The Cane Corso and the Boerboel are two fantastic dogs that are worthy of some serious attention. These guys both have an unfair reputation and because of this they are often overlooked as family pets.
Despite their size and mean looking exterior, they are both known for having soft spots for children, and they are very gentle and protective of them. They are both intelligent and affectionate with their immediate family, but they both have the ability to protect their family if in danger.
They differ slightly in their temperament, the Cane Corso is quicker to react and can become actively aggressive if he fears that his family are in danger. The Boerboel is slightly calmer and will watch the situation in front of him unfold whilst assessing how to best react. The Boerboel is also much heavier and stockier than the Cane Corso.
In this article we are going to take a closer look at them both and compare their qualities.
Breed Comparison Chart
23 – 25 inches (F)
23 - 27 inches (F)
88-99 pounds (F)
120-180 pounds (F)
Looking at a dog’s history is a great insight into what their personality may be like and what they need to be properly taken care of.
The Cane Corso hails from Italy, and it is phonetically pronounced as ‘Kay-Nah Kor-So’. His forefathers were much larger than the Cane Corso we know today, but they were used in war to fight and charge enemy lines with flaming weapons. When he was no longer required in war, he was used as an estate guardian, flock guardian and a hunting dog. The Cane Corso almost became extinct at the beginning of the 20th Century, but thanks to breed fanciers an intense breeding program saved them. The Neapolitan Mastiff, who is very similar, is known to have played a major part in the breed restoration.
This isn’t unlike the English Mastiff, which was also saved from extinction in the 1800’s, and was done so by what some people think was bringing in the saint bernard into the breeding line. This is why a very small portion EMs to this day still have a fluffy appearance. The Cane Corso is also often mistaken for other breeds, like the APBT.
Today he is better known for being a loving family companion, as well as a great household guard dog. The Cane Corso is a popular pup and he is currently ranked the 32nd most popular dog in America by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
The Boerboel hails from South Africa and it is phonetically pronounced as ‘Boo-R-Bull’. In the 17th Century Dutch, French and German settlers sailed to South Africa in the hope of farming the land. With them they took large dogs, namely Bulldogs and Mastiff type dogs, to protect and guard their estates and family. The Boerboel is a result of breeding the Bulldog and the Mastiff, and since then he has been further refined with a few other undocumented breeds. There is a longer history of this breed, unlike the American Mastiff which has only been around for about 25 years.
Today he is a loving family companion and estate guard. He is known for his ability to intimidate packs of Lions and vicious Baboons and he has been known to fight them off in order to protect his family. The AKC have ranked him as the 121st most popular dog in America, out of 193 breeds.
They are quite rare outside of Africa, which explains why they are much lower down on the popularity scale compared to the Corso. They are often mistaken for a traditional Old English Mastiff or Bullmastiff when seen in person. These two large breeds are different, but the Bullmastiff, in particular, is slightly closer genetically to the Bullmastiff.
The Cane Corso and the Boerboel are very similar in their appearances except for their size; the lighter colored Corsos could easily be mistaken for a smaller Boerboel, and the brindle Boerboels could easily pass for a large Cane Corso. Both dogs could also easily be mistaken for a Boxer Mastiff mix.
The Corso stands between 24 – 27 inches, with the Boerboel ever so slightly taller at 24 – 28 inches, measured at paw to shoulders. The difference between them is their weight; with the Cane Corso weighing between 99 – 110 pounds and the Boerboel weighing a significantly larger 154 – 200 pounds. They both share a muscular appearance, but of course the Boerboel is much stockier thanks to his extra weight. They both have square shaped heads with deep broad muzzles, thick necks and well-proportioned bodies.
The Cane Corso has a short coat similar to the Boerboel, but his fur is much denser and rougher, whereas the Boerboel is smooth to the touch. The Cane Corso is available in 7 recognized colors, whereas the Boerboel is available in 6. The Boerboel is traditionally much lighter in color compared to the Corso.
The Cane Corso and the Boerboel often have their ears cropped by their owners to be in-keeping with their traditional aesthetics. This also served a working purpose, to ensure that their ears were not torn whilst hunting wild animals or fighting lions. In their natural state their ears are both large and floppy.
It may come as a surprise to some, but both the Cane Corso and the Boerboel are playful and silly with their immediate family. They are sociable and require a lot of human interaction; they won’t be too pleased if you leave them outside all day expecting a full-time guard dog. They love to play interactive games, fetching sticks or showing off their skills at an agility course. The Boerboel is the more agile of the two breeds, but the Corso is known to be slightly goofier and sillier.
They are also both similarly protective of their family and their estate. They will alert you to anything that they deem to be suspicious, and they will step between you and anything or anyone who they feel to be a threat. If their master signals that someone is ok, or if their master invites them into their home, then both breeds immediately step-down and greet their new playmate. They are known to be particularly in tune with their master’s emotions, so, if you feel anxious about something, they will be the first to notice and take action. Generally, the Cane Corso is quicker to react to strangers and danger, whereas the Boerboel has a tendency to risk assess the situation before deciding how to proceed.
They are also both known to be gentle and protective of their human siblings, and this is particularly true of the Boerboel. The Boerboel has a soft spot for children, and he is very tolerant of them touching and pulling him. Due to both the breeds size a supervising adult should always be in the same room, in the unlikely event of any accidents.
The Cane Corso and the Boerboel are medium energy dogs, and both require around 60 minutes of exercise a day. They both enjoy long walks, jogging with their master or mucking around in the garden with their family. The Boerboel is known to be the most agile of the Mastiff family, and as such he would definitely appreciate plenty of agility course sessions.
Because of their sheer size and power these guys need to be entertained on top of 1-hour exercise requirement, otherwise they can become restless, and a restless dog can easily become a destructive dog. Combining this with their sociable nature, they are best placed with families that won’t leave them alone for too long.
Both the Cane Corso and the Boerboel often appear on the dangerous dogs list, so if you are thinking about getting one of these pooches then be sure to check out your local dog laws. You may be required to leash and muzzle them as soon as you leave your property, as well as other restrictions.
Early socialization is key for the Cane Corso and the Boerboel due to their protective nature and guarding tendencies. Socialization is the process of learning to be comfortable and calm in a variety of situations. If either breed miss out on this important training then they can grow up to be too protective, or even aggressive with other humans or animals. If they do receive the adequate training then they will transform into delightful doggos who are a pleasure to be around.
Both of these guys respond well to positive reinforcement training with a dominant pack leader. Instilling discipline into your household is essential, and obedience training is a great way to achieve this. It is important for every family member to be familiar with the rules that you put in place, and to also ensure that every family member is familiar with pack mentality and its importance in regards to these breeds.
Both the Cane Corso and the Boerboel are intelligent breeds who are eager to please their master, and as such they respond well to training. However, don’t mistake this for an easy task, for they both require a firm hand and consistent training throughout their lifetime. Neither breed is suitable for a first-time dog owner.
They will require extreme patience as both dogs have energy, so be prepared to spend some time with them, especially if you plan to crate train them. If you plan to crate train, you’ll want to make sure that the crate you buy has enough space, which means you’ll probably be looking at a crate specifically made for XXL breeds.
Both the Cane Corso and the Boerboel are healthy dogs. They are both required to be screened for Elbow and Hip Dysplasia, this is an abnormal formation of the elbow and hip joints which can cause mobility issues and crippling arthritis. This is a common health issue amongst larger dogs due to the impact that their weight has on their bones and joints.
The Cane Corso National Breed Club also requires him to have a Cardiac Evaluation. Dilated Cardiomyopathy can be quite common in Corsos, and this is characterized by thin walls which make the heart weak. The Boerboel National Breed Club requires him to undergo an Ophthalmologist Evaluation, which determines whether he has any eye disorders. Entropion is common in Boerboels, which is characterized by eyelids that turn inwards.
The Boerboel consumes more than the Cane Corso; on average, the Corso will consume 3 cups of food whereas the Boerboel will consume around 5 cups of food.
They both have a sweet tooth, so it is important that you monitor their treat intake. They are both known to easily pile on the pounds and become obese, so keep them healthy with minimal snacks and plenty of exercise.
A high-quality kibble is key to keeping your pup as healthy as possible, and they should always be fed age appropriate food. The Veterinarian will advise you on what is best to feed your Corso or Boerboel should you be unsure of anything.
The Cane Corso and the Boerboel have similar coats, in that they are short and shiny, and easy to take care of. Brushing them once a week will suffice in order to keep them looking healthy, and to remove any dead hair that otherwise may find itself on your sofa.
They also require a bath once every month or two, this is dependent on how dirty they get whilst exercising outside. Be careful not to bathe them too often otherwise you risk damaging their natural coat oils that keep them looking healthy.
The Cane Corso is slightly less expensive than the Boerboel, with the Corso costing between $1,500 and $1,800, and the Boerboel costing between $1,500 and $2,000. The main factor for this is that there are less Boerboel breeders in America, and as such the puppies are more in demand. Be sure to buy your pup from a reputable breeder to ensure that they have the best possible start to life, and that they have not been mistreated or mishandled.
As both breeds are very dominant and often underestimated by new owners, unfortunately they often find themselves being put up for adoption. If you would like to rescue one of these breeds then contact your local rescue Centre, and they would be happy to point you in the right direction. Not only may you save a little money, but you will also be saving a life!
The Cane Corso and the Boerboel are increasing in popularity as family pets and it is easy to see why. Not only are they great guard dogs, but they are affectionate with their family and gentle with children.
They require intense and consistent training to ensure that they are well mannered pups, and they require a dominant pack leader to ensure that they do not become unruly. But if this is something that you can master, then they are both fantastic family breeds that will reward you with bags of loyalty and heaps of fun!