Presa Canario: Origin | Breeds | Characteristics| Fun Facts

Presa Canario |  zooplus Magazine for dogs

Presa Canario: Origin | Breeds | Characteristics| Fun Facts | How To Care | Health – An aggressive one fighting dog or a playful family-friendly? As for the Presa Canario, opinions are mixed. What is certain is that no dog is born a fighting dog, but it is made so by man and his teachings. So it is the responsibility of the breeder to bring to light and stimulate the many positive characteristics of the Presa Canario.


According to the FCI, which classifies the Presa Canario at number 346 of the Molossoid group, aggressive behavior must be considered a reason for exclusion from breeding. Therefore aggressive or fearful dogs are not accepted as breeding animals.

Basically the Presa Canario is a dog with a balanced and calm character, which has a strong protective instinct. If he is raised responsibly and educated in a coherent way, this character aspect is easily controlled. Strong nerves and self-confidence associated with an innate distrust of strangers make the Dogo Canario a good watchdog. Instead, in the context of his own family, he is always friendly, eager to learn and docile. Despite the strong bond with his master, he also relates loyally and good-naturedly with the other members of the family. Once integrated into the family, the Presa Canario will faithfully stand by its owner’s side for the rest of its life. His strong and solid character make him a reliable companion and, overall, easy to manage. He clearly shows his moods and intentions, any duplicity is foreign to him. He expresses his lively temperament with his stentorian barking.


The Presa Canario has a robust and handsome physical structure and a large, massive and square head, which clearly indicates its belonging to the Molosser type. With a height at the withers ranging from 61 to 66 cm and a maximum weight of 65 kg, the male has an imposing figure, but the females also strike the observer with a height at the withers between 56 and 62 cm and a weight that can oscillate between 40 and 55 kg. The considerable size and muscular body inspire a certain sense of respect. Surely to someone they can make these dogs seem threatening, especially to those who are not an expert in this rare breed, and do not know the peaceful and pleasant character that these dogs hide. Despite the massive build, the Presa Canario is anything but slow and clumsy.

His well-proportioned build proves his extraordinary mobility and strength. His movements are agile and elastic. The length of the body exceeds the height at the withers, which is very noticeable especially in females. The head reaches a little beyond the topline.

From a chromatic point of view, the Presa Canario has many varieties: the shades of its brindle coat range from warm dark brown to light gray / light blond. All shades of fawn and sand are allowed. White markings are accepted on the chest, at the base of the neck or throat, although according to the standard it is desirable that the presence of white is as small as possible. The mask is dark in color.

His short, smooth coat with no undercoat has a rather “rustic” appearance and has a certain shagginess. On the ears the hair is very short and fine.

It is a little longer on the withers and on the back of the thighs. The tail broad at the base tapers later, and should not extend beyond the hock. At rest, a slight lateral deviation is observed; in action it rises in the form of a saber.

History of the Presa Canario

As is evident from the name, the Presa Canario is originally from Spain, more precisely from the Canaries. Its ancestor is the Spanish Mastiff which during the Middle Ages, in mainland Spain, was used for multiple purposes. The Spanish Mastiff, which in ancient texts was mostly called “Great Dane”, was even used for hunting game, as a conduct dog for herds and as a guard dog. It was also used for the traditional fight against bulls or for Thracian fights. In the late Middle Ages it was much appreciated by the nobles especially as a hunting dog that went without fear to bears, deer and wild boars. His unrivaled reputation as a brave hunting dog also made him a so-called “war dog”, who not only had to guard the soldiers’ tents, but, equipped with a bristling armor, had to penetrate inside during the battle. of the enemy army and wreak havoc on men and horses.

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. this fighting dog was brought by the Spanish conquistadors to South America. The Canaries, placed in a geographically advantageous position, served as a stopover for the conquerors and colonizers who departed from the continent, and so this Molossian-type dog arrived in the Canaries.

Thus the foundations were laid for the gene pool of the Presa Canario as we know it today, which presumably was the result of the cross between the local island dog, the “Majorero”, and the Spanish Great Dane. In the Canaries, where there was little hunting and no battles were fought, it was mainly used as a guard dog for farms and livestock. L’The dog’s hunting instinct and its predisposition to combat took more and more into the background among the objectives of breeding, as purebred animals were required whose character associated a high level of attention to very strong nerves.

The breed yesterday and today

In the Canaries the Presa Canario is still bred today, mainly as a guard dog. Thanks to the excellent surveillance work of the numerous country estates, it is so appreciated that it has even been declared by the government an animal symbol of Gran Canaria. In the seventies of the last century the Spaniards began the systematic breeding of their “national dog”. By the 1980s, breeding had advanced so much that several breeders’ associations were founded and world exhibitions were organized. Soon this breed became known even beyond the borders of the Canaries, although for a long time its name was a reason for disagreement. Presa Canario, Perro de Presa Canario, Perro de Presa EspaƱol, Spanish Bulldog or simply Great Dane – these are the names with which the dogs of this breed came and are called. In 2001 the German FCI officially recognized the Presa Canario and also tried to put an end to the jumble of names that were used to indicate it, not without the irritation, however, of some traditionalist Spanish breeders who wanted to keep the Spanish term “prey” (prey, prey hunting) in the name of the breed.

However, according to the standard of the FCI, which definitively recognized the Presa Canario in 2011, its characteristics as a hunting dog no longer have any importance. This restriction in the FCI breed standard led some of the old “Criadores” (Spanish word for breeders) to continue to breed dogs to their own standard under the name of Presa Canario. The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture has recognized the Presa Canario as a canine breed.

Unlike for the Presa Canario, for the breeding of the Presa Canario according to the FCI it is necessary to give importance above all to a balanced and calm character. Although thanks to his self-confidence and high level of attention he continues to be an excellent guard dog, his being attentive also makes the Dogo Canario a perfect service and family dog.

It is probably the combination of a powerful and almost threatening appearance and a sweet character that fascinates people so much and also explains the growing demand for dogs of this breed.

Feeding a Presa Canario

Regardless of the breed, all dogs need a diet high in fiber and possibly low in grain.

The foods to be administered to the dog should be chosen based on the weight, age and characteristics of the animal. If in doubt, ask your veterinarian for advice.

Breeding and education

Although the Presa Canario is not classified as such in any country where there are laws on dog fighting, there are some aspects that need to be taken into account when breeding a Presa Canario. We must not forget that this breed, as its history demonstrates, has a strong protective instinct inherent in it, which if combined with a wrong or incomplete education, can create some behavioral problems.

This dog that tends to be dominant and to have an autonomous behavior needs an experienced and consistent owner, who is able to guide his innate protective instinct and knows how to manage it responsibly, so that it never ends in aggression. The education of the Presa Canario should therefore begin as soon as possible: the puppy should already know a certain number of commands and know who the master of the house is. Through an early socialization, which should already begin at the breeder, he must learn to restrain himself in everyday situations to avoid clashes with people, even during play or when he is happy to see someone again, because even just for his size and its enormous strength a Presa Canario can easily knock a person over or injure a small dog.

Small environments are not suitable for the Presa Canario: a dog of its size and temperament requires a lot of space, and a lot of effort.

In addition to keeping it busy with long walks, you need to spend time with your Presa Canario doing other activities as well: throw and fetch games or ball games are great pastimes that will strengthen the relationship with your dog.

If you are thinking of adopting a Presa Canario you absolutely must inform yourself in advance about the management, education and care of this breed. A serious breeder will answer all your questions comprehensively.

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