The Presa Canario or Perro de Presa Canario is a large breed of dog of the Molosser type, whose name comes from the Spanish meaning “Canarian catch dog.” It is thought that the breed’s ancestry includes input from the now extinct Bardino Majero and the English mastiff, and the Presa Canario was developed as a utility dog for farmers during the 1800’s. The breed was developed in the Canary Islands, and in fact, the Canary Islands were named after the dog!
The title “catch dog” means a dog that was bred, trained and kept to pursue and catch larger animals such as wild boar and ranch cattle, and also to protect herds and livestock from predators. The breed also has a significant amount of history as a fighting dog before dog fighting was banned across much of the world, although it is still one of the favoured breeds for illegal dog fights in many countries.
The Presa Canario is a large, strong and muscular dog that has a broad head, stocky build and lots of power. Males of the breed can stand up to 26” tall at the withers, and weigh up to 126lb, with females being slightly smaller.
Today, the Presa Canario can be found all across the world as both a pet and working dog, and is a popular breed for livestock guarding, security work and personal protection. The breed is bold, fearless and can be prone to aggression, and requires an experienced owner to train and manage them.
It is also worth noting that there have been several documented attacks against people by the Presa Canario breed, and in some countries, ownership of the dog is restricted or prohibited.
In this article, we will look at some of the core traits of the Presa Canario, and discuss whether or not they make for suitable pets. Read on to learn more.
The ownership and breeding of certain breeds and types of dogs is controlled within the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act, which outright bans ownership of four specific breeds. The Presa Canario is not among them, but it is worth noting that the law regarding dangerous dogs applies to all breeds and types of dogs, and any person who would seek to own a dog of any type should make themselves aware of the regulations.
The Presa Canario is banned from ownership, import and breeding in both Australia and New Zealand, as the authorities of these countries consider the breed to both have a natural propensity for aggression, and be large enough to inflict serious injury or even fatal wounds upon people. There have been several documented incidents of attacks by Presa Canario dogs across the world, including an incident in the UK in 2013 when a man in Liverpool was attacked and killed by a mixed breed dog with Presa Canario ancestry.
While the temperament of every dog should be considered on an individual basis, it is wise to be aware of the documented history of aggression displayed by some dogs of the breed.
The desired temperament for the Presa Canario is affectionate and docile, but they are also bred to protect their property and families, and may be wary of strangers. They are alert and watchful and will face up to any perceived threat, and can be aggressive with other dogs.
Early socialisation with other dogs and people, as well as firm, confident leadership and training is essential in order to keep the dog under control.
They can soon become dominant with an owner who is not confident or consistent, and will soon take the lead over people who are not confident around dogs. While aggression within the breed is classed as highly undesirable and a breed fault, some dogs of the breed can become aggressive, generally due to a combination of selective breeding for dominant traits, and either poor handling or deliberate training for aggression.
Once the dog is established within a family and has bonded with all of its members, they are highly unlikely to display aggression towards their immediate “pack,” and usually accept other animals such as other dogs and even cats into the pack when properly introduced.
The Presa Canario bonds strongly with all of the members of their family, and they are likely to be kind, patient and very protective over any children that they see as part of their pack. However, as they are large, dominant dogs, they may see children as below them in the pecking order, and potentially pose a problem with other children that may visit, and should be carefully supervised.
The Presa Canario can make for a loyal, calm and incredibly loving pet, but they can also be dominant, stubborn and potentially aggressive if improperly trained or managed. They require a knowledgeable, experienced trainer and owner, and as such, are unlikely to be suitable for the first time dog owner.
Making the decision to own a Presa Canario is not a decision to enter into lightly, and if you are thinking of taking on a dog of the breed, it is important to assess the dog’s history and personality carefully, and spend a significant amount of time around dogs of the breed before making your final decision.