The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.
A moderately large-sized molossoid, with a rectilinear profile and black mask, the Perro de Presa Canario is robust and well-proportioned. With a low, deep bark, he has a balanced temperament and is very self-confident. Obedient and docile with family members, he is very devoted to his master, but can be suspicious of strangers. When alert, his stance is firm and vigilant.
The Perro de Presa Canario should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
Beyond regular weekly grooming, the occasional bath will keep the Presa Canario clean and looking their best. Their strong, fast-growing nails should be trimmed regularly with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting, and cracking. Ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris, which can result in infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.
Options for exercise include play time in the backyard, preferably fenced, or being taken for walks several times a day. Exercise can also come in the form of indoor activities, like hide-and-seek, chasing a ball rolled along the floor, or learning new tricks. Certain outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, and retrieving balls or flying discs can provide a good outlet for expending energy. If you live in an apartment, even short walks in the hallways can give your dog some exercise, especially during inclement weather. Training for dog sports like agility, obedience, and rally can also be a great way to give your dog exercise.
Some dogs may be faced with health challenges in their lives, but the majority of Perro de Presa Canarios are healthy dogs. Working with a responsible breeder, prospective owners can gain the education they need to learn about specific health concerns within the breed.
There are numerous books written by Historians concerning the development of the known Perro de Presa Canario (the “Canary Dog of Prey”). Documentation of the original holding dogs date back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Following the conquest of the Canary Islands, it is theorized dogs of great size may have existed or were brought there by the Spanish Conquistadors or possibly both. What is known was the function for which these dogs were developed: guarding farms, working cattle and the extermination of wild or stray dogs.
There are several theories regarding the genetic contributions to the creation of the Presa Canario. It is almost certain that the cattle dog, the Iberian Presa (Perro de Ganado Majorero) provided a start to the founding of the Canary Presa. The Ganado was a mastiff type of average size, rustic, intelligent with an intuitive instinct; a fearless guardian. Several other Hispanic breeds contributed to the Presas formation, especially the Presa Espanol in its large varieties and the bulldog varieties (Alano), known for its clutching instincts. In time, the island dogs developed into a completely differentiated breed due to the influence of the Spanish breeds. The final ingredient that completes the foundation of the Presa Canario was the genetic infusion of the Bardino Majorero, a pre-Hispanic sheepdog originating on the Island of Fuerteventura. This dog was introduced for its intelligence, physical resistance, offering of excellent guardian instincts with little bark, extraordinary set of teeth and incorruptible courage. With the combination of all these traits, one more was added to the mix: the ability to fight.
In the 1940s, the prohibition of dog fighting was ordered throughout the islands, although clandestine fights were known to continue during the next decade. It was during this period the Presa Canario numbers truly faltered. The sovereignty of the island Presa worsened further with the introduction of the German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, and Great Dane. The island dog fancier’s interest now focused on these new breeds, almost causing the demise of the Presa Canario breed. During this darkened period, the Presa was relegated in small numbers to farmers and herdsmen as their primary guard dog.
Reconstruction of the nearly extinct Presa Canario began in earnest back in the early 1970s. Reputable breeders bred strong Presas that were rustic, massive, vigorous, and functional, who had acute watchdog instincts, a strong temperament, calm yet confident and were extremely territorial with unlimited courage. This dog, when defending what he considers his, would withstand the harshest of punishments without surrendering his position.
Full recovery of the Presa Canario heritage started in 1982 when a group of breeders from the island of Tenerife formed an association with the goal to propagate the resurgence of the Presa Canario as started in the previous decades.