The cane corso is a dramatically built dog with a commanding presence and a quiet but powerful demeanor. An Italian breed, the cane corso, as with most all purebred dogs, has its health issues. Responsible breeders of all dogs, including the cane corso, work to eliminate unhealthy genes.
The word dysplasia almost sounds as if the hip is displaced, but that's not entirely true. Actually, it is a problem with the development of the hip at birth that causes the hip joint to degenerate over time. The cane corso is one of many large breeds plagued with this problem. The tendency towards hip dysplasia is present at birth, but the actual disease does not manifest itself until the dog is much older. It is the result of a genetic predisposition towards osteoarthritis, as well as environmental influences, such as obesity, or over- or under-exercising. Nutrition also has a part in the development of hip dysplasia.
The cane corso has medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes that showcase his intelligence and curiosity. Unfortunately, hereditary eye problems are an issue with these mastiff-type dogs. Cherry eye, also called glandular hypertrophy, as well as entropion and ectropion all are common among cane corsos. Cherry eye occurs when the third eyelid becomes inflamed and is visible as it distends outward. It is unsightly, but easily corrected through surgical removal of the affected gland.
Entropion occurs when the eyelid curls inward, causing scratching of the cornea by the eyelashes. It also is corrected by surgery; however, the surgery itself often causes the third problem, ectropion. If you think of the sad look on the faces of basset hounds, or bloodhounds, you'll know what ectropion is. It occurs when the bottom lid is pulled downward, exposing the delicate tissue beneath it. It is not dangerous, but does expose the dog to the possibility of infection.
Bloat, a minor discomfort to people who indulge in too much food, is a common problem among many large-breed dogs, and the cane corso is no exception. This is a medical emergency caused by the dog's physiology, and can be life-threatening. The deep, barrel-chest of the dog provides an open space inside where the stomach, when full, actually can twist around, blocking off the esophagus and intestine. Surgical intervention is necessary, but not always successful. Not only is it complex, but will surely empty your wallet. Cano corso owners, as owners of other large-breed dogs, know to allow their dog to rest after meals, feed several small meals rather than one or two large ones, and keep an eye out for the telltale symptoms of bloat, which include abdominal distension, futile attempts to vomit and clear signs of distress.
Those pesky darn demodex mites can be the bane of the cane corso's existence and ruin his day. Common among all animals, including people, demodex mites live in the hair follicles in small enough numbers to live a quiet existence not causing any trouble. However, in certain breeds, such as the cane corso, the hereditary propensity towards a demodectic mange outbreak is present at birth. Some cane corso puppies are born with a problem with the immune system that fails to keep the little bugs at bay, allowing them to proliferate and wreak havoc on the dog's coat.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.