Dog Food Nutrition

5 Best Dog Foods For Cane Corso

March 5, 2019

5 Best Dog Foods For Cane Corso

The Cane Corso is descended from war dogs used by the ancient Romans. War dogs of this type are no longer much in demand so the Cane Corso (also known as the Italian Mastiff) has been kept for hundreds of years to guard estates, livestock, and homes. The breed has also been used on farms as catch dogs for cattle and swine.

Once common throughout Italy, the breed had to be saved from extinction in the 1970s. A very large breed, the Cane Corso can weigh over 100 pounds.

Training and good socialization are important but they make a loving, loyal pet when they are raised well.

The Cane Corso is known for being gentle affectionate at home and good with children. Feeding a dog this big is not always easy but we can help you choose the best dog foods for Cane Corso.

A quick look at our top picks:

  1. Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Giant Adult Dry Dog Food
  2. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Giant Breed Formula
  3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food
  4. Eukanuba Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
  5. Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult Health Chicken Meal & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food
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Editor's Choice

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Giant Adult Dry Dog Food
  • The adult formula contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
  • Easy to digest
  • Developed specifically for giant breed dogs
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Best Affordable

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Giant Breed Formula
  • Formulated specifically for giant breed dogs
  • Contains glucosamine for joint health and mobility
  • Meets AAFCO guidelines with animal feeding trials
CHECK PRICE

Best for Weight Loss

Hill's Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food
  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Contains healthy grains and natural fibers
  • Provides natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin
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Best for Seniors

Eukanuba Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food
  • A specialized fiber system promotes better nutrient absorption and healthy digestion
  • No artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors
  • Contains naturally-sourced glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints
CHECK PRICE

Best for Puppies

Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult Dog Food
  • Optimal calcium and phosphorus levels
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
  • No artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or potatoes
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Our criteria

There are all kinds of theories about the best way to feed dogs today. Unfortunately, many of the current popular ideas are based on dog food marketing. Your dog is not a wolf and doesn’t need to eat an “ancestral” diet. And, as much as you love your dog, he doesn’t need to eat foods that mimic your human diet either.

He has the gastrointestinal system of a dog, not a human, and he won’t thrive if you feed him a diet based on foods that sound appealing to you.

Keeping your dog healthy and helping him live a long life depends on following the best canine nutritional research.

We try to follow the criteria provided by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association when choosing foods for the Cane Corso and other dogs.

Using the WSAVA guidelines, we look for dog foods that meet the following standards:

  • We look for foods that meet AAFCO guidelines, preferably by means of a food trial instead of a nutrient profile.
  • We prefer dog food companies that invest in nutritional research to back up their formulations.
  • We look for pet food companies that have canine/veterinary nutritionists on staff to formulate their foods.
  • Strong quality control measures are essential for any pet food company and the company should be willing to discuss them.
  • Good nutrition is more important that clever marketing. Keep in mind that the dog food you are buying is for your dog. You won’t be eating it. You need to select the food that is most nutritious for your dog even if the ingredients don’t appeal to you personally.

Along with these standards, we also consider the warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about a possible link between grain free dog foods and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. The FDA’s investigation has now expanded to include exotic proteins in dog foods. You can read the latest research in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The FDA also recently released this update. According to the update, 276 cases of DCM have been reported since July. A wide range of breeds has been reported including breeds with no known genetic predisposition for DCM.

Editor’s Note

In cases in which dogs ate a single primary diet (i.e., didn’t eat multiple food products, excluding treats), 90 percent reported feeding a grain-free food. Approximately 10 percent reported feeding a food containing grains and some of these diets were vegan or vegetarian. A large proportion of the reported diets in DCM cases – both grain-free and grain-containing – contained peas and/or lentils in various forms (whole, flour, protein, etc.) as a main ingredient (listed within the first 10 ingredients, before vitamins and minerals). The products included commercially available kibble, canned and raw foods, as well as home-cooked diets.

Because of these concerns we are not generally recommending grain free dog foods at this time. If your veterinarian happens to recommend a grain free dog food for health reasons, such as an allergy, you can discuss the situation with him or her.

This is why you won’t find some of the most popular grain free dog foods recommended here.

We follow current veterinary health research and try to provide you with the best advice possible for your Cane Corso. The foods we recommend are what we believe are the best dog foods for the Cane Corso.

What kind of diet should you feed your Cane Corso?

The Cane Corso is a relatively healthy breed, especially for a giant breed. Most of these dogs should be able to eat a normal diet for dogs.

Protein

In general, adult dogs need at least 18 percent protein in their diet per day.

Puppies and pregnant/nursing female dogs need at least 22 percent protein per day. There has been some research that shows that large/giant dogs need to have protein that is easier to digest than other dogs.

That’s another reason why it’s a good idea to look for a dog food that is formulated for giant breed dogs. Most dogs should do well with a protein percentage between 22 and 26 percent.

Fat

Large and giant dogs usually have a slower metabolism than small dogs. They use fewer calories than small dogs even when they are resting.

For this reason, dog foods made for big dogs usually have fewer calories than regular dog foods. But fat and calories are still important for your Cane Corso. Fat makes the food taste better to your dog. It gives him energy.

And fatty acids are good for your dog’s skin, coat, and brain. Some vitamins are also “fat-soluble” so they have to be in fat to be absorbed by the body.

Adult dogs require at least 5 percent fat per day for maintenance. Puppies and pregnant/nursing female dogs need at least 8 percent fat per day in their diet.

Nearly all dog foods have higher fat percentages than these levels. Most dogs do well eating a moderate fat percentage between 12 and 16 percent.

Carbohydrates

People often say that dogs don’t “need” carbohydrates are claim that carbs are “filler” ingredients.

These statements are not really true. Carbohydrates have some important duties. Like fat, they provide energy. Fibers are also carbohydrates and they are important to your dog’s gastrointestinal system.

Carbs can provide nutrients. Your dog’s brain needs the simple sugars and starches found in carbs. Complex carbohydrates help prevent your dog’s glucose levels from spiking after meals.

They also keep your dog from feeling hungry between meals. Giant dogs, such as the Cane Corso, do well with dog foods that have starches that are less fermentable and more gelatinized.

Fiber

Dog need fiber in their diet. Fiber can be soluble or insoluble. You have probably seen ingredients such as chicory, inulin, and beet pulp on dog food labels.

These are soluble fibers that pull water into your dog’s digestive system, turning the contents to gel.

When the contents are a gel, the digestive process slows. Insoluble fibers does the opposite. It adds bulk to your dog’s gastrointestinal tract, speeding up the passage of the contents.

Most dog food kibble today has between 3 and 6 percent crude fiber. However, according to some sources, large and giant breeds which can be prone to bloat may do better with slightly less fiber in their diet, especially fermentable fiber. You can aim for a fiber percentage around the 3-4 percent range for your Cane Corso.

Probiotics and prebiotics

Prebiotics and probiotics are often added to dog foods today to help your dog’s gastrointestinal system function better and to strengthen his immune system.

Prebiotics are a dietary fiber that encourages the growth of “friendly” bacteria in your dog’s system. You have likely seem ingredients such as chicory and inulin, which are prebiotics, listed on dog food labels.

Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that you want to encourage in your dog’s gastrointestinal system. They are living microorganisms that “colonize” your dogs digestive tract. Some dog food companies include them in their foods or you can purchase them separately and add them to your dog’s food.

Just a teaspoon of probiotic powder can contain billions of organisms. They may look like a dry powder but the organisms are hibernating until they reach your dog’s system where they go to work.

About 70 percent of your dog’s immune system is based in his gastrointestinal system so prebiotics and probiotics can do much to help keep your dog healthy.

Vitamins and minerals

Pet food companies usually add vitamins and minerals to their foods after the food is cooked.

This is done because the food is cooked at such high temperatures that many of the ordinary vitamins and minerals in the ingredients are destroyed during the cooking process.

Adding vitamins and minerals back into the food after cooking ensures that the food is nutritionally complete.

What to look for when choosing the best dog foods for Cane Corso

When choosing the best dog foods for Cane Corso, we recommend the following:

  • Look for a dog food that contains grains unless your veterinarian advises you otherwise;
  • Choose a food that has a protein percentage between 22 and 26 percent for adult dogs;
  • Healthy dogs usually need a moderate fat percentage between 12 and 16 percent;
  • A fiber percentage between 3 and 6 percent is suitable for most dogs; giant breeds such as the Cane Corso may do better with a fiber percentage around 3-4 percent.

These recommendations are for kibbles.

If your Cane Corso has a health problem that might indicate he needs to eat a grain free dog food, please consult your veterinarian. Most veterinary sources state that food allergies in dogs are not as common as dog owners think but they do occur.

If your dog does have a food allergy or a food sensitivity, we recommend that you work with your veterinarian to have your dog diagnosed.

Your vet might recommend a food elimination diet and food trial to identify your dog’s triggers. However, by working with your veterinarian, you might discover that your dog has a different health issue or another kind of allergy.

Allergies such as seasonal allergies to pollen, inhalant allergies, contact allergies, and flea bite allergies are more common in dogs than food allergies.

It can take time to figure out the source of your dog’s problem but getting an accurate diagnosis is better than changing foods repeatedly – especially if your dog doesn’t actually have a food allergy.

Special considerations for feeding a Cane Corso

Giant breeds

Large/giant breeds have some issues that can be affected by their diet. This is especially critical with puppies. As with other very large dogs, Cane Corso puppies should be encouraged to grow slowly.

If they grow too quickly or they are overfed, it can lead to serious bone and joint problems not just while they are growing but later in life as adult dogs.

The calcium and phosphorus ratio/amounts for all puppies need to be carefully controlled in dog and puppy foods. These levels have to be even more precise for large and giant breed dogs because puppies of these breeds are very sensitive to calcium while they are growing.

Editor’s Note

Any food that you purchase to feed a Cane Corso puppy should have an AAFCO nutritional statement that reads as follows: “[Pet Food Name] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth/all life stages including growth of large-size dogs (70 lbs or more as an adult).”

The language can vary slightly, depending on the company, but it should definitely state that the food is suitable for large size dogs that will weigh more than 70 pounds as an adult.

You can feed your Cane Corso puppy a puppy food formulated for large/giant breed puppies; OR an all lifestage dog food that is designed for large/giant breed dogs. But the AAFCO statement MUST say that the food is suitable for dogs that will weigh more than 70 pounds as an adult.

Adult giant breed dogs, such as the Cane Corso, will also do well eating dog foods that are formulated for large/giant breeds.

These foods typically have protein and fat levels that are appropriate for very large dogs; good calorie levels; and joint supplements such as glucosamine that may help your dog.

Bloat

As a giant breed with a deep chest, the Cane Corso is one of the breeds that can be prone to bloat. Bloat or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) is a life-threatening condition if it’s not treated quickly.

There are several issues to consider with bloat, including some based on feeding your dog. Research indicates:

  • Feeding one large daily meal puts dogs at greater risk for bloat.
  • Feeding ONLY dry food can be a risk factor.
  • If fat is among the first four ingredients in a dog food, the risk increases greatly.
  • If a dog food contains citric acid AND the food is moistened, the risk goes up greatly.

By contrast, these things seem to decrease the risk of bloat:

  • Feeding a dry food that contains rendered meat-and-bone meal.
  • Mixing table food or canned food into dry food.

Using a slow feeder bowl to encourage your dog to eat more slowly can also help lower the risk of bloat.

Hip dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia affects many large/giant breeds and it can affect the Cane Corso. Ideally, the hip joint fits together smoothly in a ball and socket. In dogs with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket don’t fit together properly. This can happen for a variety of reasons such as injury, genetics, nutrition, obesity, too much or too little exercise, and so on.

Wear and tear on the hip joint over time can also lead to dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a leading cause of arthritis in older dogs.

Hip dysplasia is currently fairly common in the Cane Corso with about 38 percent of dogs x-rayed (and results reported) having some degree of dysplasia. Some dogs that show signs of hip dysplasia on x-rays might have no symptoms in daily life while other dogs can be nearly crippled.

There are a few things you can do to try to avert hip dysplasia and/or arthritis in your Cane Corso:

  • Keep your dog lean and avoid overfeeding him. Carrying too much weight puts extra stress on the bones and joints which can worsen any possible hip problems.
  • Make sure that your dog continues to get moderate exercise throughout his life, even as he ages. Maintaining good muscle tone can help lessen mobility problems.
  • Don’t allow your Cane Corso puppy or young dog to over-exercise or do risky things that might cause injury to his bones and joints. Puppies should not be encouraged to leap, take big jumps, race up and down stairs, or do repetitive exercise such as jogging on pavement. All of these things can result in stress or injury that can lead to bone and joint problems later in life.

If you’re looking for a Cane Corso puppy, talk to breeders about hip dysplasia. Ask if the parents of the puppies have been x-rayed. Good and Excellent ratings for the parents are desirable. However, with genetics, even Good and Excellent ratings in the parents are not a guarantee that puppies won’t have hip dysplasia since the condition is affected by many factors. But getting your puppy from a breeder that is trying to produce dogs with good hips is a good place to start.

How much should you feed your Cane Corso?

dog-food-kibble image

You can expect an adult male Cane Corso to stand between 25-27.5 inches tall at the shoulder. An adult female will stand between 23.5-26 inches tall at the shoulder. Expect males to weigh 99 to 110 pounds; females weigh 88 to 99 pounds.

Since dog foods vary, it’s best to use calories to determine how much to feed your dog instead of cups or some other measurement.

  • A three-month-old Cane Corso male can weigh about 35 pounds and would need about 1673 calories per day.
  • A six-month-old Cane Corso male can weigh about 66 pounds and would need about 1795 calories per day.
  • At one year your Cane Corso male might weigh about 100 pounds and he would need about 2206 calories per day.

You should expect your Cane Corso to keep growing until he’s at least 18 months old. He won’t be fully mature until he’s between two and three years old. An adult Cane Corso that weighs 110 pounds would need about 2369 calories per day.

These are only estimates. Your puppy might weight slightly more or less. Female puppies usually weigh a little less. Along with looking at how much your puppy weighs you should notice your puppy’s body condition. You can adjust the amount of food you are feeding if your puppy is chubby or skinny. Remember that puppies, like children, go through growth spurts. Your puppy might look chunky one week and all legs the next week. If you have questions about how your puppy is looking or how much to feed, we recommend talking to your puppy’s breeder or your veterinarian.

Best dog foods for Cane Corso Reviewed

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Giant Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 26.0%
  • Fat – 18.0%
  • Fiber – 3.9%
  • Calories – 427 kcal/cup

Our top pick dog food for the Cane Corso is Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Giant Adult Dry Dog Food. Although the AKC refers to the Cane Corso as a “medium large” breed, by most people’s standards a dog that weighs over 100 pounds is a giant dog.

There are not a lot of dog foods specifically formulated for giant breeds but Royal Canin has developed an entire line of food for these extra large dogs.

It includes dry and wet foods as well as foods for young puppies (up to 8 months); junior puppies (from 8 months to 18-24 months); and adult giant breed dogs.

We like all of these foods for the Cane Corso at various ages. It can take the Cane Corso two or more years to fully mature so these dogs need nutrition that is appropriate for their slower growth.

These Royal Canin foods are specifically made for dogs that will weigh over 100 pounds when they are mature.

The adult formula is also a good choice to help prevent your giant dog from gaining excess weight. The Cane Corso is a breed that can have problems with hip dysplasia so carrying extra weight can cause problems.

This formula also has a combination of nutrients, including taurine, that support your dog’s heart. Royal Canin also supports your dog’s digestion with proteins that are easy to digest; and they use a balanced blend of fibers. We like this entire line of foods for a giant breed like the Cane Corso.

Pros:

  • The adult formula contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support
  • Easy to digest
  • Developed specifically for giant breed dogs

Cons:

  • You need to be careful to feed the right formula to your dog depending on his age and development; puppies should not eat the adult formula

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Giant Breed Formula

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 26.0%
  • Fat – 12.0%
  • Fiber – 4.5%
  • Calories – 383 kcal/cup

As we mentioned, there are not many dog foods formulated specifically for giant breeds. However, as long as the food is designed for dogs that will weigh over 70 pounds as adults, it should be suitable for your Cane Corso. One of the best dog foods for Cane Corso and other giant breeds is Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Giant Breed Formula.

This food is formulated for giant dogs. It has chicken as the first ingredient, glucosamine, and EPA (an omega 3 fatty acid) to help support your dog’s joint health and mobility.

This Pro Plan Focus formula has 26 percent crude protein and 12 percent crude fat so it should keep your Cane Corso at the correct body weight that won’t put too much stress on his bones and joints.

Pros:

  • Formulated specifically for giant breed dogs
  • Contains glucosamine for joint health and mobility
  • Has natural prebiotic fiber to promote digestive health
  • Meets AAFCO guidelines with animal feeding trials

Cons:

  • This is a maintenance dog food so it’s not suitable for any puppies, including giant breed puppies

Hill's Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 21.0%
  • Fat – 12.5%
  • Fiber – 3.0%
  • Calories – 211 kcal/cup

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food is made for adult dogs that weigh over 55 pounds.

It is suitable for giant breed dogs such as the Cane Corso. This chicken and barley formula has natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to support your dog’s joint health. Omega 6 fatty acids, vitamins, and other nutrients provide nourishment for your dog’s skin and coat.

A clinically-proven blend of antioxidants as well as vitamins A, C, and E help keep your dog’s immune system healthy. In addition, this food contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Pros:

  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • Contains healthy grains and natural fibers
  • Provides natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Cons:

  • Hill’s is currently recalling some of its Science Diet and Prescription canned foods because of excess Vitamin D. This only affects canned foods but it may cause some customers to be concerned.

Eukanuba Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 23.0%
  • Fat – 13.0%
  • Fiber – 5.0%
  • Calories – 325 kcal/cup

Eukanuba Large Breed Adult Dry Dog food is designed for large and giant breeds. This formula features chicken as the first ingredient and contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.

The large breed formula also has a larger kibble size that makes it easier for big dogs to eat. Eukanuba’s 3D DentaDefense System has been proven to reduce tartar build-up in 28 days.

This Eukanuba formula also has a specialized fiber system made from natural beet pulp and prebiotic FOS (ructooligosaccharides), a natural sugar, to promote better nutrient absorption and healthy digestion. This formula contains no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors.

Pros:

  • A specialized fiber system promotes better nutrient absorption and healthy digestion
  • Contains naturally-sourced glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints
  • The 3D DentaDefense System reduces tartar build-up in 28 days
  • No artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors

Cons:

  • This is a maintenance dog food so it’s not appropriate for puppies or pregnant dogs
  • Meets AAFCO guidelines based on nutrient profile

Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult Health Chicken Meal & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food

Nutritional info:

  • Protein – 24.0%
  • Fat – 14.0%
  • Fiber – 4.0%
  • Calories – 433 kcal/cup

Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult Health Chicken Meal & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food is formulated for large and giant breed dogs – as its name suggests. Holistic Select uses a unique digestive health support system that includes prebiotics, probiotics, natural fiber, and digestive enzymes.

Chicken meal is the first ingredient in this dog food. This recipe contains no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and no potatoes. It also has no meat by-products, wheat, and no wheat gluten.

In order to provide support for your Cane Corso’s hips and joints, the formula contains glucosamine and chondroitin. Your dog’s digestive system is aided by live yogurt cultures and natural fiber.

Pros:

  • Great digestive system support that includes prebiotics, probiotics, natural fiber, and digestive enzymes
  • Optimal calcium and phosphorus levels
  • No artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or potatoes
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support

Cons:

  • Contains peas – as the 14th ingredient; we don’t think this will adversely affect your dog

Conclusion

The Cane Corso is known for being majestic, intelligent, and affectionate.

The breed has an ancient history as a war dog but they have spent hundreds of years protecting estates, livestock, and homes. If you have one of these dogs today, you will need to make sure your puppy grows slowly to avoid hip and joint problems as an adult dog.

It can take 2-3 years for your Cane Corso to be fully mature. When choosing the best dog foods for the Cane Corso remember that your dog needs to stay slim. Carrying excess weight can put stress on your dog’s bones and joints. We suggest looking for dog foods that are formulated especially for large/giant breeds.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine DN Dog News. She's the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, a Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) award winner. In addition, she is an American Kennel Club Gazette breed columnist and is the author of several books about dogs. She has been reviewing pet foods and writing about dog food for more than 10 years.
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