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Are Cane Corsos Aggressive? The Surprising Answer

Oliver Jones

By Oliver Jones

Cane corso beach

Cane Corsos are a large breed of Italian Mastiff dogs, typically having a loyal and protective nature. These dogs were initially bred for work, and they are still known for their ability to hunt and herd cattle.

But that’s not all there is to these dogs. They’re also great family pets, especially for those with older children. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding the aggression level of these dogs, as some claim that they can be dangerous to live with.

While no dogs are born with an aggressive gene, Cane Corsos may have more of a tendency for aggressive reactions. Their aggressiveness usually stems from trauma or poor training.

Keep reading to learn more about this breed and how to prevent it from becoming aggressive.

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The History of Cane Corsos

To understand any dog breed, we will first discuss its history. Much like any working dog, Cane Corsos were interbred to create more dominant offspring. Initially, their primary duty was to protect their owners.

These dogs belonged to a group of working dogs known as the Molossus dogs. This category was named after Mollosi, an ancient Greek tribe that initially bred these guard dogs. Molossus dogs were originally war animals, also known as “periferi,” which translates to “fearless.”

These dogs entered enemy lines equipped with flaming oil on their backs, along with battle armor to stay protected from arrows.

Once the Western culture declined in the 15th century, Cane Corsos were assigned guard duty, boar hunting, or livestock driving. Society and economics were in upheaval, increasing the mechanization of agriculture.

As a result, the breed went nearly extinct in the 20th century. However, a group of enthusiasts acquired the last breeding pairs left in Italy’s remote areas. Soon, they formed a protective and breeding society for Cane Corsos in 1983.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized this dog breed in 2010.

Are Cane Corsos Aggressive?

woman training a cane corso
Image Credit: Akram Huseyn, Unsplash

Dogs are not born with an aggressive gene, but they can turn aggressive due to poor training or trauma. Certain factors in a Cane Corso can make it more prone to aggressive reactions than other dogs.

For example, these dogs are typically wary of strangers due to centuries of training and breeding as guard dogs. However, with the right type of socialization, Cane Corsos can warm up to strangers, but this is only possible with the proper training.

Of course, this type of breed is never going to love strangers like a Golden Retriever or Labrador, so this may not be the best dog for you if you need your pet to greet guests with affection.

Well-trained Cane Corsos will exhibit aloof behavior, similar to a cat’s. So, you’ll need to ensure your guests don’t invade your dog’s space and boundaries, which can trigger an aggressive reaction.

With the proper training, you can also befriend your Cane Corso with other dogs. If you have young children, it’s crucial to teach them that they can’t play-fight with other humans in front of the dog. That’s because this breed is highly protective of their family members, so they may not be able to distinguish play-fighting from an actual attack. Even siblings should avoid exhibiting aggressive behavior toward each other in front of the dog.

Additionally, these dogs can be wary of unfamiliar spaces, so it’s best not to expose them to new environments too often.

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Factors That Make a Cane Corso Aggressive

The genetic predisposition of your Cane Corso does not make it less or more aggressive. As a relatively larger breed, the reasons behind their aggression are typically due to more extensive reasons than a smaller breed.

More importantly, their breed is not the deciding factor for their aggression. Of course, their intimidating appearance gives them an undeniably bad reputation, but it can be misleading. If you want your Cane Corso to have an even temperament, it’s best to buy from a reputable breeder.

Here are some factors that influence the aggression level of a Cane Corso:

Cane Corso Training
Image Credit: Miroshnikova Arina, Shutterstock

Training and Environment

Out of the Mastiff breed, Cane Corsos are the easiest to train as they’re more intelligent and eager than their competition. To encourage an even temperament, Cane Corsos should be discouraged from displays of aggression and dominance during their puppy training.

Socialization should become a primary part of their training from a very young age. According to many scientific studies, harsh training methods and aggression towards these dogs can make them approximately 2.9 times more aggressive as compared to a gently corrected dog.

Individual Personality and Temperament

It’s always better to buy from reputable breeders who are known for breeding their puppies selectively. This allows them to prevent aggression from a very young age. We recommend doing your research on the breeder before visiting their breeding pairs to determine the aggression in their behavioral characteristics.

Some breeders will also allow you to work with them to find the right puppy for you. It’s best to look for one that doesn’t exhibit dominance while playing or feeding.

Are Cane Corsos Banned?

Cane Corso
Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak, Shutterstock

Although that may be unpleasant to hear, most states and countries don’t allow you to own all dog breeds. The list of dangerous dogs is longer than you may think, including Boxers, Mastiff breeds, Bulldogs, Rottweilers, and Pitbulls.

Cane Corsos have acquired quite a bad reputation due to multiple isolated reports of biting and attacking. As a result, many states in the US have either banned or restricted the ownership of this breed.

Latest reports from 2020 detail that over 10 US states have legislation against owning Cane Corsos. That includes Colorado, Oregon, South Dakota, Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, Washington, Louisiana, and others.

Outside the US, a few countries have restricted the ownership of Cane Corsos in Europe. That includes France, Ireland, England, and Germany, with each government forbidding the ownership, breeding, and import of this breed.

Most areas of Canada have also banned this breed, while Singapore has implemented specific rules for owners of Cane Corsos or any other aggressive dog breed. Before buying a Cane Corso, it’s crucial to check the local laws surrounding the breed.

Otherwise, you’ll need to pay a fine for the ownership. However, in the worst-case scenario, they may ask you to put your dog down due to disregarding the law.

How to Prevent Your Cane Corso From Becoming Aggressive

Since Cane Corsos can weigh up to 110 pounds with a 700-pound-per-square-inch bite, it’s no secret that training these dogs is a big responsibility. In fact, a Michigan couple was sentenced to jail in 2014 after their Cane Corsos fatally mauled a jogger along the way.

Here’s what you can do to prevent your Cane Corso from becoming aggressive.

  • Socializing your Cane Corso at a young age is crucial. These dogs learn behaviors early due to their high intelligence, so it’s best to make them mingle with humans and other dogs when they’re puppies.
  • Implement obedience training as soon as you can while ensuring gentle correction instead of aggressive training. In adolescence, Cane Corsos can grow large, quick, and hard to train.
  • When your Cane Corsos is a puppy, teach bite inhibition by eliminating contact as soon as it bites during play. It’s best to do this firmly yet gently, even if others may recommend harsh measures. Harsh reactions to biting will only encourage aggressive responses in a Cane Corso puppy.
  • Teach your Cane Corso puppy to take the lead early on with practices such as waiting before they’re allowed outdoors or sitting down before meals. Gentle obedience is the best way to teach your puppies to stay calm and collected.
  • After socializing your Cane Corso as a puppy, keep their social life consistent as they become older. It’s also best to reward them whenever they act more social, calm, and friendly with humans and other dogs.
  • If your dog shows protective or aggressive behavior after assuming you’re in danger, it’s best to discourage this behavior as soon as it happens.
girl playing with cane corso
Image Credit: Efanov Aleksey, Shutterstock

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So, let’s answer the question: are Cane Corsos aggressive? While aggression is not in their genes, they can learn aggressive behavior due to trauma or poor training. They were initially bred as war animals, which is why they have a loyal and protective nature.

Without the proper training and socialization, these dogs can be prone to aggressive reactions. The best thing you can do with these pets is early socialization, positive reinforcement, and firm yet gentle training. This way, you can prevent their potentially dangerous behavior.

Otherwise, these are great family pets with unmatched loyalty.


Featured Image Credit: Korolenok, Shutterstock

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