Cane Corso vs. Rottweiler: What’s The Difference?


Cane Corso and Rottweiler faces

If you are looking for a big and protective dog, then a perfect place to start is with the bully breeds—those descended from the Ancient Roman Mastiffs known as Molossers.

Both Cani Corsi (plural) and Rottweilers are bully breeds. But what are the differences between them?

Rottweilers have longer, thicker coats, require more grooming, are more kid-and cat-friendly, are better in multi-person homes and apartments, and are prone to fewer health issues than Cani Corsi. Cani Corsi cope better alone and in one-person homes and have more energy and higher exercise needs than Rottweilers.

Each dog is different, and the breed standards are only guidelines of how most dogs within a breed should look or behave.

However, breed standards are an excellent starting point when choosing what dog is right for you, so let’s see what characteristics typify Cani Corsi and Rottweilers

Cane Corso vs. Rottweiler: History

You cannot discount the importance that a dog’s history has on its behavior and characteristics.

When a breed is first developed, it is selectively bred for particular traits, both physical and behavioral, so these are embedded deeply into the DNA of the dogs.

As we have already mentioned, Cani Corsi and Rottweilers share a common ancestor—the Molosser.

Molossers moved with the Ancient Roman legions while they conquered widespread lands. This means that the Molossers were spread to many different places.

Cane Corso History

Molossers that ended up in what is now known as Italy were bred to local dogs. One of the breeds that arose was the Cane Corso.

The first job of the original Cane Corso dogs was as soldiers. Buckets filled with oil and lit on fire were strapped to their backs, and these dogs would then charge straight into enemy lines during battle!

Cane Corso face

When the Western Roman Empire fell, the Cani Corsi found themselves without work. But they adapted and were used for hunting wild boar and protecting farmsteads.

With this history, you can understand why these dogs are so large, powerful, confident, and protective.

Rottweiler History

Molossers that ended up in what is now known as Germany served as foundation stock for many of today’s German breeds. One of the breeds that arose was the Rottweiler.

Ancient Rottweilers (before they got the name) were not war dogs like the Cani Corsi. Instead, they were drover dogs that moved and protected the cattle that the Legions took with them for food.

Rottweiler face

Related: Are Rottweilers Good Farm Dogs?

Rottweilers also lost their jobs when the Roman Empire fell, but their skill set was put to use protecting and moving cattle to market in the German town of Rottweil.

Their drover history made Rottweilers protective, durable, strong, and trainable.

These characteristics helped the breed find employment as protection, police, and service dogs when the industrial revolution all but eliminated the need for drover dogs.

Summary Of The History Differences

  • Cani Corsi are an Italian breed, while Rottweilers are German.
  • Cani Corsi were originally war dogs, then wild boar hunters and farmstead guardians, while Rottweilers were originally cattle drovers, then police canines and personal protection dogs.

Cane Corso vs. Rottweiler: Classification

The breed standards that we talk about are developed by breed registry associations like the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC). These registries are held to be authorities on all breeds listed in their books.

The breeds listed are group into categories or classifications based on their historical and current purposes, appearance, etc.

The Cane Corso and Rottweiler are both in the UKC’s guardian dog group and the AKC’s working dog group, so there is no classification difference.

Cane Corso vs. Rottweiler: Lifespan And Size

 CANE CORSOROTTWEILER
Lifespan9 – 12 years9 – 10 years
Male Height25 – 27.5 inches24 – 27 inches
Female Height23.5 – 26 inches22 – 25 inches
Male Weight100 – 110 lbs95 – 135 lbs
Female Weight88 – 100 lbs80 – 100 lbs

Summary: Life Span And Size Differences

  • Cani Corsi may live slightly longer than Rottweilers.
  • On average, a Cane Corso is slightly taller than a Rottweiler.
  • On average, a male Rottweiler can weigh more than a male Cane Corso

Cane Corso vs. Rottweiler: Appearance

When comparing breeds that fall into the same classification category, then appearance is where they often differ the most.

 CANE CORSOROTTWEILER
Head The head is large and broad  

The brow is prominent and at almost right angles to the muzzle
The head is broad  

The brow is visible but not prominent
MuzzleThe muzzle is boxy with a breadth that is approximately equal to the length  

The upper lips hang past the lower jaw
The muzzle tapers gradually toward the nose  

Relatively firm lips except at the back corners
EarsNaturally, the ears are shaped like upside-down triangles  

Naturally, the ears hang down, but not below the head  

Often the ears are cropped so that they stand up with a sharp point
The ears are shaped like upside-down triangles  
They hang down, but not below the head
BodyThe neck is arched with slightly loose skin (dewlap)  

The chest is broad
The neck is arched with no loose skin  

The chest is broad and deep
TailWhen the tail is un-docked, it is long, broader at the base  

No feathering  

When docked, it is done at the fourth vertebra
When the tail is not docked, it is long  

While not feathered, it is covered in a Rottweiler’s dense fur, making it look thick  

When docked, it is done at the first or second vertebra
Coat colorsThe coat can be black, grey, brown, and red  

Brindling is also possible  

Dogs with lighter color coats may have dark masks
The coat is only black with tan markings

Summary: Appearance Differences

  • A Cane Corso has a more prominent brow than a Rottweiler.
  • A Rottweiler’s muzzle is tapered and with smaller lips, giving it a smaller look than the Cane Corso muzzle.
  • Even though the ears are naturally similar, Cani Corsi often have cropped ears, giving them a distinct, sharp, upright look.
  • While both breeds have broad chests, the Rottweiler’s is much deeper than the Cane Corso’s.
  • When docked, the Cane Corso’s tail is longer than the Rottweiler’s.
  • Rottweilers are only black and tan. Cani Corsi can be a range of colors. Interestingly, if a Cani Corsi has black and tan coloring, it is considered to be a fault, and they cannot be registered with the AKC.

Cane Corso vs. Rottweiler: Coat And Grooming Requirements

 CANE CORSOROTTWEILER
Outer coatShort in length, stiff, and shiny  

The coat has a water-proof quality
Medium in length, straight, flat, coarse, and dense
UndercoatThe undercoat is light and undergoes seasonal changesThe undercoat is short and undergoes seasonal changes
Maintenance intensityLowLow to moderate
Brushing frequencyWeekly2-3 weekly but more when they are blowing their coats
Bathing frequencyOccasionally (coat will release dirt naturally or when brushed)Regularly
Shedding frequencyOccasionalModerately most times, but they have a twice-yearly coat blowing
Nail careTrimmed regularlyTrimmed regularly
Teeth careBrushed regularlyBrushed regularly
Drooling tendencyModerate to highModerate

Summary: Coat And Grooming Differences

  • A Rottweiler’s coat is longer and thicker than the Cane Corso’s.
  • Rottweilers have overall more intense grooming requirements than Cani Corsi because they shed more, and their coats are not self-cleaning like those of the Cani Corsi.
  • Cani Corsi are more likely to drool than Rottweilers.

Cane Corso vs. Rottweiler: Breed Standard Temperament And Behavior

 CANE CORSOROTTWEILER
Affectionate with familyModerate  

They are relatively independent and not outwardly demonstrative, but they love to be around their owners
High  

They can be independent, but they love the company of their owners and are physically affectionate
One-person dogPossible  

As with all dogs, it is possible for them to prefer one person over another, but they are not specifically one-person dogs
Possible  

As with all dogs, it is possible for them to prefer one person over another, but they are not specifically one-person dogs
Child-friendlinessLow to moderate  

These can be good family dogs, but socialization is important to ensure that they know how to handle children  

They are big and can knock kids over  

They do not tolerate kids being rough with them   They can become protective if kids are playing too roughly
High  

These are excellent family dogs, but socialization is still important to ensure that they know how to handle children  

They are big and can knock kids over  

They love playing with kids and are gentle and fun playmates   They may try to intervene if play gets too rough between kids
Dog-friendlinessLow to moderate  

Same-sex aggression  

Socialization is required to minimize the chances of inter-animal aggression
Moderate  

Same-sex aggression  

Socialization is required to minimize the chances of inter-animal aggression
Cat-friendlinessLow

Socialization is required
Moderate  

Socialization is required
Stranger-friendlinessLow  

The protective instincts of these dogs are too well-developed for them to be accepting of strangers
Low  

The protective instincts of these dogs are too well-developed for them to be accepting of strangers
Prey driveHighHigh
ProtectivenessHigh  

These are natural protectors, and they will guard their territory and family without any training  

Training is, however, required to ensure that they do not pose a risk to visitors, delivery personnel, etc.
High  

These are natural protectors, and they will guard their territory and family without any training  

Training is, however, required to ensure that they do not pose a risk to visitors, delivery personnel, etc.
Barking potentialLow  

These dogs will bark to alert you about possible dangers or scare off potential threats   These dogs are vocal in other ways
Low  

These dogs will bark to alert you about possible dangers or scare off potential threats
DominanceHigh  

Their owners need to make sure that their dog does not become the alpha
High  

Their owners need to make sure that their dog does not become the alpha

Related: 20 Most Loyal Dog Breeds That Attach To One Person

Summary: Temperament And Behavior Differences

  • A Rottweiler will be more outwardly demonstrative of their affection for their owners than a Cane Corso.
  • Rottweilers are better with children than Cani Corsi.
  • Rottweilers are more adaptable to living with cats than Cani Corsi.

A Caveat Regarding Breed Standard Temperament And Behavior

As you know, every dog is an individual being with its own personality, which may be slightly divergent from the breed standard temperament or totally contrary to it.

Additionally, a dog’s behavior is influenced by its environment, socialization, and training.

These are factors to bear in mind, but the breed standard exists for a reason. It is the standard to which breeders are held, and it describes the typical traits exhibited by most of the dogs within a breed.

 This means that while you are researching what dog is best for you (and which dog you will be a good owner for), the breed standard can be used as a guideline.

When it comes to selecting an individual dog, you will need to ascertain its unique personality and temperament as best you can.

Cane Corso vs. Rottweiler: Exercise And Training Requirements

 CANE CORSOROTTWEILER
SocializationCrucialCrucial
Intelligence levelHighHigh
Energy LevelHighModerate to high
Eagerness to PleaseHigh   However, they can still be willfulHigh   However, they can still be willful
Exercise NeedsHigh  

Their size means that these dogs need to maintain a good weight and muscle mass for health reasons
Moderate to high  

Their size means that these dogs need to maintain a good weight and muscle mass for health reasons
Exercise Frequency1 – 2 times daily2 – 3 times daily
Exercise Duration1 – 2 hours20 – 30 minutes
Exercise IntensityModerate  

These dogs have high endurance
Moderate  

These dogs have high endurance   Be careful of their joints
Owner activity requirementsModerate to highModerate
Suitability as an exercise companionModerate  

These dogs can accompany you on short runs and long hikes
Moderate  

These dogs can accompany you on short runs and long hikes
Mandatory trainingObedienceObedience
Crate trainingRecommendedRecommended

Summary: Exercise And Training Differences

  • Cani Corsi have higher energy levels than Rottweilers.
  • Rottweilers require slightly less daily exercise than Cani Corsi, and their exercise should be broken up into smaller sessions if done at a moderate intensity.

    However, a conditioned Rottweiler can last on a long walk or hike that is of low intensity.

Cane Corso vs. Rottweiler: Adaptability And Suitable Living Environment

 CANE CORSOROTTWEILER
Suitability for novice ownersNoNo
Suitability for single-person homesModerate to high  

These dogs make good companions for single people provided their exercise needs are met
Low to moderate  

These dogs can be owned by single people, but they much prefer having a whole family to love and play with
Suitability for multi-person homesModerate  

These dogs don’t get attached to only one person, so their attention and exercise needs can be shared among multiple people  

Make sure they have a space to go when they need to be alone
High  

These dogs love being members of big families


 
Make sure they have a space to go when they need to be alone
Tolerance to being left aloneModerate  

They will turn to destructive behavior if left alone too long
Low  

They will turn to destructive behavior if left alone for too long  

May develop separation anxiety
Indoor livingThese dogs should be allowed indoors with their family  

Their size and energy levels make them inappropriate for apartments  

Need access to a secure garden
These dogs should be allowed indoors with their family  


These dogs can live in an apartment if they are given sufficient exercise, but their size may make apartment living difficult  
Cold toleranceModerateModerate
Heat toleranceHighModerate to high
Tendency to wanderPossible to likelyUnlikely to possible

Summary: Adaptability And Living Environment Differences

  • Cani Corsi are more suitable for single-person homes than Rottweilers.
  • Rottweilers are more suitable for multi-person homes than Cani Corsi.
  • Rottweilers are more suitable for apartment living than Cani Corsi
  • Neither breed of dog likes to be left alone for long periods, but a Cane Corso will cope better than a Rottweiler who can develop separation anxiety.

Cane Corso vs. Rottweiler: Health Concerns

 CANE CORSOROTTWEILER
Joint, Ligament, Muscle ConditionsHip and elbow dysplasia  

Bone/joint problems or injuries
Hip and elbow dysplasia  

Torn ligaments
Cardiovascular ConditionsHeart diseaseAortic or sub-aortic stenosis
Gastrointestinal ConditionsGastric Dilatation VolvulusGastric Dilatation Volvulus
Eye ConditionsEye diseasesEye disease
Ear ConditionsInfections in cropped earsNo breed issues
AllergiesProneProne
Neurological conditionsEpilepsyNo breed issues
CancerProneBone cancer
Potential for ObesityModerate to highModerate to high

Summary: Health Differences

  • Cani Corsi are prone to more health conditions than Rottweilers.

Be sure to check out the informative video below – it gives even more great perspective on the differences between these two amazing breeds!

Final Thoughts

Whether you decide to get a Cane Corso or a Rottweiler, you will be getting a great, protective dog. What you need to determine is if you and the dog will be a good match.

If you have small children, cannot cope with lots of exercise, or live in an apartment, then a Rottweiler is the better choice.

But if you live alone and work full-time, cannot deal with lots of hair, or are looking for an exercise companion/guardian, then a Cane Corso will meet these requirements better.

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds and a variety of other large and medium breed dogs for over 20 years now - Rottweilers, Dobermans, Pit Bull Terriers - just to name a few. Myself, along with my team of highly experienced canine professionals, strive to bring you the best and most useful information to help you raise your dog the right way. Read my story here.

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