The Presa Canario, or Canary Dog, was historically a guardian and cattle driving dog. The breed originated on the Canary Islands, a group of Spanish volcanic islands that sit about 100 miles northwest of Africa. The Presa Canario was developed by crossing native dogs with Bulldogs and Mastiffs that were brought in from Britain during the 19th century. This cross-breeding resulted in a powerful, muscular, large-boned dog with a massive head. The even-tempered, intelligent and athletic Presa Canario has a short, smooth, coarse coat in fawn or brindle with a darker face mask. The Presa is quiet in the home, loyal to its family, wary of strangers and protective of its property. Like many guardian breeds, the Presa requires early training and plenty of socialization.
The ancestry of the Presa Canario is probably inclusive of the presently extinct indigenous Bardino Majero after a crossing with the introduced English Mastiffs. The development of this dog breed during the 19th century was exclusively for the purpose of dog fighting, which was at the time common entertainment in the majority of European countries. The development of these breeds was specifically for their endurance and tenacity. In countries like Ireland, the fights took place in open spaces, but often, such as within in the Canary Islands, fighting was carried out in pits or rings. After dog fighting was made illegal on the island and in the majority of other countries, other breeds such as German Shepherd were introduced and the Presa Canarios became extinct by 1960s. The later revival of the breed was by Dr. Carl Semencic, an American anthropologist.
Presa Canarios have square, powerful heads whose widths are approximately equal to their length. They have broad and deep chests, and slightly raised rumps as well. These dogs combine thick skins, powerful muscles and dense bones with massive heads. They usually have cropped ears, which gives them a formidable expression. Common colors include various brindles and fawn while white markings may be frequently seen. A good expression and a proper head are a unique feature of this breed and their manifestation is mostly recognized in the perfect breed specimens. These dogs have thick lips that join in an inverted V manner with slightly loose flews and dark interior lips.
Presa Canarios need dominant owners with an understanding of this canine’s nature. They make excellent guard dogs and their appearance is enough to deter most intruders without any confrontation. In the hands of the wrong owner, this dog is capable of turning dangerous, but is otherwise a devoted and nice companion. This is NOT the appropriate breed for individuals who have never owned a dog. These dogs contain migration instincts which may be satisfied through long walks. The dog in question should always walk behind or beside the pack leader who holds the leash. The training objective ensures that the status of a pack leader is achieved, and since this is naturally instinctive, humans attain this status.