Monday, July 28, 2014
Yes... it's the owner not the dog... BUT...
This, is a Cane Corso:
Cane Corsos are some of the biggest, strongest, and by their very genetic nature, most territorial and protective dogs. They are bred to hunt large game, and to catch and herd straying swine and cattle.
Like other large "catch dogs", they can literally catch a large livestock animal, and either kill them, or hold them on the ground waiting for their handler to come and retrieve the caught prey.
This, is a Presa Canario:
Presa Canarios are a very different breed in many ways, but they descend from the same basic genetic foundation (molosser) and are also large catch dogs. They have the same size, strength, and drives as the Cane Corso. They are big, strong, highly territorial, and highly protective.
How big is "big"?
Those chains and big heavy collars aren't for show. Males of either breed can easily exceed 150lbs, and standing on their hind legs can easily look a 6'2" man like myself directly in the eyes.
Corsos and Presas can be great dogs. Loyal, affectionate, loving, fun...
...For the right people, in the right environment...
A few days ago, a couple of Cane Corsos killed a jogger in Michigan. It came out that those same dogs had attacked other people in the neighborhood over the course of two years, but nothing had been done.
A few years ago, actor Ving Rhames had a pair of Presa Canarios, that killed his gardener.
This Michigan incident is the latest in a long series of reports from the last few years where Cane Corsos, or Presa Canarios have killed pedestrians, joggers, yard or service workers etc...
No, it's not the dogs fault. Yes, it is their owners fault.
But... not for the reasons some "dog people" like to champion.
Yes, there is no such thing as inherently bad or dangerous dog, or an inherently bad or dangerous breed...
...except that isn't ENTIRELY true.
As is usually the case, the truth is more complicated.
All dogs, no matter the breed, are potentially dangerous, because they are DOGS. YOU may consider them a member of your family, but they are not children, they are DOGS.
They are little... or not so little... balls of muscle and instincts with teeth and claws; and under the right... or wrong... circumstances, they can be dangerous.
Of course, abuse or ill treatment can make any dog MORE dangerous...
...but it doesn't take abuse to make a dog dangerous. It just takes the wrong situation, or the wrong environment, or the wrong owner who doesn't know how to handle their dog.
Some breeds of dogs need special handling or they will be dangerous, simply because of their natures. Their size, their strength, their basic breed characteristics, and their instincts.
Big, strong, territorial dogs with high prey drive or high protective drive, ARE dangerous; if not kept in the right environments, and trained, socialized, and exercised and handled properly; by the right sort of people who can properly manage these types of dogs.
Cane Corsos and Presa Canarios are working dogs. They NEED to work. They need to work off their energy, and they NEED to follow their "mission" instinct.
In military parlance, they are extremely motivated and mission oriented, and their mission is to PROTECT THE HERD AND THE FIELDS AND THE PACK AT ALL COSTS.
They're very good at it. It's what they're bred for.
They are NOT dogs that you can have in a busy urban or suburban area. They'll be miserable, and they'll make you miserable. They'll literally be driven crazy by the constant influx of strangers and "threats".
Dogs like this need room to run. More importantly, they need defensive depth. They need a big buffer zone for "their" territory. They need room to back off if they feel threatened.
If they don't have room, unless they are properly trained and handled, and their handler is present and managing the situation properly; in close quarters they WILL feel threatened, and they WILL get aggressively protective.
These are SERIOUS working dogs.
However, for a certain class of asshole, they have become "fashionable" over the past few years, because they're so big, so strong, and so "dangerous". Rottweilers and "pit bulls" are becoming more common, and certain types of assholes just want to have the biggest, baddest dog on the block.
Another type of asshole doesn't recognize that dogs are actually animals, rather than just furry people. Or that the dog that is so cuddly and great with them, is an entirely different beast when it comes to strangers and their "mission" or their territory.
Dogs are NOT fashion accessories. Nor are they furry children. They are living beings, with their own needs and drives, not simply extensions or projections of their owners.
Most people are simply not mentally and emotionally prepared to, or even physically able to, properly handle Cane Corsos and Presa Canarios (or for that matter most other large dogs); nor do most people have the proper environment to keep them.
I have been handling and training large dogs since I was a child, and I'm a VERY large, strong, and dominant man.. I've also made a habit of rehabilitating troubled and abused large breed dogs, particularly rottweilers and other molosser variants. My family and I love "politically incorrect" dogs, and have had great experiences with our wonderful rescued dogs, that others had considered "dangerous" or "unstable" because of prior abuse.
Even given all that however, unless I raised them myself, or knew the person who raised them, I would not accept a Presa or a Corso into my pack. Not a chance in hell in fact.
Even if I'd raised one from a pup, if I didn't have a big, FULLY FENCED and secure property, with neighbors who also knew how to handle and deal with big, protective dogs, I wouldn't even consider having a Corso or a Presa.
For people who like and want "big dogs", and can deal with a confident, physical, and protective dog, I'm always a fan of rotties.
Jayne, my rott/amstaff male, is 130lbs of muscle, teeth, and love. He's the worlds largest lap dog when I let him get away with it.
We like to joke that he might be "dangerous" or "aggressive" if he weren't too busy looking for comfort and cuddles, and too lazy to chase after trouble.
My other rott mix is a 65lb rott/redbone coonhound bitch, and her coonhound side sometimes causes her to follow her nose into trouble, but she's still a total affection slut.
No matter what though, you still need to be prepared and able to handle large dogs.
What do I mean when I say "prepared and able to handle large dogs" ?
Well, let me use myself as an example. Yes, I'm a big strong man, but that's not the most important thing. The most important things are emotional and mental preparedness.
You MUST be the alpha, and you must be prepared to do what is necessary to deal with your dog.
I can make Jayne cower and roll with a strong look... and he loves and respects me, and I love and respect him, enough that I rarely have to.
When he does get upset, or over excited, I can usually calm him down with a word or a touch, or at worst a strong tone of command and a physical reminder.
USUALLY... but not always...
Jayne is well trained, and well socialized, with an even... in fact a laid back and lazy... demeanor and temperament; but like all dogs, he can get excited, or anxious, or agitated. Very rarely, again like any other dog, he can get excited or agitated enough that he can be difficult to handle.
If he gets so excited or scared that his instincts overwhelm his pack conditioning, I'm big enough, strong enough, and mean enough to back him down, and hold him down if necessary.
And he knows it...
If as an absolute last resort he is driven mad by something, and I am unable to back him down, calm him down, get him back under control or otherwise safely restrain or isolate him from those he could harm... I am prepared to kill him.
And he knows it...
It may sound silly to you, but anyone who works with dogs will understand this... A properly socialized dog knows when you are bigger and stronger and meaner than he is... he especially knows whether you're willing to kill him if you have to. That's how their world works.
Understand, I have raised Jayne from first separation, and love this dog as a member of my own family... but I also recognize a dog is a dog, not a child; and 130lbs of out of control and maddened muscle and teeth is a danger that must be brought under control or stopped, by whatever means necessary.
When you own big dogs... that's what you MUST understand, and be prepared for. If you are not, you have NO DAMN BUSINESS owning a big dog.