BOXER VS CANE CORSO
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So, let’s get started with comparing the origins of these intriguing dog breeds, and we begin with the history of the Boxer. This popular breed was created in the Germany of the late 19th century from the now extinct German Mastiff – also known as the Boar Hound. This powerful dog was a descendant from the ancient Greek Molossus Hound. As the name suggests, its role was to hunt wild boar, as well as deer and even bear. In order to create an even better hunting partner for large game, early German breeders crossed the Boar Hound with the Old English Bulldog. The dog these breeders aimed to create would be strong and fast: capable not only of hunting down large prey, but also of holding it on the spot until the hunters could reach the scene.
Over the years, the new breed began to gain popularity outside of its original role, and soon became a sought-after property guardian and companion dog. The first Boxer club was founded in Munich in 1895, and the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1904.
During the first World War, Boxers assisted German soldiers as attack dogs and couriers. But it was only after World War II that the breed’s popularity exploded – and today, the Boxer enjoys world-wide fame as loyal guard dog and loving family companion.
Also originating from the ancient Greek Molossus Mastiffs, the Cane Corso is a distant cousin of the Boxer – albeit with a more violent history that included serving as battle dog who bravely fought alongside its owner in the ancient Roman armies. After the fall of the Roman Empire, this Italian Mastiff very successfully adapted to civilian life - and soon proved itself to be an outstanding property- and livestock guardian and a fiercely loyal personal protection dog. As well, the Cane Corso’s strength and agility made it an excellent coursing Mastiff who was tasked with hunting down wild boars and other large game. The intelligent dog also quickly took to driving cattle in ways that other breeds of the times could not – simply because they lacked the physical presence needed to effectively control large bulls. And whilst the breed was the farm-, hunting and cattle herding dog of choice in all of rural Italy throughout many centuries, it was nearly driven to extinction after the second World War:
Life in Italy had greatly changed, the numbers of livestock had considerably decreased, and farmers relied more on their firearms than on their guard dogs. Thankfully, the Cane Corso was saved by breed-enthusiasts during the 1970s and introduced to the United States as well as to the rest of Europe in the early 1980s. In 2010, the Cane Corso was recognized by the American Kennel Club - and listed as number 40 in their list of the most popular dog breeds in the US in 2019. Today, the Cane Corso has gained worldwide recognition and fame as service-, therapy- and guard dog as well as family companion.
DIFFERENCES IN LOOKS
Even though both breeds are majestic dogs - well-muscled, strong, and yet athletic -, and they share the same ancestor in the ancient Molossus Hound, today’s Boxers and Cane Corsos each have very distinct features that set them apart.
For example, the head: Whilst the Cane Corso has a massive, blocky head and a rather long muzzle for a Mastiff, the Boxer’s head is nearly round in shape, with a comparatively flat face and short muzzle.
But the easiest way to tell both breeds apart is their difference in size: Boxers are classed as a medium to large dog breed, whereas Cane Corsos are a giant breed, with adult males standing up to impressive 70 cm at the withers – which amounts to almost 28 inches. The Corso can weigh up to stunning 68 kg – that is 150 pounds. As with any breeds, the females are slightly smaller and lighter.
Boxers “only” reach a height of 63 cm – or 25 inches -, for adult males, with a weight of up to 29 kg, or 65 pounds. Again, the females are built slightly smaller and lighter.
Traditionally, both breeds used to come with cropped ears and docked tails – however, the practise of cropping and docking has become illegal in many countries, such as the UK, Germany, and Austria.
Both the Boxer and the Cane Corso have short, tight-fitting, and naturally shiny coats that can come in a variety of colours. For the Boxer, breed standards allow brindle and fawn, with or without white markings. The Cane Corso can come in black, fawn, red, grey, or brindle – again, with or without white markings.
INTELLIGENCE & TRAINABILITY DIFFERENCES
Now, let’s find out how intelligent and trainable these strikingly beautiful breeds are. We can safely say that both are equipped with a high level of intelligence. However, in the case of the Cane Corso, this intelligence is coupled with a strong tendency to think and act independently. When given the opportunity, this strong-willed dog is going to make its own decisions. Which is not desirable, simply because such decision can include digging up your garden, getting into the trash-bin or chewing up your shoes.
Therefore, the Corso absolutely needs strong leadership by an experienced, firm and yet fair owner. Provided with such leadership and early socialization, the Cane Corso can reach very high levels of obedience. Which is why the breed has become a sought-after personal protection dog, Search and Rescue Dog and K-9 police dog. In its role as police service dog, the Cane Corso particularly excels at protection and patrol work.
No less intelligent, but far more trainable, the Boxer has been successfully employed by military and police forces all over the world for nearly a century. In fact, in its native Germany, the Boxer was among the first breeds to be formally accepted for police work. It is a very talented, quick-learning and highly capable working and guard dog and excels in many kinds of dog sports. This agile and versatile breed beautifully combines trainability and intelligence, which is why Boxers can be a good choice for less experienced owners.
And this brings us to the temperaments of these strong and smart working breeds. Due to their history as bull-fighters, boar-hunters and war dogs, both the Boxer and the Cane Corso make excellent guard and personal protection dogs, who do not require any training to defend their owners and homes.
That said, the Boxer can be slightly hesitant when it comes to actively attacking an intruder on their property. Which may well be due to the breed’s naturally friendly disposition towards all humans. Therefore, if you want your Boxer to be a reliable protector who will not hesitate in moments of danger – you will need to enlist the assistance of a professional dog trainer. Such training will make your dog gain confidence and will allow you to always have control over your Boxer, which is, of course, very desirable.
Perhaps due to its long history as battle companion for ancient Roman soldiers, the Cane Corso is better suited as natural protection and guard dog. Another reason for this predisposition to defend is the Corso’s pronounced wariness of strangers. This feature seems to emerge in the breed usually after 1 year of age.
When it comes to both breeds’ levels of devotion and affection for their owners - they are almost equally loving and devoted, with the Cane Corso forming especially strong emotional bonds with their loved ones. Both breeds love children and are excellent house dogs and family companions. However, neither of them is the perfect fit for families with very young children: Boxers are very keen working dogs, intense, alert and highly energetic. As such, they tend to be quick in their movements and boisterous in their play and in their display of affection. Which can quite easily cause them to involuntarily injure a small kid. Cane Corsos, on the other hand, are very calm, quiet, laid-back and gentle in the house. The danger with them lies more in their enormous size and bulk, which can cause them to knock over small humans without intending to.
EXERCISE AND GROOMING DIFFERENCES
It is safe to say that both breeds need lots of physical exercise - and mental stimulation - for them to stay balanced, well-rounded canine companions. This is especially important if you keep them in the house for most of the day: Both breeds can get destructive when under-stimulated, that means they can use their pent-up energy to bark excessively, to take apart your furniture, to rip up your carpets or to gnaw on your doorframes.
Due to their nature as hunting dogs, bred to untiringly track game, both breeds have a strong prey drive, which makes them prone to chasing cats, rabbits and even deer. Of course, you want to counteract this tendency by not letting them off leash outside of a secured area – until they have mastered perfect recall.
Normal walks will not satisfy either one of these athletic breeds. However, as they both are very intelligent and adaptable, you can teach them to run next to a bicycle. Alternative ways to exercise these active and fun-loving dogs is play: Teaching your Boxer or your Cane Corso to play fetch with you or engaging them with a flirt-pole are excellent ways for your dogs to satisfy their innate prey drive. Obedience training, tracking work or games of finding hidden toys or treats ensure their mental stimulation. Of course, neither activity is a substitute for walking your dog daily, and for allowing them to meet and greet plenty of other dogs and humans throughout their lives.
Now, let’s talk about grooming, and the good news is that - outside of shedding season in spring and autumn – these amazing breeds hardly shed. The Boxer is an especially clean dog who has very little body odor. In other words: They do not smell of dog. Boxers needs neither trimming nor brushing or bathing. To keep their beautiful short, tight coats shiny and smooth at all times, you merely need to occasionally wipe them down with a damp washcloth.
Grooming the Cane Corso also is very easy and straightforward: Their short and sleek coats require only the occasional brush. As with various other short-coated breeds, bathing them is not necessary, unless they have gotten themselves real dirty. Because of their sensitive skins, however, you should make sure to only use a mild dog-shampoo.
And this brings us to the end of our discussion of these two intriguing guardian dog breeds who have many characteristics in common – starting from their glorious, slightly intimidating looks and reaching all the way to their strong, fearless, and yet affectionate and loving character.