The Cane Corso is a fierce, yet surprisingly calm mastiff-type breed that ranks high among all top guard dogs. They’re durable, strong and confident dogs. But as a parent with kids, you may wonder if these big dogs will get along with kids.
The Cane Corso is a great family dog for homes with older kids. Because they were bred with a calm and reserve temperament, the Cane Corso has the patience to handle the rough play of kids when properly trained. However, due to of the sheer size and strength of the dog, they can inadvertently hurt smaller kids and infants.
It can be a scary feeling when bringing home such a large and powerful dog. These are crucial concerns that all parents should consider. So to help you make a decision, we broke down the reasons why Corsos make good family dogs, plus potential pitfalls.
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The Cane Corso’s Temperament
Despite their fearsome looks, the Cane Corso has one of the best temperaments in the canine kingdom. But don’t just take our word for it. According to the American Temperament Test Society, the Cane Corso scored an 88.1% pass rate on the temperament test.
In other words, out of the 235 Cane Corsos tested by the ATTS, 207 of them passed with flying colors. This puts them above some of the most popular dog breeds, in terms of temperaments. For example, Golden Retrievers had a lower 85.6% pass rate.
That’s not to say Cane Corsos are “friendlier” than Golden Retrievers. Rather, it means they’re less likely to react negatively to unpredictable stimuli, such as children. So how exactly were the temperaments measured in dogs?
Measuring the Corso’s Temperament
The ATTS was founded in 1977 as a non-profit striving to provide a uniformed program in the testing of dog temperaments. All in all, they’ve conducted tens of thousands of tests within the past few decades.
They test individual dogs based on motivation, canine psychology, reactions and other aspects of a dog’s temperament. And while the test itself is simple, it tells us a lot about how dogs may or may not react to environmental factors.
Here’s the standard of procedure for the 12-minute test:
- The Cane Corso is placed on a 6-foot leash and put into a large enclosure.
- Three highly-trained evaluators will observe and score the Corso from a distance.
- Next, the dog is given a variety of stimuli to measure their reaction.
- Judges score the dog and give a pass/fail.
- With the final result, majority rules. The Cane Corso needed 2 out of 3 judges to pass him before receiving a final pass.
If the Cane Corso showed any signs of panic, strong aloofness or unprovoked aggression, the dog will fail. I’ll admit, this isn’t the best test. However, it still provides insight to how the breed may potentially react with rowdy kids.
For reference, the average dog breed’s pass rate of the temperament test is 83.4%. So really, the Cane Corso performed significantly better than most dog breeds. Of course, this may vary by individual dogs.
4 Reasons Why Cane Corsos Are Good With Kids
Head on in a temperament test, Cane Corsos rise above the rest. But what actually makes the Corso such a great dog for kids? We examine these dogs to look for the qualities that make them perfectly suited for life with children.
1. The Cane Corso is Calm and Reserved
When dealing with a big dog, the last thing you’ll want is a high-energy breed around your kids. Even if they’re super friendly, compassionate and sweet, they can still unintentionally knock down a small child without even noticing.
Fortunately for parents, Cane Corsos are known to be calm, docile and reserved. And according to the Honest Kitchen, these dogs are as calm and collected as any. Though puppies may have an energetic phase, adult Corsos tend to mellow out.
It’s kind of crazy to hear about hyper Cane Corsos. I always thought that Corsos were so placid. My previous pup, Queen, was so calm.-Rebperry (Mastiff Forum)
In addition, calmer dogs like the Cane Corso tend to be more predictable. It’s not really in their nature to sporadically jump around and potentially lunge at kids. When the dog is stable, it’s much easier for kids to form bonds.
The data collected from ATTS is a strong indicator of a calm temperament. Over 85% of Cane Corsos did not react to unpredictability in the environment. As such, it’s a great sign for parents looking into keeping the Cane Corso.
2. They’re Good Guardians for Kids
Originally bred to hunt wild board and other large game, Cane Corsos possess instincts that perfectly transition into guarding and protecting. Not only are they superb family dogs, but also top guard dogs for the home, including your kids.
The Cane Corso may be one of the most underrated guard dogs. They may not have the prestige of the Rottweiler, but they have the smarts and physical ability to be great. And according to The Spruce Pets, they’re one of the best in the business.
In a social gathering they are typically more relaxed. This can change when my kids are involved, as they then tend to keep a very close eye on them at all times.– Black Shadow (Mastiff Forum)
When properly trained and socialized, the Cane Corso can be a great second pair of eyes on your kids. However, we would never suggest leaving your dog home alone with a small kid. However, if a stranger approaches them, you can be sure they’ll investigate.
3. Cane Corsos Can Stand Rough Play
The Cane Corso is a mastiff dog breed. These types of dogs are famously known for being big strong dogs with substantial heft. While this can be both a pro and con, in this case, the durability of the Corso is a huge plus.
According to the AKC, a Cane Corso can grow up to 28 inches tall at the shoulder! Depending on the gender, they may weigh anywhere between 88 to 110 pounds! The chances of a child knocking over a Corso are slim to none.
It’s no secret: kids will be kids, that is, they’ll likely play rough and be rowdy. However, not all dog breeds respond well to this rough play. For example, the small Chihuahua tends to snap back at this behavior. It’s why they’re aren’t best for small kids.
Cane Corsos, on the other hand, can handle the roughness from the little ones. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t saying tail-pulling and riding the dog is okay. But combined with their patience, it may take a lot for them to react hostile to a kid.
4. The Cane Corso is Quiet
For the most part, a Cane Corso will be a silent dog. They won’t likely bark unless there’s some reason to, such as an approaching stranger or intruder on the property. In fact, it’s this quality that makes the Cane Corso such an attractive guard dog.
And as a parent, you may already know that sporadic loud noises and young kids, especially toddlers, don’t mix well. That is, excessive and loud barking can startle a young child and put them into tears within seconds.
However, some Cane Corsos are still very vocal dogs. But instead of barking, they’ll just snort, grunt and even snore loudly in slumber. Still, it’s much better than consistently producing the loud and deep barks that they’re highly capable of.
3 Potential Dangers of Cane Corsos & Kids
It’s true that the Cane Corso has many ideal qualities that make them great dogs for kids. Even so, there are things to consider and be aware of, before bringing one home. After all, these big dogs are powerful and can pose a threat to children.
1. Cane Corsos have High Prey Instincts
Like with most hunting dogs, the Cane Corso will have high prey drive. After all, the dog’s instincts are what made them special hunting dogs in the first place. If they see a squirrel or possum run through the yard, they’ll likely start chasing.
The problem with this is that the Cane Corso could potentially view young children as “prey.” When kids run around and squeal, they’re exhibiting prey-like behaviors. This may be a bigger problem in early on, as they’re still getting to know the kids.
But if you bring your children’s friends over to play, this could be a different story. If “stranger” kids are chasing around your kids, the Cane Corso may feel the urge to intervene. And, it may not end so well for the other kids.
This scenario is why it’s so important for Cane Corsos to have extensive socializing early on. The more children (of all ages) they interact with, the more likely they’ll be able to differentiate the “fun play” from aggressive behaviors.
2. They Have Dominant Personalities
The good news is that Cane Corsos are relatively easy to train. Thanks to their people-loving attitude and an eagerness to please, they tend to respond well to obedience. Still, they can be difficult to handle due to their dominant nature.
As a result, we don’t recommend Cane Corsos for first time owners or novice trainers. They will closely observe you (the owner), much more than a small lap dog would. But they’re doing this because they’re looking for leadership in the pack.
If you don’t firmly hold the “alpha dog” title, it’s likely a Cane Corso will try to assume the alpha role in the family. Of course, this could lead to troublesome behaviors down the line, especially if they will be interacting with kids.
When we suggest establishing dominance, we’re not suggesting showing aggression towards the dog to say “i’m the boss.” Often times, this may lead to fear or anxiety, which can result in aggressive behaviors from the dog.
There’s a lack of clear communication between dog and human. So, it’s up to the owners to guide the Cane Corso and teach acceptable behaviors. For example, teach them to sit before eating a meal. Or, make them wait at the door before leaving the home.
All these little obedience tendencies will accumulate into clear dominance of the owner. So when we say establish dominance, we’re really saying focus on obedience and training.
3. Cane Corsos are Big Dogs
We’ve already discussed how the Cane Corso’s size can actually be an advantage for homes with kids. On the contrary, it can potentially be a pitfall for young children too. No matter how calm they may be, accidents can still happen.
All it takes is for an excited Cane Corso tail to swipe a child in the face (though, many will have a bobtail) to bring them into tears. Similarly, they may also inadvertently turn around and knock over a small kid. It is something parents need to be aware of.
Being a big and calm dog is a good thing for kids, but it doesn’t guarantee no accidents. For this reason, we mostly recommend these dogs for older kids. In addition, the two should never play together without some supervision.
Training Cane Corsos With Kids
When it comes to bringing a Cane Corso into a home with children, training can make or break the relationship or experience. We cannot stress how important this on-going step will be in raising a loving, affectionate and kid-friendly dog.
Without proper obedience and socialization training, you may end up with a more volatile dog in the home. In turn, this may lead to destructive behavior and ultimately, mishaps. The Cane Corso isn’t a small dog – they can potentially do serious damage.
Teach Kids to Respect the Cane Corso
First things first, you’ll need to train your kids to be around the Cane Corso. That’s right, training goes both ways. Calm dogs, such as the Corso, don’t usually lash out at people without some type of trigger in the environment.
It can be loud noises, startling them or general rough play. So if you can teach your kids to limit these behaviors, you’ll decrease the chance of your Corso reacting aggressively. The best way to accomplish this is by setting ground rules.
These are just some suggestions to start. Depending on your kids and dog, you may want to add more or take out some:
- No pulling on the skin, tail or ears of the Cane Corso.
- Never try to ride the dog on the back.
- Try not to make loud noises at or around the Cane Corso.
- Always approach the dog slowly – don’t run at him.
- Give the dog space when he’s eating or playing with his toy.
- Don’t run away from the dog. He may see you as a “prey.”
Children are great visual learners, just like with dogs. You’ll want to show them how to properly handle and interact with the Cane Corso. If they see you following the ground rules, they’ll more than likely follow suit.
Socialization Training is Important
Socializing is the training process where you expose your puppy to a variety of people, places, kids and other dogs. This will have a permanent effect on their temperament, and ensures they grow up to be well-adjusted to modern life.
According to the Animal Humane Society, the best time to start socializing your Cane Corse is around 3 weeks of age. During this small window of learning, they’re more likely to absorb all the sights, noises and feelings, without becoming anxious or scared.
Socializing is the most important part of training for a Cane Corso. It’s actually the exposure that makes them end up as the great dogs that everyone thinks they are.– NetCorso55 (Mastiff Forum)
Socialization with kids is especially important with the Cane Corso because of their prey drive and ability to exhibit destructive behaviors. Not only do you want to expose them to kids in your home, but also other kids of all ages.
It’s during this time when your Cane Corso will learn whether your kids are playing with other people or being attacked. As such, the long-lasting effects on their personality will mold them into the fantastic family dogs we believe them to be.
Cane Corso Obedience Training
It’s absolutely crucial you start obedience training young, that is, if you want them to happily co-exist with your children and develop a strong bond. The earlier you start, the easier it’ll be to form kid-friendly habits and behaviors in them.
It’s not essential you go the full mile and train every command you can think of, though it isn’t a bad idea. But at the least, you’ll want to get the basics down. For example, you might want to teach your Corso the following:
- Sit – Getting your Cane Corso to sit down should be the foundation of obedience training.
- Heel – This command will teach your dog to walk next to you, as opposed to walking in front. It’s a great command for better control of your Corso.
- Down – One of the more difficult basic commands, though it’s a great way for getting your dog to relax and calm down.
- Leave it – When your Cane Corso becomes intrigued, or if their prey drive kicks in, this is the perfect command to stop them in their tracks.
- Stay – This is yet another important command, as it helps teach your dog self control.
If you want a deeper look into the steps of training the 5 basic commands, we recommend this guide by South Boston Animal Hospital.
Obedience training is crucial for a few reasons. If and when they start becoming rowdy or “dangerous” around kids, you can quickly bring them back. If an untrained Cane Corso is being rough, you’d have no other options of communicating to stop.
By going through the basic obedience training sessions, you’re developing trust and nurturing your bond with the dog. This step is especially crucial for strong-willed and dominant breeds such as the Cane Corso.
After you’ve taught your Cane Corso these commands, get the kids involved too. It’s a great idea to let your children practice obedience with the dog.
Not only will this further develop a great relationship between the two, but also tells the dog that kids are above them in the pack “hierarchy.” Just make sure the kids give positive praises and treats the training session.
Do you own a Cane Corso? Let us know how they are with kids in the comments section!
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