What Does Cane Corso Mean?

Today the AKC (American Kennel Club), the main organization for dog breeders in the United States, recognized three new dog breeds: the Icelandic Sheepdog, the Leonberger, and the Cane Corso. This means that breeders of these three types of canine gain access to the reputation, licensing and support of the powerful AKC. For us it’s an opportunity to explore the evocative words associated with each unusual example of man’s best friend.

The Icelandic sheepdog (pictured) travelled with the Vikings and is a member of the spitz family of canines, which means Chow Chows and Pomeranians are relatives.

A Leonberger is a massive dog (up to 170 pounds) with a thick coat and a sweet disposition. They are named after the German city of Leonberg and were supposedly bred to look like the lions on the town crest. Originally, the breed was supposedly a cross between a Newfoundland and a St. Bernard. The rarest of the three new breeds is the Cane Corso, an Italian type of mastiff lacking the comical folds of skin the Neopolitan Mastiff (from Naples) carries around. Cane is Italian for dog, and Corso relates to the Latin cohors, “guardian.” Cane Corsos were so rare that they faced extinction until the breed was revived by enthusiasts in 1980s.

In honor of these fabulous breeds, we present a brief canine quiz:

When did “bow wow” originate?

What’s the ancient root word for bark?

What part of a dog is called the withers?

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