Presa Canario vs Cane Corso: What’s the Difference Between These Dogs?

Many people mistakenly interchange the dog breed names, the Presa Canario (Canary Mastiff) and the Cane Corso (Corso), however, these are two entirely different dogs.

In this article, we’ll unpack the similarity and differences between these two mighty mastiff-type dogs so you can better determine which might make a better pet for you. 

A Cane Corso and a Presa Canario standing outdoors
The big and mighty Cane Corso (left) and Presa Canario (right) dogs

Keep reading to explore the history, temperament, and looks of these two similar, yet completely different, pups.

Breed Comparison: A Quick Overview

Both the Presa Canario and Cane Corso are big, mighty dogs. They both are built for power and share a Molosser history and traits of many Bully treats.

However, they also have a bad reputation due to people who misunderstand these powerful dogs or poor ownership. 

Here’s a quick comparison of these two dog breeds:

  Presa Canario Cane Corso
Other names Perro de Presa Canario, Canary Mastiff, Canary Dog of Prey Corso
Height 22 to 26 inches 23 to 27 inches
Weight 110 to 130 pounds 88 to 110 pounds
Temperament Strong-willed, confident, calm Intelligent, affectionate, loyal
Energy Moderate Moderate
Average Lifespan 9 to 11 years 9 to 12 years
Price $1,500+ $1,500+
Grooming needs Low Low

History of Cane Corso and Presa Canario 

A Cane Corso and a Presa Canario sticking their tongues out
The Cane Corso or Italian Mastiff (left) and the Presa Canario or Spanish Mastiff (right)

Both the Corso and the Presa Canario are Mediterranean Mastiffs, although their origins stem from different parts of Europe.

The Presa Canario is also known as the Spanish Mastiff, while the Cane Corso is the Italian Mastiff.

As the name suggests, the Perro de Presa Canario dogs originated in the Canary Islands where they were used for herding cattle, and as guard dogs. 

These dogs were threatened with extinction in 1940 due to dogfighting and the recognition of other popular guard dogs like the GSD and the Doberman Pinscher.

In the 1970s, lovers of this breed started an intensive program to revive the breed and they have recovered well, although they are still not recognized by many of the major worldwide kennel clubs.

On the other hand, the introduction of Cane Corso started in Italy with the ancestors of this dog of Roman descent.

The initial Cane Corsos were very large dogs that were used to charge enemy lines with flaming oil buckets strapped to their backs.

After the Romans, these dogs were used as guard dogs, hunting dogs, farmhands, and kept as companions.

Corsos too were threatened with extinction during the world wars but an intensive breeding program started by an Italian Doctor in the 1970s also saved the breed.

This breed is recognized by the AKC and is ranked as the 32nd most popular breed in the United States.

What are the Physical Differences Between Presa Canario and Cane Corso?

A Presa Canario and a Cane Corso standing in a field
The muscular Presa Canario (left) and Cane Corso (right) breeds

As the Corso and the Presa Canario both share mastiff ancestors, they are very similar in physical appearance, they could be brothers. Both dogs have thick, robust, muscular bodies.

The Perro de Presa Canario is the shorter of the two dogs, standing from 24 to 26 inches (60 and 66cm) tall, while the Cane Corso stands an inch taller, between 24 and 27 inches (61 and 69cm) tall. 

Although he is shorter, the Presa Canario is generally longer and heavier than the Cane Corso, weighing from 110 to 130 pounds (50 to 59 kg), compared to the Cane Corso who has an average weight of between 88 and 110 pounds (40 and 50 kg).

This extra muscle mass gives the Presa Canario a stockier appearance.

Presa Canarios are unique in that they have cat-like paws and a cat-like stride. They also have a massive square-shaped head.

On the other hand, the Cane Corso is characterized by a long, wide muzzle and a docked tail.

The ears of both breeds are often cropped. This was historically done to ensure they will not be injured in dogfighting, guarding, or hunting, and is now just practiced for sake of appearance.

If left uncropped, the large ears will droop down towards the cheeks.

The Presa Canario has six standard colors (brown, gold, orange, silver, tiger, and fawn), while the Corso comes in 7 standard colors (black, fawn, gray, red, gray brindle, black brindle, and chestnut brindle).

Presa Canario dogs are sometimes found in a brindle color and can have additional white markings on the chest, paws, and muzzle.

No matter the color of his coat, the Presa Canario will always have a black mask below the eyes, as well as black lips, a black nose, and black eye rims.

Both dogs also have short, straight coats, but the Cane Corso’s fur is slightly denser and more coarse.

Both dogs are often confused with other similar-looking breeds such as the South African Boerboel, the English Mastiff, and the American Pit Bull Terrier

Perro de Presa Canario vs Cane Corso: Which Breed is the Perfect Family and Protection Dog?

A Presa Canario standing and a Cane Corso sitting
The devoted Presa Canario (left) and Cane Corso (right) dogs

Both the Perro de Presa Canario and the Corso are very loyal dogs who are devoted to their families.

They are confident pups that thrive in an environment with a strong pack leader and so are not well suited to first-time dog owners.

The Cane Corso is the more protective of the two, acting as a loyal bodyguard. This breed is very wary of strangers.

While the Presa Canario is less intense, he will still readily alert you of danger and act as a good watchdog.

The Presa Canario has a stronger prey drive making him less suitable for families with young kids or other pets. 

Despite his protective tendencies, the Cane Corso is the more sociable of the two breeds and is more affectionate towards his family.

If there are small children as part of his accepted pack, the Cane Corso will be gentle and tolerant of them and can make a wonderful family pet.

He is still a big dog though so young children will need to be supervised around him.

Check out this super cute video of the exceptional family guardian, Cane Corso, with his toddler friend: 

Is Cane Corso stronger than Presa Canario?

Both of these breeds are powerful pooches. They are known to be amongst some of the strongest canine biters, meaning that they can do some serious damage if they want to. 

The fierce Cane Corso has a bite force of 700 PSI, while the bite force of the Presa Canario sits around 500 PSI.

That is why it’s essential to train these dogs from a young age how to interact safely with other pets and animals. 

Check out our article guide to know which dog breed has the strongest bite force.

Which dog is more aggressive, Cane Corso or Presa Canario?

A Cane Corso and a Presa Canario standing
The Cane Corso (left) and Presa Canario (right), always ready to protect

Both the Presa Canario and the Corsos have a history of being used as protective working dogs and thus naturally have a protective, and even aggressive streak.

If these dogs are not properly trained by a strong pack leader, they will think they are the leader themselves which results in a dog that is difficult to control with aggressive tendencies.

Presa Canarios thrive in rural or farm environments where they are used as estate guardians.

They will naturally take up the role of a working farm dog and they are naturally aloof around strangers.

This makes them quite good watchdogs but can make them aggressive towards people they don’t know.

Which breed is easier to train

Both these dog breeds are very smart and loyal with an eager-to-please nature. Both breeds behave well to positive reinforcement techniques while training.

Pestilence and patience are the keys to training both of these breeds. 

Both the Corso and the Canary Mastiff require socialization from a young age and intense training with a firm, consistent owner.

Cane Corsos can also be quite aggressive to dogs of the same sex so early socialization is essential.

Obedience training is also a must with both breeds. This is particularly the case with the Presa Canario who can become quite stubborn and independent if you don’t keep up with proper training.

These dogs are quick to pick up on any weaknesses and will challenge the boundaries of their owner.

How to Take Care of Your Powerful Pooch

A Presa Canario and a Cane Corso standing on the grass
The Presa Canario (left) and Cane Corso (right) exercising

Cane Corso and Presa Canario are not high-maintenance dogs. They have low-maintenance grooming needs but do require sufficient exercise to prevent boredom from seeping in.

They also are not well suited to apartments but need a large space where they can run and play. They are best suited to farm or estate living. 

Canary Mastiff vs. Cane Corso exercise

Both the Canary Mastiff and the Corso have moderate exercise needs.

They both require about 60 minutes of exercise each day. A daily two to three-mile walk with your dog will go down well.

Both breeds will love to run with their owners just be sure not to job with your puppy until his bones are fully developed. 

Of the two breeds, the Cane Corso requires slightly more intensive exercise and will love interactive play such as games of frisbee, flyball, and tug-of-war.

This breed will also love agility training and dog sports that provide him with both mental and physical stimulation. 

If not given adequate daily exercise, both these dog breeds can become bored and destructive. 

Grooming: Do Presa Canario or Cane Corso shed more?

Both these dogs are light shedders with short coats. The Cane Corso has an undercoat but both dogs still shed lightly throughout the year, but more so during the changing of the seasons. 

Brushing your dog two or three times a week will help remove any dead hair, minimize shedding, and promote new hair growth.

During shedding season you may want to increase this to a daily brush to minimize the amount of hair around the house.

A bath every second month will be enough to keep your dog looking and smelling good as they’re also not very stinky dogs.

If you bathe your dog more frequently you could end up causing skin irritation or allergies as he will lose the natural oils in his coat.

The nails of your dog will also need to be trimmed to prevent painful tears. This can be done every three to four weeks.

Both of these dogs are known to drool quite a bit, particularly the Cane Corso, so get used to a healthy dose of slobber if you want one of these breeds.

Feeding the Presa Canario and Cane Corso 

Presa Canario and Cane Corso dogs consume roughly the same amount of food; about 3 cups of dry dog food a day.

It’s recommended that you feed these dogs high-quality dog food specially designed for large breeds. 

Both breeds, but particularly the Presa Canario, are quite food-motivated so treats work well in training.

That said, these breeds love to eat so be sure to monitor their daily caloric intake, and how many treats you feed them.

Extra weight can lead to obesity and put extra pressure on their joints and bones.

Lifespan: Do Perro de Presa Canario Live Longer than Corso?

A Presa Canario and a Cane Corso lying down
A Presa Canario (left) and a Cane Corso (right) resting

Perro de Presa Canario and Corso are generally quite healthy dogs and don’t suffer from many common diseases that plague other companion breeds.

These dogs have a lifespan of between ten and fourteen years.

Some health issues that can affect these dogs include hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. These crippling ailments affect the formation of the joints and can cause mobility issues and lead to arthritis. 

Some other common ailments that affect the joints and bones in the Presa Canario breed include Osteochondritis dissecans and Panosteitis or growing pains.

Presa Canarios are more prone to developing these due to their large muscular body which sits on a smaller frame.

As large chested dogs, both breeds are prone to developing gastric torsion or bloat.

This typically happens when a dog is exercised immediately before or after a large meal. The stomach then twists which can be fatal for your dog. 

Symptoms of gastric torsion include a hard abdomen, excessive panting or heavy breathing, and retching without throwing up.

Cane Corsos should also frequently be examined for heart issues such as Dilated Cardiomyopathy or the enlargement of thin walls of the heart.

Some other health ailments that affect the Presa Canario breed include Entropion, Epilepsy, Hypothyroidism, and Cryptorchidism.

On the other hand, Cane Corsos are prone to Ectropion, Demodectic Mange, Wobbler’s Syndrome, and Cruciate Ligament Rupture.

Presa Canario or Cane Corso Puppy Prices: Which is More Expensive?

A Presa Canario puppy and a Cane Corso puppy
The adorable Presa Canario (left) and Cane Corso (right) puppies

The Cane Corso and Presa Canario puppies will set you back from $1,500 to $2,000 at a reputable breeder.

There is slightly more demand for Presa Canario puppies and fewer breeders, making these dogs ever so slightly more expensive. 

If you want a working dog of either breed, you can also expect to pay higher than those raised as companion animals.

This is because they will have been trained differently are the puppies normally come from very specific working dog bloodlines.

Always buy your puppy from a reputable dog breeder who has dedicated time and effort to these dogs as puppies.

The first few weeks of your puppy’s life are when they are most impressionable and this period will have a big impact on the temperament of your dog. 

Both breeds are outlawed in certain areas, due to being on the dangerous dog list. Thus be sure to check the legislation in your area before you buy one of these pups.

Even if they are legal in your area, you may still be required to muzzle or leash your dog when out in a public area. 

Conclusion: Which is Better, Cane Corso or Presa Canario?

The Perro de Presa Canario and the Cane Corso dogs are very similar breeds that share many aspects of appearance and temperament.

These are both very protective, loyal dogs that require plenty of training and socialization. They are big and powerful and not well suited to novice pet owners.

If you’re up for the challenge, the Cane Corso is the better family dog while the independent Presa Canario makes a great guardian of your home or farm. 

Getting a dog is a big commitment so be sure you know what you’re getting into before buying one of these puppies.

There are already plenty of these dogs in rescues due to owners that didn’t do adequate research before buying one of these strong, powerful breeds.

Large breeds that are better suited to first-time owners include Boxers, Great Danes, and Bulldogs.

Do you own a Presa Canario or Cane Corso? We’d love to hear all about your furry family member and why you picked this breed as the best dog for you.

Please share your puppy stories in the comments below.

Further reading: Power dog breeds compared

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