Ca de Bou
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A female Perro de Presa Mallorquin
|Other names||Perro de Presa Mallorquin,
Presa Canario Mallorquin,
|Origin||Majorca (Balearic Islands, Spain)|
|Foundation stock||Original Ca de Bou landrace; Ca de Bestiar, English Bulldog, possibly Perro de Toro|
|Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
Ca de Bou or Perro de Presa Mallorquin is a medium-to-large sized molossian-type breed of dog, with a strong, powerful, elongated build. The difference between the sexes is in the head, the circumference is greater in dogs than in bitches. The Perro de Presa Mallorquin was almost extinct after World War II, and the few remaining dogs were crossed with Majorca Shepherd Dog, Bulldog and perhaps Alano Español. While extant specimens are all crossbred, the population as a whole retains standardized breed recognition in two kennel clubs, Fédération Cynologique Internationale, and United Kennel Club (using the FCI standard).
The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of four large islands and eleven small islands in the Mediterranean off the east coast of Spain. Its culture and language are Catalan-based. The largest of these islands is Majorca (Mallorca).
In 1232, the King of Aragon expelled the Moors from the Balearics. The Spanish brought with them the Iberian mastiff. Many of today's Spanish breeds, of mastiffs, claim to be this breed; the Spanish Mastiff, the Pyrenean Mastiff, and the old Spanish Alano. Some Ca de Bestiar breeders believe that their dog was the breed that King James I brought over.
The first written mention of the Spanish Alano was in 1350 in King Alfonso XI's Book of Hunting. The Ca de Bestiar's origin on the island is dated as 16th or 17th century. In the French translation they refer to the Iberian Mastiff as an Iberican "perro de presa" (French: chien de combats); in English this is a Catch dog; this name can be given to any fierce breed whether Mastiff or Alano.
The King brought the Balearic islands into Aragon's Spain. Trading began between Majorca and Barcelona as well as France, while stopping the trade they did with Genoa and other Italian Republics during the Moorish occupation.
Mastiffs, Alanos and big herd dogs would have found their way to the island through trade and aristocrats settling down and bringing their dogs (Alanos in the 14th century were commonly used in hunting for boar and other wild animals, highly respected by aristocrats). All three of these breeds were probably crossed at different points for various functions.
In 1713, the English took over the Balearics at the Treaty of Utrecht. This is probably when the term "Ca de Bou" evolved. "Ca de Bou" is Catalan for "bull-dog" and it is a common mistake to understand this term as a visual element and not a function. In the case of the Ca de Bou, it is because of its function as a bull-baiter that it is named bull-dog.
The Ca de Bestiar was well regarded by the locals as a good herder and guardian. Their sizes and shapes would depend on the function people were looking for. The old Ca de Bestiar had large powerful bodies, strong necks and thick bones (Mastiff type), and there were also the smaller ones like in recent times. Whatever the function, they could withstand high temperatures.
The English during their reign of the island introduced the sport of bull-baiting. The common belief is that the English brought over Bulldogs and crossed them with the local guard/hunting/herd dog which could have been a mix of Alano, Ca de Bestiar and Iberian Mastiff.
The English Bulldog's origin is unclear, the first written mention in England was in 1632. Some people believe the breed originates in Spain, M.B. Wynn writes in his 1886 book, History of the Mastiff the following: "It has been presumed without any decided proof that the Spanish bulldog was originally imported from England, but the truth of this is far from certain, and having inspected some of the most noted Spanish Bulldogs that have been imported to this country, I have come to the conclusion that although the Spanish bulldog is or was the remnant of the true Pugnaces, yet it differs considerably to the British Bulldog of modern age (19th century), in more characteristics than its greater size".
The Spanish bulldogs imported to England in the late 19th century all weighed around 40 kilograms (88 lb), about the same as a Ca de Bou. In the standard it says that the English looked for a breed which would be well-suited for bullfighting. What better than Spanish Bulldogs, when being only 146 kilometres (91 mi) from Barcelona. The English would have known their bulldogs were not well adapted for the heat. Until then there was probably no reason to have low-to-the-ground dogs, but for bull-baiting it helps. This Perro de Toro, Spanish Bulldog was then crossed with the local Ca de Bestiar so that it could withstand the terrible heat of the island during the bullfight.
The English did not have an easy time in the Balearics. Forty-three years after the Treaty of Utrecht, the French (1756) invaded with a force of 12,000, after defeating the British under Admiral John Byng, captured Port Mahon. Restored to England in 1763, 19 years later the Spanish took it back (1782). The British seized it again in 1798, and it was finally ceded to Spain by the Peace of Amiens in 1803. The English left the island of Majorca in 1803, leaving behind the sport of bullbaiting. Bull and bear baiting were banned in England in 1835; in Spain it was not banned until 1883.
The Majorcans passed the dogs into other functions: guarding, hunting, holding the bull while the butcher came to end its life.
It was probably in the 19th century that the Ca de Bou acquired its look and typicity. The sport of bullbaiting was an expensive one, and the new sport and trend of dog fighting was spreading across Europe and the colonies. Different areas and countries had their fighting dogs. Their shape and sizes would depend on taste, climate, or surroundings. Even still in recent times, some people have said this breed is stronger than another.
In England where the sport began, they preferred bull and terrier crosses, they liked them small; in the USA they liked them bigger i.e. pit bulls. In France they liked big dogs to fight such as the Dogue de Bordeaux, which was 3 kinds back in the 19th century; Parisian (Mastiff type), Bordelais (Bull-Mastiff, Dogue type), Toulousain (Spanish Bulldog type, longer muzzle, some believe it to be the Perro de Toro, as Toulouse is next to the Spanish border).
In Spain they had Perro de Presas, different types: the Spanish Alano, Perro de Toro (Spanish bulldog, heavier version of the Spanish Alano), and Perros de Tierra (low-to-the-ground dogs). In the Canary islands, they had Perro de Presa Canario. In Majorca, the Perro de Presa Majorquin (Ca de Bou) had been perfected for the climate and many functions, including that of fighting. Dog fights were not banned in Spain until 1940.
The first written mention of the Ca de Bou was in 1907, suggesting that the race was well known in the 19th century. The president of the Dogue de Bordeaux club spoke of them when the best of each breed met in Madrid, for a fight match in the 1920s.
By 1923, the breed was registered in the Spanish stud book, the first official entry was in 1928 and in 1929, the first Ca de Bous were shown at the Barcelona Dog show.
The famine of the 1920s and 1930s did not help the breed. In 1946, the standard was created, but it was not recognised by the FCI until 1964. By 1964 there were no pure specimens left, the trend for new breeds like German Shepherds, Great Dane and Rottweilers did not help the cause either. The breed was brought back to life in the 1980s. It had been crossed with the Ca de Bestiar; the Majorcans were still producing dogs based on functionality. Both Ca de Bous and Ca de Bestiar have their special qualities, so to cross them was not rare. From such specimens, they managed to find those that seemed to be more Ca de Bou than Ca de Bestiar.
In the nineties, other nations took interest in the breed. In Poland and Russia they found a lot of success. There were rumours of more than 2,000 Ca de Bous in Moscow. There are only around 250 in Spain. The race is well-appreciated for its function in Puerto Rico, where the champion Chimo was sent to and other famous Spanish Ca de Bous. Other nations, including France, Holland, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, also have breeders but not many, and the breed is pretty well unknown. The first Ca de Bou was introduced to the UK from France in 2001 by a Mr. Williams of Gloucestershire.
In the 21st century, the Ca de Bou's future looks good. There is a bigger interest in the breed, with other names such as Mallorquin Mastiff, and thanks to the Internet, a closer link between Ca de Bou owners, breeders and passionate people, who love this breed. The increased interest carries with it potential pitfalls, however, as with the rapid development of other breeds when breeders try to match increased demand.
According to the FCI standard, this dog should be a medium-sized, typical molosser with a slightly rectangular build. It is strong and powerful, with a deep and wide chest and a somewhat slimmer croup. The skin is thick and somewhat loose, but must not form folds except for a minor one on the throat.
The head is powerfully built and in males, the circumference of the skull should exceed the height of the dog. They have strong jaws with a very mild underbite, and widely spaced canines. The tail is set low, thick and is carried in a slight arch when the dog is moving.
Height and weight is for males 55–58 cm and 35–38 kg, for females 52–55 cm and 30–34 kg. It is a rather medium-sized dog, but can because of its mass appear larger than it really is. The colors are fawn (light brown, often in deep tones), brindle, and black (often with tan markings). White markings are permitted, but must not exceed 30% of the full coat of the dog.
The size, shape and temperament varies greatly between lines. In central Europe, a far stockier dog with a shorter, slightly wrinkled face is more common. While in Spain, Scandinavia and other countries, the original, taller, leaner and more functional dog is most common.
This is an intelligent dog who needs an owner who can understand and handle it. Owners should work with their Perro de Presa Mallorquin from puppy hood to teach obedience and manners in as positive a way as possible but correcting any unwanted behaviour from the beginning. Working with knowledgeable trainers is critical.
The large Perro de Presa Mallorquin needs several long walks daily to stay physically and mentally sound. It is critical that it be properly socialized from puppyhood during these outings so that, as it grows and continues to be exercised. Participating in obedience classes and competitions is a great way to work with a Perro de Presa Mallorquin while exercising it.
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