Cane Corso, also known as Italian Mastiffs, are imposing dogs often used as guard and protection dogs. With their muscular build, strong charisma, and confident character, they are an impressive sight. But what about their hunting instincts? Do Cane Corsos have a strong prey drive? This question is on the minds of many potential owners interested in this dog breed. In this blog, we will look in-depth at the Cane Corso hunting behavior and the factors that can influence their hunting instincts. We will also discuss how to deal with a Cane Corso with a strong hunting instinct and what steps you can take to control it.
Cane Corso used to be used as guard dogs and hunting dogs for big games. For this reason, and because every dog has a more or less natural prey drive, Cane Corso can also have a strong prey drive. However, depending on the dog, this can be pronounced differently.
Are Cane Corsos hunting dogs?
Cane Corso used to be used for hunting big game. However, they are not classic hunting dogs that are still regularly used in hunting today.
Instead, Cane Corso are guard and protection dogs whose task was and still is to guard the houses, farms, and Italy. Cane Corsos have a strong guarding and protecting instinct and would not hesitate to defend you in danger.
At the same time, Cane Corsos are becoming more and more popular as family dogs. They are extremely fond of children, cuddly, and have a high irritation threshold.
Do Cane Corsos have a prey drive?
Prey drive is when Cane Corso, or a dog, picks up the scent of an animal and chases it. All dog breeds have prey drive (hunting instinct) to some extent, as they originally descended from wolves, which depend on them to pursue their prey.
The prey drive/hunting instinct is differently pronounced in our dogs through selective breeding due to the areas of use.
Even though it cannot be said that Cane Corso are hunting dogs, they can have a strong prey drive. However, since there is no emphasis on breeding on a pronounced prey drive, this does not have to be the case with every Cane Corso – but it cannot be ruled out.
When I run with Malou, our Cane Corso, in the fields and a rabbit or a deer crosses our path, I sometimes have problems holding her because she wants to start the chase directly and run after it.
This is precisely what happened just before in the picture below. A deer jumped over the road about 2 meters in front of us. Malou could hardly be stopped.
However, I can not say how far Malou would chase. I suspect that she would turn around after a few meters. It is, I think, rather the movement stimulus at the beginning and then quickly decreases.
How to wean a Cane Corso off the prey drive?
Breaking a Cane Corso, or dog in general, of the prey drive can be exhausting. This is because your Cane Corso releases happiness hormones during the hunt, which positively reinforce it, and hunting is simply an innate instinct.
Redirect hunting instinct/prey drive.
One way to get the prey drive under control is to use the existing energy and redirect it. For this purpose, activities that have nothing to do with hunting are suitable so as not to encourage the behavior. Alternatives such as baiting, retrieving, or searching games may be unsuitable as they train or simulate hunting.
What often works well are physical and especially mental pursuits to redirect energy into. For example, running, biking, agility, and obedience training are good for tiring out your Cane Corso and turning energy meaningfully.
In parallel, frustration tolerance and impulse control exercises are excellent and important to resist the stimulus to want to run after now.
This starts at feeding time when your Cane Corso has the full bowl in front of him but is not allowed to go until you give the OK. There are many more exercises on this topic.
Channeling the hunting instinct
Another possibility is to focus the existing energy of the hunting instinct and sensibly direct the energy. So you let your dog’s prey drive run free but discharge it playfully. This is done through playful activities that are part of the hunt-prey cycle.
Hunting-prey-circle: Orientation – Fixing – Stalking – Hunting – Packing – Killing – Dismembering – Eating
For example, tugging games (grabbing), stimulus fishing (rushing), searching games (tracking).
Your dog, in our case, a Cane Corso, is allowed to satisfy his prey drive in an orderly, sensible way. He gets the positive satisfaction of hunting playfully, is happy and tired, and ideally, will no longer run after every deer on a walk.
Conclusion: Do Cane Corsos have a prey drive?
Cane Corsos can have prey drive / hunting instinct and want to run after a rabbit or deer on a walk all at once. In a certain way, every dog has a more or less strong hunting instinct furthered by specific breeding.
I am Marco, and I am very lucky to live with 3 big Mastiff-type dogs. In this blog, I want to share all my experiences and knowledge about dogs.