1. What are your top tips for choosing the right Cane Corso from either a breeder or rescue? Picking the right Cane Corso depends on several factors. The first step is to find a breeder you connect with, one that you are comfortable working with, one you trust to give you the best fit for your family and needs. The breeder you choose should know their lines, what temperaments and drives the pair they have bred will produce. Your breeder should know your family structure (whether young children are in the home), your dog experience with strong dominant type breeds, and your personal goals with your dog. You should be able to trust your breeder to help you choose a puppy that is going to fit within your family and lifestyle. Corso come in temperaments ranging from highly dominant, high drive to highly social dogs. Your breeder should know the puppy pack as it develops temperaments to know which puppies are more dominant, which puppies have more drive for working, and which puppies are the beta’s. All of these factors go into the choosing of a puppy for family guardian, work or show. The worst nightmare is to go pick a puppy without any of these questions being addressed. If a breeder allows you to pick a Corso on your own, without knowledge of your family structure, dog experience and goals, you’re in for a potential nightmare. If you get a Corso that is too dominant or too drivey, you won’t have a dog you can enjoy, you’ll have an alpha dog running your household, growling at the children and aggressively threatening anyone that comes to your front door. Bottom line is; You want to find a breeder who will work for YOU not just producing product for your money. You are not buying a dog, you are paying the breeder for their knowledge and expertise in the breed, their lines and knowing which pup will work in your family. If you decide to rescue. All of these factors count even more AND you need to know how to handle stressful situations for the dog if they arise. I do not recommend rescuing if there are very young children in the family only because you just don’t know the history, lines, or temperaments that went into the dog you are considering.
2.What are some of the most unique characteristics of the breed? The Cane Corso is a thinking dog. A lot of applicants think they will need to take their Corso to protection training, this is not true. Traditional protection training does not fit well with the Cane Corso because the training expects robotic like obedience to commands. The Cane Corso has a natural protection instinct along with thinking ability, so training has to take a different approach. When the Corso encounters a threat, three things happen; One, the dog will wait on you and your response, If the dog picks up on a nervous energy from you they will be on alert and will put their body between you and any approaching threat. If the threat continues, they will use only the force necessary to stop the threat, which is usually to only “hold” the threat in place until you handle the situation and release them. The Corso does not come out aggressively reacting to strangers or threats, they will calmly think through a situation.
3.What do most people not know about Cane Corsos that would surprise them? The Corso wants to help you do whatever your doing. I saw a post once where a lady would try to sooth her crying baby by standing and bouncing the baby. The Corso would continuously jump up on the lady when she did this, she was wondering what to do to stop the "bad" behavior. It can be an easy fix, but what was brought out is that the dog was trying to “help” the woman with whatever she was doing with the baby, it translated into jumping up for the dog. Their main goal is to do whatever your doing and help you in any way they can. If your digging a hole with a shovel, they will join in with paws, if you herding chickens- they will see what your doing and begin to help herd the chickens into the pen....all instinctively
4.How would you recommend people prepare their home for the arrival of their new puppy?
An extra Large indoor crate.
Leash, Choke collar for training purposes
Tight woven ropes for play.
Raw meaty bones for teeth cleaning. NO cooked bones(too hard and brittle) and NO rawhide.
I also recommend a 10x20 Heavy duty welded wire outdoor crate with dog house for when the owners are at work. They can put the dog outside for the day where the dog is getting outside stimulation and sunshine, instead of leaving them inside in a crate for long periods of time.
NO cheap toys, must be a tough, strong, heavy duty toy.
NO stuffed animal squeaky toys, they will tear them up in 30 seconds and the potential for the dog to eat the stuffing and get a blockage is extremely high. This is life threatening.
NO rawhide. They will eat it and it will kill your dog.
Learn dog language and study pack behavior, learn to be an alpha, watch you tube wolf pack videos. You don't have to be an expert, but knowing alpha behaviors will help you recognize it in your puppy, if you don't know what to look for, you'll never know when it happens until it's too late.
5.What are some unexpected things a new Cane Corso owner might encounter the first few weeks? Their sweet puppy becomes dominant and starts pushing weaker members of the family “pack” around. This cannot be allowed. The Corso puppy will go into a home and immediately read the family. Knowing how to be alpha(A good leader, not a tyrant) to your Corso puppy is crucial. This behavior must be corrected while they are small and easy to control. The worst thing that can happen is the family allows this behavior, maybe not recognizing alpha behavior in the dog, and then when the dog gets 2 years old and 110lbs and the dog is growling at the kids and trying to eat the neighbors kids or postman when they come up to the door….not a happy situation, and completely avoidable if owners learn dog language and pack behavior early.
6.What house-training advice do you have for a new owner? Crate train the puppy. Take outside immediately after bringing the pup out of the crate. Feed outside and wait for the puppy to go potty, then bring back inside. 99% of the time the puppy will potty almost immediately after eating. If you have accidents, rinse well with vinegar and water.
7.What tips do you have for socializing your Cane Corso with other pets? The owner is in control of how the puppy acts in any situation. What they allow will become a part of how the dog acts in the future. Corso see every person and animal in the home as part of the pack. Corso also have a natural catch and herding drive, so if you allow the puppy to chase the cat, chickens..ect. They will always chase to catch. If you correct the behavior the first few times it happens, the puppy will learn that chasing is not allowed, and you don’t need your cat caught.
8.How much exercise does a Cane Corso need? What are some good exercise habits to develop?
The first 6-7 months of the puppy’s life will make or break their hips. Most people think they need to take their puppy out on walks everyday, this is one of the worst things a new owner can do. Puppies only need play time “exercise” in grass the first 7 months. Taking the puppy on a long walk in the neighborhood to “burn” energy will only mal-form the rapidly growing hips and joints. Short, leash training walks are needed for leash training, just avoid long strenuous walks. Long walks along with slick flooring in the home and stairs are a puppy’s number one nemesis.
9.How easy or hard are they to train? What advice do you have for a new owner? Corso are extremely easy to train. Start training as soon as they get into the home. The puppy must learn to trust you 100% to make all the decisions(you are alpha). The entire family must learn to be alpha with the puppy, Dad, Mom and kids; I recommend mom and kids do the obedience training which will teach the dog to obey them and teach the family to be confident with the dog. The dogs naturally pick up on men as alpha in the family and will naturally comply. It’s a different story with mom and kids, the pup will perceive who is weaker and will try to push that member around….almost like a sibling rivalry situation…I tell people, they are just like kids, if you let them get away with bad behavior, they will become a brat. The biggest thing for Corso is, if they know what you expect from them(rules) and you treat them fair, they will naturally comply. A Corso will sulk if you yell at them. They will pick up on every emotion and energy in the family and will mirror that back.
10. What are some unwanted behaviors that a Cane Corso might display, and what advice do you have for dealing with them? The one trait I watch for is the dominance level of a puppy. If a family gets a dominant puppy and does not know how to alpha lead that puppy, the puppy will alpha lead the owners. This translates into an aggressive dog making decisions for the family. It will not allow anyone not in the immediate family in the home. The dog will aggressively guard it’s food bowl, toys, or anything else it deems as his. It’s not aggression, it’s alpha dominance behavior, and when a dog thinks he’s in charge of the pack and the other members do not understand pack language, the potential for getting bit(dog communication) is high.
11. Do they make good travel companions? Why or why not?
Absolutely. Most Corso are fairly social and enjoy people. As long as the dog trusts you to make decisions you can take them just about anywhere. They are naturally protective, so they need to trust that you do not need protecting 100% of the time anyone approaches. They generally do not do well at dog parks. This is not a dog park dog.
12. Do they have any specific diet needs, or differences from other breeds?
No. I always recommend feeding a raw diet for optimal health.
13. What grooming tips do you have?
Only bathe as absolutely needed. Use a gentle shampoo that won’t strip all the coat oils away. you won’t have to trim nails if the dog is getting enough walking, or yard time. The nails will stay naturally trim from the ground.
14. What kind of shedding should an owner expect? Any advice? Some in the Spring, deal with it, get over it all dogs shed....except the hairless breeds....
15. Can you speak to some of the genetic health concerns associated with Cane Corsos? The two health concerns that are perceived to be genetic issues, that I can address, are Cherry Eye and hip Dysplasia.
As a dog owner and breeder, I have always gone against the grain of “normal” in modern dog ownership/breeding.
I have fed a raw diet since 2010 and I have 3 generations of 100% raw fed dogs. I use herbal, holistic approaches to health. I do not use heartworm pills and my only vaccinations are DHPP in pups and Rabies.
Because of these factors, I can say that I have not had one puppy produced that has cherry eye and I have a handful(Less than 5) owners that have reported hip dysplasia. I do not produce puppies with allergies, skin conditions, heart, or elbow conditions. Allergies, yeast, and skin conditions are all caused by diet & a weak immune system 100% of the time. So how can my kennel have zero “genetic” issues? I screen for genetic disease through Embark and for the rest of the issues, It all has to do with a healthy immune system. The cherry eye is caused by a weak immune system. If a dog is fed vet recommended kibble(doggy fast food), given every vaccination recommended by the vet, on heartworm and flea pills(pesticides in the bloodstream) and it’s parents were fed kibble, given every vaccination, on lifetime heartworm-flea pills….ect, ect…each generation of puppy de-generates. The cherry eye pops out early on in the puppy and the only “cure” the vets have is surgery. (there are natural ways to help the eyelid go back into place)
Same premise for the hips and bones. There is no “gene” responsible for hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip socket and weak muscles. The seemingly “genetic” issue of hip dysplasia has more to do with diet and exercise than genetics. The first 6 month a puppy’s life will make or break their hips, and 90% of that responsibility lies on the new owner. A puppy fed kibble grows too fast and is almost always overweight. A raw fed puppy gets muscle strengthening through tugging and pulling while eating, grows slower and is never overweight. A puppy exercised in a walk every day on hard concrete is too strenuous. Playtime exercise on the soft grass is all that is needed for a puppy. The breeder’s responsibility lies in the health of the stock used in breeding and the whelping box. If a breeder allows puppies to “swim” on a slick surface (we’ve ALL seen pics of puppies in a kiddy pool on newspapers) those puppies have a greater chance of developing hip dysplasia. Puppies MUST have a stable surface that their back legs can “grab” into and they can push on. Puppies on a good stable surface will keep their back legs underneath them while nursing and pushing into mom…not swimming on the belly with legs out to the side.All of these factors play a huge role in hip dysplasia. The OFA/Pennhip x-rays and scores are only a picture of the condition of a dogs skeleton and joint laxity in one particular moment in time. They are not indicators of genetic issues. They can not determine if that individual dog will produce hip dysplasia in their prodigy. Breeders who rely on these tests to determine a largely environmental and dietary issue will continue to produce dysplasia. My goal as a breeder is to eliminate all possibility of dysplasia in any puppy I produce from my kennel, the only way to do that is through educating puppy owners on the causes of dysplasia and how to avoid it 100%.