Alaskan Malamute Vs Cane Corso: Complete Breed Comparison

When it comes to the Alaskan Malamute vs Cane Corso there are a lot of arguments for choosing either breed.

In this guide, we’ll break down each breed and compare them to see which is more suited for you.

Before we get into an overview of both breeds, here’s a quick summary of the key differences and similarities between the Alaskan Malamute and Cane Corso.

An infographic that summarises the key similarities and differences between the Alaskan Malamute vs Cane Corso

Alaskan Malamute Overview

The Alaskan Malamute is one of the most ancient dog breeds and was originally brought across to Alaska via the Bering Strait thousands of years ago.

The name originates from the Mahlemut people who settled in Alaska and depended on Malamutes for their survival.

A large Alaskan Malamute on a lead

Malamutes were used to pull sleds for hundreds of miles, as well as to hunt seals and other mammals. They almost went extinct during the Gold Rush in the 1800s as the demand for working dogs increased, but they luckily survived.

I highly recommend this article if you want to learn more about the fascinating history of this breed.

Fast forward to modern times and the Malamute is a recognised breed by the AKC since 1935 and a popular family pet. They are large in size and retain the ability to exercise for long periods of time.

They can be very stubborn and difficult to train, but they make very loving and caring companions with an independent streak.

Cane Corso Overview

The Cane Corso’s origins can be traced back to the molossus, which was a mastiff dog from ancient Greece.

The Cane Corso is a relative of this breed originating in Italy, and was used as a guard dog as well as in war.

A Cane Corso in a cage

They were almost wiped out during World War I and II, but fortunately, small numbers prevailed and the breed was successfully expanded in the 1970s.

It wasn’t until 1988 that the Corso was brought over to the US, and since that time it has gone to become a highly popular guard dog breed.

Cane Corsos are very large and powerful dogs that require an experienced and confident owner.

Difference In Appearance

Before we dive into specific differences between these two dogs, let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first – appearance.

An Alaskan Malamute vs Cane Corse in a custom graphic

Alaskan Malamutes are often compared to wolves and have a classic Spitz-type appearance with long pointed ears and woolly coats.

Malamutes can have several different colored coats, such as silver and white, red and white and full white.

Cane Corsos have a classic mastiff appearance with a large head and strong jaw. Cane Corsos have double coats that are very short and come in a variety of colors such as black, gray, fawn and red.

Other Differences Between Alaskan Malamute Vs Cane Corso

The differences don’t just stop at appearance.

Here are several other key differences between these two dog breeds.

Guarding Instinct

Cane Corsos have a history of being guard dogs and also being used in war and for hunting purposes.

They have retained much of this guarding instinct to this day, and are one of the most popular options for personal protection dog breeds.

Alaskan Malamutes, on the other hand, are not good guard dogs at all. This is because they were not used for this purpose originally, and were primarily instead sled dogs who also helped with hunting and other activities.

Malamutes are more likely to befriend a stranger than be suspicious of them, so if you want a protective dog they are not a good option.

Overall Size

According to the AKC standard, Alaskan Malamutes usually reach 23 to 25 inches at the shoulders and 75 to 85 lbs in weight. There are of course exceptions to this rule, including so-called ‘giant’ Malamutes that are bred for size and weigh over 100 lbs easily, but these are more prone to health issues.

Cane Corsos are usually slightly taller, reaching 23.5 to 27.5 inches at the shoulder, and weigh anywhere from 80 to 120 lbs. Again, there are exceptions to this rule, but on average a Cane Corso will be larger that an Alaskan Malamute.

Cane Corsos also carry a lot more muscle whereas Alaskan Malamutes hide most of their size underneath their thick coats.

Exercise Requirements

Both breeds are very active, but few come close to the Alaskan Malamute in terms of exercise requirement.

Malamutes were bred to pull sleds over long distances, amongst other things, and are able to travel over 100 miles each day when trained for it.

This means that they need a lot of exercise when kept as a pet; ideally 2 or more hours each and every day.

Cane Corsos do not require as much exercise and are happy with 30 minutes to an hour of exercise each day.

This is something very important to consider when choosing between these two breeds because they will easily develop destructive tendencies if their exercise needs are not met.

Grooming & Shedding

Alaskan Malamutes have thick double coats that protect them from the harsh climate where they originate from. Double coats help to keep them warm and dry in cold conditions, and cold when the temperature rises.

A double coat is where the fur is separated into two layers; a short woolly undercoat with a long layer made of guard hairs. Double-coated breeds require daily grooming and even multiple grooming sessions each day when they are blowing coat.

The Cane Corse also has a double coat, but there’s is much shorter than a Malamute, so you can still expect them to shed (even more when blowing coat) but not to the extent of a Malamute.


Cane Corsos are very eager to please and intelligent, which means they can be trained quite easily.

This is beneficial because a breed this powerful and large needs to be trained properly to keep everyone safe.

Alaskan Malamutes, on the other hand, have the characteristic Spitz behavior of not being eager to please their owners. This can make training very difficult, and it can also lead to them taking over the household in the hands of an unprepared owner.


Alaskan Malamutes have an average lifespan of 10 to 14 years.

Cane Corsos have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, but recent studies have shown the median to be around 9 years old.

So, Alaskan Malamutes tend to be healthier overall but it is still very possible for a Cane Corso to live well over 10 years old.

Similarities Between The Alaskan Malamute And Cane Corso

It’s worth knowing what is similar between these two breeds as well as what is different.

Here’s a list of the key similarities between the Alaskan Malamute and Cane Corso.

Working Breeds

Cane Corsos and Alaskan Malamutes are both working breeds, as per the AKC.

Working breeds have a history of being used to fulfil a specific job or role. Malamutes were used to pull sleds and aid in hunting, and Cane Corsos were used for protection, hunting and fighting in wars.

Working breeds are much more hard work than other dogs because they require a certain standard of exercise and mental stimulation to be satisfied.

Here are a few things to know about working breeds:

  • Get bored easily – Working breeds get bored easily, especially if they still have lots of energy. This can lead to destructive behaviors and is why exercise and mental stimulation is so important.
  • Need an experienced owner who can assert themselves as the leader – Large working breeds need an owner who can assert themselves as the alpha, especially in the case of Alaskan Malamutes who can easily take over a household if you let them.
  • Need purpose – Working breeds thrive with a purpose. Cane Corsos especially need some kind of purpose, such as greeting visitors to the house or having a space to guard.

Common Health Issues

It should come as no surprise that both of these breeds are prone to a few health issues relating to size.

  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat) – Bloat occurs when the stomach fills with gas, and in severe cases, it can cause the stomach to twist. Bloat is always a medical emergency and can be lethal, and it is something that large dogs are more prone to.
  • Hip dysplasia – This is another common health issue for larger dog breeds, and occurs when the ball and socket of the hip joint grow at different rates.

All dog breeds are prone to certain health issues, but you should be aware of the specific issues that your breed is prone to as a responsible owner.


Cane Corsos are known for their intimidating appearances, with highly muscular physiques, a large head and an incredibly powerful jaw people are sure to stay well away if they don’t know the animal.

Alaskan Malamutes also have a very intimidating presence and are often compared to wolves in their appearance.

Malamutes are also the largest of the Spitz breeds and can easily exceed 100 lbs depending on genetics which makes them a useful intimidation tool, despite the fact that they are not a guarding breed and are more likely to befriend a stranger.

Family Companions

Alaskan Malamutes are pack animals by nature, so they thrive in a family where there is a clear hierarchy.

For inexperienced owners, this can be difficult, but once you sort the hierarchy there should be no issues and they make an incredible bond with the family, including children.

Cane Corsos also form an incredibly strong bond with their owners and fit into families well. They are protective of everyone in the family, including children, and make great companions.

In Summary

Hopefully, this guide has given you an insight into both of these breeds and how they compare.

Alaskan Malamutes and Cane Corsos are a lot of work, but they make incredible family pets given the right care and guidance.

Interested in checking out more Malamute comparison guides? We’ve covered plenty of others:

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About The Author

Caitlin is the owner and lead writer for The Malamute Mom. She has over 10 years of experience with Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies. She is currently working on getting her PhD in materials science but continues to write for The Malamute Mom in her spare time.

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