11 Common and Rarest Cane Corso Colors (With Pictures)

Last Updated on March, 2024

With a Cane Corso, you have the best of both worlds: a bodyguard and playmate rolled into one.

If you’ve seen your fair share of the Cane Corso breed, you might have wondered: “What’s with the rainbow of different coat colors?” 

Did you know they come in 11 different colors, and some shades are so rare there are rumored to be only 20 of them in the world? Does the mysterious blue Cane Corso exist?

Well, keep reading for a run-down of all the fascinating facts about the coat colors of these majestic dogs. 

Quick Summary

11 rare cane corso colors: Formentino, Isabella/Tawny, Chocolate/Liver, Straw, Red, Black Brindle, Gray Brindle, Chestnut Brindle, Gray, Other (unspecified), and Black.

Some rare colors, such as Formentino, Chocolate/Liver, and Isabella/Tawny, are frowned upon by the American Kennel Club (AKC) due to their potential for causing health issues.

The color of a Cane Corso’s coat can affect their lifespan and health, with brindle colors having longer lifespans and lighter colors being more prone to skin and eye conditions. However, coat color does not affect their behavior or temperament.

How Many Cane Corso Coat Colors Are There?

A Cane Corso can have one of 11 different coat colors:

  • Black
  • Gray
  • Fawn
  • Red
  • Black brindle
  • Gray brindle
  • Chestnut brindle
  • Formentino
  • Chocolate/ Liver
  • Isabella/Tawny
  • Straw

There are both solid-colored coats as well as coats with brindling. They can also have a black or gray mask that does not extend beyond their eyes.

Brindle Cane Corsi have other colored stripes over their base color. Straight brindles have dark stripes on a light base color, while reverse brindles have the opposite brindle pattern. The name of the brindle Cane Corso depends on the stripe color. 

Interestingly, scientists still haven’t been able to explain what causes the degree of the brindle patterns in Corsos.

In addition, before the Cane Corso puppies are born, there’s absolutely no way of determining whether it will be a straight or reverse brindle. Interesting, huh?

However, the American Kennel Club (AKC), the top-tier kennel club in the United States, recognizes only seven colors: black, gray, fawn, red, black brindle, gray brindle, and chestnut brindle.

The rest of the coat colors are unacceptable according to the AKC breed standard for some valid reasons. We’ll come to that in a bit. 

What Are the Rare Cane Corso Colors?

Formentino, Isabella/Tawny, Chocolate/Liver, and straw-colored Cane Corsos are pretty uncommon. If it’s rare, it has to be expensive too, right? But hold up right there. There’s a reason for this scarcity. 

Scientists have established a link between the recessive dilute gene that causes these rare colors and many health problems.

So, while you are paying extra for a rare Cane Corso color, you will eventually end up paying even more for future medical bills. 

Let’s take a look at these rare pups in a bit more detail.

1. Formentino Cane Corsos

pictures of a formentino cane corso during winter

Hailing from the Italian term “Formentino,” which means fermented wheat, this Cane Corso looks so different from the rest that some breeders try to sell it off as a separate dog breed entirely.

The Formentino Cane Corso is also sometimes called “Blue Fawn.” In reality, it is a dilute shade of the fawn-colored coat, giving rise to these dogs’ characteristic carbon color.

That, together with a bluish-gray nose and unusually light-colored eyes, creates a unique combination. They can also have gray patches on their shoulders and back. 

However, this unique combination comes at a price. Formentino Corsi has a lifespan of roughly 8 years, which is lower than the 10-year expectancy of other brindle Cane Corso varieties.

The dilute coloring makes these dogs more susceptible to a variety of skin conditions, as well as genetic disorders, which explains why it’s rejected by the AKC. 


2. Liver/Chocolate Cane Corsos

pictures of a chocolate cane corso

Called both Chocolate or Liver colored (let’s just go with chocolate, because well, it’s chocolate), this is another attractive Cane Corso coat color. However, this color isn’t accepted by the AKC.

These dogs do resemble the AKC-approved red Cane Corso. However, once you take a closer look, you’ll see some dramatic differences: a pinkish tone around their eyes and nose in place of their characteristic gray/black mask.

The main giveaway is their green hazel eyes.These Cane Corsos are bred mainly for their striking characteristics, so health takes a back seat here.

This is why they are prone to all sorts of conditions like eye deformities and pyotraumatic dermatitis and why the AKC bans them from being registered in competitions.

As attractive as they are, we’d recommend skipping the chocolate Cane Corso for the sake of all the bills (and heartache) that are sure to follow. 


3. Tawny/Isabella Cane Corsos

pictures of a isabella cane corso

This Cane Corso, with an elegant name, has an equally elegant color of almost lilac.

Similar to the Chocolate Cane Corso, they have the same pinkish tone surrounding their eyes and nose instead of the standard black or gray mask and the same unique green/blue eyes.

This Isabella Cane Corso color, too, is dismissed by the AKC on the grounds that it is more prone to diseases like Color Dilution Alopecia because it’s a diluted shade. 


4. Straw Cane Corsos

Three pictures of a straw cane corso in the snow

This is the RAREST Cane Corso color of all. It is so rare that only 10-20 dogs around the entire world are rumored to exist, with only 1 in the United States named Ghost (no, this one does not belong to Jon Snow).

This dog has a unique creamy, almost white color. They are said to have originated from cross-breeding with the Abruzzese Sheepdog decades ago for the sole purpose of guarding stacks of straw, which is how they got their name.

A straw Cane Corso will also have unusual light-colored eyes and some black/gray patches on their back or sides.

However, it is noteworthy that they do not suffer from Albinism (a rare genetic condition that reduces melanin production). However, they aren’t accepted by the AKC and are extremely overpriced.


What Are the Common Cane Corso Colors?

The most common Cane Corso colors are the 7 AKC-recognized coat colors. Here’s everything you need to know about them.

1. Black Cane Corsos

pictures of a black cane corso

The most common and the most sought-after of all colors is black. Unsurprising, considerin

g their intimidating appearance that would make any trespasser run for their life. While their complexion shows fierce power, a black Cane Corso is just as affectionate as any other color. 

If you hope to enter them in competitions, they need the perfect solid black coat. Occasional white areas are allowed only in certain parts of the body.

However, the perfect coat that meets the AKC breed standard is hard to find, mainly because their undercoat is less dense and sometimes too oily due to overheating. This is because the distinct black color absorbs more heat. 

The gene for black color is dominant in these dogs, making them extremely easy to breed and, hence, very common (more on genetics later).


2. Gray Cane Corsos

pictures of a gray cane corso

The gray variety is more challenging to breed than the black, but is definitely popular. The reason for the popularity has to do with the fact that apart from Siberian Huskies, they are the only other Molosser dog breed that has a gray coat color. 

Like black dogs, gray puppies might have specific white patches, but the AKC breed standard allows for these patches only to be in specific areas of the body, like the chest and chin.

However, if you buy this Cane Corso solely for its unique color, do keep one thing in mind.

A gray Cane Corso can change color eventually. Don’t get alarmed; they don’t change into a completely different color, but the gray color can lighten or darken over time due to maturity or exposure to sunlight (think of it like a doggie version of a sun tan). 


3. Fawn Cane Corsos

three pictures of a fawn cane corso

Fawn Cane Corsos go all the way back to 4th century Italy, where they were used as hunting dogs because this Cane Corso’s coat can easily be camouflaged within the vegetation.

In today’s world, they are commonly mistaken for Mastiffs because of their color and demeanor. 

Centuries later, the fawn Cane Corso is still as eye-catching as it was with a rich undercoat, black or gray musk (should not extend beyond eyes), and creamy colored coat.

White patches on the throat, chin, and chest are acceptable by AKC standards for the Cane Corso breed, like in the black and gray varieties. 

The AKC considers the fawn Cane Corso variant to be extremely healthy, with almost no risk of developing any genetic health problems later on. 


4. Red Cane Corsos

three pictures of red cane corso dog in the grass

Even though the name says red, these pups have a range of different hues, from pale champagne to deep mahogany.

There are two genes in play: one gene that gives the red color and another recessive gene that can dilute the coat color to give a range of different shades of red. 

They often have a black or gray mask. Sometimes, pups may have a black/blue saddle mark, but it is no cause for concern because it fades as the puppy matures. The Red Cane Corso is less common than the fawn Cane Corso.


5. Black Brindle Cane Corsos

three pictures of black brindle corso

The black brindle has a red or fawn base color overlayed with black tiger stripes, giving it the mighty look of a tiger. Italians, therefore, call the black brindle Cane Corso Tigrato (tiger-like), and they were used as hunting dogs back in the day.

It should be understood that this type of brindling is entirely standard and is not caused by cross-breeding or genetic faults. 

The most significant advantage of this coat color is its lifespan. Black brindle Cane Corsos have the longest lifespan of the entire breed, with a median of 10.3 years.


6. Gray Brindle Cane Corsos

pictures of a gray brindle cane corso

Gray brindles have a fawn base overlayed with gray or blue stripes. It is caused by a recessive gene producing a diluted black color seen as gray. Their specialty is that it’s common to have brindling on their muzzles. 

Historically, gray brindles were companions of Italian cowboys owing to their ability to camouflage in the terrain. They also have longer life expectancies than solid-colored Cane Corso and are easy to breed. 

Let’s stop briefly to debunk a myth about the mysterious blue Cane Corso before moving on. Contrary to what most breeders say, the blue coat color DOES NOT exist and is not mentioned anywhere in the breed standard issued by the AKC. 

This is because the “blue” color is caused by extreme dilution of the black pigment, which is mentioned in dog breed standards as gray. So, “blue Cane Corsos” are, in reality, gray Cane Corsos with pigment dilution that makes them look blue. 

So, if a breeder ever tries to convince you that blue Cane Corso exists, now you know the truth!


7. Chestnut Brindle Cane Corso

two pictures of chestnut brindle cane corso

Chestnut brindles are the rarest of the Cane Corso brindle variety because they are comparatively challenging to breed compared to other brindles.

The gene for the chestnut coat color is present on a sex chromosome, meaning inheritance of the color depends on both genders AND the color of the parent dogs. Because of this, the ratio of chestnut brindles to other colors is 1:20.

They have a fawn or red base with reddish-brown stripes overlayed on top. The stripes on the chestnut brindle can differ from brindle to brindle, from very light to heavy.


What Determines the Cane Corso’s Coat Color?

I could give you a whole biology lesson on genetics, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear it, so here’s an oversimplified explanation for the Cane Corso rainbow of coat colors.

So, there are two genes that code for two different pigments that determine the dog’s coat color: eumelanin and pheomelanin.

Due to modifications, both eumelanin and pheomelanin have standard default colors and other possible coat colors:

  • Eumelanin default color: Black
  • Eumelanin modified colors: Brown, Gray
  • Pheomelanin default color: Reddish-yellow
  • Pheomelanin modified colors: Orange, red, cream, gold

How do these modifications come around, you ask? 

Well, there are around 11 other genes that can modify the default color. Sounds messy, I know, which is why we won’t go into detail.

Just understanding that one of these genes is a dilution gene that can dilute the default color and lighten/darken it, explains all the different shades of Cane Corso colors chart.

The rest of the 11 genes control aspects like changing the distribution of the pigments and promoting the production of either eumelanin (black) or pheomelanin( reddish yellow).

Interestingly, eumelanin can also affect the Cane Corso’s eye and nose color, which we’ll discuss next.

Eye Color of Cane Corsos

The rule is simple: the color of the dog’s iris should be similar to the darkest region of their coat. Strictly speaking, in the American Kennel Club breed standard, dogs with black muzzles with dark coat colors of black, black brindle, red, and fawn should have dark irises.

Dogs with gray muzzles with lighter coat colors like gray, gray brindle, and fawn can have lighter iris colors.

BUT they should never be lighter than light hazel.

The AKC is strictly against dogs with such light colors being bred because they have a higher chance of developing eye-related conditions later.

Another rare eye color to look out for is blue. Painfully cute, I know, but this color indicates genetic defects.

However, some pups are born with blue eyes, which change later on exposure to sunlight as UV rays induce melanin production in the iris. 

Nose Color of Cane Corsos

Nose colors follow the same rule of thumb as eye colors. The American Kennel Club deems that purebreds should have the same nose and coat color. So a black Cane Corso should have a black nose.

Does the Color of Your Cane Corso Really Matter?

a black cane corso standing outdoor with its tongue out looking at the camera

Simply put, yes, it does.

Why?

Well, all 11 coat colors have their own charm. However, because certain colors are linked to genetic problems and shorter lifespans, it’s best to avoid some of the colors (discussed below).

How Does Cane Corso Color Affect Their Lifespan?

As mentioned before, the brindle Cane Corso color lives longer than its solid-colored counterparts. An average lifespan for each dog’s coat color is given in the table below, according to a research study.

Coat ColorMedian Lifespan in years
Black brindle10.30
Brindle10.13
Gray Brindle9.84
Fawn9.01
Black9.00
Gray9.00
Other8.09

How Does Cane Corso Color Affect Their Health?

Dogs with lighter coat colors have greater chances of developing skin conditions. Furthermore, the dark coat color of black Cane Corsos also leads to overheating and heat exhaustion, especially if you live in a hot climate.

A brief overview of all of Cane Corso’s health problems is summarized in the table.

ConditionDescription of conditionMost susceptible coat color
Eye-deformitiesAbnormalities in the conjunctiva of the eye, leading to blindnessChocolate/Liver Formentino Isabella
Color Dilution AlopeciaHair loss and skin rashesIsabella Formentino
Pyotraumatic DermatitisSkin lesions that cause the coat to crustChocolate/liver
Black Hair Follicular DysplasiaHair loss Dry and scaly skinBlack  Chocolate/Liver
Otitis ExternaInflammation in the external ear canalChocolate/Liver
ObesityOverweight Chocolate/liver

Does the Color of Your Cane Corso Affect its Behavior?

Absolutely not.

The coat color of your dog has no effect whatsoever on their temperament. They are all softies underneath despite their massive size and seemingly hostile nature.

Yes, black Cane Corsos definitely look more aggressive but are just as loving as any other color. Since they are an assertive breed, training at a young age helps shape them into the ideal guard/companion dog. 

Will Your Cane Corso Change Color?

a cane corso running through a grassy field

Yes, it will.

Don’t get me wrong. You won’t wake up to find your red-colored pup turning black the next day. They don’t transition into completely different coat colors like that.

Instead, their shade might darken or lighten depending on multiple factors:

  • Maturity
  • Diet and nutrition level
  • Medication 
  • Skin diseases (especially in light-colored pups)
  • Exposure to sunlight

Summary of Cane Corso Colors

There are 11 Cane Corso colors, but only 7 of them are accepted by the American Kennel Club. Here’s a ranking from the most common to the rarest Cane Corso color.

Ranking (most common to least)ColorAKC-approved 
1Black Yes
2GrayYes
3FawnYes
4RedYes
5Black BrindleYes
6Gray BrindleYes
7Chestnut BrindleYes
8FormentinoNo
9Chocolate/LiverNo
10Isabella/TawnyNo
11StrawNo

Other guides and tools you might need when training your dog:

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve got all the intel on the rarest and the most common Cane Corso Colors, you can make an informed choice when buying your new companion. Make sure to buy from a licensed breeder.

Most backyard breeders will most definitely try to sell different coat variants for outrageous prices, claiming them to be rare and free of health problems. So, always be on your guard.

These majestically regal hounds are loyal protectors, but underneath all that might and fierceness is a softie, just like any other pup.

So, regardless of what color you have fallen in love with, you’ve got yourself a 28-inch, 100-lb bodyguard and playmate rolled into one.

FAQs

The most popular and common Cane Corso color is black, mainly due to its intimidating appearance. Historically, black Cane Corsos were preferred over other color variations.

The rarest Cane Corso color is straw. There are only 10-20 straw Cane Corsos known to exist worldwide.

No, there is not a separate tri-colored variant of the Cane Corso. However, fawn Corsos can have a fawn coat with a black mask and white spots on their throat, chin, or chest, which some may refer to as “tri-colored”.

No, White Cane Corsos do not exist. Although solid-colored Cane Corsos can have white markings and the Formentino and straw variations may be mistaken for pure white.

No, they do not. Blue Cane Corsos are actually gray Cane Corsos with a diluted coat color, giving them a dark blue appearance.

The most expensive Cane Corso color is typically the “Blue” or “Gray” variety, often fetching higher prices due to its rarity and demand. Prices can vary widely based on breeder, location, and pedigree, but a Blue Cane Corso can cost anywhere from $2,500 to over $8,000.

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Laura Vinzy
Laura Vinzy is one of our contributors. She is also a certified professional dog trainer & currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and her two rescue dogs.

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