Last Updated on April 21, 2023
The Cane Corsos, also called Italian Mastiffs, are very large dogs. They are powerful and muscular with large heads.
They look a bit scary, but with proper training, they can be an intelligent, docile, affectionate companion and family dogs, and even good with children.
While most people associate the Cane Corso dog breed with being black, it actually comes in several colors and patterns.
Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about this dog’s different colors so you can determine which one is the best choice for your family.
- 1 How Do Cane Corso Color Genetics Work?
- 2 How Many Colors Do Cane Corsos Have?
- 3 Coat Patterns and Markings
- 4 Most Common and Rarest Color of an Italian Mastiff
- 5 Links Between Color and Health
- 6 Eye and Nose Colors
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 8 Conclusion: Which Cane Corso Color Will You Choose?
- 9 Further reading:
How Do Cane Corso Color Genetics Work?
Cane Corso color genetics work through dominant and recessive genes. Darker color genes are mostly more dominant; therefore, the dominant ones will emerge in a solid black.
Eumelanin is the pigment responsible for their black color.
The brindle dilutes, and also the liver or tawny coat colors and patterns are all caused by recessive genes and are thus rarer to find.
Do their coats change colors as they age?
Yes, Cane Corso puppies’ coats do change colors as they age, but this happens very gradually and not drastically.
For example, light grey can become a darker gray shade, but not a red or pink color.
Puppies can also lose or gain some markings, but they won’t change into colors on the other side of the spectrum.
These small color changes can be caused by sunlight, maturity, nutritional health, and medication.
How Many Colors Do Cane Corsos Have?
Corsos have seven primary shades recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).
They come in the following colors; Black, Grey, Fawn, Red, Brindle Black, Brindle Grey, and Brindle Chestnut.
This is the most common color of this breed, and many buyers prefer them, as it is considered the most traditional and classic.
Some of the black Cane Corsos are dark brown, and fawn or gray undertones are also permittable. They are also allowed a splash of white on the chest or paws.
See what a beautiful black Cane Corso looks like in this video:
This is highly sought after and prized for its uniqueness. The gray color emerges from a recessive dilute gene curbing the production of eumelanin.
They are quite more challenging to breed than the black because two black parents, both carrying that recessive gene, are needed to produce grey puppies.
Corso puppies born gray can become lighter or even darker as they grow up. A gray-born puppy might even show some variation of brindle as time goes by and it starts changing.
This is probably one of the most eye-catching dogs. They look so stunning with their rich creamy-colored coat and black or grey mask.
Any shade of fawn, from brownish tan to light cream, is all accepted by the AKC. However, their masks are not permitted to extend beyond the eyes.
Some white markings on the throat, chin, chest, or even patterns are accepted. Since the 3rd or 4th century, these fawn-colored Corsos have been used for hunting.
The solid-colored fawn variety is very, very rare.
Although this color is rare, it’s also a standard color, which can vary widely. They can appear from pale champagne to a rich mahogany color.
Usually, they also have a black mask. All the shades of the Red Cane Corso are produced by the same pigment, pheomelanin.
However, the exact hue is created by the genetic pathway it takes.
Both parents have to carry the genes in order to make the red color possible. The parents don’t even have to be red, as long as they carry this gene.
Red puppies are born with a black or blue saddle mark but it fades as they grow older.
Coat Patterns and Markings
The Cane Corso has various coat patterns which can include brindle, white patches, and also a mask on the dog.
Within the brindle pattern, you will also find different color variations, such as gray, black, and chestnut.
The Brindle Cane Corso is a dog with a specific patterning. Due to its similarities with a tiger’s stripes, in its native Italian, it is referred to as “Tigrato”.
This gene is located in the K Locus, exactly the same place as the dominant black color, so it is commonly found in Corsos.
However, it is less common, as Brindle is recessive to the dominant black.
If only one parent carries the Brindle gene, no Brindle puppies will be born. That said, you can have two non-brindles have Brindle offspring if only they both carry a Brindle gene.
Gray Brindle Cane Corsos are not as typical as solid gray dogs. The same as the black brindle, they have a brown base color. They also have grayish or blue stripes.
Their coat colors occur blotchy sometimes, but they are equally stunning as other brindle puppies.
The Black Brindle Cane Corso is recognized by the AKC and the FCI. They are black in color and distinguished for their brown and red base and their so-called ‘tiger stripes’.
They don’t reflect any inconsistencies.
According to a breeder from the Czech Republic, Black Brindle Corsos may have the longest lifespan amongst all the other breed colors.
The Chestnut Brindle is another outstanding striped dog variety that isn’t as usual as the black and gray brindles.
Featuring a brown or red tone as a base, the saturated reddish-brown stripes make them appear almost like black brindles in dim lighting.
However, their stripes show off brightly when they come into natural light or sunlight.
The black mask in a Cane Corso is a term used by the AKC to describe a melanistic pattern that may extend from a dog’s muzzle up to the ears.
The black masks are usually seen on puppies in red, fawn, yellow, tan, and brindle coat colors.
Fawn or Red Cane Corso pups may have a black or gray mask around their eyes, which are also strongly pigmented on their muzzles.
The mask of the Formentino Corso seems to be more blue than gray.
White patches of hair may occur on the Cane Corso puppies and are acknowledged as allowed by kennel organizations.
These white patches may appear on the throat, chin, chest, or even paws.
What are other Cane Corso Colors?
Along with the above standard solid coat colors and patterns, the Cane Corso dog breed also comes in other colors, like the Blue Fawn, Chocolate or Sliver, Isabella or Tawny, and Straw Cane.
The Blue Cane Corso is a dog responsible for much controversy over whether they do exist at all or whether it is only a myth.
Although there are still breeders that advertise Blue Corso puppies for sale, the blue color is not even mentioned by the FCI’s or AKC’s breed standards.
Eventually, the confusion came when the breed diluted black pigment was called gray instead of blue. The Blue Corso is just a gray Corso called Blue.
They are more vulnerable and prone to skin problems like mange and CDA, as these dogs are bred by a recessive mutation in the MLPH gene.
6. Formentino or Blue Fawn
The Formentino Cane Corsos are so unique that there might be breeders trying to convince you that they are a separate breed. Blue Fawn is another name for these dogs.
“Formentino” actually describes the color of fermented wheat and comes from Italy, where this dog breed originated.
As a result of a dilution of the fawn color, the Formentino’s coat is carbon-colored, and it has a blue nose and mask. Gray patches are scattered over its shoulders and back.
7. Chocolate or Liver
The Chocolate or Liver Cane Corso looks almost exactly the same as a Red Corso, but they are utterly different.
To say the least, this color is considered a fault by a number of kennel organizations.
These Chocolate Corsos are easily recognized among other dogs, for they have a pink-purple tone to their noses and the skin around their eyes.
Some of them have black masks.
Although these dogs look so strong and powerful, they seem to be even more prone to illnesses than 0ther Corso colors.
All because they are mostly bred for their coat, not caring for their health.
8. Isabella or Tawny
Isabella Cane Corso possesses an unusually beautiful, almost lilac color. Therefore, they are highly sought after in some breeds.
Sad to say that they are seen as a serious fault in Corsos.
They have a pinkish tinge to their noses, lips, and eyelids. Just like the chocolate Corsos, they mostly have green or blue eyes.
These dogs are also known as tawny.
As they are another dilute shade, they are more susceptible to diseases and in particular to Color Dilution Alopecia. This is a skin condition that causes irritation and hair loss.
Although Straw Cane Corsos are extremely rare, they are incredibly beautiful. They have a cream overcoat, featuring dark black or gray spots over the shoulders or on the back.
These dogs don’t have a mask, but their nose is mostly faded brown or black.
Most Common and Rarest Color of an Italian Mastiff
According to the study by Evzen Korec, the most common color of this breed is found to be black.
The black color also appears to be the most popular. The solid black coat’s genes are dominant, so they express more likely.
Some white markings are permittable on their black coats.
The rarest Cane Corso coat color appears to be the Straw Cane Corso. There is only one to be found in the USA and about 10 to 20 of them in the whole world.
However, chocolate, liver, and Isabella are all rare, for they rely on regressive genes and therefore occur less frequently.
Is it okay to get a rare color of this breed?
The fact that some dogs are actually bred for special rare colors, brings its own problems.
It results in inbreeding a smaller gene pool and also vulnerability to increased health problems, producing large vet bills for owners.
The recommended wise decision to make will be to rather stick to the original colors that can provide the most potential for overall health.
Do colors affect their temperament and behavior?
Corsos are intelligent, eager to please, versatile, friendly, affectionate, and intensely loyal to their human family.
Their size and strength are their dominating features as they are muscular and really majestic in appearance.
These attributes, make them a very popular choice for watching over their owner’s property.
They are easy to train and groom, with high prey drive, and also extremely territorial. They are willful and can be somewhat aloof, alert, and sometimes indifferent.
Therefore, it is strongly advised that they are trained and socialized from an early age.
Although dark or black Corsos may look more intimidating than others, there is in fact no noticeable difference in temperament or behavior between the different color variations.
How to take care of your dog’s coat?
The Cane Corso’s grooming requirements are minimal. They will love to be brushed with a rubber brush to keep their short coat in prime condition and minimize shedding.
They should be bathed on a regular basis but not too often, about every 4 to 7 weeks.
Links Between Color and Health
Unfortunately, the Cane Corso colors do affect their health. Several studies have proved this fact.
For instance, it is found that a chocolate-colored dog is more prone to become overweight, hurt its joints or even get ear infections.
Dogs with tawny or light coats are more likely to have congenital hearing loss and Color Dilution Alopecia. We also see that lighter-colored dogs are more at risk for skin issues.
That said, the Black Corso also has a negative side. Because of the dense undercoat of the black coat color, these dogs also become hot faster.
The black color soaks in sunrays, causing the dog to overheat. So, depending on where you live, this might be considered in choosing your dog.
Does coat color affect its lifespan?
The average accepted lifespan of a Cane Corso is 9 to 12 years.
A study by a breeder named Evzen Korec from the Czech Republic stated that the Black Brindle Cane Corso has the longest lifespan among other breed colors, with 10 to 13 years as a median age.
Eye and Nose Colors
Dark hazel eyes are found in dogs with coat colors of black and black muzzles, like black brindle, fawn, and red.
The lighter shades, for dogs with coat colors of gray, gray brindle, fawn, and red, with gray muzzles, the puppy’s eyes lighten as they grow up, but the color of the iris should be as dark as the puppy’s coat.
Cane Corso puppies don’t really change eye colors, but their eyes may lighten naturally as the dogs mature over the months.
What eye colors does AKC disqualify in Corsos?
Eye shades that are faulty for Cane Corsos are blue and yellow, and the AKC disqualifies them.
This means that dogs that display eyes of these colors will not be allowed to be shown at dog shows.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Corso dogs be white?
No, a solid white Cane Corso does not exist. The Formentino Corso, with its washed-out carbon color, is sometimes mistaken by owners as a white dog.
Nevertheless, these dogs may have white patches on their throat, chin, chest, toes, and backs.
Do Merle Cane Corsos exist?
Merle Cane Corsos do actually exist, but it is said that they are not really Corsos. These dogs are crossbreds with other dog breeds and generations.
They also have a strong tendency to poor health conditions such as ectropion, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia.
Does the coat color affect the purchase price of an Italian Mastiff puppy?
Yes. The coat color affects the purchase price of the Cane Corso pups. The black Corso is common, but because of its popularity, they are so high in demand.
Very rare colored Italian Mastiff puppies will also tend to fetch higher prices.
Conclusion: Which Cane Corso Color Will You Choose?
Choosing the best Cane Corso color depends on the preference of the owner.
However, it would be good to keep in mind that some colors, although so beautiful, may have weaknesses concerning health issues that could cost a lot in the long run.
The healthiest dogs seem to be the popular Black or the Black Brindle Cane Corso.
Buying one of them could be pricey, but they may have a healthier life, and you will be able to enjoy your lifelong furry companion for much longer.
Although these dogs look so scary, they are so loyal, affectionate, intelligent, and have a lot of personality. They can be the ideal family dog if appropriately trained.
Have you ever owned a Cane Corso? Did you have any difficulty finding a dog with your chosen coat color? We’d love to hear about your special dog in the comments below.
Janine is an experienced content writer and travel journalist based in Cape, Town, South Africa.
Raised by a bundle of botanists, researchers, and biologists, she is passionate about things related to the animal kingdom, including, our furry friends. However, as a terrible allergy sufferer, she is limited in her pet selection and so has grown up surrounded by curly-haired Poodles.