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The Generic Cane Corso - Breeding a Nightmare

How would you define a "generic" Cane Corso?

"Generic", by definition, means, "general", "not specific", "relating to or descriptive of an entire group or class", "not having a brand name or trade mark". For the purposes of this article, we define a generic cane corso as one which cannot be linked to a specific lineage of breed conforming predecessors through a certified multi-generational pedigree, and/or a dog that is carelessly bred without concern or regard for pedigree, type, and conformation to the breed standard. In other words, there is no significant historic breed stock in the lineage of either conformation and/or working quality and temperament, and/or no true knowledge of breed standard, conformation, quality, type, and temperament involved in the breeding decisions that produced that dog.

To illustrate, imagine walking through your local grocery store, where you can always find a shelf or an area for "generic" products. Alongside the bright and familiar brand name labels you will find the lackluster economical, black and white labeled generic products. Many generic products are offered at a discount compared to the name brands. The generic market is targeted toward those who are price focused, are satisfied without very high quality merchandise, and likely don't mind buying a product that is produced without a well known and trusted name brand to stand behind it.

The same illustration can be applied to dog food. Not long ago I considered changing the brand of dog food we used. I looked up information on many different options, from name brand through generic. I found I could pay a premium price per bag for high quality no-filler kibble, or I could pay very little in comparison per bag for generic kibble. They both meet the same fundamental need - to feed our dogs, but some research on the ingredients showed a huge difference in the quality of (or lack of) nutrition I would be receiving for my purchase. As I like to have no questions or doubts about the quality of what I purchase to feed my dogs and don't want to be paying medical bills for years down the road because of the money I "saved" buying poor quality generic kibble initially, I chose a premium brand of kibble. If, perchance, I need to contact the manufacturer about recall issues and sick dogs, I didn't want to waste valuable time trying to locate contact information for a company named "Generic", or being disappointed when there is not a credible company to stand behind the product I had hoped to rely on.

Within the lists of Cane Corso breeders that have been appearing with alarming frequency as the breed's popularity begins to rise in the US, there are growing numbers of "generic breeding dogs". One of the simplest ways to identify a generic Cane Corso, would be to check internet puppy marketing sites and local newspaper ads, and watch for the "Corso" puppies listed to sell for far less than the average price of a well bred dog from a known and respected breeder. Most generic Cane Corso puppies do not have known pedigrees or "brand name" respected dogs in their bloodline. You can often look two, three, or four generations in their pedigree and even a Corso fancier with extensive pedigree knowledge will likely fail to identify the name of any specific dog that has had any great national or international recognition, appreciation, or noteworthy accomplishments. In addition, many generic Corsos have colors and/or markings that are disqualified per the breed standard (oftentimes presented as "rare" markings in an attempt to dupe an unsuspecting buyer out of a higher price), many are small or oversize in structure, have sway backs, cow hocks, poor conformation, lack of angulation, incorrect head types, narrow muzzles, excessive wrinkles, dysplastic hips, major health issues, and questionable temperaments. Often generic Cane Corsos have very unstable temperaments, ranging from extremely skittish and fearful, to unstable, ill-tempered, and aggressive.

A generic Cane Corso has no special value traceable to its pedigree or genetics. No one should pay any type of a premium price to purchase a generic Cane Corso, nor do they receive a premium price for progeny of those dogs. Although the possibility always exists that sometimes new and often uneducated purchasers who are unable to identify a generic corso will pay somewhat of a premium price due to their inexperience. A generic Cane Corso, with close observation, does not appear to have any special quality or trait that justifies a premium price.

It is very simple and easy to breed generic Cane Corso puppies. The requirements to start a generic breeding program are nothing more than a male and female dog, a couple kennel runs or chains, and some inexpensive (likely generic) dog food to give them economical but minimal sustenance. The qualifications to run a generic breeding program are practically nonexistent. Often correct grammar and spelling, accurate pronunciation of the breed name or knowledge of the breed standard are not even considered by a generic breeder. Concern for the care of their breeding stock is often negligent. The cost of any care needed is measured against the dog's worth based on what it can potentially produce financially. The knowledge and research required to produce generic Corsos is quite minimal. No former experience whatsoever is necessary. The key would be to start out with the least expensive bitch you could purchase. Then buy, or breed to, the cheapest stud you can find, and give them as little attention and care as needed to keep them producing, while breeding as frequently as possible. You will easily become a generic puppy producer almost instantly.

Every breed of dog has "generics". If you research lists of breeders who produce puppies for sale, you will see many mongrel groups of commercial dogs that are generic. Their owners know that they are generic. They didn't see any point in paying a premium price when they purchased their breeding stock, when the cheap stock would save them investment money and increase their profit instantly. They raise and breed them without any true care or consideration for pedigree, conformation, performance, temperaments, size, weight, or standards. When you know what to look for, and you can recognize what is missing, most generic producers and generic dogs are easy to spot.

It is not a crime to raise generic dogs. Many dogs, although generic in quality, are wonderful at their jobs as family companions. Approximately 60-70% (HSUS estimate) of all dogs in the United States come from generic dogs and breedings. No one knows the origin of many of the dogs, and no one even knows what breed many of them are.

That said, while generic can be O.K., it is extremely important that every purebred breeder and educated buyer understands the difference between multiplying generic dogs and genetically engineering high quality, high value, well bred, healthy, correct and outstanding stock. The often ignored/overlooked difference between these two methods of breeding/producing is monumental. However, regardless of the extensive effort some breeders put into trying to raise the highest quality Cane Corso possible, massive numbers of generic Corsos continue to multiply and show up in the public, in rescues and shelters.

It is easy to find people who have entire kennels of generic corsos. These people usually fall into one of two categories. Some are kennel-blind and/or uneducated on the breed. They perceive their own dogs as "top quality", though they couldn't tell you why. They often claim value on their dogs because of something like size, or color. They don't have the breed knowledge or desire to know any better. Others completely understand what they have. They may breed for working ability, for guard dogs, or simply to sell as pets. A generic corso will sell thru most venues for about the same average price as any other comparably bred dog of another breed. They sell at low prices. Under today's market, a generic corso can often be found starting at prices as little as $300 to $600.

When a generic corso bitch is bred to a generic corso stud, the result is a litter of generic puppies. To own a kennel full of generic quality corsos and expect to raise show winners or high dollar sale value pups is akin to an investor searching for an item of value at the dump. It quickly becomes apparent that it takes more work searching than any benefit that could be found in the dump. The contents of the dump had been completely picked over before they ended up in the dump, so expecting to find anything worthwhile in the trash is often a waste of time. The importance of understanding and carefully selecting pedigrees and quality breeding stock before one breeds is best summed up in a statement from the noted Arabian breeder William States Jacobs, who said: "Whatever is in the pedigree will come out. Nothing else can."

There is a big difference between "generic" corsos and well bred, high quality, high value, healthy, correct and outstanding stock. Every Cane Corso breeder who chooses to produce these dogs should know the difference. Many people have bought cheap corsos thinking they were buying premium quality dogs. This is rarely an accurate assumption. Most generic corsos do not sell for very much money. One of the keys to identifying non generic Corsos is how much they will sell for above the base "generic corso" value. This difference in price is a "non-generic" value. In other words, this is their "well bred outstanding stock" value.

In the Cane Corso breed, most dogs that have notable pedigrees, large square well-proportioned heads, and correct conformation (per the breed standard), in addition to exhibiting true Cane Corso character (excellent drive, agile athleticism, balanced temperaments and strong working ability), could fall into some value range other than generic. Most generic dogs are lacking in overall conformation, structure, type, temperament and drive true to the breed.

It has been argued that Generic Corsos should not be trained and shown in the conformation ring - since the primary purpose of a conformation show is to prove a dog's breeding worth and a dog without a worthwhile pedigree and breeding is most often not worth being bred. Although a genetic Corso may infrequently win an occasional show due to the improper decisions of inexperienced judges, or may even earn a Champion title due to repeated showing against inferior competition, the long range value of a generic Corso is still a generic value. The generic corso is not improved in type, pedigree, or breeding, by earning a show ribbon. Without a consistent well-bred pedigree as a foundation, there is no reasonable expectation that offspring produced by a generic corso will be anything above generic mediocre quality dogs.

Unfortunately, in the Cane Corso circle, some generic dogs have been trained for conformation shows and have in fact, won major awards or titles. When the owners of winning generic Corsos begin to promote their dogs, inexperienced buyers and breeders can begin to be swayed into believing that the generic dog (because of its titles) is actually a well bred quality dog. However, experienced breeders who understand the value of pedigree and breeding do not purchase pups or breedings from those particular dogs. The owner may not know or realize they are showing and promoting a generic dog, but the breeders who refuse to buy verify their generic status. It doesn't make any difference how many shows a certain Corso may have won. There are people who know the difference in generic and non-generic. These are the breeders who refuse to buy generic and insist on purchasing a well bred, high quality, high value, healthy, correct and outstanding 'premium' Cane Corso.

What to do with generic Corsos? First of all realize that generic dogs are generic dogs and that is not easy to change. No matter how many shows or how many ads are invested in promoting generic Corsos, they normally maintain their generic status. Sometimes generic dogs can be bred up. Some decent females that are generic can be selectively bred to carefully chosen "name brand" sires known to produce quality dogs, and strong in the areas the female is lacking. However, one has to consider the value in paying top dollar for a quality breeding, to use it on an inferior female... and this is assuming the owner of a quality sire will even allow the breeding of his stud to such a female.

Within three generations of selective breeding choices to better current dogs, offspring can be produced that are 7/8 new/better blood, and only 1/8 of the original generic genetics. Such an effort will take a minimum of 6 years though, and the expense of bettering the original generic foundation dogs has now set the breeder back 6 years behind another breeder who started out with quality dogs. It bears considering, when a breeder realizes their quality is generic, that oftentimes starting from scratch with correct dogs is better and more effective in the long run that trying to better poor quality dogs.

When breeding registered Cane Corso dogs, sometimes the breeding of an outstanding male with an excellent female may still produce a generic quality pup. However, when breeding quality to quality there is a vastly improved likelihood of producing an outstanding dog and repeating this success on a regular basis. When breeding generic to generic the odds are almost 100% the litter will produce nothing better than another litter of generic mediocre puppies.

It's all in the pedigree. As a well respected 1940's breeder Dr. Williams Jacob said, "Whatever is in the pedigree will come out. Nothing else can." Many believe it is unnecessary to know or research the pedigrees of dogs they purchase for breeding stock, companions or pets. However, much can be learned about a prospective puppy or dog, prior to purchase, from its ancestry. Breeding dogs is an art, not a precise science. Knowing as much as possible about the a dog's pedigree and ancestors can provide valuable information about the genetic foundation a new puppy will be built from, how a dog will mature, and what traits it will pass on to it's offspring when bred. Physical and temperamental traits are passed from generation to generation, and while it is easy to recognize the importance of having good photographs or doing a physical evaluation when considering a new puppy, a consistent and well bred pedigree is equally (or even more) important to show that the puppy has a stable and consistent strong genetic foundation as well as good temperament, conformation, type, and drive. Without solid pedigree information about the strong and weak points of a generic dog's pedigree, it is much more difficult to assess the quality of the dog or the type they will produce when bred.

With the rising popularity of the Cane Corso breed in the US, the breeding of 'generic' Cane Corsos is a fast growing nightmare that is quickly doing serious damage to our breed. Increasing numbers of generic Cane Corso breeders are polluting our breed by producing large numbers of poorly bred dogs of inferior quality, with serious health issues, and unstable aggressive temperaments. These generics are sold to anyone with cash, with no care of concern for carefully screened suitable homes. As a result they are ending up in the wrong hands for the wrong reasons, growing up untrained and unsocialized, being trained to be aggressive, becoming bite-statistics, flooding rescues, abandoned and dying in shelters and pounds, and creating many a negative smear on the good name of a well bred Cane Corso. This is not to say that a generic Corso is any less loved, or less deserving of a great home and a happy life, they are simply the innocent offspring of a serious problem that needs to be recognized and quelled by those breeders and buyers who actually care about these dogs, for the future of our breed.

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