Cane Corso vs Mastiff – Comparing These Awesome giants

Cane Corso vs Mastiff

If you’re a lover of large dog breeds, then you’ll be hard pressed to find two as devoted and loyal as the Cane Corso and Mastiff. But when comparing the Cane Corso vs Mastiff, which is right for you? 

Both breeds have many similar characteristics and traits that cross over, however there are also a number of distinct differences between both dogs. 

For instance, both breeds are giants weighing over 100 lbs, both have worker dog pasts and fascinating ancient origins, and both have marvellous guardian and protector qualities. But what about the differences? 

Well, the purpose of this breed comparison guide is to highlight the core differences when it comes to the Cane Corso vs Mastiff. Both enjoy different lifestyles, and both enjoy a tonne of unique traits that experienced come to love and adore. 

But which of these powerful breeds is right for you? 

Cane Corso vs Mastiff – Breed Comparison at a glance 

Cane CorsoMastiff
Adult Height = 23 – 27 InchesAdult Height = 27 – 30 Inches
Adult Weight = 90 – 110 PoundsAdult Weight = 120 – 230 Lbs
Energy Levels = Medium – HighEnergy Levels = Low
Health = Average – HighHealth = Average
Lifespan = 9 – 12 YearsLifespan = 6 – 10 Years
Temperament = Protective, Intelligent, Affectionate, StubbornTemperament = Gentle, Watchful, Courageous
Grooming Maintenance = LowGrooming Maintenance = Low
Training Needs = High Training Needs = High
Socialisation Needs = HighSocialisation Needs = Moderate – High
Price of Puppy = $1,200 – $3,500Price of Puppy = $1,000 – $3,000
Cane Corso vs Mastiff Comparison

Cane Corso vs Mastiff – Breed Origins

Cane Corso History

The Cane Corso has a fascinating history which originates from Roman times. Used as a dog of war, the Cane Corso later evolved into a farm and livestock guardian, and was occasionally used as a hunting companion for animals such as wild boar and game. 

The breed was well known for its love of work and versatility. Pulling carts, herding cattle and guarding the farm were all jobs that the Cane Corso enjoyed, which is likely why they still love to please their humans to this day. 

As farms became less common and industrialisation hit the west, the Cane Corso population took a catastrophic dip. Luckily, enthusiasts from Italy restored the breed with the help of the Neapolitan Mastiff (another Italian Mastiff). 

These days, the Cane Corso is popular in many westernised countries such as the UK, Australia and most commonly in the USA. Though many of these countries have legal requirements on the breed, this has done little to deter breed enthusiasts.

Mastiff History

The Mastiff is a descendant of the Molosser breed, which is another Roman war dog. It was often used in blood sports which were popular during the Roman conquest of England. When the Romans returned to Italy, the Mastiff was left behind and was later used on farms and wealthy estates as a guardian breed, earning its name “the old English Mastiff”. 

As time moved on, the English Mastiffs’ time on the wealthy estates of England led to the pacification of its temperament. Meaning, the fighter dog qualities were slowly bred-out and the more subdue and gentle personality was bred-in. 

That said, the Mastiff still kept its “watchful” guardian characteristic and the size of the breed was always kept large so as to warn away danger. 

To this day, the Mastiff is adored for its gentle giant nature. It is still one of the largest breeds, and Zorba the Mastiff still appears in the Guinness book of records. 

Cane Corso vs Mastiff – Youtube – Fenrir Canine Show

Cane Corso vs Mastiff – Appearance

Both breeds have the characteristics commonly seen in many of the Mastiff family breeds. A large, muscular build with big jowls, and droopy eyes. That said, there are still many unique differences that owners come to treasure. 

For example, the Cane Corso has a tighter face, smaller jowls than many other Mastiff types (although they still drool), a wider variation in eye colours ranging from blue to amber and brown, and ears that are often cropped in different styles, although this is a practice that is more unique to the USA.

The Cane Corso typically has a range of coat colours such as fawn, black, blue, brindle and mahogany. There is also a spectrum to these colours, for instance some brindles have more chocolate, whereas others may have tinges of fawn. 

cane corso colours

On the other hand, the Mastiff is the larger of the two, sometimes reaching over an incredible 200 lbs. They are also slower to reach their maximum growth maturity when compared to the Cane Corso. 

On the face, the Mastiff has looser skin folds, floppy ears, a traditionally black mask, saggy eyes and much bigger jowls to boot. As you can imagine, the English Mastiff drool is more … well… drooly. 

When it comes to coat colours, the Mastiff has much less variety when compared to the Corsi. Your options are basically limited to fawn, brindle and apricot. In general, many of the English Mastiffs you see will be in fawn. 

English Mastiff Colours

Cane Corso vs Mastiff – Health & Lifespan

The Cane Corso lives longer than the Mastiff on average, with the Corsi living up to 12 years and the Mastiff living up to 10, although some go for longer. This may not seem like such a huge difference, but when comparing the lower side, the unfortunate truth of English Mastiff ownership is that some can sadly pass away as young as 6 years old. 

The difference in lifespan may likely well be due to the sheer size of the English Mastiff, all that extra weight is tiresome. This is also the reason that the English Mastiff has a much more docile energy level when compared to the Cane Corsos love of work & jobs.

Interestingly, both the Cane Corso and English Mastiff can suffer from many of the same health conditions that are expected amongst all breeds within the Mastiff family. These are: 


Joint & Mobility Issues

It’s common for Mastiff breeds to suffer from joint issues such as hip dysplasia and elbow inflammation.


Gastric Torsion

Also known as bloat. This is where the stomach fills up with a mixture of fluids and gas which can cause a lot of pain.


heart Issues

It’s common for larger breeds to suffer from some known heart conditions such as murmurs.



Large, muscular bodies and large jowls can lead to overheating problems which can in turn lead to other health conditions if not kept in check.


Idiopathic Epilepsy

This is basically a form of seizure caused by an electrical disturbance in the brain.


Eye Abnormalities

The loose skin folds around the eye are prone to build-ups of gunk and bacteria which can often lead to infection if not kept clean.

Good dog ownership involves a lot of careful monitoring of the day to day wellbeing of your dog. However, future owners can also preempt some health conditions by being prudent with breeder selection, and asking fundamental questions about the puppies lineage and genetics. Always try to see the parents if possible. 

As a side note, if you’re already settled on the English Mastiff, then please see our list of Top UK breeders right here

Cane Corso vs Mastiff Temperament

There are many similarities amongst both breeds when it comes to temperament. Both make wonderful protective, guardian type dogs. They are loyal and affectionate to their owners and immediate family. Both are also fairly sensitive breeds, despite their large and intimidating presence.

However, these qualities aren’t always afforded to strangers. This is where the Mastiff is said to be more aloof but still watchful and aware of strangers. Its courageous characteristics will come into play if it senses danger and it won’t hesitate to take the initiative if need be. 

The Cane Corso on the other hand is more likely to bark and warn strangers away, which can turn especially bad if the dog isn’t socialised well. The dominant side of the Corsi can excel if it senses danger, it may then have a tendency to become over-protective which is a frightening prospect for anyone involved. 

For this reason alone, many experts recommend that experienced owners only take on the breed. 

Moving onto the lighthearted side of each of their personalities, the Cane Corso is highly intelligent, the same cannot necessarily be said for Mastiffs, although they’re certainly not plain dumb. 

Both breeds have an inherent confidence and stubbornness to them, especially when young and moving into adolescence. It’s critical that owners show great leadership qualities with both breeds so that they do not feel the need to take on the alpha role. 

Both breeds also love to play. We encourage owners to do what they can to ensure the dog has enough room to roam and explore around the garden. The Mastiffs are easier to wear down than the Corsi but both love to play with their companions and are a hell of a lot more funny and goofy than you might imagine for two giants. 

Cane Corso vs Mastiff – Exercise, Training & Socialisation 

The everyday activities of both breeds do a lot to help their physical and mental health. That said, each breed has its individual needs. 

The Cane Corso needs up to 60 minutes of exercise a day. This should be a mixture of rigorous exercise such as running or tug-of-war or whatever other jobs you can give them. The higher energy levels of the breed require this level of exercise so that they don’t become bored and restless (trust me, you don’t want that). 

Corsi love to explore too, and daily walks are very much appreciated. But this is where training and socialisation are also critical for this breed. 

Due to its high intelligence, stubbornness and high prey drive, the Cane Corso requires strict and consistent training. Your leadership must be stern but calm if it’s going to respect you. And this breed is too big and powerful not to respect you. 

When it comes to socialisation, the dogs temperament and prey drive mean that owners need to invest in this early and often. The overprotective nature can lead to some very unfortunate circumstances if not attended to. 

The Mastiff on the other hand is easier to handle in all things exercise, training and socialisation. Although it’s still stubborn and huge, the docile nature of the Mastiff makes for a more friendly companion. 

That said, the size of the Mastiff can lead to overconfidence, especially in their younger goofball years. This can intimidate other dogs and strangers which may lead to less than pleasant interactions. For this reason, a high degree of socialisation is necessary. 

Cane Corso vs Mastiff – Diet & Nutrition

There isn’t much difference if at all when it comes to the diet and nutrition of both breeds. Both dogs require a higher protein intake than most breeds due to their muscle bound physiques. 

There is a wide range of school of thought when it comes to what to feed and what not to feed a dog these days. A lot of investment is currently going into the food subscription businesses, with websites such as Butternut box offering high quality, natural food on a subscription basis. Alternatively, many owners are choosing to go raw, stating the health benefits of lower inflammation and improvements to energy levels. 

cane corso raw dog food diet

When it comes to quantities, both can eat a lot! However, the larger Mastiff typically wins out here. Some adult English Mastiffs can consume up to 1.2KG a day. Whereas the Cane Corso may be around 1 KG. There are many nuances and variances here, and you should always keep an eye on how to adapt this. 

Cane Corso vs Mastiff – Grooming & Maintenance

Again, there isn’t much difference here either. Compared to many other breeds of dog, the Cane Corso and Mastiff are on the lower maintenance side, although perhaps not entirely. 

The drooling of each breed does require cleaning up daily, so keep a drool rag handy or invest in a drool bib (Highly recommended). 

The breeds both shed, so brushing is a requirement every week or two. The hair is typically short, but can become matted through drool, food and outdoor playtime. 

When it comes to bath time, we typically estimate this to be around every 4-6 weeks, depending on activity level, season, etc. 

You may find the Mastiff easier to groom due to its more gentle nature. Cane Corso grooming on the other hand may be a tad more difficult, so it’s important to get them used to this from an early age. Be warned, this is a messy affair, no matter what breed you choose! 

Cane Corso vs Mastiff – Costs of ownership

There is a lot of crossover in the requirements for each breed. Be warned this isn’t just the initial cost of the puppy. You need to be prepared to forecast costs for: 

  • Supplies (toys, beds, etc) 
  • Food
  • Annual vet bills
  • Insurance 
  • Training & Socialisation classes 
  • House proofing 

The costs do stack up, especially when welcoming such a big breed to your home. For an advanced breakdown of the costs associated with Cane Corso ownership, you can view our helpful guide here

Another aspect of this is to understand the lifetime cost commitment for owning such a large breed. Totalling costs up from puppy purchase, to annual bills (vets, insurance, food, etc) you can estimate a lifetime cost which likely pushes north of $25,000. 

That may seem cold, and who are we to put dampeners on your quest for dog companionship? Put simply, our mission is to create a generation of responsible dog owners that have the necessary education to make informed decisions, so that more dogs have an enjoyable lifestyle and less dogs find themselves in rescue shelters. 

Cane Corso vs Mastiff – Are they good family dogs? 

Lastly, are both these breeds good family dogs? 

Many people ask if the Cane Corso is dangerous? It’s a loaded question. The dog certainly has the capacity to be dangerous, but only if it isn’t raised well and is deprived of good leadership from owners. 

The sheer power alone and strong willed nature makes them a handful, which is why we advocate them for experienced owners over newbies. The Cane Corso bite force alone is quite terrifying, pair that with a huge, muscular frame and you have an absolute handful. 

That said, the Cane Corso can actually make a wonderful family dog. If owners have the space, commit to lifelong training and socialisation, whilst also matching its physical and mental stimulation needs, then this can be a great family dog. Remember, experienced dog owners are preferred, ideally with larger breeds. 

The Mastiff on the other hand is undoubtedly a marvellous family dog. Its watchful, gentle and protective nature means that the Mastiff is brilliant around kids. 

The lazier side of the breed also loves to cuddle with you and be by your side as much as possible. This is great for owners that enjoy a really close bond. 

The courageous nature of the dog also means that if you’re on the look out for a guardian breed then the Mastiff is more than capable. Although it should never have to demonstrate its power, the Mastiff bite force is also one to be reckoned with. 

Due to some owners mishandling the breed and indulging in their fighter dog or bodyguard history, both breeds have unfortunately made it onto our dog bite statistics page. That said, with good ownership, it’s rare that many will witness or experience this.

Cane Corso vs Mastiff – Summary

So when it comes to the Cane Corso vs Mastiff, which breed is right for you? 

As a lover of larger Mastiff breeds, I certainly struggle with this. The Cane Corso has certainly grown on me over the years and I enjoy the variety in coat colours and facial features when compared to the English Mastiff. 

That said, my experience with French Mastiffs and their similarly docile nature means that I absolutely adore the calmer temperament of the English Mastiff (drool aside). 

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between the dogs, but the differences are also fairly stark. My suggestion would be to go to ask yourself the following questions: 


Which Breed suits your lifestyle?


Which breed can you give the best life to?


What breed is best for your family? 

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