain relate to the breed’s stature – bone and substance. This breed should be akin to a lioness: heavy bone and substance, strong enough to be able to confront a zebra or water buffalo, but quick, fast and agile enough to catch a gazelle. We must guard against breeding fine-boned, insignificant Cane Corsos that favor graceful movement in the AKC show ring, or we will share the same fate as some of the Great Danes I have seen at recent shows. 

On the standard: I think the most misunderstood parts of the AKC standard involve bite and eye color. The bite can be “up to ¼” undershot.

Eye color should match the coat color. Again, there is no eye chart in this breed. A brindle dog will have eyes that match the brindling. A blue/gray dog will have self-coloring eyes. The only time eye color should come into play would be on a black dog with yellow eyes.
In addition to the passages regarding teeth and eyes, I would change many things on the AKC standard. There are several contradictions that need to be corrected and DQs that need to be removed. I would seek to make it a more balanced document. This standard severely penalizes one type of fault over another, when in fact the faults are equal to each other and should be legislated that way.    

Ernesto Di Maio

ALLEVAMENTO DELL'ANTELER • MARANO, ITALY

Breed involvement: I started breeding Cane Corsos in 1993, achieving excellent results with many of my dogs becoming conformation champions. In 2000, I took the FCI-registered affix “dell’Anteler,” and in 2007 I became an FCI specialist judge of the Cane Corso. Dogs of note: Of the dogs I have seen, I have been particularly impressed with Moana dell’Appio, a typically feminine bitch, with perfect balance of all her parts and an exceptional character. Overall, she is the best Cane Corso I have ever judged. I would also like to mention Marcos, a dog with a very expressive head. My best dog was Tigre, a dog with an ideal body type, very stable character, in perfect health (free of hip and elbow dysplasia) and an excellent reproducer. On judging: It seems to me that very often during judging, not enough consideration is given to the overall balance of the dog. Instead, the tendency is to judge a specific part of the body. Virtues and faults: In my experience as a veterinarian and a breeder, some of the virtues that are most difficult to maintain are those that define the breed: a slightly undershot bite and flat skull. The faults that are most tenacious are long loins, short backs, sloping croups, straight shoulders, short upper arms and open angles.  

Tigre.On the standard: In reality, the Cane Corso standard is one of the most precise and absolutely detailed. It is exactly for this reason that the description of the head may be difficult to understand. Rather than changes, I would make clarifications, for example: 1) The color of the nose in dogs with gray coats should be tawny, or tan, with a gray mask that should be the color of anthracite – that is, “dark gray.” 2) The circumference of the head should equal 90 to 95 percent of the height at the withers. 3) The definition of what is hypertypical (overdone) and hypotypical (lacking type) should be clarified. 4) The relationship between the various regions of the body – that is, the balance of the dog – should be described. In my work as a judge and veterinarian, I have found that very many people have difficulty identifying the fundamental characteristics of type: the slight monoconvergence, the relationship between skull and muzzle, the parallelism of the lateral sides of the muzzle, and correct length of body.

Shauna DeMoss

CASTLEGARD CANE CORSOS • CEDAREDGE, COLORADO

Breed involvement: In 1995, I found myself wanting a guardian breed that I could trust with my children and be a constant companion. I was working as a vet tech and was introduced to the world of rare breeds by some of our clients who had Fila Brasilieros. So I started researching and I came across the Cane Corso. Something inside me “clicked” when I saw the photos in Dogs USA magazine. At that time there weren’t many breeders and all were very far from me. But somehow I knew this was the dog. The issue of cost was another obstacle. Even then a puppy costs $2,000. Well, the vet that was my employer took pity and lent me the money. I held my breath and sent the money off without ever actually seeing the dog. The puppy came and was perfect! She was an ever-constant companion for my children and a good guardian. I was hooked. Over the course of the next couple of years, I gathered up a couple more. By the time 1999 rolled around, I had purposed in my heart to produce the best Corsos possible. This set off a chain of events that totally immersed my family and me in the breed: I went to Italy five times, and volunteered to serve on the American breed club’s board of directors for almost a decade. The kids travel all over the U.S. to participate in dog shows, and we happily spend every extra dime to fund the Corso project. The family unit is the heart and soul of CastleGuard. Because of the teamwork and family dedication we have been blessed to produce two National Champions, top-winning Bitch and Dog of 2009, many reproduction champions, Grand champions, two Working dogs of the Year and the number-one AKC Corso all systems in 2010. Dogs of note: Over the last 15 years I have seen many impressive subjects. A few did stand out, though. Toward the beginning of my Corso adventure, I visited a breeder in Kentucky and met a large, blue male named Capone. He had a massive headpiece, extensively muscled frame and floated when he moved. He just had that commanding presence a Corso should have. During one of our trips to Italy, my husband Merle and I had the occasion to meet a dog named Ron. He was very large, heavy-boned, with a perfect headpiece. He had the rustic coat and a serious character. Everything about him said “Corso.”  Visiting Italy another time, I met a large black dog. He was Russian and from some of the old Cerberus line. His name was Vento. He had solid structure (rare in Italy), mass and a very nice headpiece. I watch him gently play with a small child, yet never once did he let me out of his gaze. It’s hard to say which of my own dogs should be called the “best.” None are perfect, yet each has contributed to our success. I guess if pushed, I must say CastleGuard’s Teal’c has consistently produced many of the stars of our kennel. Bred to the right female, he has solidified the foundation for our next generations. 

CastleGard's Teal'c.On judging: It does seem that judging for the Corso is fairly inconstant right now. This is understandable in this stage of the game. I think judges need to familiarize themselves with correct head type and realize that a good headpiece isn’t common. If it doesn’t look like a Corso, it shouldn’t be rewarded. Next are solid structure and movement. A Corso should possess muscled power, athletic ability and effortless movement. These are a hallmark of this large breed. The Corso is so much more than its written standard, and we desperately need judges that are willing to study beyond it. Judges need to remember what they choose today will lay the foundation of the breed tomorrow. Virtues and faults: The combination of correct head type coupled with solid structure is a difficulty in the breed. Often a judge will see a subject whose headpiece is quite desirable and then cringe as the dog moves. Equally as often, a judge will see an exhibit with sound structure and fluid movement, yet whose head is unrecognizable as a Corso. The judge is seeing the difficulties of the breeding programs to get both critical elements of the breed in one dog. It is very difficult for a line with good, consistent heads to do away with steep shoulders and horrible rears, and the lines with solid structure constantly battle to obtain and maintain a correct head. If breeders, judges or enthusiasts come across such a dog, they should take note. On the standard: It’s my personal opinion that certain aspects of the breed standards do not align with the historic dog, nor properly reflect the breed. For instance, the height and weight portion of the FCI standard is incorrect, as most of the historical Corsi in the country of origin far exceed these parameters. This is common knowledge there, and most judges blatantly disregard this portion of the FCI standard. The AKC standard also has a few “hiccups”: The yellow, bird-of-prey-eyes disqualification does not serve the breed. The correct eye is to be self-coloring, matching the lightest color of the coat. This puts many quality subjects in danger of disqualification because of the vast amount of brindled and lighter-colored dogs. Other serious issues are the disqualifications involving the bite. The reality is that it doesn’t matter what is in the mouth of the dog; it only matters if the subject’s headpiece is correct. These disqualifications are forcing judges to judge based on the open mouth, therefore minimizing the most important aspect of the breed: head type with the mouth closed.   

Irina Fernandes

OLLADA ARLEKIN KENNEL • MOSCOW, RUSSIA

Breed involvement: In the more than 12 years we have been breeding the Cane Corso Italiano, we have produced several generations that have been very loved by us and very titled representatives of our favorite breed, including champions of different countries. inter champion, champion of national club, multichampion, European champion, junior vice champion of Europe, World Championship winners, and champion of Central and Eastern Europe. A recent and very important win for us was Best Junior and Best of Breed at the Raduno in Rimini this November, under breed specialist Massimo Inzoli. But show careers and titles never were our main goal. Breeding for me is a creative process that always inspires me and never stops in my quest for the ideal Cane Corso. In this sense, I’m a happy person. Bayron del Dyrium.Dogs of note: To my regret, the dogs are really dear to my heart come from the past. One of the most brilliant representatives of the breed was Bayron Del Dirium. This dog possessed a marvelous combination of outstanding exterior, temperament, pedigree and has been a wonderful producer. His grandsons and great-grandsons live in my kennel – there are dear, beloved and important dogs for me. From my breeding I have a lot of favorites. Among them are Ollada Arlekin Aida, Ollada Arlekin Vivaldi, Ollada Arlekin Bolivar and Ollada Arlekin Tsefa. Space constraints do not permit listing all their titles, but Bolivar, pictured, is a Russian, Latvian, Bulgarian, Balkan, Serbian and Macedonian champion. On judging: The breed is becoming more popular and commercial in Russia and around the world. The number of dogs is increasing dramatically, while the number of people who really understand what a Cane Corso should look like is becoming smaller. Faults in structure can now cleverly be disguised by professional handlers in the ring. Many all-rounders have a very vague idea of what constitutes a correct Cane Corso head, and they judge by the faces of top handlers. All this, of course, hurts the breed in general. 

Ollada Arlekin Bolivar.Virtues and faults: The longer I breed Cane Corsos, the more I understand how difficult the challenge is. Breeding this breed is like Rubik’s Cube – when you gain one thing, you lose another. Unfortunately, uncontrolled breeding and the latent mixing up of others breeds makes the situation more difficult. If you do a mating on a desirable bloodline, linebreeding on dogs that are excellent representatives of Cane Corso breed, it is possible to receive very unexpected results that harken back to black Boxers or Bullmastiffs. The same difficulties arise with matters of health. Testing for hip dysplasia isn’t readily employed in Russia. For the most part, dogs are used blindly, their owners confident that their dogs are all perfectly and health screening is not necessary. On the standard: I’d like to see a more precise standard, with required measurements and exact values. Last word: My first and most important education was in music, and it has shaped me as a person. As a violin player, I participated in and won many well-known competitions in the world of classical music. I suppose because of that beautiful dogs for me are the real masterpieces, and the breeding of them a madly fascinating, creative process.© Modern Molosser Magazine. This article may not be reposted, reprinted, rewritten, excerpted or otherwise duplicated in any medium without the express written permission of the publisher.

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