Cane Corso Colors

With its noble appearance and muscular build, the Cane Corso is unequaled as a personal protector and makes as good a companion as it does a watchdog.

An expensive dog to purchase and own if you’re in the market for a Cane Corso puppy, temperament should be the highest priority. If you want a dog that conforms to the breed standard, color is also a significant factor. 

According to the American Kennel Club, the acceptable colors for this breed “are black, lighter and darker shades of gray, lighter and darker shades of fawn, and red.”

Brindling is also allowed, as are black or gray masks that do not extend beyond the eyes. Even a white patch here or there is acceptable but any tan pattern markings or points, such as those seen in breeds like the Rottweiler or Doberman, are not. 

Not only do different coat colorations have a marked effect on the Cane Corso’s overall appearance, but some shades have a shorter life expectancy than, which is why it’s worth paying careful attention to the different colors available. 

If you want a Cane Corso that you can share a good decade of life with, you’d be well-advised to look for a black brindle variety. 

A study published in the Open Veterinary Journal in 2017 revealed that the “median lifespan of black brindle dogs exceeded the overall median lifespan of all dogs by 1.01 years and the median lifespan of other color dogs by 2.21 years.” 

It’s not all about longevity, however, and there are plenty of reasons you might choose a black or fawn Cane Corso puppy instead.

Table of Contents

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Which Of These 12 Cane Corso Colors Is The Best?

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#1 Black

Black is among the most sought-after and frequently occurring colors in the Cane Corso breed. The solid black color is produced by a pigment known as melanin and is genetically dominant in the Cane Corso. 

Finding a black Cane Corso that meets the AKC breed standard can be surprisingly tricky, however, as they are prone to having incorrect coats. The undercoat of the black Corso is often less dense than the coats of other colors, possibly because black absorbs heat more readily as well, making the black Corso more susceptible to overheating. 

The black Cane Corso is undeniably menacing in its appearance, with its brown eyes glowing from within a solid black coat but it’s as docile and affectionate as any colored Cane Corso. Fortunately, intruders won’t know that, so its intimidating appearance will also make it an ideal watchdog or personal protector.

Because these dogs disappear in the night, make sure to put a glow-in-the-dark harness or collar on your black Cane Corso if you walk in the dark.

#2 Gray

Like the black Cane Corso, the gray is highly sought after and prized by many for the fact that it is unique to the Cane Corso. Sure, you may get gray Siberian Huskies, but no other Molosser breed comes in either black or gray.  

Harder to breed than black, the gray Corso’s color comes from a recessive dilute gene that curbs the production of eumelanin. Two black Corso parents would, therefore, only produce gray puppies if both carried that same recessive gene. 

Corso puppies born gray don’t always stay that way either and may lighten or darken as they mature. In some instances, a puppy that appeared to be gray when born could show some variation of brindle as its coat changes over time.

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#3 Fawn

With its rich undercoat, black or gray mask, and creamy-colored coat, the fawn Cane Corso is one of the most eye-catching. Best still, the AKC accepts any shade of fawn, from light cream to brownish tan. The dog’s mask must not extend beyond the eyes, but some white markings on the throat, chin, chest, or pasterns are acceptable. 

The fawn-colored Cane Corso has been around since the 3rd or 4th century and, it’s believed, was used for hunting because their light-colored coats made them difficult to see in the vegetation of its native Italy.

Perhaps because it’s so established within the breed, it makes it “easier to produce correct coats with true fawns (which have black mask and pigment).” While this isn’t too much of a concern if you’re looking for a Cane Corso to act as your bodyguard, but if you’re planning on him having a showing career, a coat that’s too long or silky could lose you some valuable points.

#4 Red 

The red Cane Corso is less common than the fawn but sports the same black or grey mask. In addition to the mask, some red Corso puppies are born with a black or blue saddle mark which fades as he matures. 

Red Corsos vary widely, with some appearing as pale as champagne and others a rich mahogany. While the same pigment is responsible for all the shades of red Corso, the genetic pathway it takes influences the exact hue.

#5 Black Brindle

Although partly black, the black brindle Corso’s base color is either red or brown, overlaid with predominantly black tiger stripes. This is a normal coloration for the breed and doesn’t indicate any genetic anomaly.

Like the fawn, these lighter-colored dogs were often used for hunting and were described by Dr. Flavio Bruno – a Corso enthusiast – as “tiger-striped or tawny striped with huge jaws.”

Unsurprisingly, In Italy, this coloration is referred to as tigrato, meaning tiger-like, and, just as no two tigers have the same stripe patterns, so the brindle pattern varies widely from dog to dog. 

The black brindle Cane Corso is recognized by both the AKC and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

#6 Grey Brindle

Like the black brindle, these paler Cane Corsos have a brown base color interspersed with gray or blue stripes. Less common than the gray Corso, the grey brindle is nevertheless relatively easy to breed for, and two grey brindle parents will produce a litter of at least 50% grey brindle puppies. 

Unlike the fawn Corsos which were preferred for hunting, the grey brindle was the “color of choice for the old Italian cowboy.” Blending in with the terrain, the grey brindle Corsos were more able to surprise unsuspecting predators, helping the cowboy protect his herd of semi-wild horses. 

Whereas black brindle Corsos rarely have any brindling on the tips of their muzzles, this is common in grey brindles who also have gray noses.

Like the other brindle Corsos, the gray Corso has a longer life expectancy than its solid-colored cousins.

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#7 Chestnut Brindle

The chestnut brindle can be difficult to distinguish from the black brindle but is far less common. Like the gray brindle, the chestnut brindle Corso has a brown or red base while its stripes are reddish-brown. 

Less common than some of the other colors, chestnut brindle can be difficult to breed for, especially as “at least one gene responsible for coat color is located on a sex chromosome.” That means a puppy’s coat color is influenced by its gender, as well as the color of its parents. 

As with any other brindle Corso, the stripes can vary from light to heavy, and greater variation has been seen in recent years as the effects of the 1973 revival of the Cane Corso have begun to show. 

#8 Blue 

There is much debate over whether the blue Cane Corso exists at all or whether it’s purely a myth. There’s no mention of the blue coloration in either the FCI’s or AKC’s breed standards, but there are still breeders that advertise blue Corso puppies for sale. 

The confusion about blue Cane Corsos appears to come from the breed standards themselves, that called the Cane Corso’s diluted black pigment grey instead of the more common term, blue. A blue Cane Corso is, therefore, just a gray Corso with a different name.

As the gray Cane Corso’s coat coloration is produced by a “recessive mutation in the melanophilin (MLPH) gene,” it means these dogs are more vulnerable to skin problems such as mange and Color Dilution Alopecia (CDA). This diluted black color is also a rare color found in other breeds such as Border Collies.

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#9 Formentino

The Formentino Cane Corso looks so distinct some breeders may even try and convince you that it’s a separate breed altogether.

Also known as blue fawn, the word “Formentino” comes from Italy where it’s used to describe the color of fermented wheat. A dilution of the fawn coloration, the Formentino Corso has a carbon-colored coat with a blue nose and mask in addition to gray patches over his shoulders and back.

Like the blue or gray coat, the Formentino is a dilute color which means Formentino Corsos will also be more prone to skin conditions. Furthermore, as they lack the brindle pattern associated with a longer lifespan, the Fomentino has a lower life expectancy of 8 years, as opposed to the 10-year lifespan enjoyed by its brindle cousins.

#10 Chocolate or Liver

As attractive as these chocolate or liver-colored Cane Corso are, they’re not acceptable as far as the kennel organizations are concerned. They may resemble the AKC-approved red Cane Corso but the lack of pigmentation in their noses and the skin around their eyes give the game away.

Some believe these rare Cane Corsos are less healthy than Corsos of other colors because they’ve been bred specifically for their unusual coloring rather than for health or temperament.

Non-standard colorations do occur, however, and aren’t necessarily indicative of cross-breeding. Having said that, you shouldn’t pay more for a chocolate or liver Corso than you are any other color.

chocolate colored dog

#11 Isabella 

This unusual, almost lilac color, is highly sought after in some breeds but is considered a serious fault in Cane Corsos. Also known as tawny, these dogs have a pinkish tinge to their noses, lips, and eyelids and often have green or blue eyes like the chocolate Corso.

As this is another dilute shade, Isabella Corsos are also more susceptible to diseases, and particularly to Color Dilution Alopecia which can cause hair loss and skin irritation.

#12 Straw

The straw Cane Corso is a rare, creamy-colored dog that may have some black or grey pigment visible on its back or sides. Experts believe the straw color may have come from crossbreeding the Cane Corso with the Abruzzese Sheepdog many years ago.

According to Dr. Flavio Bruno, these dogs were once known as “straw stack dogs,” and their duty was to watch the straw stack, which contained hay, forage, and wheat. It was also a place where animals could shelter during the cold winters. People preferred straw-colored dogs for this job “because old people thought that the character of a straw-colored dog was ‘flammable’ like the straw”.

Despite its longevity, straw is not included as an acceptable color in the AKC’s breed standard, although some argue that it should be as it was “very highly valued before the standard was written.”

Although sometimes described as white, straw Corsos don’t have any health issues associated with albinism.

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What Is The Most Common Cane Corso color?

The most common color of Cane Corsos is black. Studies have shown that two black parents will produce a litter of which over 70% will also be black. Black is also one of the popular colors, primarily because it’s uncommon among Molosser breeds. 

What Is The Rarest Cane Corso Color?

The rarest Cane Corso Color is either chocolate, liver, Isabella, or straw, all of which rely on regressive genes and, therefore, occur less frequently. 

Does The Cane Corso’s Color Affect Its Health?

A study conducted a few years ago concluded that brindle Cane Corsos live longer than solid colored ones. Black brindle Cane Corsos live the longest, averaging over 10 years, whereas the black and gray rarely live beyond nine years of age. 

It’s also been noted that Cane Corsos with paler coats tend to be more susceptible to skin problems, whereas completely black ones are more prone to heat exhaustion.