Cane Corso Temperament

Often described as a “coursing mastiff,” the Cane Corso can exceed the other mastiff breeds in athleticism, agility, speed, energy level, and sense of adventure.
This robust dog needs his share of exercise, but above all he requires personal interaction and lots of companionship. He lives for his family and may become destructive if left alone too much.

Cane Corso puppies should be friendly and trusting with strangers. With proper socialization, they become more aloof and discerning as they mature.
As with all mastiffs, socialization is an absolute requirement to promote the correct temperament, which is protective, but in a calm, stable, discriminating way.
Though the Cane Corso was not used for dog-fighting, dog aggression can be a problem. He should be thoroughly socialized with other dogs from an early age.
The Cane Corso is attentive and responsive to training and though quite dominant, will respect an owner who is confident and consistent.

Cane Corsos have tighter skin than other mastiffs and drool less. Some love to dig, and most enjoy splashing in water, whether it be the pond, a mudhole, the lawn sprinkler, or their water bowl. These are not dainty dogs.

If you want a dog who…

  • Is massive and powerful
  • Has a short easy-care coat
  • Is calm and quiet indoors as an adult
  • Makes an imposing watchdog
  • Is serious and self-assured with strangers, yet generally
    mild-mannered unless aroused
  • Compared to other mastiffs, is more energetic and more athletic
  • A Cane Corso may be right for you.

If you don’t want to deal with…

  • A huge dog who takes up a lot of space in your house and car
  • A heavy dog who wants to sit on your feet and lean his
    weight against your leg
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping when young
  • Destructiveness when bored or left alone too much
  • Potential aggression toward people when not socialized enough
  • Potential aggression toward other animals
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner
    who can take charge
  • Snorting, snuffling, wheezing, grunting, loud snoring
  • Slobbering and drooling (individuals with heavy jowls)
  • Gassiness (flatulence)
  • Legal liabilities (public perception, future breed bans, insurance problems, increased chance of lawsuits)
  • A Cane Corso may not be right for you.

If I were considering buying or adopting a Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff)
My major concerns would be:

  • Providing the proper balance of exercise. Young Cane Corsos need enough exercise to keep them lean and healthy, but not so much that their soft growing bones, joints, and ligaments become over-stressed and damaged. Adult Cane Corsos need more exercise to keep them in shape, but not in hot or humid weather for fear of overheating. The proper amount of exercise can be difficult to regulate in giant breeds. Since you have to minimize their exercise, young Cane Corsos can be very rambunctious. They will romp with uncoordinated gawkiness all over your house. You need to substitute extra quantities of companionship and supervision. Otherwise, left alone, young Cane Corsos become bored and destructive — and their powerful jaws can literally destroy your living room.
  • Providing enough socialization. Most Cane Corsos have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of “good guys.” Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone. Some Cane Corsos go in the opposite direction — without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers, which can lead to defensive biting.
  • Animal aggression. Many Cane Corsos will not tolerate another dog of the same sex, and some won’t tolerate the opposite sex either. Some Cane Corsos have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
  • The strong temperament. Though much more trainable than other mastiff breeds, Cane Corsos have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. Many Cane Corsos are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
  • Cane Corso sounds. Cane Corsos snort, grunt, and snore loudly. The sounds are endearing to some people; nerve-wracking to others.
  • Drooling. Cane Corsos with heavy jowls drool and slobber. Those with “tighter” lips do not.
  • Gassiness (flatulence) that can send you running for cover. Fortunately, Cane Corsos who are fed a natural diet of real meat and other fresh foods have much less trouble with gassiness.
  • Legal liabilities. Cane Corsos may be targeted for “banning” in certain areas, or refusal of homeowner insurance policies. Your friends and neighbors may be uncomfortable around this breed. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a guard dog should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.
  • Frankly, most Cane Corsos are “too much dog” for the average household. This is a serious working dog with tremendous strength. Very few people really have the knowledge, facilities, or skills necessary to manage this breed. Corso’s are generally good with, and protective of, children. However, in a household with children, there are several issues to consider. The most obvious is that a dog of this size can knock a young child over without meaning to. Second, although these dogs again usually do well with “their” children, many households with children have a lot of visitors coming and going, which can take some getting used to for a Corso. The intense family bonding that occurs with a Corso can lead to separation anxiety.
    Please consider adopting an ADULT Cane Corso…

When you’re acquiring a Cane Corso PUPPY, you’re acquiring potential — what he one day will be. So “typical breed characteristics” are very important. But when you acquire an adult dog, you’re acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Cane Corso’s who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are “typical” for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don’t let “typical breed negatives” worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual — and enjoy!

Save a life. Adopt a dog.