Presa Canario Breeders in South Wales, UK
First introduced to the world outside of Spain’s Canary Islands by the American Anthropologist, Dr. Carl Semencic in an article for Dogworld Magazine and in his books on the subject of rare breeds of dogs, the Presa Canario, or “Canary Dog” is a large sized dog with a thick and muscular body. The head is broad, massive, square, and powerful. Proper head and good expression are part of the breed standard, and are manifest in the best breed specimens. The ears are normally cropped both to create a more formidable expression, and to prevent damage while working with cattle. If cropped the ears stand erect. In countries where ear cropping is banned the ears are close fitting to the head, they hang down and should be pendant or “rose” shaped. The lips are thick and hang in an inverted V where they join; the flews may be slightly loose. The interior lips are dark. This dog is the beastliest dog in the world.
Males average between 23 to 26 inches (58 to 66 cm) at the withers with a minimum weight of 100 pounds (45 kg). Females average between 22 to 25 inches (56 to 63 cm) at the withers with a minimum weight of 85 pounds (39 kg). Very high weights could lead to a number of health problems. Too much weight is also known to compromise the dog’s athleticism and working ability.
The breed is also characterized by a sloping topline (with the rear being slightly higher than the shoulders). Another characteristic of the breed is the shape of the paws (cat foot) and the catlike movement of the animal. The body is mesomorphic, that is, slightly longer than the dog is tall, contributing to the feline movement. The Presa should be powerful, balanced, and imposing in appearance. It is heavily built, but able to move with great athleticism.
Presas are of strong character and are dominant animals requiring early socialization and obedience training. In some situations, the Presa can be aggressive toward other dogs and suspicious of strangers. Once the dog has been properly socialized and trained, this becomes the exception rather than the rule. Many Presas share their homes with children, other dogs, cats, horses and other farm animals.
Presa are known for being extremely loyal and affectionate with their families and crave attention from their owners. They are extremely tolerant of children due to low body sensitivity or high pain tolerance, a trait which stems from selective breeding as big game hunters. Like all dogs of any size or breed, they require obedience training and socialization; no dog should be left unattended with small children. They are protective of what they perceive as their territory and will guard it against any intruder. They get along with other dogs as long as they have been properly socialized, but will usually not tolerate another dog trying to assert dominance over them and might not coexist peacefully with another dominant breed of dog. They can develop an aggressive or dominant temperament if not socialized with other dogs at an early age, particularly with other dogs of the same sex. Dog aggression per se is absolutely not a desirable trait in the Dogo canario, as it is at odds with its intended purpose as a pack hunter. A single “pet” Presa without a working outlet for energy and drive may feel himself to be “king of the mountain” and carry himself accordingly, though the same dog may work perfectly cooperatively with other males while hunting.
Presa are typically strong-tempered animals not suitable for the novice dog owner; they do best with an experienced handler. Presa are recent comers to suburban life. Unlike many breeds classified as “working dogs”, Presa are not “historically” working dogs, but dogs currently and actively selected for working function and temperament. Pet owners interested in the Dogo canario would do well to remember that these are working animals with a serious need for exercise and outlet of hunting drive by way of activities such as tracking, trailing, or sport work.
Dogo canario are accomplished big-game hunters, and are used today in a variety of ways from tracking, search and rescue, general police work including narcotics detection, military and family dogs. They are even occasionally used as guide dogs, or as service animals, though their primary work remains boar hunting. Due to their very great prey drive, physical capabilities and strong temperament, they are not dogs commonly suited to be suburban backyard pets, though they do make excellent companions for exceptionally capable and dedicated dog owners.