Cane Corso vs. Neapolitan Mastiff: What’s the Difference?

Cane Corso vs. Neopolitan Mastiff

Choosing between the Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff could be difficult, given that both breeds have powerful looks and temperaments. But if we look at their differences, you may be able to choose which fits you better.

The Cane Corso is smaller and characterized by a wide skull and rectangular muzzle. Meanwhile, the Neapolitan Mastiff is a more massive dog famous for its huge, wrinkly head, droopy eyes, and ears. Despite being bigger, Neapolitans are gentler, more laid-back, and more fearless than Corsos.

By the end of this article, you will have enough knowledge of the differences between the Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff to decide what breed fits you, your lifestyle, and your environment better. Let’s start!

Cane CorsoNeapolitan Mastiff
23–27 inches
24–31 inches
88–110 pounds
110–155 pounds
Protective, Loyal, Intelligent, Social
Protective, Gentle, Fearless, Stubborn
Activity Level:
Activity Level:
10–12 years
8–10 years

Breed History

Cane Corso lying on the grass

Cane Corso

The Cane Corso, also known as the Italian Mastiff, shares the same history as the Neapolitan Mastiff. Both dog breeds have their roots in ancient Rome as powerful war dogs.

The direct ancestors of the Cane Corso are the Canis Pugnaces, which are strong guardians and tenacious battle companions. They hunted prey, fiercely guarded families and farms, and charged enemy lines.

The Cane Corso almost vanished as a breed after World War II when the demand for their type of function declined. Thanks to a small group of Cane Corso enthusiasts, the breed was resurrected in the 1970s.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Cane Corso as an official breed in 2010.

 True to the Italian origin of its name — Cane, meaning “dog,” and Corso for “protector” — these dogs are primarily used nowadays as guardians of their loving homes and active companions of every family member.

Neapolitan Mastiff

The Neapolitan Mastiff goes by many aliases, including Italian Molosso, Mastino Napoletano, and Neo.

This breed directly descended from the Molossian of ancient Greece, which existed about 3,000 years ago, making the legacy of the Mastino one of the oldest in the canine world.

These dogs were famous for their size and ferocity—fighting tigers, lions, and elephants. When the Romans invaded Greece, they shared the same fate as the Cane Corso. They were utilized as war dogs, gladiators, and guardians.

Centuries after, breeders purposefully bred the Neapolitan Mastiff to be defenders of homes, maintaining its menacing looks but taking away the ferocious behavior. This paved the way for the modern-day Neapolitan Mastiff.

They were officially recognized as a breed by the AKC in 2004, six years earlier than the Cane Corso.


Cane Corso vs. Neopolitan Mastiff appearance

To the untrained eyes, the Cane Corso and Neapolitan Mastiff might seem very identical, especially in terms of their sizes and stocky builds.

The Cane Corso weighs 88 to 100 pounds and stands between 23 and 27 inches. It is smaller than its Italian cousin, the Neapolitan Mastiff, which weighs from 110 to 155 pounds and stands at 24 to 31 inches.

Another distinct difference between the two would be their facial features. The Cane Corso has a wide skull, a flat forehead, and a wide rectangular muzzle. They also have almond-shaped eyes and upright ears when cropped.

The Neo, on the other hand, is famous for its heavily wrinkled and massive head, loose skin, deep-set eyes, droopy ears, large nose, wide nostrils, and that awe-inspiring sad look.

In addition, the Cane Corso carries a less bulky body compared to all other Mastiff types. However, they have broad and deep chests, muscular forelegs and hind legs, and thighs that fit their active lifestyle.

On the other hand, the Neapolitan Mastiff’s body length is very prominent. It also sports a broad and deep chest, supported by its muscular and thick legs.

The standard colors for the short-haired Cane Corso include black, black brindle, gray, gray brindle, fawn, red, and chestnut. Meanwhile, the Neo carries black, blue, mahogany, and tawny-colored short and smooth coats.

The Neo may also have brindle markings all over their body or white markings on their toes and chest. It also sports a broad, thick tail that tapers at the end.

Temperament and Personality

The Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff came from a common background and were similarly bred as alert guard dogs. Due to this, expect that both carry the same protective and territorial personalities.

As these two breeds became more domesticated, they transformed into tamer and friendlier dogs. Despite this change, they have kept their guardian instincts intact and are still highly suspicious around strangers.

The Cane Corso, though, is the more social, loyal, confident, cheerful, and easy-going of the two. On the other hand, the Neapolitan Mastiff is gentle yet more fearless, dominant, and stubborn.

While both are great family dogs, the Neapolitan Mastiff tends to be friendlier with kids compared to the Cane Corso.

A client of mine who has a 5-year-old daughter also owns a 7-year-old Neapolitan Mastiff, and despite its size, it is very gentle around my friend’s daughter and the entire family, for that matter.

The Neapolitan Mastiff also acts as the daughter’s guardian and becomes quite alert when unfamiliar people approach her. However, with the proper socialization, Cane Corsos may also work well with older children.

Another difference between these two is their prey drive. The Cane Corso has a high impulse to chase small animals, while the Neo couldn’t care less.

If socialized early or raised with other pets as a puppy, the high prey drive of the Cane Corso may be tempered.

Nonetheless, the Cane Corso gets along better with other dogs and is more sociable and playful than the Neapolitan Mastiff. The Neapolitan Mastiff is more aloof and laid back.

Both breeds do not adapt well to lifestyle changes and new environments. It would be wise to introduce change slowly to these dogs so as not to stress them out.

While both the Corso and Neo don’t require much attention from their owners, they tend to suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for long periods. Keeping them occupied with toys should help manage their longing tendency.

Exercise and Training

Cane Corso during training

Even though both dogs are large breeds, the Cane Corso is the more active dog and has very high energy requirements compared to the Neapolitan Mastiff.

While the Cane Corso enjoys outdoor activities, the Neapolitan Mastiff is contented lounging around your house and couch all day.

The Cane Corso would be a suitable dog for families with very active lifestyles. It is an ideal companion for brisk walking, running, hiking, and swimming.

This being said, the Corso requires at least two hours of rigorous exercise, while the Neo should be good with 30 to 45 minutes of walking and light play. Be careful not to overexert your Neo to avoid joint issues due to its size.

A house with a large fenced yard is something to consider if you plan to own a Cane Corso. This ensures that your dog can burn up all that energy without causing disturbance to the neighborhood.

The training approach to the Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff is very similar.

One must first realize, though, that these breeds are definitely not for the inexperienced owner. Their strong-willed nature and massive size would require a strong and firm leader they must respect and follow.

Also, obedience and socialization training must start early in both breeds. This takes care of unwanted behaviors such as Corso’s chasing tendency, the Neo’s aloofness toward other dogs, and the stubbornness of both.

Crate training is also highly recommended to address the separation anxiety of both breeds. Once they learn to treat their crates as their happy and safe place, that should ease their tension whenever they are home alone.

One additional training that should be given to the Cane Corso is how to avoid mouthing and nipping. Fortunately, this is not common in the Neapolitan Mastiff.

Nutrition Needs

Like any other breed, the Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff need a complete and balanced diet to keep them healthy. They also need to be fed high-quality dog food in the right amount to maintain their ideal weight.

On average, an adult Cane Corso needs 4 ½ cups of dry kibbles daily, while the Neapolitan Mastiff should be good with 5 ½ cups. Make sure to divide this into two feedings at set times throughout the day for proper distribution.

If you wish to go with raw-feeding or homemade cooked meals, incorporate a healthy balance of high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and canine-safe fruits and vegetables into their dish.

Since these heavyweights are prone to joint problems, supplementing them with glucosamine and chondroitin will help produce cartilage components that support the integrity of their bones and joints.

To avoid eye issues common to these two Mastiffs, give them foods rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, such as carrots, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.

Always keep an eye out for your dog’s weight too. These two breeds are heavy eaters even at a young age. Monitor their feeding closely and follow a strict feeding regimen to avoid obesity.

Grooming Needs

Neopolitan Mastiff tongue out

Grooming is a relatively easy task for both the Cane Corso and its Neapolitan Mastiff cousin. Of the two, though, the Neapolitan Mastiff may need more time for grooming due to its much larger size, wrinkly features, and heavy drooling.

Weekly brushing should be effective enough to maintain the short coat of both breeds. Bathing every six to eight weeks is also good to keep them clean without stripping them of the natural oils that give them healthy skin and coat.

When it comes to shedding, the Cane Corso sheds very lightly. Meanwhile, the Neapolitan Mastiff sheds moderately all year-round. You might always need to clean up after the lint they leave on your furniture.

Further, cleaning your Neapolitan Mastiff’s wrinkles should be part of your daily routine with this dog. These wrinkles and folds may trap moisture, which is conducive to bacterial and fungal infections.

Owning a Neapolitan Mastiff also means you should get ready to be slobbered on. This breed drools heavily all the time! Some owners make them wear bibs to catch all those drool from staining the entire house.

Cleaning your Neo’s face and chest daily may not stop them from drooling, but it should be a good practice to keep them clean and healthy.

Part of the grooming routine for both breeds should be cleaning their ears, brushing their teeth, and clipping their nails to keep them from being broken.

Lifespan and Health Problems

The Cane Corso has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, which is relatively long for large breeds. On the other hand, the Neapolitan Mastiff’s lifespan is a bit shorter, at 8 to 10 years.

Although both breeds are considered to be generally healthy, they are still predisposed to certain health conditions.

For instance, both the Cane Corso and Neapolitan Mastiff are prone to elbow and hip dysplasia due to their huge size. They may also suffer from the same eye conditions, such as cherry eye, entropion, and ectropion.

As fast eaters, owners of this breed must also pay attention to the possibility of bloat.

Further, watch out for signs of arthritis and demodectic mange in your Cane Corso. As for the Neapolitan Mastiff, observe its tendencies to acquire cardiomyopathy (DCM) and hypothyroidism.

To lessen the chance of our fur babies developing these illnesses, visit your vet regularly, give them the healthiest diet possible, and provide them with the exercise they require.

Puppy Price

Neopolitan Mastiff puppies playing on the grass

The price range for a Cane Corso puppy is between $1,500 and $2,500. The Neapolitan Mastiff is more expensive by a wide margin, at $2,500 to $4,500. Top-of-the-line quality puppies for both could even reach $8,500.

To ensure you get your money’s worth, look for reputable breeders of the Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff.

As you financially prepare to welcome your Cane Corso or Neapolitan Mastiff home, make sure to include your dog’s maintenance and health needs in your budget.

Do not be tempted to get puppies from backyard breeders and puppy mills at all costs! They do not uphold ethical breeding practices and are just in it for profit.

Instead, you may wish to consider adopting a Cane Corso or Neapolitan Mastiff puppy, or even an adult, from credible rescue organizations and shelters if you are on a tight budget. This way, you also help give a pooch a better life ahead!

Similarities Between Cane Corso and Neapolitan Mastiff

Despite the unique features of the Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff, it is also amazing to realize that they carry so many similarities!

To start, both breeds are good for lovers of large-sized dogs. Though the Neo is more massive, the Cane Corso is also huge compared to other large breeds.

They project the same strong and intimidating appearance bought about by their broad chest and muscular physique. 

Approach these dogs with caution, as they are very protective of their owners and suspicious of strangers. Hence, both breeds are excellent watchdogs.

However, their stubborn nature requires a firm owner they will look up to and obey. Training both as young puppies is recommended for easier handling as they grow into adults.

The Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff similarly do not like being left alone. Hence, they are both prone to having separation anxiety. These breeds are also not very adaptable, so always introduce change gradually.

These breeds also share the same hearty appetite, so you need to give them the right amount of healthy food to prevent size-related illnesses, such as obesity and joint problems.

The Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff are also very pricey dogs, with the Neo costing even more. It is also quite expensive to maintain the feeding and lifestyle of these breeds.

Cane Corso vs. Neapolitan Mastiff: Which Is Better for You?

Cane Corso in the woods

The Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff are equally beautiful dogs with their own advantages and disadvantages. Choosing between the two is indeed a challenging decision.

Thinking about your budget, personality, environment, and lifestyle could aid you in making an effective decision you will not regret. Here are some tips to help you better decide between the Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff.

A Cane Corso would fit you better if you:

  • Want a dog who can match your active and outdoorsy lifestyle. Keeping up with you as you run, hike, or swim will not be a problem.
  • Have other dogs at home and love to see peaceful interactions.
  • Do not have too much time on your hands for grooming.
  • Tend to be attached to your dog and want companionship for a longer period.

A Neapolitan Mastiff is a better option if you:

  • Find massive dogs with huge physical features very amusing.
  • Value a quiet environment at home.
  • Want a dog who doesn’t mind staying home and lounging all day on the couch with you.
  • Need another family member who enjoys spending time with your children.

Though the points above are worthy of your consideration, remember that each dog has its own individuality as well.

Training your dog properly and establishing a healthy relationship with it is key to a happier life with your dog!

Final Thoughts

The origins of the Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff should not make you wonder why both breeds have such a strong presence. These excellent guard dogs are very reliable and would protect their families to a great extent.

Despite their intimidating looks, these two breeds show tremendous loyalty to their owners. With the proper training, they can also be very sociable, gentle, and friendly companions.

The distinct differences between the Cane Corso and the Neapolitan Mastiff should give aspiring owners an option best suited to their individual preferences and lifestyle.

Have you already figured out which breed fits you better? Is it the powerful Cane Corso or the massive Neapolitan Mastiff? Drop us a comment below!

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