Interested in getting a Cane Corso? You must be or you wouldn’t be reading this.
You’ve already heard how marvellous the Cane Corso is. Well, I think you should also hear, before it’s too late, that
THE CANE CORSO IS NOT THE PERFECT BREED FOR EVERYONE.
As a breed they have a few features that some people find charming, but that some people find mildly unpleasant and some people find downright intolerable.
There are different breeds for different needs. There are over 200 purebred breeds of dogs in the world. Maybe you’d be better off with some other breed. Maybe you’d be better off with a cat. Maybe you’d be better off with goldfish, a parakeet, a hamster, or some house plants.
DON’T GET A CANE CORSO if you are attracted to the breed chiefly by its appearance. Once they grow out of their “cute” puppy stage, the Cane Corso is a ~100+ lb. dog that requires heavy socialization and training by an experienced “alpha” owner, as they are not a “happy-go lucky” mastiff – they will not “love” everyone they meet. They are indifferent to other people and dogs and VERY protective of their family and home. CC’s are unique, intensely loyal, protective, sensitive, and serious dogs – traits that require thoughtful consideration before adopting a dog.
DON’T GET A CANE CORSO if you don’t intend to educate (train) your dog.
Basic obedience and household rules training is not optional for the Cane Corso. As an absolute minimum, you must teach him to reliably respond to commands to come, to lie down, to stay, and to walk at your side, on or off leash and regardless of temptations. You must also teach him to respect your household rules: e.g., is he allowed to get on the furniture? Is he allowed to beg at the table? What you allow or forbid is unimportant; but it is critical that you, not the dog, make these choices and that you enforce your rules consistently. You must commit yourself to attending an 8 to 10 week series of weekly lessons at a local obedience club or professional trainer and to doing one or two short (5 to 20 minutes) homework sessions per day. As commands are learned, they must be integrated into your daily life by being used whenever appropriate and enforced consistently.
Young CC puppies are relatively easy to train: they are eager to please, intelligent, and calm-natured, with a relatively good attention span. Once a CC has learned something, he tends to retain it well. Your cute, sweet little Cane Corso puppy will grow up to be a large, powerful dog with a highly self-assertive personality and the determination to finish whatever he starts. If he has grown up respecting you and your rules, then all his physical and mental strength will work for you. But if he has grown up without rules and guidance from you, surely he will make his own rules, and his physical and mental powers will often act in opposition to your needs and desires.
For example: he may tow you down the street as if competing in a weight pull trial; he may grab food off the table; he may forbid your guests entry to his home. This training cannot be delegated to someone else, e.g., by sending the dog away to “boarding school,” because the relationship of respect and obedience is personal between the dog and the individual who does the training. This is true of all dogs to a greater or lesser degree, but definitely to a very great degree in CC’s.
While you definitely may want the help of an experienced trainer to teach you how to train your dog, you yourself must actually train your Cane Corso. As each lesson is well learned, then the rest of the household (except young children) must also work with the dog, insisting he obey them as well.
Many of the CC’s that are rescued from pounds and shelters show clearly that they have received little or no basic training, neither in obedience nor in household department; yet these same dogs respond well to such training by the rescuer or the adopter.
It seems likely that a failure to train the dog is a significant cause of CC abandonment. If you don’t intend to educate your dog, preferably during puppyhood, you would be better off with a breed that is both small and socially submissive, e.g., a Shetland Sheepdog. Such a dog does require training, but a little bit goes further than with a Cane Corso. CC’s can, with adequate training, excel at such working competitions as field trials and hunt tests, obedience, agility, and tracking.
DON’T GET A CANE CORSO if you lack leadership (self-assertive) personality. Dogs do not believe in social equality.
They live in a social hierarchy led by a pack-leader (Alpha). The alpha dog is generally benevolent, affectionate, and non-bullying towards his subordinates; but there is never any doubt in his mind or in theirs that the alpha is the boss and makes the rules.
Whatever the breed, if you do not assume the leadership, the dog will do so sooner or later, and with more or less unpleasant consequences for the abdicating owner. Like the untrained dog, the pack leader dog makes his own rules and enforces them against other members of the household by means of a dominant physical posture and a hard-eyed stare, followed by a snarl, then a knockdown blow or a bite. Breeds differ in tendencies towards social dominance; and individuals within a breed differ considerably.
CC’s as a breed tend to be of a socially dominant personality. You really cannot afford to let a Cane Corso become your boss. You do not have to have the personality or mannerisms of a Marine boot camp Sergeant, but you do have to have the calm, quiet self-assurance and self assertion of the successful parent (“Because I’m your mother, that’s why.”) or successful grade-school teacher.
If you think you might have difficulty asserting yourself calmly and confidently to exercise leadership, then choose a breed known for its socially subordinate disposition, such as a Golden Retriever or a Shetland Sheepdog, and be sure to ask the breeder to select one of the more submissive pups in the litter for you. If the whole idea of “being the boss” frightens or repels you, don’t get a dog at all. Cats don’t expect leadership. A caged bird or hamster, or fish doesn’t need leadership or household rules. Leadership and training are inextricably intertwined: leadership personality enables you to train your dog, and being trained by you reinforces your dog’s perception of you as the alpha.
DON’T GET A CANE CORSO if you want a totally unaggressive and unprotective dog. Most CC’s have an assertive and confident personality. When confronted with a threat, a proper Cane Corso will be somewhat more ready to fight than to flee.
Thus he may respond aggressively in situations where many other breeds back down. Most CC’s have some inclination to act aggressively to repel intruders on their territory (i.e.,your home) and to counteract assaults upon their pack mates (you and your family). Without training and leadership from you to guide him, the dog cannot judge correctly whom to repel and whom to tolerate.
Without training and leadership, sooner or later he may injure an innocent person who will successfully sue you for more than you own. With good training and leadership from you, he can be profoundly valuable as a defender of your home and family.
If you feel no need of an assertive dog, if you are embarrassed by a barking dog at your door, or if you have the slightest doubts of your ability and willingness to supply the essential socialization, training and leadership, then please choose one of the many breeds noted for thoroughly unaggressive temperament, such as a Sheltie or a Golden Retriever.
Reproduced and amended to represent the Cane Corso from Pam Green’s (copyright 1992), titled “Don’t Buy a Bouvier.” Pam writes:
“I first wrote this article nearly 10 years ago. Since then it has become a classic of Bouvier literature, reprinted many times. Since then I have spent nearly 5 years in Bouvier Rescue, personally rescuing, rehabilitating, and placing 3 or 4 per year and assisting in the placement of others. Very little has needed revision in this new addition…..I give my permission freely to all who wish to reprint and distribute it in hopes of saving innocent Bouviers (note: it is CC’s here!) from neglect and abandonment by those who should never have acquired them in the first place.”