With an imposing appearance and a loyal heart, the Cane Corso dog is quickly rising up the popularity ranks to become one of the most beloved breeds in the world and it's not hard to see why. Fiercely protective and yet overflowing with affection, the Cane Corso adores their family and will devote their life to ensuring their people are always safe and secure.
Originating in Greece, many of this ancient breed were captured during the war by the invading Roman army and taken back to Italy where they were used as war dogs who charged enemy lines with buckets of flaming oil attached to their backs. Thankfully, after the war ended, this heroic breed soon took on a slightly less life-threatening role and spent their days protecting the many Italian farms from thieves attempting to steal livestock.
While they came close to extinction at the end of World War Two, the American Kennel Club has them sitting in the not to be sneezed at 21st spot on their list of the most popular dog breeds in the US. While their guarding and protective abilities likely have a lot to do with how in demand they've become, pet parents have fallen in love with how much more there is to this breed than meets the eye.
Yes, they're certainly a formidable force when it comes to loyally defending those they love, and their large and muscular appearance definitely gives them an air of intimidation. And yet underneath their solid exterior lies an affectionate and eager to please heart that makes them utterly devoted to their people. That being said, the Cane Corso is no pushover and their high levels of intelligence coupled with their naturally headstrong natures means they require a confident and experienced owner who's not scared to set boundaries.
One of the most well known Cane Corso facts is that this breed requires extensive training and socialization and this must begin from the moment you get them. If they're not trained as puppies they can struggle to differentiate between normal human behavior, sights and sounds, and those that pose a threat and this can cause them to react aggressively. While they don't warm easily to strangers, as long as you're consistent with training and they understand that you're the boss, you'll have no issues taking this breed out and about with you.
If you decide to adopt a Cane Corso, bear in mind that they are an active breed that likes to get plenty of exercise but they also need a good mental workout every day too, so a mix of walking and jogging alongside a challenging dog puzzle toy will help give them everything they need to stay happy and healthy. Read on to find out if the Cane Corso dog is the right breed for you...
How much exercise does a Cane Corso dog need?
Life expectancy: 9-12 years
Average weight: Male: 99-110lbs/45-50kg Female Weight in 88-99lbs/40-45kg
About the same as: A baby hippo
Exercise level: Moderate
The Cane Corso is no couch potato and they need a fair amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation to keep them occupied. At a minimum, you’ll want to engage this breed in 45 minutes to an hour of brisk walking or jogging but given they’re working dogs, they definitely won’t say no to doing more.
Exercising their minds is as important as exercising their bodies as otherwise, they can be prone to destructive behaviors like digging, excessive chewing, and rambunctious outbursts. Challenging puzzles and durable chew toys are great for keeping their mind occupied, and if you have a farm or ranch they can be put to work herding livestock.
Kong Extreme Dog Toy
The king of chew toys, this tough and durable rubber toy will banish boredom, teach proper chewing behavior, and provide hours of fun. Fill it with food for mental stimulation or let the unpredictable bounce delight your dog as it plays chase and fetch.
Is the Cane Corso Dog easy to train?
Suitable for: Active and experienced dog owners who are confident, able to set clear boundaries, and generous with their affection
Not suitable for: First-time dog owners, homes with small children or other dogs of the same sex, or environments where they may be left alone for long periods of time
Temperament: Intelligent, affectionate, strong-willed, athletic, eager to please
Shedding: Light to moderate
Also consider: German Shepherd
It’s vital to train this breed from a young age and that’s best done by an experienced and confident dog owner who can be diligent and consistent. Cane Corso’s are big and strong and are known for being dominant and protective, so they must undergo obedience training to ensure they don’t end up ruling the roost.
They have a natural aversion to strangers and can be highly territorial. Because they dislike those outside their family, they need regular socialization to get them used to being around others, prevent aggression, and stop them from jumping and leash-pulling around those they don’t know.
Cane Corso’s also have a high prey drive and have been known to chase and kill small animals, such as cats. They may also try to dominate small children or dogs and as such, they are best suited to homes with teenage children or adults. It’s for this reason that they need to in homes with confident owners who can quickly re-establish their authority as the leader of the pack.
While you need to start training this dog before it reaches 12 weeks of age, the good news is their intelligent nature makes them fast learners, and while they may look intimidating, they are naturally affectionate and gentle. Training a Cane Corso requires high levels of consistency and frequency and they respond best to rewards and praise.
What do Cane Corso’s eat?
You may have guessed from what you’ve read so far that the Cane Corso loves its food and has a hearty appetite. They do best on high-quality dog foods and dog treats can be used for training, but unless they’re being used as working dogs and need a lot of extra calories their portions need to be monitored to prevent weight gain.
They need around 4-5 cups of the best dry dog food per day, split into a morning and evening meal to help reduce the risk of bloating, which they are susceptible to. Avoid leaving kibble out between meals as the Cane Corso is a known grazer who will often continue to nibble throughout the day, which can pack on the pounds.
Hill's Prescription Diet Metabolic Canine Dog Treats
Want to train your Cane Corso with treats but don't want them putting on weight? Then these tasty and crunchy treats are the perfect solution. Low calorie and full of fiber to help keep your pooch full, they have added nutrients to help further control appetite and keep your furkid looking fit.
What is the temperament of a Cane Corso like?
Naturally strong-willed with a dominant personality, the Cane Corso is also loving, and its ability to form strong bonds with its family makes it a devoted companion. They are assertive and confident, which is why they need an owner with a similar nature, and while they can be intimidating to strangers, when properly trained they can be protective yet calm.
They tend to dislike dogs of the same sex and can behave aggressively towards them, and it’s best to keep them away from cats and other small pets. Because of this, we recommend you invest in one of the best pet insurance policies that will provide you with adequate third-party liability cover.
Cane Corso’s are excellent with older children when trained correctly, but they can dominate younger children, so we don’t recommend this breed for young families unless you are a very experienced dog owner and trainer.
While this may all sound daunting, this breed is eager to please and very loyal, and with the right training, they make wonderful companion animals.
How much grooming does a Cane Corso need?
Amount Of Shedding: Moderate
Easy To Groom: Yes
General Health: Good
Potential For Weight Gain: Moderate
The Cane Corso has a short but double-layered coarse coat and sheds throughout the year. The length of the coat can vary with dogs living in colder climates carrying more of a coat than dogs who live in warmer climates.
This breed is fairly low maintenance on the grooming front, requiring a weekly brushing to keep their coat looking its best, and a bath every three months or so. As with all breeds, keep an eye on the length of their nails and trim when needed.
How healthy are Cane Corso’s?
The Cane Corso is a generally healthy breed, although they do have a predisposition towards certain health issues that are worth being aware of. These include hip dysplasia, eye problems, and gastric torsion, also known as bloat.
If you’re buying your Cane Corso puppy from a breeder or adopting from a rescue shelter, ask to see any available evidence that shows that the parents have hip evaluations of excellent, good, or fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), as well as eye clearances from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Thoroughly checking over the written documentation before you take your new puppy home can save you from having to pay for potentially expensive surgery or treatments later on.
Mostly, the Cane Corso is known for living a healthy life with an average life expectancy of between 9-12 years.
Should I get a Cane Corso?
If you’re an experienced and confident dog owner who is well versed in training and you live an active life with plenty of time available to spend with your furkid, then the intelligent and devoted Cane Corso could be just the dog for you.
Although they can appear intimidating and are known guard dogs who are territorial and protective of their owners when properly trained and socialized they make gentle and loyal companions who adore being with their humans.
They are great family dogs but do best in homes with older children and dogs of a similar size and opposite sex. If you don’t mind putting in the hours training them from the beginning of their life and remain consistent as they mature, you’ll be rewarded with an eager to please pooch who will adore being by your side.
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.