Perro de Presa Canario

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Perro de Presa Canario
Dogo Canario.jpg
Perro de Presa Canario
Other names Canary Mastiff
Canary Catch Dog
Canarian Molosser
Presa Canario
Dogo Canario
Common nicknames Presa
Origin Canary Islands (Spain)
Classification / standards
FCI Group 2, Section 2.1 Molossian: Mastiff type #346 standard
The AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS) is an optional recording service for purebred dogs that are not yet eligible for AKC registration.
UKC Guardian Dog standard
Notes The breed is recognized, by the FCI, on a definitive basis and eligible for the CACIB from 6 July 2011.[1]
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Perro de Presa Canario, A.K.A. 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.[2]


A portrait showing the breed's distinctive head
With natural ears

First introduced[when?] to the world outside of Spain's Canary Islands by the American anthropologist Dr. Carl Semencic in an article for Dog World Magazine and in his books on the subject of rare breeds of dogs,[citation needed] the Presa Canario or "Canary Dog" is a large-size dog with a thick and muscular body.[3] 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.[4]

Males have a standard desirable height range of 23 to 26 inches (58 to 66 cm)[5] at the withers, with a minimum weight at maturity of 100 pounds (45 kg)[5] and a maximum weight of 160 pounds (73 kg).[4] Females have a standard desirable height between 22 to 25 inches (56 to 64 cm)[5] at the withers, with a minimum weight at maturity of 85 pounds (39 kg)[5] and a maximum weight of 70 kilograms (150 lb).[4]

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 the derivation of large dogs that 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 guides to the afterlife. The dogs were also consumed in small amounts, as has been proven in archaeological discoveries.[6]

Perro de Presa Canario body

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) have "one of the larges." 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.[7]

In addition to the traditional role of cattledog, the Perros de Presa have been used for dog fighting. Until the 1950s it remained common practice in all the islands. There exists ample testimony from former fans. The owners agree if witnessed the fight in silence or 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 a fight. The fights were banned in the mid-1940s, but lasted for another decade. From this moment, due to tightening by the Francoist authority for the eradication of dogfighting, the Presa Canario is relegated to counted breeders that fortunately kept the breed preventing its total disappearance.[8]

Coat and color[edit]

Silver Fawn
Red Fawn
Red Brindle
Brown Brindle
Fawn Brindle
Reverse Brindle

The coat is short with no undercoating and slightly coarse to the touch. The coat comes in all shades of fawn and brindle.[9] The acceptance of the black coat is a point of contention among fanciers, as it is allowed by the AKC-FSS, UKC and UPPCC standards, but not by the FCI or FCI standards. White is allowed up to 20 percent[5] and is most commonly found on the chest and feet, and occasionally on a blaze on the muzzle. The breed standard requires black pigmentation and dogs should have a black mask that does not extend above the eyes. The breed is known[by whom?] for its minimal shedding.


Presas require early socialization and obedience training.[10] In some situations, the Presa can be aggressive toward other dogs and suspicious of strangers.[11]


As a large breed, the 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.[12] The latter condition is described empirically as highly likely to affect dogs in areas of Spain[13] 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.[14]


The average lifespan for the Presa Canario is between 8 and 12 years.[15]

Basis for the name and standard[edit]

The 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.

Attacks against people[edit]

  • In January 2001, Diane Whipple, a 33-year-old woman in San Francisco, California, was killed by two Perro de Presa Canario mix[16] dogs owned by her neighbors, attorneys who had acquired the dogs on behalf of a client who had trained them for fighting.[17] The incident and its background were recounted in the book Hella Nation by Evan Wright, also referenced in the book Night Broken by Patricia Briggs.
  • In August 2006, Shawna Willey, a 30-year-old woman in Coral Springs, Florida, was killed by her own Presa Canario.[18]
  • In March 2012, a 21-year-old man in Sacramento, California, had finished lifting weights in his garage and stepped outside to cool off, and was then attacked by two large Presa Canarios (a 120 lb male and an 80 lb pregnant female). Each dog grabbed one of his arms and together they pulled him to the ground.[19] The driver of a passing car witnessed the attack and hit one of the dogs with the car. The victim then jumped onto the car, which sped him away to escape the attack.
  • In August 2012, Rebecca Carey, a 23-year-old woman in Decatur, Georgia, was killed by dogs that she was caring for in her home. Two were pit bulls, one was a boxer mix, and two were Presas.[20]
  • In April 2013, a 5-year-old girl in White Plains, Maryland, was attacked and critically injured by family-owned dogs at her home. Police suspected at least two of the three dogs at the home, an English bulldog and two Presa Canarios, were involved in the attack.[21]
  • In May 2013, Clifford Clarke, a 79-year-old man was attacked, mauled, and killed in Liverpool, England, by a Presa Canario Bull Mastiff mix, which had not been fed for 45 hours.[22][23]
  • In February 2014, a woman near Znojmo in the Czech republic was attacked by a 60 kilograms (130 lb) Akita and Perro de Presa mix. Police intervened and shot the dog, and the woman survived.[24]
  • In March 2017, a woman in Glendale, Wisconsin, was attacked and injured, suffering more puncture wounds and requiring eleven staples to close a wound to the head. A neighbour intervened and managed to knock the dog off of the woman.[25]
  • In April 2017, a 40-year-old woman in Madrid, Spain, was killed by her own Presa Canario. It was initially thought the cause of the death was pallets falling over her, but the autopsy performed determined the actual cause was the dog's attack.[26]

Legal restrictions on ownership[edit]

Importation and sale of the breed is prohibited in Australia[27] and New Zealand.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CIRCULAR 57/2011" (PDF). FCI General Assembly, Paris. 2011-08-01. Retrieved 2012-05-03. 
  2. ^ Ley 7/1991, de 30 de abril, de símbolos de la naturaleza para las Islas Canarias
  3. ^ Santana, Clemente Reyes. "El Perro de Presa Canario". Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  4. ^ a b c "FCI-St. N°346 / 12.08.2011" (PDF). Fédération Cynologique Internationale. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "UKC Standard: Perro de Presa Canario". UKC. 1 January 2003. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  6. ^ "Historia del perro de Presa Canario (Dogo Canario)"
  7. ^ "Historia del perro de Presa Canario (Dogo Canario)"
  8. ^ "Historia del perro de Presa Canario (Dogo Canario)"
  9. ^ Aguiro, Sergio. "Authentic Perro de Presa Canario". Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  10. ^ "Perro de Presa Canario FAQ". United Perro de Presa Canario Club. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  11. ^ "Perro de Presa Canario". Canada's Guide to Dogs. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  12. ^ "Parasite Infection (Leishmaniasis) in Dogs". Pet MD. 
  13. ^ "LEISHMANIA". Dogs at Large. 
  14. ^ Martín-Sánchez, Dr Joaquina. "Canine Leishmaniasis in Southeastern Spain". Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain. 
  15. ^ "Perro de Presa Canario".  External link in |publisher= (help)
  16. ^ Evan Wright, Hella Nation, 2009.
  17. ^ "Murder conviction of woman in dog-mauling case could be reinstated". Advocate. 2 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  18. ^ Dennis, Brady (22 August 2006). "Attraction to exotic dogs was fatal". St Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  19. ^ "Two exotic breed dogs attack Sacramento man Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine.", KXTV, March 10, 2012.
  20. ^ "Georgia woman who rescued animals killed in dog attack". 2012-08-17. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  21. ^ Suzy Khimm and Annie Gowen, Charles County Girl Critically Injured in a Dog Attack, Washington Post, April 4, 2013.
  22. ^ Siddle, John (2014-06-03). "'Eaten alive': Duo jailed for 12 months after their dog killed Liverpool pensioner Clifford Clarke". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 2014-06-03. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. ^ "Muere una mujer en Madrid por los mordiscos de su perro". Retrieved 2017-04-19. 
  27. ^ "Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulation 1956". Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  28. ^ "Another dog added to banned list". Retrieved 2010-09-02. 

External links[edit]