Well, they were all aggressive! I went to about 15 kennels or farms. The breed type was diverse and the size was also. Some dogs looked like Danes, others looked like Boxer hybrids, some like Dogo/Pit Bull on steroids. No consistent type of dog; I asked about that fact. They told me that a Cane Corso is not a show dog, it is a working dog, and it is a type of dog, not a pure show breed.
Nice dogs, small using our dogs as comparison.
Yes, I received him in 1993 with about six other dogs. My cousin Corrado sent him over to me personally.
The first book written about the breed, it detailed the historic conference of the Civitella Alfedina. The Sottiles eventually imported the cover dog, “Nerone.” Photo: Ed Hodas
What was he like physically, temperament and in reproduction?
Well, he was a black brindle, an older dog maybe between five and seven years old. I estimate maybe older, from looking at his teeth. He was like 75 to 80 pounds top weight. He was a very aggressive dog when around other males, and he didn’t like wild boar, either. I had him agitated and he came out right away and hit the sleeve – tough dog. But when I bred him he produced nothing but small-looking, non-typey, substandard show dogs. But he reproduced his temperament 100 percent.
Did you get any results in reproduction out of the dogs you imported from Puglia?
Not really. Not with other Corsos, anyway. They produced that temperament real good with my bulldog-pit mixes I had for hog catching; in fact I still have Nerone blood in some of my hog dogs. Nerone had a scissors bite, so did Zak. Guigliona was really undershot; she was a lot of Boxer blood. She was very aggressive, her temperament was spot on. I didn’t keep anything from her.
Would you ever decide to take a more prominent role in the breed?
I haven’t really left Corsos. I have just not been active in all the show politics. I didn’t like the way it was heading. I would love to be active publicly and educate the less seasoned or novice breeder.
In His Own Words
“Five years ago I made a trip to Sicily. While there, I attended the wedding of a friend. On the way to the ceremony, we drove along a road in the country. I just happened to see a farmer in a field with his cows. Working among the animals were these impressive dogs. I asked my friends to stop the car and I called out to the farmer. There we stood, on the side of the road, dressed in tuxedos. We must have looked really funny. The dogs turned out to be Branchiero Sicilianos, the same dogs I’d seen in that book. I explained to the farmer that I was very much interested in these dogs and would like to purchase stock for show and breeding. ‘Do you have cows?’ he asked me. When I said, ‘no,’ he asked why I would want to breed these dogs.” – Michael Sottile Sr., recounting his first view of the Sicilian Brachieros he later imported, from “Celebration of Rare Breeds” by Kathy Flamholtz, 1986.
Original American Cane Corso Standard
Written by Michael Sottile Sr., the original standard for the Cane Corso in the United States departs from today’s standards in certain key elements of type, in particular its call for parallel head planes and a scissors bite. The reference to uncropped ears as a serious fault is a far cry from where we have arrived today.
“The Cane Corso is not a fighting dog,” Sottile wrote in a description that accompanied the standard. “As in Italy, they often work in groups. Of course, they are strong dogs and will not run from a fight, but they are not aggressive with other dogs. The Cane Corso is probably the only true coursing mastiff left in the world.”
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The Cane Corso is a muscular and robust dog and should give the impression of great strength and working ability. In its native homeland of Italy, the Cane Corso is used for hunting large wild game (wild boar, stag, etc.). It is also used as a cattle catching dog and as a protection dog for farm and family. The Cane Corso is a highly trainable dog and must be able to work in concert with other dogs. It is an active dog and should always be in working condition. It must be able to cope with the elements and withstand great stress with the intelligence and confidence of a superior working dog.
HEAD: The head is massive, with a wide, broad, flat skull which is widest between the ears. The muzzle should be wide and square with a deep, powerful underjaw and denote great strength when viewed from any angle. It should never exceed more than 40 percent of the total length of the head. The muzzle should run parallel to the line of the skull, which has a defined stop. The color of the nose should correspond to the coat color of the dog; black in black dogs, lighter in lighter colored dogs. The lips are thick and heavy. The teeth should meet in a scissors or level bite. Slightly undershot is acceptable, but not desirable.
EYES: The color of the eyes in adult dogs ranges from black to hazel and should to the color of the dog’s coat. The expression of the Cane Corso is intense and intelligent when alerted. The eyes are tight-fitting, deep set, almond shaped and set wide apart.
EARS: The ears are pendulous and thick when natural, and should be cropped very short to form a triangle. Uncropped ears are not desirable and considered a serious fault.
NECK: The neck should be powerful, muscular and well arched. The lower side of the neck should have some loose skin and dewlap, but not in overabundance. BODY: The chest should be broad and deep with ribs well-sprung and descending below the elbows. The topline should be straight and show no weakness. It should flow smoothly into the hindquarters, which are slightly rounded when viewed from the side. The belly is slightly tucked. The dog should appear a little longer than it is tall. Most important is that the dog appears balanced and athletic.
HEIGHT AND WEIGHT: Males: 24 to 28 inches; 100-140 lbs. Females: 22 to 27 inches, 80-110 lbs.
FOREQUARTERS: Shoulders are muscular and well laid back and free in their movement. Elbows are straight and tight against the body. The front legs should be straight with massive bone. Pasterns should be upright, but must have flexibility. Feet are compact; oval shaped, with thick pads and toes well knuckled over. The feet should not turn in nor out. Rear dewclaws, if any, should be removed.
HINDQUARTERS: Hindquarters should be broad, well developed and very muscular. Thigh is moderately long and powerful. Stifles should be moderately bent, hocks let down and parallel to each other when viewed from behind. TAIL: The tail is thick at the base and slightly tapered toward the tip. It should be docked to one-third its natural length.
COAT: The coat is very dense and should be harsh to the touch. In cold weather the Cane Corso develops a more dense undercoat.
MOVEMENT: Movement should be free-flowing and powerful, yet effortless. The front legs should reach with long strides and the rear should thrust with great drive. When viewed from the front and rear, legs should move parallel to each other and cover a great deal of ground with each step.
FAULTS: Any departure from the aforementioned points shall be considered a fault, and the seriousness of the fault shall be in exact proportion to its degree, i.e., a very crooked front is a serious fault, a slightly crooked front is a slight fault, etc.