Updated Aug 22, 2022
Cane Corso First Time Owner
We were very attracted to the Cane Corso breed. But we were made a little anxious by some of the information out there. As owners who are now experienced, we feel some of what is said may be a little misleading. This article aims to put that right.
The Cane Corso is probably not a good choice for a first time dog owner. It's not because he is inherently aggressive or dangerous — he isn't. It's because he is a very large, strong and muscular dog, and the consequences of his being out of control are therefore high. Accordingly, there must be no question of who is in charge. A person who has not owned a dog before will perhaps not be able to recognize how essential this is.
Here is a quick summary of the issues we will cover, then we'll look at the individual points in more detail.
Is The Cane Corso Hard To Handle?
We have not found our Cane Corsos hard to handle at all. Their wish to please their owners has meant that they are very biddable. They are intelligent dogs with a natural affection for their owner and their family. With surprisingly little effort, you can teach your Cane Corso dog his place in your family.
Is The Cane Corso Hard To Train?
Cane Corso Training For First-Time Owner
We have seen a number of articles out there which would have you believe that the Cane Corso dog breed is hard to train, and not a good choice for the first time owner.
In our experience, the Cane Corso is not hard to train. However, it is probably not the best first dog for a new owner.
He may be a beautiful little puppy right now, but he is going to grow into probably somewhere around 110-130 lbs of pure muscle and astonishing agility.
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This means that it is very important that he knows that you are the boss, and that he has learned to obey your commands. However, the Cane Corso is not hard to train. He is smart, alert, and eager to please. He can learn to follow your lead and obey your commands very quickly and easily.
Crate training is a great way to get started training your Cane Corso.
There are some misconceptions about providing a crate for your dog. Some suggest that it could be cruel or inhumane. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, a crate has many benefits for both you and your dog — when used properly.
And that's the crux of it. Like all manner of other tools, a dog crate could be used in a way that is cruel. For example it's not good to leave your dog in a crate for too long a period. But used in the right way, it's a really good thing.
The crate provides a safe haven for your dog, which satisfies his inbuilt natural instinct for a secure den. The proof of the pudding for us is that both our Cane Corsos love their crates, and regularly go into them of their own accord.
Having a crate is good for you, the owner, too.
You have a secure place where your dog will be happy to go any time you need him to. A crate has been essential for us, for example, when we have had workmen at the house. Some of whom would not come in unless the dog was secured, because the size and muscularity of the Cane Corso makes for such an imposing sight.
We have a full article on Crate Training
Is The Cane Corso A Good Family Dog?
We have seen people questioning whether the Cane Corso is a good family dog. There are some misunderstandings out there, probably because a full grown Cane Corso is a majestic and imposing dog, and his appearance can be intimidating.
But appearances can be deceiving and the Cane Corso is actually a fantastic family dog. He lives for his family and, as well as being loyal, gentle and affectionate, he is also very protective towards his owner and family.
We have a full article here: The Cane Corso as a family dog
Are Cane Corsos Good With Children
The Cane Corso's protective attitude extends to include children. In fact, he is likely to be even more gentle and protective towards small children.
It is not recommended for any animal to be left alone with children, and we would always recommend that children are supervised when they are interacting with any animal.
And particularly a Cane Corso, not because of any inherent danger in the breed, but just because of his sheer size — he could easily accidentally knock down a small child.
In fact, the child is likely to be the more unpredictable of two, and The Cane Corso is highly likely to be a great companion, guardian and protector for your child
We have a full article on Cane Corso with kids here
Is The Cane Corso Dangerous And Aggressive?
The Cane Corso is not an inherently dangerous or aggressive dog.
They have never been bred or intended for fighting. They were bred as protectors and guardians, which is a very different thing.
Certainly, it is true that the consequences of any bad behavior become higher as the dog becomes larger. And a Cane Corso is certainly a large dog, so this applies to them. For this reason, it is important that he learns to behave well, but training is not difficult with a Cane Corso, as discussed above.
A Cane Corso is a solid mass of agile muscle with a bite force of 700 PSI -- it has the potential to be very dangerous indeed. But it is not naturally so. It is not inherently dangerous.
How a dog behaves depends on:
1. Breed characteristics
2. Characteristics of the individual dog
3. Owner and environment the dog is raised in
4. Training and socialization
5. Current circumstances
An individual Cane Corso with the first 4 items checked off -- reasonable individual temperament, training and socialization, and a good owner who has raised him well -- will remain safe under all but the most extreme circumstances.
And part of being a good owner is, of course, keeping the dog out of extreme circumstances. In which case, you have all 5 elements in place, and your Cane Corso will be no more dangerous that any other breed.
On the other hand, if the owner has not been wise about obtaining a dog with a good temperament, if the owner has not treated the dog well and given it a good environment with training and socialization, he may well have a potentially dangerous animal on his hands.
Much of this is common sense, and not so much to do with the breed as the owner and the individual animal.
But an owner needs to be very aware of these factors. A Cane Corso is not a dog to be taken lightly.
We have a full article here: Are Cane Corsos Dangerous?
Is The Cane Corso A Good Guard Dog?
The cane Corso makes for an excellent guide dog.
His natural inclination towards guarding is well established all the way back to the origins of the breed. The guarding instinct is strong, but specialized training is needed to both make the most of the natural tendencies and to ensure that behavior is properly controlled.
As mentioned above, the cane Corso is a large, strong and muscular dog, with a huge bite force of 700 PSI. It is essential that this potential is channeled in the right direction. Any responsible dog owner should ensure his dog is well trained, but with a dog like this, it becomes even more important.
We have a full article on the Cane Corso as a guard dog
If the question is...
Will My Cane Corso Protect Me?
...the answer is a little different.
He will most likely have the breed instinct to protect, without any special training. And you will undoubtedly enjoy some degree of protection just because of how he looks. People tend not to want to mess with dogs like this.
But, as stressed above, as a responsible dog owner, you need to acknowledge the need for basic training, anyway. Basic obedience training and socialization at the very least.
For most people, this is as far as they take it. They want a family dog, first and foremost.
If this is you, you will probably have some natural protection from your Cane Corso. But, you need to differentiate between this and specialized protection or guard duties, for which you will need specialized training.
We have a full article here: Will My Cane Corso Protect Me?
Is The Cane Corso Difficult To Care For?
He is not so much difficult to care for as expensive to care for!
The Cane Corso is a big dog. So resources involved with his care are going to be big, too — including cost.
He requires more time and effort to bathe. And more water and shampoo, or whatever products you use for cleansing your dog.
Big dog means big appetite. His food bill is going to be in keeping with his size.
And the elephant in the room is vet bills. I've never entirely understood why the bill for a big dog is more than the bill for a small dog. But you can be certain that it will,
You should probably consider ways to reduce these costs. Our favorite solution for reducing vet bills — 'America's favorite veterinary plan' — is an alternative to pet insurance. There are no deductibles and no exclusions — all treatments are covered.
What Are A Cane Corso's Common Health Issues?
Reading about potential health issues is a bit like reading about possible side effects of a medication — it can be off-putting. But don't get it out of perspective. Cane Corsos are generally healthy dogs.
Just because there is some degree of tendency for the Cane Corso to have health issues such as these, doesn't mean that it's going to happen.
You should be aware of the issues, but not expecting them.
Find out more about them and see what you can do to reduce the likelihood of them occurring in the first place. And what you might do to mitigate the downside if you are unlucky enough to experience one of the conditions we discuss
The breeder plays an important role here. A good Cane Corso breeder will be able to produce papers proving that the puppy's parents do not suffer from various common issues, such as hip dysplasia.
One thing to consider in advance is how you can offset or reduce the medical expenses that may be incurred. Our favorite solution is Pet Assure. It's not pet insurance per se, and it doesn't have any of the drawbacks of pet insurance — there are no exclusions and no deductibles. Everything is covered.
You can find out more here:
Cane Corsos And Bloat
Bloat is a condition where the stomach fills with air. As the dog eats, it naturally takes in air. The more it eats, the more air goes in. Eating fast makes it worse.
The dog may begin to salivate or retch, and the abdomen may be seen to be obviously distended.
There is a second form of bloat, where the stomach becomes twisted, which cause the ingested air to become trapped. This is not so common, but it is a serious medical condition that requires prompt attention.
Large breeds are more prone to this. The Cane Corso's deep chested physique makes it susceptible.
If your dog's symptoms worsen, there may be an elevated heart rate and panting, and the gums might become pale. These symptoms require immediate treatment by a vet.
To prevent bloat in the first place, providing a raised feed bowl is sometimes suggested, but we do not recommend this.
In fact, the opposite is likely to be helpful. If the dog has to reach down to a bowl on the floor, it is not so easy to ingest air.
A couple of other measures which might be helpful:
You should avoid food which are high in carbohydrates.
You shouldn't allow your Cane Corso to exercise too soon after eating. Leave it at least an hour.
Hip Dysplasia — Maud's Story
Hip dysplasia is a fairly common disorder of the hip joint. It is more typically found in large or giant breed dogs, although it can occur in smaller breeds also.
The hip joint is a form of ball and socket. hip dysplasia consists of an abnormality where the ball and socket do not fit together properly and the socket may not be properly developed.
The result is a loose or misshapen joint, which can affect the function. instead of moving smoothly, the joint can rub and friction can wear away the cartilage, which normally allows for smooth motion. The result is discomfort or pain, perhaps leading to lameness.
Hip dysplasia forms in early growth and cannot be reliably detected until the dog is two years old.
An x-ray revealed dysplasia in our female Cane Corso. It could clearly be seen that the socket of the hip joint had not fully developed. It didn't cover the whole of the joint far enough. In fact, we have been fortunate with Maud, in that the disorder has not had too much of a negative impact on her life.
in early growth, we were very careful to limit impact on the joint — we ensured that she did not jump down from furniture or cars, for example. A step up or ramp is essential for safe transition.
The condition is linked to weight gain and rapid growth, which is why it is more prevalent in larger breeds. So it is important to make sure that the dog does not become overweight.
Like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a hereditary condition where the joint becomes malformed in the development of a puppy. Because these conditions have a significant genetic element, it is important to talk to your breeder about the health of hips and elbows in your puppy's parents.
As with hip dysplasia, other factors such as too much exercise, weight gain and diet can also play a part.
Pain or discomfort caused by the condition can cause a dog to limp, or have difficulty getting up after he has been lying down for a while. Stiffness, or pain, in the joints can result in a reluctance to move, or exercise, and difficulty in going up or down stairs.
Panosteitis — Hermie's Story
This is another condition which is prevalent amongst giant breeds, where a puppy will grow quickly. Panosteitis manifests as pain in the long bones of the legs.
Our male Cane Corso, Hermie, suffered from Panosteitis as a young puppy. He had a pronounced limp in his right front leg, which would not go away. We learned about the condition when he was diagnosed by the vet.
Panosteitis occurs in young dogs, mostly up to the age of three years. It can often go away of its own accord before that, and is less likely to persist after age 3.
It was kind of heartbreaking to see Hermie limping, sometimes badly, and not be able to do much about it.
We gave him the pain medication Metacam sometimes, when he was limping particularly badly. The generic is Meloxidyl, which might be a bit cheaper. But you can't give painkiller medications constantly, when the condition is long-lasting. So we had to be careful about how much we gave him, and selective about when.
Most of the time, Hermie got along pretty well, and the occasional dose of Metacam helped on an bad day.
We hoped it would clear up quickly, as he approached full growth. But it persisted. After a couple of years, we got resigned to it.
But then, suddenly, right around the 3-year mark, the symptoms disappeared! We saw that he was limping less and less, and finally not limping at all.
That was just such a relief. We were thrilled.
The information out there said that Panosteotis could last for up to three years, and it was almost uncanny how it went away right on 3 years.
Fast forward, and Hermie is the most incredibly agile dog. He's 130 lbs, but we made sure that he is lean and carries no unnecessary weight. He likes to chase lizards, and he's like greased lightning! He often runs up a wall and jumps off — like a display of Parkour.
So, if your puppy develops Panosteitis, don't give up hope. He's probably going to be fine in the long run and, with a bit of luck, it won't take 3 years.
Cane a Corsos do have a tendency for Epilepsy. The most common form, for this breed is the Grand Mal seizure, which is recurrent and random. Epilepsy in Cane Corsos often starts around the 2-year Mark, although it can occur both earlier and later.
The upsurge in popularity of the Cane Corso has resulted in an increased number of breeders. Most are reputable, knowledgeable and conscientious. But some more recent breeders may lack the experience and knowledge to produce healthy dogs who do not have this in their pedigree.
Cane Corso Eye Issues
There are two fairly common problems with eyelids. One issue is where the eyelid curls inward, causing the eyelash to irritate the eye. This is known as Entropion.
The only reliable permanent solution is surgery. A section is removed from the eyelid, which is then closed with sutures, effectively tightening up the eyelid.
The second issue is pretty much the opposite. The eyelid rolls outward, leaving a gap on the lower edge. This exposes the edge of the eye and makes the eye look droopy. This is known as Ectropion.
Mild cases may just need eyedrops and/or ointment to prevent dry eye and conjunctivitis. More severe cases may need surgery to reduce the droop.
Cherry eye is a malfunction of the third eyelid, which all dogs have. This remains out of sight when everything is functioning correctly. The gland of this third eyelid can slip out of place, and become visible as a pink or red swelling in the corner of the eye. This is the condition known as Cherry Eye.
The only reliable remedy is surgery, which can prove expensive. Data from insurance companies show the basic procedure costing $300-$800 per eye, with no incision required. It is a relatively simple procedure from which the dog tends to recover quickly.
There is another form of the procedure where an incision is made. The protruding gland is tucked back, and the incision is closed with an internal suture. This procedure is more expensive.
Some data suggests a success rate of up to 90%.
There is a third procedure which involves removing the third eyelid. This is far less common and not usually recommended, because it reduces the tear-producing functionality and can result in dry eye.
These are the essential points to consider for a first time Cane Corso owner. Click the links above for in-depth coverage of individual sections. Browse our articles over on the right for more Cane Corso information
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to know about owning a Cane Corso?
The Cane Corso is a large, powerful and muscular dog. He is not an inherently dangerous dog, but the consequences of poor behavior are high because of his size and strength. So it is particularly important that a Cane Corso is well trained and socialized.
Do Cane Corsos turn on their owners?
Highly unlikely. Any dog can become unpredictable if treated badly, but the Cane Corso's natural inclination is to be affectionate and protective toward his owner and his family.
Are Cane Corsos Aggressive?
Cane Corsos are protective and territorial by nature. They were bred as working dogs, to protect farmers and their livestock. So they naturally assess the situation. They are not inherently aggressive, but they are naturally alert and on guard if other people or other animals approach.
How smart is a Cane Corso?
Cane Corsos are intelligent dogs. They are also eager to please their owners. They also retain what they have learned. The combination means that training a Cane Corso is not generally difficult.