I had met Mike Sottile in 1975 as he was a boxing enthusiast and I was a fighter in the NYC Golden Gloves. Mike had come with a friend of mine, Bob Gilman, to watch the fights. We developed a casual friendship over the years, mostly on our common interest in boxing. Time went on and we lost contact for many years.
Fifteen years later, my girlfriend (who later became my wife) Kristie and I were living in a remote area of New York, on 15 acres and looking to get a guard dog that was both athletic and large. We had gone to the AKC shows but most of the breeders of the dogs we were interested in were backyard breeders and the true working ability of the dogs was bred out. We decided to renew our search at the rare breed shows. On a hot summer day, we went to a show called, the Champion of Champions. To make a long story short, out walks into the ring the most magnificent specimen of a dog I have ever seen, winning the tournament hands down. This was our introduction to the Cane Corso and the famous Ch Cocomo.
Immediately following the show, we searched out the owner, who happened to have pups out of Cocomo with him and we bought our first Cane Corso right then and there, August 1991, CH Rocco. It wasn’t until I got the paperwork on Rocco that I figured out the man I bought the pup from was Mike Sottile’s son, what a small world!
This renewed our friendship and he told me that he was the first person to bring back Cane Corso’s and Neopolitan Mastiffs to the United States. He invited Kristie and I to his new home in Alabama, we packed up and spent a week with him. I was able to watch the Cane Corso at work first hand, they gave me a sleeve (I had NO idea what to do!) and I started taking bites from their Cane Corso’s. I remember when Cocomo took a bite, he was dragging Mike’s son all around the yard and it definitely got me nervous since this was my first introduction to a sleeve. When they wanted me to take another bite from him, I said, “Your going to have to tie him to a tree if you want me to do it again.” And they did.
Months later, after some begging and a lot of money we ended up with our beloved Cocomo who by the way remembered me working the sleeve with him and wasn’t all that happy with me. I couldn’t go near him for at least a week and Kristie had to take care of him which he wasn’t all that thrilled with either.
We were impressed with the temperament of these dogs and fell quickly in love with them. We ended up buying two 10 month old females while there, from the third line of dogs that were brought here in 1991. Midnight and Lucretia, were two jet black sisters that we quickly championed. Another dog we bought was a Cane named Juka, who was out of the first litter in America.
I’d like to share how Mike became involved with the Cane Corso as told to me personally by him. He was in Sicily, attending a family member’s wedding and driving down the road he saw a farmer with his cows in the field and with the farmer was a very impressive dog. They stopped the car and talked to the farmer, he told Mike that the dog was called Branchiero Siciliano, but they were also known in different areas in southern Italy as Mastino Corso and Corso di Puglia. This was Mike’s first introduction to the breed and sparked an insatiable desire to learn everything about them and bring them to the US shores.
In 1988, Mike brought back his first litter
from Italy. He was met that night by a friend, Linda Sannino, from Diamond Kennels and later she became one of the original breeders of the Cane Corso’s. She got her first pup from that litter, the famous Ch Malocchia. In the first litter, the dogs were extremely consistent in type, temperament and the movement was something to behold. They were tough dogs, definitely not for everyone and below is a history of the first three litters brought into the states by Mike Sottile.
The Super Six
First Litter Born-Aug 1988
- CH Cocomo
- CH Duro
- CH Ballo Orso
- CH Bruno
- CH Malocchia
- CH Tori
The Second Litter
Second Litter Born-Mar 1989
- CH Siciliano of Aarons
- Sarafina di Alaric
The Third Litter
Third Litter Born-Feb. 1991
- CH Midnight
- CH Lucretia
- CH Vampira
The first three litters born in America were:
Santino X Bedduza- Born
Aug 1990, bred by Linda Valentine
Santino X CH Malocchia- Born Jan 1991 bred by Linda Sannino
CH Cocomo X Ariella- Born Jun 1991 bred by Mike Sottile
The first two lines that came to America were very similar in structure and head type, producing very consistent pups.
In fact, I was so impressed with Juka that when Linda Valentine bred Bedduza again, we ended up buying a bitch named Gold and later on an older female (sister to Gold) named CH Coura both of these females were very typey and Gold went on to follow her sister and achieve championship.
Mike Sottile, in I believe 1991, filmed the Open Book Certificate in Empoli Italy. He also, filmed the first two Cane Corso shows in Italy, one in Foggia and unfortunately I cannot recall where the second show took place. Kristie and I went with Mike to Italy in 1992, where we were impressed at how respected and well known he was. People were offering him dogs for free just so they could their line of dogs had been exported to America. Italy had by this time formed a Cane Corso club, well known to this day as SACC. (Societ� Amatori Cane Corso) and they appointed Mike Sottile as the USA Representative for SACC, proving the confidence they had in him.
Mike also created a standard in 1988 for the Corso, it was based on the dogs he had seen and the dogs he imported that had a scissor bite. People to this day complain about that scissor bite and it has created quite a bit of controversy. Pablo Breber was the main person in the recovery of the Cane Corso and one of the founding fathers of SACC. Mr Breber’s position was that he believed the scissor bite was the correct bite and in fact felt so strongly about this issue that he disassociated himself from his own club. The first dog Mr Breber acquired in the recovery was a female named Mirak, she and the dog she was bred to (Aliot) both had a scissor bite. The first litter of Cane Corso’s (from these two dogs) all had scissor bites with the exception of one slightly undershot pup. When I went to Italy in 1992, the dogs that I saw were either scissor or level and the few that were undershot was slight. With the litters Mike imported and with what he saw, I believe the standard that we have is correct.
Well, 1992 was a busy year for us with the Cane Corso’s. Mike asked Kristie and I to go to Italy with him and we jumped at the opportunity. We had our first litter of Cane Corso’s which was memorable because they were born on our wedding day, October 18, 1992! Midnight began to have puppies at the most inopportune time. I was in my tux and ready to get married when she began, I had no choice but to stay and help, I got blood all over my tuxedo shirt and we worried we wouldn’t make our own wedding. Also, in 1992 friends of ours the Wilson’s had their first Cane Corso litter and we decided to begin the International Cane Corso Federation (I.C.C.F.). club and registry. I remember when we were trying to think of a name and Kristie mentioned, International Cane Corso Federation, we all thought it was a bad idea as we would most likely be small and confined to America. We are glad she pushed for the name because we are now in at least 10 other countries and growing every year.