Updated Aug 23, 2022
We have spent the last 14 years with Cane Corsos in our family. Our experience leads us to a definite conclusion. Here it is.
Is a Cane Corso a good family dog? The Cane Corso is devoted to his family. He is loyal and protective, and he makes a great companion and guardian for all your family. He is gentle and affectionate with kids but, because this is a large dog, caution is advised with small children and babies.
The Cane Corso’s natural characteristics and tendencies will make him a good family pet. But, of course, there are some common-sense considerations and guidelines that you should apply. We’ll look at these below.
Is A Cane Corso Dangerous?
Some have said that the Cane Corso, or Italian Mastiff, is dangerous or aggressive. We do not agree with this sweeping statement. Firstly it is not really possible to make a generalized statement about a whole breed of dog. Secondly, there is nothing in the Cane Corso breeding history to support this.
The Cane Corso temperament tends to be calm and stable.
A lot has been made of their lineage as mastiff breed and a roman war dog. But today's Cane Corso dogs were never bred or intended to be fighting dogs. They are a working dog, and they were bred to be protectors, which is an entirely different thing. Even the name reflects this — Wikipedia states that the name Cane Corso is 'from Italian cane (dog) and 'corso' from the Latin 'Cohors' meaning 'protector'.
Read more about Cane Corso breed information
Ultimately, whether any dog is dangerous or not depends on the individual dog, the circumstances, how he is treated, and how he has been trained. If you pick a suitable puppy, give him a good environment, treat him well, and train him well, there is no reason at all why your Cane Corso mastiff should be dangerous, and every reason why he will be a good family dog.
The Cane Corso’s Imposing Appearance Can Be Misleading
It is probably the size and the imposing appearance of the Cane Corso which causes people to think the breed is dangerous or aggressive. He certainly can look that way, particularly with his ears cropped but appearances can be deceiving.
Although the Internet is full of pictures of big Cane Corsos draped in chains and studs, with cropped ears, this is a misleading image for the dog. With his family, the Cane Corso is a gentle and affectionate companion.
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Can A Cane Corso Be Dangerous Or Aggressive Towards Others?
Not inherently. Any dog can become aggressive under the right circumstances, such as if he is being threatened. And the larger the dog, the more potentially dangerous that aggression becomes. But the Cane Corso dog breed is not inherently more aggressive or more dangerous than other breeds.
A Cane Corso raised in a good family environment is highly unlikely to be aggressive towards anyone. A Cane Corso which is abused or provoked could just as easily become aggressive as any other dog. A Cane Corso who has not been trained is more of an unknown quantity. And his size, muscularity and agility would make that a dangerous situation.
Which is why dog training is so important. It is important to guide their behavior whilst they are still young, so that their natural characteristics are enhanced.
A Cane Corso As Your Family’s Best Friend
The Cane Corso does have a natural tendency to be protective towards those he loves — which will be your family and children. This is why he makes such a good guard dog. But this does not necessarily mean he is a danger to others.
Any dog can be provoked into an aggressive reaction, but under normal circumstances the Cane Corso is your family’s best friend. He will never be a danger to his family and, though he may be alert to the presence of approaching strangers, he is not automatically aggressive towards them.
He will quickly follow your lead when you greet somebody in a friendly manner. He may stay alert initially, but he will take on board that this person is apparently your friend. A Cane Corso is great family protection.
Our Cane Corsos And Our Children
It is not recommended that small children be left alone with any dog. This is particularly true of a big dog, who could easily knock a small child over quite accidentally. Cane Corsos, of course, fall well into this category — they are considered a giant breed. We would only recommend that small children are always supervised when interacting with any animal.
Our three children are fully grown adults, living in three different countries, so their visits are not as frequent as we would like.
Even if it has been a couple of years since their last visit, which unfortunately is sometimes the case, the Cane Corsos recognize the children instantly, give them a fantastic welcome home, and the children are instantly part of the family group again, with the Cane Corsos displaying huge affection and excitement to have them home.
Training Your Cane Corso As A Family Dog
The Cane Corso is a large and muscular dog. As with any large dog, The consequence of any bad behavior is greater than with a smaller dog. Therefore it is important that your Cane Corso has some good training and proper socialization instilled right from the beginning. He will be quite happy to accept that you are the leader, as long as you make it clear.
Click the button below for information about our favorite training method...
Is Training A Cane Corso Difficult?
To be honest, unlike what we have seen said elsewhere, our experience is that a Cane Corso is not difficult to train. He is alert and intelligent, and keen to please his owner and his family. These natural tendencies mean that he quickly assimilates his circumstances and surroundings, and behaves accordingly.
At the heart of the Cane Corso’s very nature, is his wish to love and protect his family group. Therefore, in terms of being a good dog with family and children, the only training that is really required is to establish and maintain the fact that you are the leader.
As a responsible Cane Corso owner, you should make sure you do this. It's easier than you might think. Let's look at how.
Use Everyday Activities To Train Your Cane Corso As Part Of Your Family
The easiest way to do this is to make use of things that occur every day. For example, you will feed your Cane Corso a couple of times each day. This is an ideal opportunity to reinforce a leadership message, while you naturally have the dog’s full attention.
Simply teach him to ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ while you are preparing his meal. And teach him to come to his food bowl when you say, and only when you say. He will learn this very quickly and easily, and the beauty is that the event occurs naturally every single day, which means that your leadership is constantly reinforced and maintained.
These everyday interactions are great for establishing and maintaining your Cane Corso's place in the family. Training him as a family dog really requires little more than this.
Crate Training Helps Your Cane Corso
We also chose to get crates for our Cane Corsos. This is another easy way to train your Cane Corso, with tremendous benefits for both of you. All dogs have a need for a safe shelter, where they can get away from it all and feel secure.
Getting a crate for your Cane Corso fulfills this need for him. And, at the same time by teaching him to spend short periods in his crate, you are again reinforcing your leadership. And the crate can be a convenience for you — for example when people who visit your home are nervous around dogs.
Our Cane Corsos very quickly and easily learned to go to their crates with the single word “Crate”. Initially, we simply gave them a treat for going in there. Later, as the command had been learned by these smart dogs, there was no need for the treat. For example, we tell our Cane Corsos to go to their crates when we come home with a car full of groceries, and we are going to be going in and out with doors open, putting food away et cetera.
Maud, our female Cane Corso has just celebrated her 11th birthday. She has taken herself into her 'safe haven' crate every day for a nap.
Click the button below for information about our favorite dog crate.
Reinforce Your Leadership With Treats
You can turn any regular daily habit into an obedience training session. Here's an example.
We also give our Cane Corsos a kong each afternoon, and they go into their crates to enjoy their treat. We put pretty much any kind of cooked meat into their kongs. We often buy a cooked chicken at the supermarket for this purpose. This puts just a few extra dollars on the family shopping bill, which we feel fine about because the Cane Corsos are part of the family, for sure.
The benefits of this are manyfold. Once again we get to reinforce our leadership, giving the Cane Corsos something they want and which they enjoy. The kongs give them the opportunity to chew and suck on the content, much as they would with a bone, but without the potential long-term harm to their teeth that can arise from chewing bones.
Our Cane Corsos also choose to go into their crates of their own accord every day, usually more than once. Which just goes to highlight what we said earlier, that they appreciate their crates, and consider them to be their own special place.
Choosing A Cane Corso For Your Family
It will be important that you find a good reputable breeder to help you find a good family dog. The Cane Corso breed's imposing appearance has caused them to be a favorite with people who feel their status is enhanced by having a dangerous-looking dog. Some breeders will cater to this group. You will want to find a breeder whose intent is to breed good family dogs.
A good Cane Corso breeder will know the temperament and characteristics of his individual Cane Corso puppies. He will have observed his puppies at feeding times, and other times where the pecking order and tendency to be alpha or otherwise is well displayed. A good breeder can help you select a puppy with a stable, even temperament, which will be an ideal addition to your family.
You should also consider whether you choose a male Cane Corso, or a female. There is some evidence that the female is easier to train. A male is likely to be a better choice if you already have a female. Two females can be more problematic than one of each.
With a well selected Cane Corso puppy, the right environment to raise him in (your home), and a simple training regime as described above, you can be confident that you have a great dog for your family.
Cane Corso Characteristics
The Italian mastiff Cane Corso temperament tends to be calm and stable. But individual dogs are different and some will be less like this than others.
Cane Corsos have historically been bred as herding, hunting, protection and guard dog. But modern reeding has brought the breed some way from its historical origins and today’s Cane Corso temperament is somewhat different from his ancestors.
Today’s Cane Corso traits are much more closely-aligned with the requirements for a family dog, because that’s what the biggest part of the market wants.
Cane Corso Good And Bad
Or Cane Corso pros and cons. The main point against the Cane Corso is the same as one of his good points. I’m talking about size — it goes both ways.
There’s nothing wrong, at all, with having a dog of this size, but the size magnifies the consequences of anything that goes wrong. For example, even just brushing against a small child by accident, the large dog knocks the child over, a small dog probably doesn’t.
If a large dog gets out of control, the consequences are likely to be worst than with a small dog.
A large dog costs more to maintain than a small dog — he eats more, food bills are higher, and vet bills are higher, too.
On the other hand, a Cane Corso who has been trained and socialized is a great asset to your family. And the large size enhances his protection and guarding function.
Other than this, there are no real bad points about the Cane Corso. He makes a great family dog, and a great companion for individuals.
Raising A Cane Corso Puppy
The Cane Corso puppy is such an adorable little fellow that it’s hard to truly take on board what he will become, unless you’ve had a Cane Corso in your family before.
This is why the Cane Corso may not be a good choice for a first-time owner.
The cute puppy is going to grow into a huge adult dog. And, while he will retain his love, affection and loyalty towards his family, it is of the utmost importance that he has learned his place in the family (ie he’s not the leader), learned to obey,and learned now to behave around other dogs and animals.
All of this must take place while he is still a small and manageable puppy, and while his cognitive development is still open and expanding.
This is why early training and early socialization is so crucial for the Cane Corso puppy — he’s just too big and strong as an adult for there to be any doubt about who’s in control and what he is going to do.
Are Cane Corsos Good With Kids?
Cane Corso's are inherently very good with kids. They recognize small children and babies as part of their family, and they are gentle and affectionate. Natural guard dog characteristics also make the Cane Corso protective.
So, overall they are a great dog for a family with kids. The only word of caution is due to the sheer size of the Cane Corso. This is a very large breed, so extra caution should be applied when they are with kids and small children, just to head off the possibility of an accident. All dogs should be supervised when with children.
Are Cane Corsos Good For First-Time Owners?
The Cane Corso is most likely not a great choice for a first-time dog owner. It's not because he is naturally hostile or dangerous — he isn't. It's due to the fact that he is a very large, strong and also muscular canine, and the consequences of his being out of control are thus high.
Consequently, there should be no question about who is in charge. A person who has not owned a dog previously will maybe not be able to understand exactly how vital this is.
Is It Expensive To Own A Cane Corso?
A Cane Corso is not a cheap dog — either to purchase or to maintain and care for. Cane Corso prices can vary from below $1,000 all the way up to $5,000 — and even higher for a purebred Cane Corso puppy with impeccable lineage.
Below $1,000 and there will be a lot of compromise — perhaps lack of papers, poor health record, poor lineage etc.
And that can get expensive — because the other factor that causes Cane Corsos to be expensive is care.
A big dog costs more in vet bills when something goes wrong. And you need more of everything — from medications and dog supplements to everyday food.
The average price for a high-quality Cane Corso puppy with good health scores, good lineage and from a reputable Cane Corso breeder should be between $2,500 and $3,500.
Are Cane Corsos Mean?
I would say the Cane Corso is one of the dogs least likely to be described as mean.
Of course, if any dog is abused or treated badly, the result may be a badly-behaved dog. But, in normal circumstances, the Cane Corso is friendly, affectionate and loyal towards his family.
His protective instinct may make him wary of strangers but, even then he is unlikely to behave in any way that could be described as mean.
What Does Cane Corso Mean?
‘Cane’ means dog, coming from the latin word ‘canis’. ‘Corso’ is thought by many to come from the word ‘cohors’, which means guard or protector. This derivation fits very neatly with the Cane Corso’s legend, and so is immediately adopted by most who are looking for the answer.
But ‘Corso’ could also come from ‘corsus’, another ancient Italian word which means rugged, strong, or robust. This also fits the Cane Corso well, but the protection legend is strong and most people adopt that meaning accordingly.
What Does Cane Corso Mean In Italian?
Well, in modern Italian, ‘cane’ means ‘dog’ and ‘corso’ means ‘course’. You could interpret coursing as running but I think the meanings derived from the older words mentioned above provide a better meaning for ‘Cane Corso’
What Does A Cane Corso Dog Look Like?
The Cane Corso is an Italian mastiff. Mastiffs in general are large dogs, and the Cane Corso is no exception. This is a large, strong and muscular dog, with more agility than is typical for either its size or for the mastiff group as a whole.
The Cane Corso has a large head and possesses a regal, imposing demeanor. Size typically ranges from 90-130lbs, with females accounting for the lower range. The largest of males can go above this size range.
Ears are typically cropped and tails are typically docked, although we are seeing less of these practices in recent years.