Perro de Presa Canario

The Perro de Presa Canario, also known as the Canary Mastiff, is a large Molosser-type dog breed originally bred for working livestock. The name of the breed is Spanish, means "Canarian catch dog", and is often shortened to "Presa Canario" or simply "Presa". The breed is sometimes also called Dogo Canario, meaning "Canarian Molosser". It is the animal symbol of the island of Gran Canaria.[1]

Perro de Presa Canario
Perro de Presa Canario
Other namesCanary Mastiff
Canary Catch Dog
Canarian Dogo
Presa Canario
Dogo Canario
Common nicknamesPresa
OriginCanary Islands (Spain)
Kennel club standards
RSCFRCE standard
FCI standard
Dog (domestic dog)


A portrait showing the breed's distinctive head

The Perro de Presa Canario or "Canary Dog" is a large-size dog with a thick and muscular body.[2] The head is broad, massive, square, and powerful brachycephalic shape. 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 upper lip is pendulous, although not excessively. Seen from the front, the upper and lower lips come together to form an inverted V. The flews are slightly divergent. The inside of the lips is a dark colour.[3]

Brindle presa Canario with natural ears

Males have a standard desirable height range of 24 to 26 inches (61 to 66 cm)[4] at the withers, with a minimum weight at maturity of 100 pounds (45 kg)[4] and a maximum weight of 155 pounds (70 kg).[3] Females have a standard desirable height between 22.5 to 24.5 inches (57 to 62 cm)[4] at the withers, with a minimum weight at maturity of 88 pounds (40 kg)[4] and a maximum weight of 60 kilograms (130 lb).[3]

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 historian Agustín Millares Torres, in his "General History of the Canary Islands", said that the derivation of large dogs in these islands were [incomplete]. According to his research, these dogs took part in the myths, funeral customs and even gastronomy of the natives (Guanches) of the islands. Demons appeared to these people as big fleecy dogs, known as "Tibicenas" in Gran Canaria and "Irnene" on the island of La Palma. In the funerary cults, the dogs appear mummified beside their owners (as guides to the afterlife). The dogs were also consumed in small amounts, as has been proven in archaeological discoveries.[5]

In the aftermath of conquest, the presence of these dogs of molosser morphology on the islands is well documented, especially in the cedularios of the councils of Fuerteventura and Tenerife. The first quote after conquest dates from 1501, which allowed the puerqueros (pig farmers) to have "one of the large ones." In many periods, these dogs were used to kill the wild dogs that attacked cattle. Success was credited by the presentation of the skins of the heads. In others periods, many of these dogs were ordered to be killed for the damage they did to cattle. At one point, residents were given the opportunity to kill loose and wild dogs without punishment. In other occasions the dogs were ordered to be bound. And still other times, due to the damage caused by these dogs, their possession was banned for anyone who was not a farmer or a hunter. All this occurred between the 16th and 18th centuries.[5]

In addition to the traditional role of cattle dog, the Perros de Presa Canario have been used for dog fighting.[6][7][8] Until the 1950s it remained a common practice in all of the islands.[9][10] There exists ample testimony from former fans. The owners agreed on whether the fight had to be witnessed in silence or if they could incite the animals. No spectator could touch or bother the dogs in combat. The most widespread method was to place the animals within a circle marked on the ground, face to face. The fight began when the collars were removed. These were not organized public events. Instead, they emerged sporadically at the challenge of the owners. However, practically the whole neighborhood participated in the show once it became aware of the fight. The fights were banned in the mid-1940s, but lasted for another decade. From that moment, due to tightening by the Francoist authority for the eradication of dogfighting, the Perro de Presa Canario was relegated to counted breeders that kept the breed alive and prevented its total disappearance.[5]

The FCI recognized the breed provisionally in 2001 and completely in 2011 under the name Dogo Canario.[11] In December 2018 it changed the official FCI name to the Presa Canario because the Spanish Kennel Club had wished for it.[12]


Presas require early socialization and obedience training.[13] In some situations, the Perro de Presa Canario can be aggressive toward other dogs and suspicious of strangers.[14] In the past these dogs were used in dog fighting rings due to their size.

In 2001, Diane Whipple, a lacrosse player and coach was killed when she entered her apartment building in San Francisco and was attacked by two dogs, Bane and Hera, owned by Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel.

In County Galway, Ireland in 2017, a woman was killed when she entered her son's home and was attacked by three of these dogs, which were being used by the son as guard dogs.[15]


As a large breed, the Perro de Presa Canario can be susceptible to hip dysplasia. Other reported health problems include dilated cardiomyopathy- heart problems and mast-cell tumours - cancer patellar luxation and patellar evulsions, skin cysts, epilepsy, osteochondrodysplasias, demodectic mange and cryptorchidism and Canine leishmaniasis.[16] The latter condition is described empirically as highly likely to affect dogs in areas of Spain[17] and academically described as having increased over 22 years prior to 2006, with risk being highest for dogs that were older, large, lived outside, and lived at the meso-Mediterranean level.[18]


The average lifespan for the Perro de Presa Canario is between 10 and 12 years.[19]

Basis for the name and standardEdit

The Perro de Presa Canario has a legislative basis in Spain in the form of recognition by a Real Decreto (Royal Decree) of the Ministro de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación (Minister of Agriculture Fishing and Nutrition), which was published in the Official Gazette of the Spanish Government (BOE – Boletin Oficial del Estado). The original Real Decreto 558/2001 can be read on the site of the Spanish Government Gazette. In the decree, the breed is referred to as "Presa Canario". A breed standard is attached in the Royal Decree and it includes having a black coat and specifies a maximum weight.

Any other name or standard is not recognized by Spanish law.

In Spain there are two main organizations which are legally recognized by the Minister of Agriculture, Fishing and Nutrition (according to the requirements set by the Real Decreto 558/2001): the RSCE and the FCE. The term "legally recognized" means that these organizations have the power to inscribe the litters into the official Book of Origins of Spain (LOE – Libro de Orígenes Español).

The FCE recognizes the breed according to Spanish law, and uses the Presa Canario name and standard, as set by the [Real Decreto 558/2001].

[An official document] of the Spanish Government has been issued and sent to the RSCE to warn it and to invite it to modify its regulations.

Another recent legal source that identifies the breed is the [Real Decreto 1557/2005]. This decree also states the breed name as "Presa Canario" and gives the legislative power of official association recognition to the local governments.

Legal restrictions on ownershipEdit

Importation and sale of the breed is prohibited in Australia[20] and New Zealand.[21]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "BOC - 1991/061. Viernes 10 de Mayo de 1991 - 577". www.go( Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  2. ^ Santana, Clemente Reyes. "El Perro de Presa Canario". Retrieved 16 November 2008.
  3. ^ a b c "FCI-St. N°346 / 12.08.2011" (PDF). Fédération Cynologique Internationale. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d "UKC Standard: Perro de Presa Canario". UKC. 1 January 2003. Archived from the original on 29 May 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "Dogo canario - Presa Canario / La Isla de los Volcanes / Gran Canaria". Dogo canario - Presa Canario / La Isla de los Volcanes / Gran Canaria. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  6. ^ Brough, Graham (7 February 2006). "EXCLUSIVE: COP ALERT OVER 'PIT BULL ON STEROIDS'". mirror. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Killer Dog Sparks Interest in Rare Breed". ABC News. 7 January 2006. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  8. ^ Gracia, Manuel Curto (20 November 2012). Perro De Presa Canario: Special Rare-Breed Edition : A Comprehensive Owner's Guide. i5 Publishing. ISBN 9781621870753. Retrieved 29 August 2018 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ "Canary Island dog incident will provoke anti-dog backlash". Archived from the original on 29 August 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Presa Demand Grows for All Wrong Reasons / Dogs wanted for killing, fighting". San Francisco Gate. 7 February 2001. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  11. ^ Presa Canario. FCI. Searched Jan 28th 2019.
  12. ^ De Clercq, Y. New name for Dogo Canario. FCI: Dec 6th 2018. Searched Jan 28th 2019.
  13. ^ "Perro de Presa Canario FAQ". United Perro de Presa Canario Club. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  14. ^ "Perro de Presa Canario". Canada's Guide to Dogs. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  15. ^ "'Loving and caring' grandmother attacked by her son's dogs died of 'massive' injuries, inquest hears".
  16. ^ "Parasite Infection (Leishmaniasis) in Dogs". Pet MD.
  17. ^ "LEISHMANIA". Dogs at Large. Archived from the original on 14 February 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  18. ^ Martín-Sánchez, Dr Joaquina. "Canine Leishmaniasis in Southeastern Spain". Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain.
  19. ^ "Perro de Presa Canario". vetstreet.
  20. ^ "Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulation 1956". Retrieved 2 September 2010.
  21. ^ "Another dog added to banned list". Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2010.

External linksEdit