Does a Cane Corso make a good family dog?

The Cane Corso is a formidable, and very intelligent breed, also known as the Italian Mastiff.

This dog’s original role was to hunt boar  Today it is more likely to be as a guard.  In fact its name translates from Italian as ‘Bodyguard dog’. Unsurprisingly with a name like that,  the Cane Corso makes a great home guard, but does it make a good family dog?

Tough, unique and loyal

Although large, muscular and very protective, a Cane Corso is a popular choice throughout Europe as a family pet.  That is not to say that breed is anything similar to other family dogs such as Golden Retrievers – far from it.  The Cane Corso will not greet strangers with an enthusiastic tail-wag, but is incredibly loving and loyal to its own family. While not particularly aggressive, this dog demands a lot of time, commitment, and socialisation.  Most advice suggests it is best suited to owners have some experience of raising a guard dog. It is probably not suitable for the first time dog owner. We shall see why in a bit.

The Cane Corso is a unique breed – not only highly protective and committed to its owner and family, but also great (and even very gentle) with children.  Younger members of your clan can be active in looking after their pet: walking, feeding, grooming, which will strengthen the relationship. This can also give the Cane Corso the exercise it needs, and gives you a break. This all suggests that this dog is going to fit in well. If you are here because you are considering getting one, you might be wondering – why the reservation?

Raising and maintaining a Cane Corso – the challenges

Quite simply, raising one of these dogs isn’t easy, and requires discipline and devotion from you – not just for a week or a month, but for a lifetime!  If you work from home, and you don’t have a partner or kids around, you’ll need at least one hour before leaving to give to your dog.  This can be for a walk, obedience training, or play.  If you come home from work exhausted and hungry – guess what?  You’ll have to wait!  You are the centre of your Cane Corso’s world and needs your time and attention.

Photo by kaisercanecorso from Instagram

A vigorous walk before you leave for work can help reduce separation anxiety that these dogs get quite badly.  Ideally you should be living near an area where there is plenty of space to walk and run.  Cane Corsos are athletic, so you should include suitable activities such as frisbee, throwing or going joint-jogging. 

This is also a working dog, needing to be occupied, and with something to do.  Consider again how it would be if you are at work all day. How will this devoted dog that wants to be with you every hour of the day get through it?  This is where dog puzzle or snuffle mat like the WufSalad can be a great option. She will need to be occupied.

Remember though, that tending to your dog’s needs isn’t going to be a week’s or month’s requirement, but for its whole life! Having a Can Corso can be challenge for owners who have work stresses deadlines and missed sleep.

Photo by kaisercanecorso from Instagram

Training a Cane Corso puppy

As a puppy, a Cane Corso will need a lot of positive and reward-based training time. It is also very important to give her socalisation and bite-inhibition (training for a soft mouth) training.  All this requires structure and a set of rules in place, that she understands. While the case true for any dog, it is more so for this breed than most. These dogs are strong-willed, which is why discipline is important at early stage.  Without this, they can display some aggressive and destructive behaviours later on.

It is a good idea to take your Cane Corso puppy wherever you go (where possible),   so she gets more used to being in different environments and strangers. However, also realise that when an adult, Socialisation never ends, but early socialisation (first 12 weeks) is the most important. When well-trained and socialised, a cane Corso will become more calm and tolerant of others outside its family, but can still react to unfamiliar situations, when fully grown.

Owning a Cane Corso – to sum up

Your Cane Corso will build her life around you, and will want to be with you all day. If you are thinking of getting one into your life, expect a hugely devoted family dog, but just do not underestimate the time work needed from you. Training her is not the end and she will need your time and attention on an ongoing basis! If you can, you won’t regret it.