Interview with Shauna DeMoss, Breeder of CastleGuard Cane Corsos
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Shauna DeMoss: I live in the beautiful mountains of rural western Colorado. Dogs and livestock have always been a part of life. Growing up on a working cattle ranch, the dogs were valued partners in a day’s work.
Later, my veterinary technician employment exposed me to the broader canine world. In 1995, I chose the Cane Corso, my “breed for life.” For the last 27 years, I have strived to create and solidify a bloodline that future generations can build on.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Shauna DeMoss: CastleGuard is my kennel name. We care for an average of 28 dogs.
Which show dogs from the past have been your noteworthy winners?
Shauna DeMoss: Over the years, we have been blessed to be the breeder of many top-winning Cane Corsos, including the only Corso from an American program to go to Europe and win consistently, including Best in Show in the country of origin.
Since the breed has come into the AKC, CastleGuard dogs have continually ranked in the Top 10, including several AKC Number Ones in the breed. We produced several Dog and Bitch of the Year Corsos as well as many “reproduction champions.”
We have multiple Westminster Breed winners, National Champions, and one of the very few Best in Show Cane Corsos. I have, indeed, been blessed to be the breeder or co-breeder of some of our breed’s most decorated dogs.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Shauna DeMoss: Interestingly enough, the most important dams and sires in my program are NOT the most award-winning. On the contrary, the very foundation and heart of my bloodline include several exceptional producers who were able to pass along their solid structure and health without winning some famous show. A decade after crossing the rainbow bridge, CastleGuard’s Teal’c and Javelin’s genetics stabilize and perpetuate the quality of our program.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Shauna DeMoss: We have invested a tremendous amount of time and resources into our facility. It’s 2,100 sq. ft. of climate-controlled comfort which accommodates 23 individual indoor/outdoor spaces.
There are three segregated whelping areas, including a large indoor space and doggie doors, allowing the puppies to access play yards with tons of toys and equipment to enhance their early learning experiences.
In addition to myself, there is full- and part-time help. We are incredibly conscientious about cleanliness and providing a loving, happy environment. Every dog gets love and interacts with people daily, including socialization with the grandkids and playtime in larger exercise yards. Our whole world, life, and schedules revolve around the Corso hobby. LOL!
What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Shauna DeMoss: The primary purpose of a litter in our program is to produce the next generation of competing dogs and further our bloodline goals. At seven weeks, we make the first cut, keeping back a group of candidates to continue to assess. The puppies we are not keeping are thoughtfully matched with companion homes. As the dogs grow, we make further cuts, the final one after health testing. For every 10 puppies that are in the first cut, there may be only two that eventually produce offspring or become titled.
How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation?
Shauna DeMoss: Because the Cane Corso is a dominant guardian breed, relatively “fresh off the farm,” training, desensitizing, and enforcing proper boundaries in all situations starts early and continues for the life of the dog. A Corso can do well in a social setting IF the owner puts in the work and sets the dog up to succeed. However, the amount of work that must be invested to achieve this limits the number of people who are correct for the breed.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Shauna DeMoss: Overall, there is room for improvement in our community in the show ring. The dogs would benefit from more thorough ring preparation and training from the owner/handler. Breeders should be more discerning as to which dogs are worthy of being titled, and the judges would benefit from more education.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Shauna DeMoss: The Cane Corso is susceptible to the usual health concerns of other large breeds. This is why we encourage health testing and proper diet. The breed is also facing a rise in neurological and autoimmune issues. Statistically, these occurrences are still minor. However, breeders and owners are beginning to fund research and compare notes in hopes of getting out in front of these problems.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall? Any trends that warrant concern?
Shauna DeMoss: To be honest, I do have concerns. The Corso is becoming very popular, and with that, a lot of random breeding and minimal mentoring is occurring. As a result, we see a loss of the breed’s functional structure as well as erratic type variations. But even more concerning is the number of people buying the dog without being adequately equipped. The Corso is not a breed that is suitable for most people. Yet, so many are purchasing the breed anyway.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Shauna DeMoss: If the Corso respects and is bonded to you, it is truly an exception and devoted companion. This breed is so loyal and intuitive that they would give their life for you. They “read” you like a book and would follow you to the ends of the earth. However, the breed can be the exact opposite if you are not a strong leader worthy of respect and devotion. The owner dictates which kind of companion the Corso is.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Shauna DeMoss: Unfortunately, preservation breeders are few and far between. From the early recovery stages, most people involved were and are entrepreneurs, not breeders in the true sense of the word. Puppy producers didn’t offer mentorship because upcoming people were viewed as competition, not collaborators in achieving breed-wide goals.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with my breed? Corsos may appear from the outside as staunch guardians. But the truth is they are giant goofballs that get the “zoomies” when happy, will toss their own toys, and are generally clowns. They are wicked smart, too, gaining an understanding of the meaning of words. Corso owners often find themselves having to spell out certain words in order to have a conversation. For example, one of my heart dogs loved homemade soup. Anytime you said the word “soup,” he’d go to the kitchen to see if he could get some. He’d sit there all afternoon if that’s what it took to have a little taste.
Are you looking for a Cane Corso puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Cane Corso dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
Cane Corso Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the majestic Cane Corso dog breed with articles and information in our Cane Corso Dog Breed Magazine.
Cane Corso Breed Magazine - Showsight