Perro de Presa Canario

Type: Guardian Dog

Height: 21 - 26 inches.

Weight: 84 - 135 lbs.

Life Span: 10 - 14 years.

Litter Size: 7 - 9 puppies.

Country of Origin: Canary Islands, Spain

Activity: Medium. Very quiet, likes daily exercise outdoors.

Watch-dog: High. Very loyal to its family.

Guard-dog: High. Very protective of its property. An excellent home guardian, the Presa wary of strangers. If not trained, the Presa Canario can become suspicious and aggressive towards any stranger, therefore training must occur at a young age.


Description: Its full name is Perro de Presa Canario (Canarian Dog of Prey). Presa Canarios come from a background of herding and guard dogs, and the Latin word cane, which mean "Island of the Dogs", is what the Canary Islands were named for - not the little yellow birds. The dog’s main duty in the early 1900s was to guard the farms, help guide the cattle and get rid of any unwanted stray dogs. They also were largely involved with dog fighting and a good number were bred for this purpose. These courageous dogs were known for their little amount of bark, defensive abilities and bred especially to have such powerful jaws. They are large dogs, heavy and mastiff-like. They can be from brindle to fawn, with either black or white markings, and a dark mask to boot. Presa Canarios are calm, attentive and confident around everyone. They are wary with strangers, and often remain aloof. Surprisingly however, this breed is gentle and affectionate with family and children. They may have problems with other dogs, but do get along fine with dogs of the opposite sex that will remain submissive. They are quiet and submissive to their masters at home, but they do require a fair amount of training. An excellent guard and housekeeper, the Perro de Presa Canario makes the perfect pet for a family needing a guard and friend.

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Other Names: Dogo Canario, Canary Dog, Perro Basto, Verdino, Presa Canario

Colors: Colors can vary from brindles to fawn, with black and/or white markings. They often have a dark mask.

Coat: Short, flat and smooth single coat with coarse hair; it has a very fine coat.

Temperament: Calm, attentive and gentle around child. Presa Canarios are confident, unafraid and even-keeled. They make great watchdogs and guard dogs, defending what is theirs to the death. They are quiet and rather subdued at home, and devoted to family. They can be difficult to train, as they can be stubborn and dominant. They certainly like to domineer over other dogs, and will not tolerate them unless they are submissive. The Presa Canario needs proper training and socialization at a young age.

With Children: Good, gentle and calm.

With Pets: Not good, aggressive with other dogs, unless it is a dog of the opposite sex who is submissive to the Presa.

Special Skills: Guard dog, but very affectionate and well behaved towards its owners.

Care and Training: This breed only needs moderate exercise and little grooming. They are fairly easy to take care of. They should be walked moderately and brushed every week or so. Although obedient, this breed must be trained when it is a pup. The owner must be a firm, consistent owner who can accept the challenge of training a puppy that is domineering and stubborn at times. They must be trained when they are young as they will become overly aggressive towards any stranger when they get older.

Learning Rate: High. Obedience - Medium. Canary Dogs will obey their masters with obedience training, but can be dominant and not listen if not trained well. Problem Solving - High.

Special Needs: Fenced yard, firm but positive training, leash, socialization, supervision with other animals.

Living Environment: They can be used in the urban household or as a helpful farmhand. They enjoy the outdoors, so a rural area would be best, although suburban areas can work with this breed. The best owner for this breed would be a dog-experienced family or individual living in a rural or suburban environment.

Health Issues: Hip and elbow dysplasia is sometimes a problem, as well as entropion (inverted eyelids), epilepsy, demodectic mange, hypothyroidism, OCD, luxating patellas and wobbler syndrome.

History: The Presa Canario is a cross between Bulldogs, Mastiffs and Native dogs (Bardino Majero) in the 19th century. They are thought to have come especially from the island of Gran Canaria, but also Tenerife. In the 1800s English settlers brought over mastiffs and old-style bulldogs that bred with the Canario. This resulted in very powerful, muscular, large-boned dogs, which were used for fighting until 1940, when dog fighting was banned. The breed was bred specifically for this purpose for a long time. It was not solely a fighting dog, however, and was quite often used as a herding dog, guard dog, and all-purpose farm dog. Dog fighting still continued outside of the law years later after the ban was made, and the Presa was used for this. Soon, however, other settlers introduced breeds such as the German Shepherd and Great Dane onto the islands, and the Presa Canario severely lost members. In the 1940s the breed started to diminish but was revived once again in the 1970s by Dr. Carl Semencic. In the 1970s Spaniards began the search for the native dogs once again, and fortunately found pure blooded specimens of the species. Within ten years, the breed was back on its feet again, not in high numbers but in good bloodlines and back in the show ring. Dr. Carl Semencic introduced the breed into the United States and Canada, and from there the breed was put on the Foundation Stock Service list. Today the breed is known in the U.S., unfortunately, as a threatening breed that has attacked people. Although these dogs can be vicious, proper training and socialization are key in their development to produce a calm and responsible dog.

First Registered by the AKC: FSS

AKC Group: Working Group FSS

Class: Guardian Dog

Registries: UKC on January 1, 2003 as a Guardian Dog.