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Are Cane Corsos Aggressive? The Story Behind This Dog Breed

Are Cane Corsos Aggressive? The Story Behind This Dog Breed

Not all dogs are considered to be cute and cuddly. Some can be quite big and intimidating. One of these is the Cane Corso.

This is a majestic, smart, and hard-working dog breed with high energy levels. It stands at the height of around 2.25 feet and can weigh over 100 pounds! This is a truly huge dog that many people find intimidating.

These alert giants make amazing guard dogs, and they are constantly on the lookout for anything they might deem a threat. Also, they always need to be working on something; Otherwise, they’ll get bored, which can lead to unwanted behavior in dogs.

Cane Corsos are big dogs, which can lead to dangerous situations if you don’t train them properly or don’t work on socialization from a young age. But are Cane Corsos aggressive? Can a Cane Corso be described as a dangerous dog breed?

Let’s find out!

What Are Cane Corsos?

purebreed cane corso lying down in the grass garden

Before we answer, are Cane Corsos aggressive? you need to know a bit more about the breed.

The Cane Corso is a large breed that belongs to the Molossus dogs, also known as Molossers. This is the same dog family that Mastiffs belong to.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), these dogs are the bodyguards of the canine world. They are versatile and loyal while at the same time staying willful, which can end up being a handful for a first-time dog owner.

They have a short, double-layered coat that can come in several shades. They aren’t hypoallergenic but still require some maintenance.

These dogs need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. They excel in obedience, agility, protection, sport, tracking, and dock diving events. After just one glance, it’s easy to see why that is. These are truly majestic dogs!

Unfortunately, just like many other large dogs, these pups don’t have a long lifespan. In fact, they mostly tend to live between 10 and 12 years.

Where Are Cane Corsos From?

cane corso sticking its tounge out

The first records of the Cane Corso breed go back to ancient Greece. It is believed that Greek people bred big-boned watchdogs of the Mastiff type. These dogs are the ancestors of the modern Cane Corso, as well as Neapolitan Mastiffs.

Originally, Cane Corsos were bred to be war dogs, so it’s no surprise why today many people wonder, are Cane Corsos aggressive dogs? These canines were fearless, and they would charge enemy lines with several buckets of flaming oil that were strapped to their backs.

Over time, these dogs inhabited the land of Italy, where they adapted to more ‘civilian’ jobs, such as boar hunting, droving livestock, farming, and guarding properties.

As time went on, Cane Corsos nearly became extinct, as other smaller dogs replaced them. However, during the 1970s, the breed was revived by a group of Italian breeders. This is why it also became known under the name ‘Italian Mastiff.’

The Society of Cane Corso Lovers (also known as The Society Amorati Cane Corso) was formed in 1983, and this breed started growing in popularity once again – but its bad reputation remained.

Is there truth to such a reputation? Are Cane Corsos aggressive, or is this just a myth?

Where Are Cane Corsos Banned?

cane corso inside a blue barn house behind the doors

Believe it or not, you cannot own all dog breeds in every state or country in the world. Some breeds have made it onto the ‘Dangerous Dogs’ list, and this includes Boxers, Rottweilers, Bulldogs, Pitbulls, and Mastiff breeds.

Unfortunately, due to several isolated reports of dog bites, the Cane Corso became one of the breeds with the worst reputation out there, seconded only by the Pitbull breed! This led to many countries and US states banning or restricting Cane Corso ownership.

According to the latest reports from 2020, states with legislation against the Cane Corso breed include Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Louisiana, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and a few more.

There are also restrictions against owning this dog breed in some European countries, such as Germany, England, Ireland, and France, where either importing, breeding, or owning (or all of the above!) is strictly forbidden.

Cane Corsos are also banned in many areas of Canada, while the Cane Corso owners in Singapore have to follow a strict set of rules if they want to own any of the dog breeds that fit into the ‘aggressive dog’ stereotype.

If you plan on becoming a Cane Corso owner, make sure you’ve checked the local laws. You don’t want to have to pay a fine for owning a Cane Corso dog. Even worse – you don’t want to risk having to put your dog to sleep because you weren’t following the rules.

Is The Cane Corso An Aggressive Breed?

Many people love Cane Corsos for their dangerous appearance, which is why Cane Corso ear cropping is such a popular practice. But are Cane Corsos aggressive or is this simply a physical trait?

Cane Corsos can be aggressive dogs because they have a possessive, territorial, and guarding nature. They aren’t very kind to strangers, both two- and four-legged ones. However, if you train and socialize them from an early age, they can learn to be more friendly.

As they are such large dogs, it can be a challenge to control them if you didn’t train them properly from a young age. This is why it’s very important to understand the difference between: are Cane Corsos aggressive dogs? or are there ways to make them behave?

We’ll dive deeper.

Cane Corso Temperament

calm cane corso closing eyes with owner's hand covering its ears

Despite their reputation, the Cane Corso dogs make excellent family pets. Cane Corso owners report that these dogs act calmly and friendly toward their close family members and friends.

However, to get this, you’ll have to give your Cane Corso puppy adequate training as early as possible. These pups are territorial and possessive that are distrustful of strangers. They are alert, and they’ll respond to even the slightest signs of disturbance, discomfort, or danger.

In fact, Cane Corsos are probably among the last dogs you should challenge, as they can be incredibly defensive of their owners. Because of this, they make excellent watchdogs.

They are intelligent and assertive, and they constantly watch over their surroundings, highly alert of anything they deem dangerous. You need to keep them constantly busy and give them a lot of mental stimulation.

If these dogs get bored, they’ll misbehave. If you don’t allow this to happen and teach them how to spend their excess energy in a healthy manner, you’ll get the best dog possible.

Are Cane Corsos Easy To Train?

muscular man training his cane corso outdoors

Fortunately, this dog breed loves to keep its owners happy, and Cane Corsos would do anything to please them. This, combined with their extreme intelligence, makes them very easy to train.

Of course, it’s much easier if you begin when they are just puppies. If you wait until your Cane Corso is older, he might already have developed some unwanted behaviors. Once this happens, it might be impossible to teach him to stop acting in a certain way.

Early socialization is also very important, so you should do all you can to expose your Cane Corso puppy to new people and situations. This way, he’ll know how to behave in a new environment, and he won’t perceive everyone as a threat.

When training, you need to be consistent and firm. You need to show them that you’re the alpha dog and that they have to listen to you. Cane Corsos love being in charge, so you need to prevent them from believing they are pack leaders.

Positive reinforcement is the key to a well-behaved dog. By giving them praise and treats, you can correct most unwanted traits.

Also, you have to stop any signs of aggressive behavior the moment you notice them – but you have to be smart and know the proper technique.

Don’t be too harsh on your Cane Corso dog. Don’t yell at them, punish them, or be physical. This won’t make them less aggressive – on the contrary, it will confuse them, and they won’t know how to behave.

As a result, they might end up acting even more aggressively! If you do all the steps properly and complete the appropriate dog training, your Cane Corso can be an amazing dog.

Don’t hesitate to ask a professional dog trainer for help. This is especially important if you’re fairly new to raising strong, large dogs that need a firm hand. In fact, paying for basic obedience training is always recommended for dangerous dog breeds.

Are Cane Corsos Aggressive To Humans?

cane corso with its owner and her baby at her back

Cane Corsos are protective dogs. Unless you give them proper training, they won’t tolerate strangers coming into their territory. They’ll also be very protective of their owner, and they’ll do all they can to keep them safe from any harm.

Unfortunately, this can make unsocialized dogs a danger to other humans.

While a Cane Corso would never attack a close family member, the same cannot be said for anyone entering your house or even coming close to you during a walk. They’ll think everyone is coming to get you, and they’ll act in the only way they know how.

This is why socialization and puppy training is essential. It won’t take long for your new Cane Corso puppy to learn that not everyone is a threat, but without training, they won’t understand that.

It is essential that you ensure your Cane Corso is properly socialized before getting him into situations involving new people, especially small children.

Are Cane Corso Aggressive Toward Kids?

cane corso cuddled by a young kid with her grandmother in the livingroom's sofa

Theoretically, Cane Corsos aren’t any more aggressive toward children as they would be with any other human. In fact, they can be great companions for your kids, as they will protect them at all costs.

Some might even say that Cane Corsos bond with children much more than they would an adult, especially if you have a female!

Of course, socialization is extremely important, especially when you plan on combining such a big dog with little kids.

However, it isn’t recommended that you mix Cane Corsos with young children, no matter how well you’ve trained them.

These are large and strong dogs that might knock a child over unintentionally while running around or jumping. They might hurt them or even nip at them during rough play.

Your kids should also know how to behave around dogs. Children love to poke pets, pull dogs’ ears and touch their eyes, noses, and intimate regions.

This can irritate even the calmest dog, and when you have a massive dog like the Cane Corso, the situation can escalate to a dangerous level very quickly.

Are Cane Corsos Aggressive To Other Dogs?

cane corso looking at the other dog before a fight

Cane Corsos can get along well with other dogs if you’ve socialized them since they were puppies. However, they’ll commonly be aggressive toward dogs of the same sex.

Early socialization with other dogs and pets is essential to prevent territorial behaviors during walks or at the dog park. As mentioned several times before, this is a territorial breed, so attacks can happen if you haven’t taught your Cane Corso that not all dogs are a threat.

This dog breed has a high prey drive, and this can make them not get along well with smaller dogs or pets such as cats or rabbits. We wouldn’t recommend keeping Cane Corsos in a household without such pets.

They can also be aggressive to new dogs that come into your household, so you should always be wary when introducing a Cane Corso to another canine.

Are Cane Corsos Dangerous?

cane corso on ice lake lying down

Now that you know the answer to are Cane Corsos aggressive? you might be wondering how dangerous this aggressive behavior is.

Just like any other dog breed, the Cane Corso isn’t an outwardly dangerous dog. However, it can be dangerous in certain situations, especially if the right (or rather, wrong) conditions are met.

If you don’t keep your Cane Corso busy and socialize them, their dog aggression can become a problem.

These are mighty dogs that many find terrifying. Others, however, simply think they’re regal. Either way, when you walk your Cane Corso down the street, you can be certain no one will bother you!

Because of their strength and size, these dogs can be very dangerous unless socialized or if mistreated.

This can potentially cause a lot of issues for not just a Cane Corso owner but also for people and dogs around it. These dogs can bite, and they can cause significant harm, even death.

If you plan on becoming a Cane Corso owner, you need to be aware of their strength and temperament, and you need to actively want to socialize them. They aren’t naturally keen on strangers, so you need to expose them to new people and pets from puppyhood.

What Causes Aggression In Cane Corsos?

aggressive cane corso on leash held by its trainor

Cane Corsos are naturally more prone to aggressive behaviors than most other dog breeds. However, they won’t act in such a manner without reason. They’ll only resort to aggression when they feel it is the right reaction to a situation.

If you ever wondered, are Cane Corsos aggressive in all situations? you’ll be glad to hear that this isn’t the case. However, this won’t mean much if you aren’t able to recognize the potential causes of aggression in dogs.

If you own a young Cane Corso that still hasn’t received proper training or socialization, the chances of aggressive behaviors increase. This can include growling, aggressive body language, or even bite attempts.

While this is frustrating for any dog owner, it can be especially difficult for an owner of a dangerous breed who is trying to prove his dog can be just as sweet as any other pet.

Don’t panic if you notice signs of aggression in your pooch. Instead, try to find the cause of such behavior and contact a professional dog behaviorist for help!

Here are the most common causes of aggression in Cane Corsos:


While this might be difficult to believe, even Cane Corsos are afraid of various things. In fact, fear is the main source of aggression in all dog breeds, Cane Corsos included.

Behaviors that stem from fear usually occur due to a lack of proper socialization, abuse from a previous owner, or a bad experience with other people, dogs, or items.

The feeling of fear makes dogs believe they need to defend themselves, and the only way they know how to do so is to show aggression.

This is one of the reasons you should always get your Cane Corso puppy from a reputable breeder. This way, you’ll know who raised your dog, and you can be certain they grew up in a proper home and were cared for.

While adopting has many good sides, many dogs from animal shelters, unfortunately, have been severely abused, which makes it difficult for dangerous breed dogs, as they’ll have a stronger fear response, making them more likely to attack.

Feeling Possessive Or Territorial

Cane Corsos love their belongings. In fact, they love them so much they can become extremely aggressive when it comes to protecting things they cherish the most, and this includes their favorite dog toy, treat, piece of furniture, or even human.

If not trained out of this behavior, Cane Corsos will show aggressive tendencies toward other dogs or people when they get too close to their beloved things.

This type of aggression can end with a bite, so it’s very important you train your Cane Corso properly and teach him how to share.

Social Aggression

cane corso barking

Photo from: @presacanario_official

Dogs are naturally social creatures, but group living includes a strict hierarchy setting. There is a dominant pack leader, and other dogs have to be submissive. A dominant dog gets to eat first, choose his napping spot, and pick his mate.

If a lower pack member wants to disturb this order, the alpha dog can exhibit aggressive behaviors to ‘correct’ the other pup. This can result in growling or even snapping.

The Cane Corso is a breed that wants to become the main dog in the pack. Your Corso pup might try to challenge your leadership, and this is when aggression might occur.


Cane Corsos have been used as guard dogs for centuries. Their purpose is to protect their owners and other pack members. While this sounds beneficial, it can result in some dangerous behaviors.

Unless a dog is taught what the boundaries are, he’ll have a hard time differentiating between an intruder and a house guest.


A dog will get frustrated if he doesn’t get exactly what he wants. This can result in so-called redirected aggression in your four-legged best friend.

While Cane Corsos look regal, they can still behave like spoiled pups from time to time. If you don’t teach them how to listen to your commands, they might become aggressive if you don’t give them what they are asking for.


Just like humans, dogs too can have some mental health issues, and anxiety is the most common one.

Anxious dogs usually feel this way because they were abused by their previous owners. However, some dogs also get anxious if their environment has changed, for example, after a move or when you bring a new pet into the household.

If you notice your otherwise well-behaved Cane Corso has suddenly become more aggressive, try thinking if you’ve made some changes to his living space. If you have, chances are he needs some time to adapt.


Many dogs get agitated if they’re in pain. When something is hurting them, they only want these feelings to stop, so they’ll become moodier than usual.

Also, if you accidentally touch the part of the dog’s body that’s in pain, your pet might snap at you or even bite. He’s not doing this out of malice. This is the only way he can let you know to stop touching him.

If you’ve noticed a sudden change in your Cane Corso’s behavior, but you can’t seem to figure out the reason, take him to the vet, who can rule out any painful medical conditions. This is especially the case if aggressive behavior is followed by limping, lethargy, heavy breathing, or other symptoms of health issues.

Aggression Signs In Cane Corsos

cane corso jumping and running in blurred background outdoors

To fully know, are Cane Corsos aggressive? and if this behavior is a problem for your dog, you need to know how to recognize unwanted behaviors in canines.

Mistaking aggressive behavior with cute ones is likely in small breeds. With Cane Corsos, however, chances are you’ll know exactly when they are not in the mood.

Signs of aggression typically vary depending on the reason the dog is being aggressive. While not all dogs behave the same or have the same gestures, some things are usually easy to recognize.

For example, if your pup is dominant, some of the warning signs include staring, snarling, snapping and growling, standing tall, excessive barking, and carrying his tail high. On the other hand, an afraid dog will show submissive body language, such as a lowered head, tail tucked between legs, and avoidance of eye contact.

If your Cane Corso meets another dog and shows direct eye contact, posturing, lunging, pricked ears, raised hackles, or his teeth exposed, this means he’s telling the other dog to back off as he is prepared to fight.

It’s important to differentiate playful behavior from aggression. A dog who is just playing around can also bark and growl. However, if his body isn’t relaxed, he is most likely alert and ready to attack.

A common sign of possible aggression is humping. While it’s not necessarily a problem if your pup occasionally humps another dog, if this is something that’s happening all the time, your pooch has a tendency to express dominance. This will eventually lead to aggression.

However, if a dog limps, whines, walks hunched, or snaps when you touch a certain spot on his body, chances are that he isn’t aggressive but rather injured. Take him to the vet to rule out or confirm this possibility.

How To Prevent Dog Aggression

black cane corso standing in the autumn forest

Other than dog training, there are several things you can do to prevent unwanted behavior in your Cane Corso. Here are some things you can try out:

Early Socialization

Early socialization is essential for a well-behaved pup. In fact, the period before your dog is 16 weeks of age is essential for your Cane Corso. If, during this time, your puppy is kept locked up at the kennel or kept inside for too long, he’ll become more nervous around things he doesn’t know.

For many pups, it’s enough to just take your dog outside and allow him to meet other dogs and humans. However, Cane Corsos need extra care.

They should make friends with other dogs even before their first set of vaccines, as long as the situation is safe. This is another reason you should only buy Cane Corsos from responsible breeders who won’t miss this crucial teaching period.

Start Obedience Training Early

You should begin training your Cane Corso dog as soon as you get him home. Don’t wait until he’s older just because he is too cute, and you feel bad about being strict.

Adult Cane Corsos can be too strong to handle, even by a professional. You need to teach him the basics as early as possible, so you should begin immediately.

Teach Bite Inhibition

Bite inhibition is essential when you’re dealing with large dogs, even if your Cane Corso has been socialized to an extent as a puppy.

Most puppies have learned some bite inhibition while still with their mother and littermates. However, this isn’t enough, and you should teach him some bite inhibition as well.

There is some controversy about the best method for teaching bite inhibition. Some trainers recommend loud shrieking the moment your puppy’s teeth touch your skin. Others suggest you ‘scruffing’ the pup if he bites.

The best way to do so would be to tell him: ‘No!’, then stop playing for a while so he can learn that using his teeth means time out.

Whatever your preferred method be, you should teach your dog never to use their teeth while playing. All methods include letting him know that he’ll lose his playmate whenever he bites.

Let Him Know You’re The Leader

A Cane Corso will watch your behavior much more than most other dogs would. They’ll try to imitate it and to realize their place in your pack. It’s essential to let him know that you’re the alpha dog.

The best way to provide leadership is to make him follow commands such as ‘sit’ before he is given food, ‘wait’ at the door before you let him out, and telling him to ‘lie down’ or ‘sit’ while you’re doing something.

By teaching him that he’ll get what he wants after he obeys you, you’ll let him know that you are in charge. Don’t use force – but reward him when he does something right.

Keep Socializing Him Through Adulthood

two black cane corso puppies under red blanket

With a dog breed that has a war dog history, such as the Cane Corso, regular walks are not enough to ensure he is socialized. This is especially the case with dogs that haven’t been properly trained in puppyhood.

Once you buy your new puppy, expect him to be shy when you take him outside. This shyness can last for a while, but don’t let this worry you. However, you have to keep on socializing him all the time.

Make sure to always have a bag of your dog’s favorite treats with you – there are plenty of affordable brands on Amazon. Give him a treat every time he meets a new person or new dog and doesn’t show any signs of aggression.

Once your Cane Corso connects that meeting new people and dogs equals good things such as treats, he’ll be pleased to make new friends.

Stop Aggression The Moment It Starts

When your dog becomes an adult, there won’t be much you can do to stop him from being aggressive. You have to act now.

Aggressive behavior usually starts with some minor temperament flaws. For example, your puppy might growl or stare down your visitors. He might even let out a cute bark or two when your mother comes to visit.

Despite how trivial these behaviors might seem, they can escalate and become much worse over time. In fact, they most likely will become much worse as time passes.

If you manage to prevent these minor acts, you’re more likely to have less work later on when he is older.

Don’t Encourage Aggression

Some dog owners think that having a somewhat grumpy, temperamental dog is cute. Others want to have a dangerous dog that will quickly get rid of anyone who comes near their property. Neither of these are good.

The Cane Corso is a natural guardian. Members of this breed were made to be watchdogs. There is no need to teach them to be protective or wary of new situations. This will come naturally to them.

If you praise them when they bark, or if you encourage their growls, you can cause a big problem. Your dog can become excessively aggressive, and this is never a good thing when you have a Cane Corso.

Will Neutering Help?

cane corso puppy sleeping inside the bedroom

There is a rumor that neutering will magically ‘cure’ an aggressive male dog and that this will keep him from being dangerous to other dogs. However, this isn’t entirely the case.

Neutering can help with dog on dog aggression as it will lower your pup’s need to be dominant. However, this behavior won’t entirely disappear just because his testosterone levels are lowered.

As you’ve learned, all dogs, no matter their breed, can become aggressive for many reasons. Neutering helps with only one. This means that this isn’t the answer.

The only way to make sure your Cane Corso isn’t aggressive is to properly train him. This will teach him how to behave in a friendly manner, and it will help you showcase the best dog possible.

Still, unless you plan on breeding your Cane Corso dog, you should fix him, whether that be spaying or neutering. This can lower the chances of dog attacks.

Not just that but neutering can prevent or lower the chances of many common Cane Corso health problems.

So, Are Cane Corsos Aggressive?

cane corso competing in lure coursing competition

The Cane Corso breed can be considered an aggressive breed, but especially if you don’t take your time to train them properly.

Despite this, they make good family dogs, and they can be extremely loyal to their owners. To get the best out of them, it would be wise to work with a professional dog trainer who can help you teach your dog proper behavior.

If you’re inexperienced with owning large dogs, it might be wise not to start with this majestic breed, as it requires a lot of skill and patience.

However, if you’re an experienced owner, especially if you’ve dealt with rescue dogs, special-needs canines, or other pets that might be difficult to train, chances are you’ll do a great job of raising a perfect companion dog.

Dog ownership comes with a lot of responsibility, and you should never opt for a dog breed that may be too much for you to handle.

Choose a pet that is a good fit for your lifestyle and one that you can control. This way, you’ll have a great dog that will be with you for a very long time.

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Are Cane Corsos Aggressive The Story Behind This Dangerous Dog Breed

Are Cane Corsos Aggressive? The Story Behind This Dangerous Dog Breed