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The Cane Corso’s Violent History
The awesome Italian Mastiff is a descendant of the legendary ancient Greek Molossus Hound - a ferocious guard dog, known to fearlessly attack whatever human or animal trying to approach its territory. During the occupation of Greece, Roman soldiers were so intrigued by these massive and fierce dogs that they introduced the breed to the Roman army. Soon, the ancestor of today’s Cane Corso had distinguished itself in battle – fighting alongside Roman soldiers.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Mastiff from Greece became the guard dog and livestock guardian of choice for many farms throughout Italy. As well, the heavy but agile dog was utilized as hunting companion for the pursuit of wild boars and other large game. Cattle driving became another of the versatile Corso’s’ specialities over the centuries.
So, as we can see, the Cane Corso has filled demanding roles in the past, roles that required it to be absolutely fearless and always ready to attack people, bulls, or wild boars. This is not exactly the history of a trustworthy family companion, or is it?
The Cane Corso – Mindless Killer or Intelligent Protector?
We must not forget that the Cane Corso’s key job in the centuries following the Roman Empire was that of a farm- and livestock GUARDIAN. In this position, these powerful dogs protected their owners and their owners’ families – as well as any animals living on the farm. And they already knew how to do that, because it had been bred into them long before they even set foot into Italy: The breed’s ancestors, the Molossus Hounds themselves, were predominantly used as close quarter guardians by their owners, the Molossian farmers. This in essence means that, in case of an attack, the dog would not leave the side of its owners. Instead of charging off towards the intruders, it would stay close to its people, putting its bulk right between them and the threat.
And precisely this kind of behaviour can be observed in our modern Cane Corso: To this day, the breed has remained a defensive protector who shields its humans – or its flock – with its own body: By no means are Corsos aggressive catch dogs, likely to bite anything that moves.
So, right there, we see why the Cane Corso has become one of the best family guardians in the world. So much so that companies that train personal protection dogs deliberately place Corsos in households with children, instead of Dobermans or German Shepherds. Over millennia, these dogs were bred to protect their owners, as well as the animals in their owners’ care. They were not bred to hunt and kill livestock.
The Cane Corso – an Affectionate Family Guardian
When well-socialized and trained by an experienced canine leader, the Cane Corso is a wonderful family dog: A gentle giant who is not likely to sink its teeth into any lapdog, cat or rabbit that you might have in your home. And much less will a well-trained Cane Corso ever attack your own children.
However, if not properly socialized, the Corso’s extreme protective instincts can lead to accidents. Such as your dog biting your kid’s friends when they are at your house to play. A Cane Corso unfamiliar with such situations could misinterpret them, thinking that your child is under attack. The consequences can be fatal, at least for the dog as it will be put down - and you do not even want to imagine what the gigantic jaws of a Cane Corso in full attack mode can do to a young child’s body.
As you will know in case you have been around for a while on this channel and on our main channel, “The Fenrir Canine Show”, I absolutely love the Cane Corso: In my own personal opinion, there is hardly any breed around better suited as a family guardian – except for the Bullmastiff. And I can safely say that, as I have owned a Cane Corso myself, and have worked with many Corsos over the years in my role as Canine Behaviourist.
This breed has an innate love for children of any age, and the care and gentleness they show towards them is heart-warming. Usually, a Cane Corso will happily embrace a new-born baby as a welcome addition to the family. Corsos are extremely affectionate towards their loved ones. And they are happiest when all of their family is around. So, they will naturally want to spend as much time with their people as possible – including the baby, other kids, and even other pets.
Of course, with a Cane Corso as your family guardian, you will not have to worry about anyone touching your children, or about anyone breaking into your house. Again, the Corso’s abilities as close quarter guardian are quite amazing. Also, the breed is highly intelligent. In combination with diligent socialization, this intelligence enables them act appropriately in any give situation. For example, a well-educated Corso will allow friends coming to the house to give you a warm hug, but they will not extend that courtesy to strangers on the street. Because whilst devoted to their family, these dogs are not people-lovers in general – at all: As adults, they are extremely wary of strangers and keep a close eye on everyone approaching their owners.
The glorious Italian Mastiffs form extraordinarily close bonds with everyone in their own household, other pets included. For their enormous size, they are amazingly measured in their movements. Which makes them unlikely to knock over children or to “mow down” smaller dogs in the home. They are not prone to running around the house like other dogs often do. That said, they do come with a high prey drive and care should be taken when introducing them to smaller pets, like rodents or birds.
Cane Corsos seem to live for playtimes - which makes them fantastic playmates for slightly older children. With a bit of training, they are quite happy to retrieve toys and to engage in games of tug-of-war. They seem to be amazingly aware of their strength and are often seen to be exceptionally gentle when playing with smaller dogs, puppies, or children.
And this wraps up our discussion of the Cane Corso’s behaviour around children and other pets. As we saw, these powerful Mastiffs are absolutely loving, loyal and deeply affectionate family guardians. Their big heart for children and amazing tolerance for other animals makes them the perfect choice for households with children and other pets.