The Cane Corso and the Kangal Shepherd are two breeds related to Mastiff breeds and are traditionally used as livestock or family guardians. They have many similarities in their temperament and keeping, especially their training and socialization needs, but they differ in some ways.
Cane Corso dogs are the more versatile of the two, being used as everything from a herding dog to hunting to livestock and home protection. Kangal Shepherds are also guardian dogs, known for their fierce protection of every member of the “flock”—from actual livestock to the humans and other pets that live in the home.
If you’re considering one of these proud and protective dogs, learn the important differences between them to see which is the best choice for your home and family.
At a Glance
Cane Corso Overview
Cani Corsi are an Italian Mastiff breed that’s often kept as a guard dog, though some people keep them as pets. As a working breed, Cani Corsi may be used to hunt large game, herd cattle, or protect livestock.
Personality / Character
Cani Corsi are highly intelligent and protective dogs, leading to their longtime role as a guardian for people and guardians. They have a reputation for being cool and calm, eager to please, and intensely loyal, though they can also be willful and assertive.
Because the Cane Corso likes to be in charge, it’s vital that they have routine, boundaries, and early socialization. Responsible breeding from parents with good temperaments contributes to well-adjusted and agreeable puppies. Without proper socialization and obedience training, the Cane Corso can become unmanageable.
Health & Care
Cani Corsi are healthy dogs, but they are prone to some health conditions like hip dysplasia, idiopathic epilepsy, Demodex mange, and eyelid conditions. Like other large, broad-chested breeds, they are susceptible to bloat, which can be life-threatening.
Their grooming needs are moderate. With double coats, Cani Corsi should be brushed at least weekly to remove their shed undercoat and promote new hair growth. They also require regular bathing to stay clean, especially if they work outside, as well as nail trimming.
Cani Corsi were bred for work purposes, so they like to have a job to do. They’re healthiest when they have a few hours of exercise each day and can be a companion on hikes or long walks. Along with jobs on a working farm, Cani Corsi are good at agility, obedience, protection, and tracking events on a competitive level.
Though the Cane Corso is a protective breed, they’re gentle with children and can get along with the whole family. It’s best to pair a Cane Corso with older children, however, or supervise interactions between young children and the dog carefully.
Cani Corsi can be dog-selective, but is properly socialized, they can get along with other dogs in the household. Depending on the individual’s prey drive, the Cane Corso may not be suitable for a home with small animals or cats.
They tend to be reserved around strangers and hypervigilant as protectors. In fact, the willingness to attack in order to protect their owners is part of the requirements for registration in some Cane Corso groups.
Cani Corsi are relatively adaptable dogs that can be comfortable in both work environments or as family pets. On farms, they can be used as livestock guardian dogs, herders, or hunting dogs. While they can be happy as a companion pet, it’s important for them to have substantial exercise, mental stimulation, and boundaries.
Kangal Shepherd Overview
The Kangal Shepherd is a traditional Turkish breed of livestock guardian dog. Because they come from the Anatolian region, they’re often grouped in with Anatolian Shepherds, though many recognize them as a separate breed.
Personality / Character
As a working breed, the Kangal Shepherd is highly intelligent, independent, and eager to please. They’re fiercely devoted to their owners and adaptable, adjusting to the situation as needed to protect their family, livestock, children, and smaller pets.
The Kangal Shepherd is large but lighter boned than other Mastiff breeds, giving them more speed and agility. They require exercise each day and make good companions for walks or hikes, though they’re happiest with a job as a protector.
Kangal Shepherds are highly trainable and eager to please. They do need owners with strong leadership and boundaries, however, so they understand their role. They require mental stimulation to stave off boredom and prevent destructive behaviors as well. Like similar breeds, reputable breeding and early socialization are key to a well-adjusted dog.
Health & Care
Unlike other large breeds, Kangal Shepherds are not as prone to hip dysplasia or bloat. They can be sensitive to anesthesia, however, and it’s important to let your vet know. Entropion, a deformity that causes the eyelid to turn inward, is common in the breed, but reputable breeders screen for it.
The Kangal has a thick undercoat and a coarse outer coat to survive in harsh conditions. The undercoat can get tangled and matted, so they require regular brushing to remove loose hair and keep the coat clean. They also require nail trimming and regular bathing.
Kangal Shepherds are playful and get along with children, though they do best in homes with older children. They can get along with other dogs and cats with proper socialization, but they can be dog selective. Overall, they’re protective yet independent, so they may be reserved with new people and pets.
The Kangal Shepherd is a good choice for a working environment like a farm or ranch, though it can thrive in a family home with proper training and exercise. They like having a job to do, such as protecting a flock of sheep or the family’s humans and pets.
Which Breed Is Right for You?
The Cane Corso and the Kangal Shepherd are two large, hardy, and impressive livestock guardian dogs. They evolved in much the same way, protecting flocks and herds from predators, and share Mastiff lineage, but there are several differences between them. Whichever breed you choose, it’s important to consult a reputable breeder and work on socialization and obedience early on to have a well-mannered adult dog.