Updated Aug 23, 2022
Temperament Or Nature?
In this article, we’re going to look at all aspects of Cane Corso temperament, so that you can quickly see whether this is the dog for you, your circumstances, and your family.
Let’s get started…
What exactly do we mean by temperament? The Oxford dictionary describes temperament as: “a person's or animal's nature, especially as it permanently affects their behavior.”
So, when we talk about Cane Corso temperament, we are really talking about the nature of the dog and how that nature will influence the way that the dog tends to behave under various circumstances.
As with all breeds, the Cane Corso has been selectively bred to emphasize certain characteristics, and suppress others. So, we gain a better understanding of Cane Corso nature if we start by looking at what purposes he has been bred for and how that may have changed over time.
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Cane Corso Temperament Through History
Much has been made of the fact that you can trace the Cane Corso’s lineage back to the ancient molossers which were used by the Romans as dogs of war.
The molosser is not a specific breed. It is a category which includes several breeds. The molosser, both dog and name, comes from Molossia, which was an area in ancient Greece. The large working shepherd dog of the area was known as the molossus. Today, molossus, molosser and molossoid all refer to the same thing.
The molossus was a large, solid and heavily muscled dog with heavy bones, a large head and a short muscular neck.
Today’s Cane Corso is descended from this group, and this is the foundation of the Cane Corso temperament.
The ‘Roman war dogs’ angle makes for a good story, a romantic backdrop, and a popular image. But the dog actually originated from an area Ancient Greece which is now Albania, and was a working dog rather than a fighting dog.
In fact, the Cane Corso has never been a fighting dog, until unsavory elements today have put him in those circumstances.
Protect And Defend
Historically, the main purpose of the Cane Corso was to protect and defend both livestock and humans on isolated Italian farms. So, breeders of the day would emphasise the characteristics most useful for this work, and suppress any behavioral traits which were undesirable.
But it is important to bear in mind that the context of selective breeding was to enhance the Cane Corso’s temperament for his intended purpose at the time . Which was to be a working dog, with well defined duties and responsibilities.
This, then is the origin of the Cane Corso’s widespread reputation as a protection dog and a guard dog — he was originally bred for this purpose. These characteristics are baked into his nature, from the very beginning.
Cane Corso Characteristics Today
I must say that, looking at our Cane Corsos sprawled comfortably on our sofas, it’s hard to imagine them as working dogs with these kinds of duties. But, you do see the evidence of this long history in the agility, speed and strength of the Cane Corso today.
Our Cane Corsos are about 110 lbs for the female and 130 lbs for the male. At these weights, they are both lean and carrying no extra pounds. They are both incredibly fast and agile for dogs of this size.
And their guarding and protection instinct is also well in evidence whenever a person, vehicle or animal approaches the boundaries of their territory.
But, in trying to understand the Cane Corso temperament, it is also important to remember the role of the modern Cane Corso breeder. Just like the breeders of old, today’s breeder is looking to enhance the characteristics and temperament of the Cane Corso with today’s application in mind.
And today’s application, for the modern Cane Corso is much more as a family dog than a working protection dog on a farm. So, the temperament of today’s Cane Corso is more in line with a family dog than it would have been in his ancient history.
While the history is interesting, and important to factor in when considering the Cane Corso’s nature, it is today’s breeding practices which will have the most effect on the modern Cane Corso temperament.
As a side note, this is why it is so important to deal with a good Cane Corso breeder when getting a new Cane Corso puppy. A good reputable breeder will be able to steer you towards a puppy with a temperament that best suits your requirements.
Are Cane Corsos Dangerous?
A Cane Corso is not a naturally unsafe dog. Any canine should be managed properly and the bigger the dog breed, the more serious the consequences of any bad behavior. However, if you follow some easy guidelines, there is no reason your Cane Corso should be dangerous..
I have said this on several pages on this site to ensure there is no misunderstanding: the Cane Corso is a large, strong, muscular dog with a huge bite force of 700 psi. This means it is essential that he is trained.
Any responsible dog owner will make sure that the dog is under control, but the larger the dog the larger the consequence of being out of control, so the more essential training becomes.
This dog must know that you are the leader. He must obey you habitually, without question.
Now this is not to say that the Cane Corso’s temperament is a problem. There is very little, if anything in the Cane Corso nature which is an issue. The requirement for good training, and care in handling, is only down to his size and strength.
Are Cane Corsos Good Guard Dogs?
The Cane Corso is one of the very best guard dogs around. He is vigilant, protective and devoted. He will be cautious about somebody he doesn't know. He likewise recognizes when his owner acts with a friendly demeanor, and he will be guided by his owner's behavior.
Are Cane Corsos Good Pets?
Cane Corso can be excellent pets and ideal household dogs. Loyal, protective and caring, with a calm, stable character, they will naturally follow their owner's lead. They are devoted to their entire family and make fantastic buddies. Nevertheless, because they are big canines, extra care must be taken with small children.
Can Cane Corsos Live With Other Dogs?
Yes, they can. Our Cane Corsos have actually lived with older dogs, younger dogs, bigger dogs and smaller dogs. They have actually lived with males, females, their own kind and other dog breeds. They have actually lived with cats and got along just fine. They are a terrific household dog.
Are Cane Corsos Good With Kids?
The Cane Corso is mild by nature, but this is a big dog and he will need to be taught to be extra careful in his interactions with kids. Not because he is likely to be aggressive, but just because of his sheer size. The Cane Corso is caring and devoted to his household, and he will quickly learn to include kids in the group. Because the kid is more likely to be unreliable than the canine, it is suggested that a kid should be supervised when with your Cane Corso.
Will My Cane Corso Protect Me?
Your Cane Corso will safeguard you to some degree. The Cane Corso is a mastiff breed, initially bred as a security dog. As a breed, those instincts are still intact. And Cane Corsos can be exceptional guard dogs. Nevertheless, you also need to consider the character of the specific dog, together with his circumstances and training.
Can Cane Corsos Live With Cats?
Cane Corsos can live together with cats. Cane Corsos have a strong prey drive, but they are at the same time dedicated to their household and do very well at following the behavior of their owners. They are able to acknowledge cats as part of their family group, simply because their owners do.
Is A Cane Corso A Good Family Dog?
The Cane Corso is a great family dog. He is dedicated to his household. He is protective and faithful, and he makes a fantastic companion and guardian for all your family group. He is affectionate and careful with kids but, due to the fact that this is a large dog, caution is encouraged with small children and babies.
Are Cane Corsos Friendly?
Cane Corso puppies are typically friendly. As they mature into adults, the protection side of their nature tends to come to the fore, and they typically become less trusting of strangers.
They remain friendly and affectionate towards their family — indeed their family and their need to guard and protect it becomes their main focus.
They are also good at following the lead of their owners. If you are friendly towards a visitor, your Cane Corso will easily pick up on that and will typically accept the visitor, too.
Are Cane Corsos Difficult To Train?
Some people have said that Cane Corsos are difficult to train. That has not been our experience. They are intelligent dogs, and eager to please their owners. They also have a good capacity to retain what they have learned. This combination makes them actually quite easy to train.
However, they do need good obedience training and socialization in order to become well-behaved adult dogs who know how to react in any given situation.
This article gives you a good start... 8 Ways To Use Everyday Events For Cane Corso Training
This is basically the 'no free lunch' concept, or 'nothing in life is free'. You simply require your dog to do something before you give him something he wants. Such as 'sit' or 'stay' before you give him his food, or give him a treat.
The article describes how you have multiple opportunities every day to teach your dog to obey you, and reinforce that you are the leader. It's simple and easy and, before you know it, you have a well-trained dog.
Are Cane Corsos Stubborn?
There may be some displays of independence or stubbornness, particularly when they are adolescent. But the biggest priority for the Cane Corso is to be close to his family. Therefore he will submit to his owner.
The trick is to be consistent. A Cane Corso will respond better to calm and assured behavior than anger and shouting. Let him know what is good by praising him, let him know what is bad by a short sharp corrective command. Be calm and consistent. He will soon catch on.
Cane Corsos Are Sensitive...
Really? Are we saying that these big, strong, powerful creatures are actually sensitive?
Well, yes, we are. For all the awe-inspiring physical attributes of the Cane Corso, behind the cropped ears and studded collars there is a very sensitive creature underneath!
Does that mean that his guard dog, protection dog image is a fraud? No, not at all. The Cane Corso can and will become protective very quickly if the circumstances call for it.
But we have seen it demonstrated constantly that he is also very sensitive.
A very touching example is our big male Cane Corso, Hermie. I have mentioned elsewhere that he is completely dedicated to my wife, and her well-being. When my wife suffers from a migraine attack, Hermie goes into lockdown with her.
In the throes of a severe, prolonged attack, she can do little else other than lie flat and still. In the worst cases, this could be for several days. Hermie never leaves her side.
He lies next to her, in close contact and regularly sniffs her face to make sure she is still breathing. If she needs to make her painful way to the bathroom, Hermie goes right along with her.
We call him her Migraine Support Dog.
Our female Corso, Maud, is also unquestionably sensitive, in a different way. She is definitely the leader of our dogs, she rules the roost. But she is incredibly sensitive to any indication of our displeasure.
She has a clear, observable emotional response to any kind of correction or disappointment from us.
You can see it in her face, and in her attempts to make friends and make sure everything is OK between us.
This sensitivity is maybe not what you might expect from an imposing-looking creature like this. But it is one of the things that sets the Cane Corso apart and makes it such an endearing companion, and great family dog.
Here is a list of the characteristics of the Cane Corso nature that we have discussed above. This combination of natural behavior traits is unusual, if not unique. It's what makes the Cane Corso a great dog from a number of different viewpoints — a versatile dog which ticks a lot of boxes.
Facets Of The Cane Corso Temperament
By nature, the Cane Corso tends to be: