They may be tough, muscular dogs, but both the Presa Canario and Cane Corso breeds can become loyal, affectionate companions when properly trained and socialized. These Mediterranean Mastiffs may appear to be twins, but there are actually numerous differences between the Presa Canario and Cane Corso dog breeds—for starters, the origins of these nearly identical dogs are based in two completely different European countries.
An Italian breed, the Cane Corso is both a hunter and lovable companion, while the Presa Canario hails from the Canary Islands and is a protective guardian by nature (that can also make a great family pet).
When determining which breed might make the perfect addition to your family, you’ll want to consider a few differentiating factors, ranging from their appearance and individual temperaments to their unique breed histories.
Appearances of Cane Corso & Presa Canario
Both the Cane Corso and the Presa Canario belong to the Molosser group, which means they are among a group of solidly-built, large dog breeds descending from common ancestry. Their average height (around 25 inches) is also similar. Both breeds are generally healthy (though they are predisposed to certain larger-dog conditions, such as elbow and hip dysplasia), and they can be expected to live to around 10 years of age.
Though the Presa Canario tends to be slightly longer and generally a bit shorter in size, they weigh more than the Cane Corso (Presas tip the scales at 110 to 130 pounds, compared to the Cane Corso’s 99 to 110 pounds).
However, the two dogs do have a few distinct differences in their appearance.
For starters, the Presa Canario is often compared to a cat due to their unique cat-like paws—and they often even stride like cats. They also have a thick, muscular body coupled with a massive square-shaped head.
The Cane Corso also has its own distinct characteristics; these dogs have a long, wide muzzle and they’re known for having their tail docked.
Both dogs tend to have their ears cropped, which was historically done to protect them from injury as they were hunting wild animals or fending off stray dogs. If left untouched, both dogs have large ears that dropdown.
Though both breeds have short, straight hair that requires minimal grooming and bathing, the Cane Corso’s coat is slightly denser. They also have an undercoat that the Presa Canario does not.
For anyone concerned about the impact of either of these breeds on their furniture, they are both light shedders…but heavy droolers. Both dogs can come in a variety of different colors, but brindle is the one they share. You’ll often find Cane Corsos with black or fawn-colored coats (at times with brindle), while the Presa Canario can come in all shades of fawn and brindle with patches of white on their chest, paws, or muzzle.
You’ll also know it’s a Presa Canario because these dogs have a black mask, and their nose, lips, and eye rims are also black.
Both the Presa Canario and Cane Corso have a genetic predisposition to be somewhat aggressive, particularly towards strangers, and therefore early socialization and obedience training is of the utmost importance for these breeds.
Like many dogs, both breeds will respond well to positive reinforcement training, and they can be taught to become well-mannered puppies and remain at ease in a variety of situations.
When properly socialized, both breeds can become loveable, cuddly companions that are fiercely loyal (and, of course, they make excellent guard dogs). They will always be naturally protective of their families; the Cane Corso is generally a bit more likely to act as a true bodyguard for his master, but both breeds will be quick to jump into action to alert their families to immediate danger.
It’s also important to note that the Presa Canario tends to be more stubborn and demanding than the Cane Corso, so it’s even more important to adhere to consistent training and boundaries in the home to prevent these dogs from becoming uncontrollable or even aggressive.
The Presa Canario and Cane Corso are trainable because they’re eager to please their masters. Both dogs have bold, confident personalities and are highly intelligent, and thus will need a dominant pack leader who can provide appropriate training (so they are not the best choices for first-time pet owners).
History of Cane Corso and Presa Canario
Despite the fact that they are lookalikes, both the Cane Corso and Presa Canario have completely different histories. The Italian Cane Corso was bred primarily to serve the purposes of guarding and hunting (and as a companion dog), while the Presa Canarios have historically been best suited for working livestock.
Hailing from the Canary Islands, the Presa Canario was relied upon as a guard dog and for herding cattle, as well as for the unsavory tasks of exterminating wild dogs that threatened the flock. The breed was heavily involved in dogfighting; they became nearly extinct in the 1940s, but were saved by an intense breeding program in the 1970s.
Likewise, the Cane Corso was also threatened with extinction during both World Wars. This Italian breed was used during wartime efforts to charge enemy lines (they would actually be “armed” with flaming oil buckets strapped to their backs). On the homefront, these multi-purpose dogs would fulfill roles ranging from estate and flock guardian to farmhand and hunting dog…as well as a devoted family companion, which they remain today.