The Cane Corso is a loyal, intelligent and a loving dog to its family. If you are interested in adopting a Cane Corso, please be prepared to work with a dog trainer weekly for at least the first 6 months you own your new companion. Understand your new companion's needs before you bring her home. While most Corsos are easy to train, dogs in rescued may require socialization and "retraining" in order to thrive. Be honest about what an ideal scenario would be for you and your family and talk with the rescue to make sure you find a dog that is right for you.
How to pronounce the breed name: Cane Corso is pronounced "KAH-Nay KOR-So" Not "cain corso" or "king Corso" and most folks use the shortened term "Corso" to refer to the breed :)
DON'T GET A CANE CORSO if you are attracted to the breed chiefly by its appearance. A dog's breed doesn't make you look more MANLY! If you would like a dog because you think he looks tough or makes you look powerful, this is not a reason to get a Cane Corso. Once they grow out of their "cute" puppy stage, the Cane Corso is a ~110+ lb. dog that requires heavy socialization and training by an experienced "alpha" owner, as they are not a "happy-go lucky" mastiff - they will not "love" everyone they meet. They are indifferent to other people and dogs and VERY protective of their family and home. CC's are unique, intensely loyal, protective, sensitive, and serious dogs - traits that require thoughtful consideration before adopting a dog.
DON'T GET A CANE CORSO if you don't intend to educate (train) your dog. Basic obedience and household rules training is NOT optional for the Cane Corso. As an absolute minimum, you must teach him to reliably respond to commands to come, to lie down, to stay, and to walk at your side, on or off leash and regardless of temptations. You must also teach him to respect your household rules: e.g., is he allowed to get on the furniture? Is he allowed to beg at the table? What you allow or forbid is unimportant; but it is critical that you, not the dog, make these choices and that you enforce your rules consistently. You must commit yourself to attending an 8 to 10 week series of weekly lessons at a local obedience club or professional trainer and to doing one or two short (5 to 20 minutes) homework sessions per day. As commands are learned, they must be integrated into your daily life by being used whenever appropriate and enforced consistently.
Young CC puppies are relatively easy to train: they are eager to please, intelligent, and calm-natured, with a relatively good attention span. Once a CC has learned something, he tends to retain it well. Your cute, sweet little Cane Corso puppy will grow up to be a large, powerful dog with a highly self-assertive personality and the determination to finish whatever he starts. If he has grown up respecting you and your rules, then all his physical and mental strength will work for you. But if he has grown up without rules and guidance from you, surely he will make his own rules, and his physical and mental powers will often act in opposition to your needs and desires. For example: he may tow you down the street as if competing in a weight pull trial; he may grab food off the table; he may forbid your guests entry to his home. This training cannot be delegated to someone else, e.g., by sending the dog away to "boarding school," because the relationship of respect and obedience is personal between the dog and the individual who does the training. This is true of all dogs to a greater or lesser degree, but definitely to a very great degree in CC's. While you definitely may want the help of an experienced trainer to teach you how to train your dog, you yourself must actually train your Cane Corso. As each lesson is well learned, then the rest of the household (except young children) must also work with the dog, insisting he obey them as well.
Many of the CC's that are rescued from pounds and shelters show clearly that they have received little or no basic training, neither in obedience nor in household department; yet these same dogs respond well to such training by the rescuer or the adopter. It seems likely that a failure to train the dog is a significant cause of CC abandonment. If you don't intend to educate your dog, preferably during puppyhood, you would be better off with a breed that is both small and socially submissive, e.g., a Shetland Sheepdog. Such a dog does require training, but a little bit goes further than with a Cane Corso. CC's can, with adequate training, excel at such working competitions as field trials and hunt tests, obedience, agility, and tracking.
DON'T GET A CANE CORSO if you lack leadership (self-assertive) personality. Dogs do not believe in social equality. They live in a social hierarchy led by a pack-leader (Alpha). The alpha dog is generally benevolent, affectionate, and non-bullying towards his subordinates; but there is never any doubt in his mind or in theirs that the alpha is the boss and makes the rules. Whatever the breed, if you do not assume the leadership, the dog will do so sooner or later, and with more or less unpleasant consequences for the abdicating owner. Like the untrained dog, the pack leader dog makes his own rules and enforces them against other members of the household by means of a dominant physical posture and a hard-eyed stare, followed by a snarl, then a knockdown blow or a bite. Breeds differ in tendencies towards social dominance; and individuals within a breed differ considerably.
CC's as a breed tend to be of a socially dominant personality. You really cannot afford to let a Cane Corso become your boss. You do not have to have the personality or mannerisms of a Marine boot camp Sergeant, but you do have to have the calm, quiet self-assurance and self assertion of the successful parent ("Because I'm your mother, that's why.") or successful grade-school teacher. If you think you might have difficulty asserting yourself calmly and confidently to exercise leadership, then choose a breed known for its socially subordinate disposition, such as a Golden Retriever or a Shetland Sheepdog, and be sure to ask the breeder to select one of the more submissive pups in the litter for you. If the whole idea of "being the boss" frightens or repels you, don't get a dog at all. Cats don't expect leadership. A caged bird or hamster, or fish doesn't need leadership or household rules. Leadership and training are inextricably intertwined: leadership personality enables you to train your dog, and being trained by you reinforces your dog's perception of you as the alpha.
DON'T GET A CANE CORSO if you want a totally unaggressive and unprotective dog. Most CC's have an assertive and confident personality. When confronted with a threat, a proper Cane Corso will be somewhat more ready to fight than to flee. Thus he may respond aggressively in situations where many other breeds back down. Most CC's have some inclination to act aggressively to repel intruders on their territory (i.e.,your home) and to counteract assaults upon their packmates (you and your family). Without training and leadership from you to guide him, the dog cannot judge correctly whom to repel and whom to tolerate. Without training and leadership, sooner or later he may injure an innocent person who will successfully sue you for more than you own. With good training and leadership from you, he can be profoundly valuable as a defender of your home and family. (See also remarks on stability and socialization below.)
If you feel no need of an assertive dog, if you are embarrassed by a barking dog at your door, or if you have the slightest doubts of your ability and willingness to supply the essential socialization, training and leadership, then please choose one of the many breeds noted for thoroughly unaggressive temperament, such as a Sheltie or a Golden Retriever.
DON'T GET A CANE CORSO if you are unwilling to share your house and your life with your dog. CC's were bred to share in the work of the family and to spend most of their waking hours working with the family. They thrive on companionship and they want to be wherever you are. They are happiest living with you in your house and going with you when you go out. While they usually tolerate being left at home by themselves, they should not be relegated to the backyard or kennel. A puppy exiled from the house is likely to grow up to be unsociable (fearful and/or unprovokedly aggressive), unruly, and unhappy. He may well develop pastimes, such as digging or barking, that will displease you and/or your neighbors. An adult so exiled will be miserable too. If you don't strongly prefer to have your dog's companionship as much as possible, enjoying having him sleep in your bedroom at night and sharing many of your activities by day, you should choose a breed less oriented to human companionship. Likewise, if your job or other obligations prevent you from spending much time with your dog. No dog is really happy without companionship, but the pack hounds are more tolerant of being kenneled or yarded so long as it is in groups of 2 or more. A better choice would be a cat, as they are solitary by nature.