The Perro de Presa Canario, sometimes known as the Canary Dog, or simply the Presa Canario, is a breed with a long history dating back to the 15th century. They are believed to be descended from mastiff-type dogs that were brought to the Canary Islands by the Spanish conquistadors. Their ancestry is thought to include the English Mastiff and the Bardino Majero, a breed which is not extinct. During the 1800s these dogs were developed as an all purpose working dog for farms. They would protect livestock, wrangle cattle, and protect the farm. They would even sometimes kill wild boar or other animals that threatened the farm. Unfortunately these dogs were also a popular choice in dog fighting rings because of their strong jaws and courage. In the 1940s dog fighting became prohibited and the need for farm dogs also lessened. As a result the population of Perro de Presa Canarios dwindled. Another factor was the rise in popularity of other protection breeds such as the Doberman Pinscher and the German Shepherd. These dogs were even outlawed in some areas because they were believed to be dangerous. In the 1970s breeders began taking an interest in this breed once again and began developing them further. These dogs are not yet officially recognized by the AKC, but they are currently being recorded in the Foundation Stock Service. The purpose of this service is to keep track of records and information for breeds that are rare or still being developed.
The Perro de Presa Canario is a large and powerful breed. They stand about at about 21 to 25 inches tall at the withers and they should weigh between 80 and 100 pounds. This breed has a powerful and square shaped head. The broad muzzle has a well defined stop. The nose is black and the oval shaped eyes are dark as well. Traditionally the ears on this breed are cropped in order to protect them while they work with cattle, but in places where cropping ears is banned, the ears will be rose or pendant shaped and lay alongside the head. The thick tail reaches the hock and is usually carried in a relaxed manner. These thick skinned dogs have a short coat that may be either black, brindle, and fawn, sometimes with white markings. The coat is harsh to the touch and easy to groom. The Perro de Presa Canario is an average shedder and will need occasional brushing. They should be bathed or dry shampooed whenever it becomes necessary.
Perro de Presa Canarios are affectionate and docile dogs despite their reputation. They are close to their family and quite protective of them, but are wary of strangers. Although these dogs are usually quiet, they are alert and will bark at anything that alarms them. These dogs do need thorough obedience training while they are still puppies and they are not a breed for the casual dog owner. They require an owner that understands how to be a strong pack leader. This means being naturally authoritative and comfortable with commanding the dog in a firm and consistent manner. A meek owner will not be able to control this dog. If the dog does not see their owner as pack leader, they will not listen. It is equally important that these dogs be well socialized while they are still young. The process of socialization should include taking the dog out to expose him to new people, places, and situations. This helps to ensure that the dog’s naturally protective nature doesn’t turn into aggression. These dogs can live happily with other animals as long as they are introduced at a young age and they are all properly trained and socialized.
The large Perro de Presa Canario is a breed that is relatively inactive indoors. This means that they can live comfortably in an apartment as long as they are getting out for plenty of exercise outside the home. They will be happiest with at least an average sized yard to play in. These dogs will be happiest with a job to do, but if they aren’t working they will need a long walk every day to keep them happy and healthy.
Like many large breeds the Perro de Presa Canario can suffer from hip dysplasia. This condition can affect their mobility, especially later on in life. Patellar luxation is another issue that may affect this dog’s mobility. Other reported health problems include epilepsy, skin cysts, and mange. A healthy Perro de Presa Canario will live about 9 to 11 years.
Overall the Perro de Presa Canario is a rare breed, and they are not or everyone. These dogs are not for the inexperienced owner that may not understand how to properly train and communicate with this dog. These dogs do have a reputation as a dangerous breed, but that is only when they are poorly trained or encouraged to behave that way.