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Presa Canario vs. Cane Corso: Breed Differences & Similarities

Are you trying to decide on whether the Presa Canario or the Cane Corso would make a better canine companion? Both of these massive dogs can be similar in many ways, but also have differences to note. Explore what sets them apart and what traits they share!

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Last Updated: February 10, 2022 | 9 min read

Cane Corso vs Presa Canario Breed Comparison

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The Presa Canario and the Cane Corso are big dreamy pups. However, due to their size, power, and their origins, they have a bad reputation. They both come from the Molosser line and share traits with other bully breeds.

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They are loving of their immediate family and will show affection and loyalty. The Cane Corso will act as his master’s bodyguard, and unless you signal that it is ok, he will not allow strangers near to you. The Presa is less intense, but he will still protect and alert you to immediate danger.

They are both generally quite healthy, and they both require intense socialization and obedience training. The Presa more so, for if you let his training slide, he can become obnoxious and he will try to rule the roost.

Breed Comparison

Presa Canario

  • Height 22-26 Inches
  • Weight 80-130 Pounds
  • Temperament Confident, Calm, Strong Willed
  • Energy Average
  • Health Above Average
  • Lifespan 9-11 Years
  • Price $1,500 and Up

Cane Corso

  • Height 23-27 Inches
  • Weight 88-110 Pounds
  • Temperament Affectionate, Intelligent, Majestic
  • Energy Average
  • Health Above Average
  • Lifespan 9-12 Years
  • Price $1,500 and Up

Breed History

Differing from other variations of mastiffs, these Mediterranean Mastiffs could easily pass as brothers, and while they were born in different parts of sunny Europe, their journeys are uncannily mirrored.

Presa Canario

Brindle Dog Looking at Camera
Presna Canarios are widely used as guard dogs today.

The Presa Canario’s journey began in the Canary Islands where he was used as a guard dog, for herding cattle and exterminating wild dogs that threatened his flock.

The Presa Canario almost became extinct in the 1940s due to dogfighting and the introduction of other guarding dogs to the island such as the Dobermann and the German Shepherd. However, fanciers of the breed pulled together, and in the 1970s began an intense breeding program. They have recovered in numbers, but they are still working towards achieving recognized status by the big Kennel Clubs.

Cane Corso

Black Dog Looking at Camera
Cane Corsos are also referred to as Italian Mastiffs.

The Cane Corso’s journey began in  Italy, and it is believed that his forefathers were of Roman descent. The original Cane Corso’s were used in war to charge enemy lines, armed with flaming oil buckets strapped to their back; they were much larger than the dog we know today. When the Roman conquests and wars finished, his job roles included flock guardian, estate guardian, farmhand, hunting dog as well as a loving family companion.

This guy is a jack of all trades and master of them all! During the World Wars he almost became extinct, but thanks to an Italian Doctor in the 1970s an intense breeding program saved these pups.

Today they are popular family dogs and are currently ranked the 32nd most popular dog in America by the American Kennel Club. The Cane Corso is often confused with the South African mastiff, or Boerboel, and the American Pitbull Terrier.

Appearance

Close Up of Brown and Black Dogs
Both breeds tend to keep with tradition with their cropped ears.

The Presa Canario and the Cane Corso are both bred from Mastiff-type dogs, and as such these guys are quite similar in appearance.

The Presa Canario is shorter, on average, by an inch compared to the Cane Corso. The Presa stands between 24 and 26 inches, whereas the Cane Corso stands ever so slightly taller between 24 and 27 inches.

What the Presa might have lost in height he certainly makes up for in weight; the Presa weighs between 110 and 130 pounds, whereas the Cane Corso weighs much less at 99 to 110 pounds. Many people mistake the Cane Corso for an English Mastiff, mostly due to their coloring and head shape.

The Presa is stockier looking thanks to his extra muscle weight, but they look equally as impressive. The Presa comes in six colors, whereas the Cane Corso comes in seven, all of which are different except the fawn color that they share.

Despite the variety of colors, the Presa always has a black mask that does not go above his eyes, and his nose, lips, and eye rims are also always black. They both have short straight hair; however, the Cane Corso has slightly denser fur which is rougher to the touch.

The Presa and the Cane Corso tend to have their ears cropped to be in keeping with their traditional look that made sure they were not injured while hunting wild boar or fighting stray dogs. Their ears are both large and drop-down alongside their cheeks if left in their natural state.

Temperament

Brindle and Black Dogs Looking up
Both breeds started out as watchful and protective dogs and they hold those traits still today.

The Presa Canario and the Cane Corso are equally similar and different regarding their temperament. They are both intelligent dogs who are very loyal and eager to please their master. They are both confident characters who need a strong pack leader.

They are both protective working dogs, and as such, they will naturally take on the role of family protector. The Cane Corso’s name derives from the Latin word ‘Cohors’ which translates to ‘guardian’, and this is the perfect description of what this guy is. He is particularly suspicious of strangers, so unless his master addresses them directly he is unlikely to let strangers near his master.

With that being said, he is more sociable than the Presa Canario, and he is very affectionate with his family and those that his masters welcome into the pack. The Presa Canario is affectionate with his immediate family but is more aloof with outsiders and strangers.

What is different is that the Presa Canario is less suited to families with younger children or other household pets as he has a higher prey drive. If you bring him into a family as a puppy where there is already a child, then he should be ok as he will be socialized with them. However, it is not advisable to bring him into a home as an adult with small children present.

The Cane Corso is tolerant and gentle with children and makes for a great family pet. With that being said, because of his size, young children should always be supervised to prevent mishaps.

Exercise

Brindle and Black Dogs Walking Outdoors
These dogs will need about an hour of daily activity to keep them in a healthy condition.

Both the Presa Canario and the Cane Corso are described as medium energy dogs, and they both require 60 minutes of exercise a day.

The Cane Corso does require more intense exercise than the Presa Canario, and interactive games such as fetching frisbee, tug-of-war, and dog agility courses will provide this pooch with the physical and mental stimulation that he needs.

They both make great jogging partners, just ensure you only take them jogging once they are fully grown and their bones are developed!

Because of their sheer size and power these guys need to be entertained, otherwise, they can become bored and destructive, and that path will be comparable to that of a Hurricane! They will likely swallow a treat-toy whole, so it is best if you are at home for the majority of the time to keep them entertained with interactive exercise or long walks.

As both of these guys often find themselves on the dangerous dog breeds list, be sure to check out your local dog laws, as you may be required to leash and muzzle them when walking or exercising them in public areas.

Training

Good Dogs Sitting
The Presa Canario and Cane Corso are trainable breeds.

Both the Presa Canario and the Cane Corso are intelligent and confident breeds, because of this they both require a dominant pack leader who will always keep them in line. If either of them feels they can take advantage of you, they undoubtedly will, and eagerly assume the pack leader position. If you want to maintain your happy household, do not let this happen!

Early socialization is key for both of these guys; they must learn how to be well-mannered pups with all humans and animals alike, and to be comfortable and calm in a variety of situations. If you can master this from an early age you will secure a happier and smoother future. Both breeds respond well to positive reinforcement training.

Obedience training is also important, and instilling discipline into your household is essential. Never give anything to either of these breeds for free and ensure that they sit or give paw before any treat or meal. It is important to ensure that every family member is familiar with the rules and is always consistent.

This is slightly more important for the Presa Canario, as he is much more stubborn than the Cane Corso. Never allow him into a position of leadership as he can become uncontrollable, and on occasion aggressive. For example, never play tug-of-war with this dude, because here you are giving him the opportunity to win and he may not see this as a game, but rather a play for the pack leader position. Training will be ongoing throughout his whole lifetime, and as such he is more demanding than the Cane Corso.

Health

Dogs Looking Up at Camera
Both breeds have health scores that are above average.

Both the Presa Canario and the Cane Corso are generally healthy dogs and are known to suffer from fewer major health issues compared to the average pooch.

As both breeds are large dogs, they are known to suffer from Elbow and Hip Dysplasia, this is an abnormal formation of the joints which can cause mobility issues and crippling arthritis.

They are also both susceptible to Gastric Torsion. This is experienced when the dog eats a large meal either immediately before or after exercise, and then the stomach twists. Symptoms include excessive panting, retching without vomiting, and other distress signals. Be sure to take him to the veterinarian immediately as this can be a life-threatening condition.

Further to the joint dysplasia issues, Osteochondritis dissecans and Panosteitis are commonly found in Presa Canarios more so than Cane Corsos as they are slightly shorter and weigh much more, and this puts extra pressure on their rapidly growing bodies and joints. Panosteitis is sometimes referred to as growing pains, and they generally stop once the dog is fully grown.

The Cane Corso must also be examined for cardiac health problems, such as Dilated Cardiomyopathy. This is characterized by thin walls which make the heart weak.

Nutrition

Lounging Dogs With Their Mouths Open
Both of these large breeds can consume quite a lot of chow!

The Presa Canario and the Cane Corso consume the same amount of food a day, on average, this is 3 cups of food. High-quality food is important to ensure that their health is optimized as much as possible. High-quality kibble specially formulated for their massive size is recommended from puppyhood and into adulthood.

Both breeds have a particular liking for snacks, and as such, it is important that you keep an eye on their treat intake. Treats are a great tool for training, but be sure not to give them too many. Not only will this make them obese, but it will further impact their already weight-laden joints.

Grooming

Brown and Black Dogs Sitting Outdoors
Both breeds are fairly easy to groom and are considered to be low maintenance.

Generally, the Presa Canario and the Cane Corso are easy breeds to groom and look after. They are light shedders and require little bathing due to their short coats. A bath every two months will suit them both as they don’t have a strong canine odor. If you do bathe them more than this, you run the risk of damaging their natural coat oils and this can cause skin irritation.

The Presa Canario, unlike the Cane Corso, does not have an undercoat; however, they both shed lightly throughout the year, but more so in the Springtime. Generally, a brush 2 to 3 times a week will keep them looking healthy, remove dead hair and promote hair growth. During shedding season, it is a good idea to brush them every day to minimize the amount of hair on your sofa.

Both are prime suspects for drooling, particularly the Cane Corso, so if there is a chance you can’t tolerate slobber marks on your outfit then you should consider another pup.

Puppy Price

Young Dogs Looking at Camera
Expect to pay $1,500 or more for each breed.

The Presa Canario puppy from a reputable breeder will cost on average, between $1,500 and $2,000. This is slightly more expensive on average than the Cane Corso, which is priced anywhere between $1,500 and $1,800. They are more expensive because there are fewer breeders and therefore there is a higher demand for them.

If you require a working specimen of either breed you can expect to pay more than the average cost. They will have been raised and trained differently from general puppies, and it is likely they will have been bred from a particular bloodline.

It is important to buy from a reputable breeder as the first few weeks will be crucial to the pup’s temperament, and with these strong-willed guys, it is important to get a puppy that has had the best possible start to life.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Presa Canario and the Cane Corso are very similar in both appearance and in temperament, with a few slight differences between them, such as their weight and price.

They are both protective and sociable. If you are after a family pet, then the Cane Corso will be more suited, whereas if you are after an estate protector then the Presa is the more independent and capable of this role.

Neither breed are for the novice dog owner as they require intense training and a very firm master. However, if you think that you’re up to the challenge then it will be a very rewarding relationship indeed.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety or care advice. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, insurance expert, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

Leave a Comment

34 Comments

Tjo

April 29, 2022 at 7:50 am

We have two female Presas. The oldest one was adopted from a rescue and was in a severe abuse case. We took a chance on her and turned out with some love and consistency she is the best dog ever. She is on the large side at 147lbs and solid. She loves children and is the most confident and intuitive protector. Oki is well over 10 years old and has slowed down considerably. Our other Presa is very different and unpredictable. She is extremely athletic and much smaller than her sister at 114lbs. Our dogs tolerate one another but cannot be trusted alone with each other. A presa fight will send everyone to the hospital, trust me. This breed is amazing but 100% NOT for the inexperienced large guardian breed owner. Too many end up in shelter or put down because of inexperienced owners.

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Wanda Mckay

February 9, 2022 at 11:43 pm

I would like to find a good absolutely no BS I want a breeder that has good healthy pups Cane Corso I live in Michigan

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Becky

February 7, 2022 at 12:55 pm

I had the privilege of having a Presa for almost 16yrs. I imported him from Hungary before they were really known here in the US. One of the best dogs I have ever had. This article is spot on with the Presa description. Once you have earned their loyalty (it isn't easily given) and proven you deserve to be followed, they are one of the most loyal, protective dogs. With proper training, they are incredibly dedicated to their family and learn really fast. My boy house broke himself and NEVER had an accident in the house, even as a pup and NEVER chewed on anything that wasn't his-but he did eat his own sofa. I really miss my Havok and am looking for another partner.

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Leigh Ann Caver

January 12, 2022 at 2:03 pm

Great article. Lots of good information.

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Laura

January 7, 2022 at 5:21 pm

The neighbor has a Presa Canario that got out this week and killed the other neighbors old dog. Their mean ugly dogs and we shouldn't encourage people to bread them and buy them. Their violent dogs.

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Darius

May 4, 2022 at 5:01 pm

How did an ignorant anti dog opinion make it to a research backed pro-dog website?

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TJ

November 30, 2021 at 9:28 am

I have a 9 year old mixed breed Cane Corso (half Corso and half Pit). He is wonderful! I have spent hours with obedience training and it shows. He had bloat, that was scary, and after the surgery he wouldn't eat for 2 and a half days because he was trained not to take food from strangers. The Vets called me and he was released early so he could go home and eat. This reinforced how much good training means to a dog. He has spoiled me from looking at another breed!

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Steve

October 30, 2021 at 12:50 am

Hi I'm ready to look for my second presa canerio pup.. I've had Bruno for 12 years till he passed but the most amazing dog I trained him since he was11 weeks old 3 to 4 hours a day he was such a great guard dog but would not attack untill I said the word !!! He let adog bite his leg and did not kill the dog untill I made him attack after the other dogs owner was laughing when I said call ur dog off or ur gonna be sorry .. well he refused so I said click let Bruno loose n said attack he killed this pitbull in 2 mins I hated every second of it but could not walk away my dog was attacked for sum whole to get a laugh .. but deff getting a new pup soon one more thing my neighbors house 3 doors down was getting broken into I didn't hear a thing we were in living room relaxing n Bruno stuck his nose up smelled a broke thru my front screen door so I chased him I heard yelling I got to Nancy's house n Bruno had guy by the back of his neck dragging him out the front door omg how did he know there such amazing protectors love them thank u !!!!

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Leo Guerro

July 10, 2021 at 6:29 pm

I had two Presa's a female and a male. I trained them myself and they were very loving dogs, awesome guard dogs. I'm gonna get another pup soon hopefully! Love this breed of pup!

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Kelly Wilson

July 13, 2021 at 3:41 am

Thanks for stopping by to share your experience with the breed, Leo!

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Cynthia L Preisser

May 7, 2021 at 2:17 pm

We adopted a dog from a shelter that was thought to be a bullmastiff but when we met him we knew right away he wasn't. After doing some research we decided he was a Cane Corso mix. We were curious as to the mix so we sent his DNA to Embarkvet without a picture of him and it came back as he is 100 percent Perro de Presa Canario.

The Cane Corso and the Pressa look similar to us but there are many differences. Some we've found out about on our own and some we've read about after doing research into the breed. He is a wonderful dog and is eager to please. He has chosen my husband as his favorite person and that is a factor in the breed. We have never heard of this breed before.

They are recognized by AKC and we saw one that was being shown at a dog show. He had been in the shelter a very long time because of his large size and apparently scary look to people looking to adopt. His face is all black and he is a dark brindle and has an impressive amount of teeth in that large head.

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Kelly Wilson

May 11, 2021 at 7:01 pm

Sounds like you lucked out with an amazing dog, Cynthia! Yes, the Presa may look intimidating to some, especially with their guardian instincts. Sounds like you ended up with a great pup, though. We appreciate you stopping by to share your experience!

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Gabby Casas

April 11, 2021 at 5:54 pm

We just adopted a dog that looks like a Corso but is hard to determine because she also looks like a Presa Canario. The people we got it from really didn’t know what she was. Any ideas on how I can determine what breed she is without doing a DNA test?

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Kelly Wilson

April 12, 2021 at 6:46 pm

Hi Gabby! Unfortunately, a DNA test is the best route to go. I would look at Embark. We have used that on two of our dogs. If you wait for the sales, you can usually get them at a pretty reasonable cost. Our results for our two pups came back within a few weeks and were very accurate.

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Jessica

November 22, 2020 at 11:51 am

I have a 7yr old Presa names Benji who I’ve had since 8weeks old. When I got him I had a 7yr old pug (who he thought was his mother lol) and my sons were 5 and 2. He’s fantastic with with small dogs and children. We also have a cat that he’s fine with and we got the cat later when he was 3. I still monitor him with small children because of his size. He is food aggressive so we feed him outside so the cat is not sniffing around his food.

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Kelly Wilson

November 22, 2020 at 3:14 pm

Sounds like a great pup, thanks for sharing Jessica!

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Sam Caldwell

August 7, 2020 at 8:24 pm

Thanks for your info. I'm getting a Presa one of these days. I need more room for him to run. We have always had Shar- Pei.

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Kelly Wilson

August 11, 2020 at 10:30 pm

Good Luck Sam! Presa's are fantastic dogs if you can handle their independent nature.

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norman bell

August 4, 2020 at 6:57 pm

We have a 9 mo old mix breed. Told her sire was a Cane Corso and bitch was half Corso, half Presa. She's already over 27" and 120 lbs. Very sweet with us. Very protective. Must be introduced to strangers or they can't come close. She bullies our other dog when inside. He's 80lbs. Half Corso, half boxer. He fears her indoors but is very athletic and runs rings around her and feints at her neck in open spaces. Overall they play well except for feeding time. She wants it all. May breed them.

Pups would be 5/8s Corso 1/4 Boxer, 1/8 Presa. I think that would be a great 100lb athletic, sweet, and protective beast. She's a bit ponderous and He's just a little smaller than I'd like. But both are great dogs.

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Kelly Wilson

August 7, 2020 at 11:10 am

Sounds like some great pups Norman! Thanks for stopping by to comment and good luck with your new breed!

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Erinn

July 3, 2020 at 7:03 pm

We are seriously considering a Corso or Mastiff as an addition to our family but have young children. Being as tho we want to ensure a successful transition for both dog and kids I’m opting for a younger dog so that he/she can more smoothly adapt to life with two littles as well as waiting to see if I’m able to continue to work remotely. I want to be able to dedicate as much time as I can to the dog. I’ve owned pits before but they are now unfortunately banned in the county I live due to irresponsible owners.

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Kelly Wilson

July 4, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Thanks for the comment Erinn! I have friends that own Corsos, and they love them. We own English Mastiffs and have nothing but great things to say about them. Good luck!

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Candy Rudningen

May 15, 2020 at 12:35 pm

I have a beautiful 7 year old Cane Corso. She has been trained. She's an awesome girl. Very sweet and loveable and is my shadow. She's a big girl tipping the scales at 110!

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Kelly Wilson

May 15, 2020 at 2:09 pm

Sounds like a great pup Candy! Thanks for stopping by to comment! We love the Corso's!

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Darryl Johnson

April 30, 2020 at 7:13 am

I once owned a Presa. It was a beautiful animal and I would like to have another one, any suggestions?

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Kelly Wilson

April 30, 2020 at 5:25 pm

Hi Darryl! I would start by looking for social groups. If you are on social platforms like Facebook, there are groups usually dedicated to specific breeds where you can find breeders. Do your research there and start narrowing down. We love the Presa too! Good luck in your search!

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Reggie

March 17, 2020 at 10:59 pm

I am on my second Corso. My first I had for 2 years. She was a great loving pup. She played well with my 8 year old boxer. Great with people and other dogs. Then at about 18 months, she did a 180 with my Boxer who was close to 10 at this point. It was an almost certain attack if they were together. Became jealous of my sons dog, so they no longer could be together. Especially with other female dogs.

She went away for training with a trainer who strictly trained corsos. Eventually had to have her rehomed with a single military man. The tell sign was a certain look they call the corso eye. I hope she is doing well. I really loved her. I now have an 8 month old who we have had treat training for the basics. Now we are doing obedience training. She gets bored easily, destructive. She has plenty of chew toys, bones, congs but she still grabs everything else. Three pairs of eyeglasses and a few remotes. She is quick.

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Kelly Wilson

March 18, 2020 at 2:40 am

Sounds like a great dog Reggie. Thanks for commenting and good luck with your current puppy. Corsos are amazing dogs. We have a couple EMs and love all the "mastiff" breed dogs!

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Krista

December 31, 2019 at 4:40 pm

Hi Kelly. Staff at my vet's office have also suggested a DNA test. I was curious about how DNA tests on dogs work, since modern breeds have been created by selective breeding of older breeds. Many contemporary breeds are very new in terms of genetic time. Is a DNA test on my dog likely to say that he is part Presa or tell me that he is a combination of mastiff, bulldog, and terrier? Thanks!

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Kelly Wilson

January 1, 2020 at 9:47 pm

Hi Krista - our test for our Fluffy Mastiff came back with him being a purebred English Mastiff, which we suspected (the long hair is a recessive trait breeders don't like). The tests get really detailed, and we were surprised to see how detailed it gets. Some of the others have it down to 2/3/4% etc. on what breed they have in them. I would say they are pretty accurate! We went with Embark and did the health test with it and are glad we did. If you get on Embark's email list, they sometimes run specials to do the whole thing for $99. If you Google "Embark Presa Canario" then you'll see they do have Presa's on the website. Hope this helps!!

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Krista

December 30, 2019 at 11:10 pm

Thank you for an interesting article. In the pictures at the top of the article is it the Corso on the left and the Presa on the right? The dog on the right could be my dog! He is a rescue so we are not sure about his breed. Thanks!

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Kelly Wilson

December 31, 2019 at 2:39 pm

Hi Krista - yes, that's right. The Presa is on the Right and the Corso is on the left. DNA tests are always fun if you can afford them. We did one on our pup, and the results came back pretty quick.

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Charles Dupuis

December 20, 2019 at 7:32 pm

Interesting article, I have a cane corso and I did recognize her in there... good family dog really affectionate shes really good with kids but for sometimes laying on em because she wants to cuddle too much ????

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Kelly Wilson

December 27, 2019 at 1:54 pm

Thanks for the comment Charles! We have English Mastiffs ourselves right now, but absolutely love Corsos!

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