An Introduction to the Presa Canario: The Spanish Giant Dog

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presa canario spanish giant dog breed standing in roadThe Presa Canario is a large dog that was bred on the Spanish Canary Islands. They are energetic and loyal to their owners. Nothing pleases the Dogo Canario more than making their owner happy and keeping them safe. Some people say that this breed is aggressive, but with training and socialization, they’re gentle giants who love to spend time with their family.

A Gentle Giant? Meet the Perro de Presa Canario

Not a lot of breeds are known by as many names as the Presa Canario breed is. The breed’s full name is Perro de Presa Canario, or in English, Canarian catch dog. They’re also known as Perro de Presa, Presa, Dogo Canario, or even Canarian Molosser. But who is this dog that has many names? Where do they come from? Who do they descend from?

History of this Bold Breed

The Presa Canario was bred in the Canary Islands. These islands belong to Spain and are located in the Atlantic Ocean. In the 1800s, farmers decided to create the perfect farm utility dog. They crossed the native Bardino Majorero with the English Mastiff. But there might have been other Molossoid breeds that contributed to this dog’s DNA.

Their role on the farm was to be a shepherd dog and herd all the cattle. To hunt down wild boar that acted violently. To hunt and kill wild dogs that threatened the island’s cattle, and to immobilize cattle and help get them ready for slaughter.

Some years later, dog fighting became more popular. Unfortunately, this cattle dog breed was enrolled in these events and got a reputation as a vicious fighter. Up until the 1950s, Presa Canario puppies were sought after to compete.

But, fortunately, now that dog fighting is illegal in Spain, this breed got a new, less aggressive start. Although other breeds are more popular on the island, they’re still used by some farmers. You can also find them playing the role of a guard dog since they’re very alert. Presa Canario dogs have also been adopted by some families as a companion dog.

Appearance and Personality of the Canary Mastiff

There’s no denying it that Canary Mastiff dogs are very powerful and strong. Their body is sturdy and very muscular. You can even see the muscles bulging in some parts of their bodies. A Presa’s neck, pectoral region, and legs are especially strong.

Their head is round and broad. The skin on their head is loose but, on the rest of their body, it’s tight and very thick. The Canary Mastiff has oval-shaped eyes that are usually brown. The ears are somewhat droopy and don’t stand up straight. Their jaw is large when compared to the rest of their features and sticks out slightly.

Canary Mastiffs have a short and coarse coat. They don’t have an undercoat and come in many different colors. There are dark brown, pale gray, blond, or sandy Perro de Presa Canarios. Some may even have white markings on their chest, neck, throat, feet, and toes.

How Big Do They Get?

Presa Canario puppies grow to be anywhere between 21 and 25 inches when they’re fully grown. Their dense muscles also make them quite heavy. An adult Canary Mastiff dog weighs between 80 and 100 pounds.

Temperament of the Presa

This dog gets a reputation for being aggressive and evil-spirited. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. It is true that they’ve had an aggressive past, being hunting dogs and participating in dog fights. But puppies and dogs of this breed have left all that in the past.

Presas are very alert and loyal to their owners. As soon as they bond with their human family, they’ll make sure they’re always safe. Because of this, they tend to not like strangers. Especially when they come to their house and get too close to the family. This makes them perfect guard dogs.

But this isn’t to say that they’re mean towards strangers. If you socialize your puppy, they will learn to not only accept but love having new people over.

To the family, they’re very gentle and affectionate. As we’ve mentioned, there’s not a lot the Presa Canario would choose over its family. They’re calm and devoted and love going on adventures with their favorite humans.

the canary mastiff dog panting

3 Fun Facts You Gotta Know About the Canary Dog!

The Presa Canario breed is a misunderstood breed. Here are some facts to help you understand this giant better.

  1. There are records hinting at the fact that there were dogs very similar to the Canary Mastiff before 1800. They may be early mixes of a Mastiff dog breed and the Perro de Ganado Majorero.
  2. Dogs were so special to the people of the Canary islands that some were buried with their pets before the 14th century.
  3. Canary Mastiffs are usually quiet. But when they bark, they can scare even the bravest person. They have a deep and powerful bark that surprises a lot of people, especially intruders.

Energy Levels, Exercise, and Maintenance Needs of the Presa Canario Puppies

Presas are very energetic. They need a lot of exercise to be healthy and well-balanced. If they don’t get their exercise quote for the day in, they may become destructive because of frustration.

To avoid this, try to walk them every single day twice a day. A vigorous thirty-minute walk or hike should be enough to make your pupper happy!

Maintaining the breed isn’t too hard if you’re a fan of exercise. Because they don’t have an undercoat and their hairs are short and coarse, brushing once a week should be enough. Don’t bathe them too often either, since it washes away essential oils that protect the skin.

He May Look Strong from the Outside, but Is He Strong on the Inside?

Generally speaking, Presa Canario dogs are healthy. But as it is to be expected, they’re more likely to develop some diseases and conditions than other breeds are.

perro de presa canario dog playing ball

Because they’re a large breed, hip dysplasia is to be expected. This happens when the hip socket and the thigh bone don’t fit snuggly. Because of it, there’s friction between the two, which makes walking and running very painful. It’s also common to see Canary Mastiffs with elbow dysplasia, which works in a similar way.

Epilepsy is also somewhat common. While there’s no way to completely treat it, you should keep an eye on your pup.

Joint ligament problems such as Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Patellar Luxation also worry owners. They make walking and moving difficult and painful.

The best way to know which diseases your pup might have in the future is by getting their DNA checked out. There are some companies that provide this service, but we believe that the best is Embark DNA.

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You’ll be able to know if your pup has any Great Dane, German Shepherd Dog, or any other breed in them! But the best part is that you’ll know what diseases they’re likely to have down the line.

Longevity of this Breed

Presa Canario puppies usually live between nine and eleven years of age. You’ll be with your best friend for quite a while!

Don’t Want a Presa Puppy? Here Are Some Other Mastiff Types

If you think a Presa puppy isn’t for you, there are many more Mastiff breeds out there waiting for an owner:

  1. Bullmastiff — the large and loyal guard dog!
  2. Neapolitan Mastiff — the wrinkly 150-pound property protector!
  3. Tibetan Mastiff — a lion-like and loving dog!

5 Tips for First-Time Perro de Presa Canario Owners!

Have you decided to get a Perro de Presa Canario? If so, here are our top tips for raising a well-balanced and happy puppy.

  1. Socialize and train them from a very young age. This will mean that you don’t end up with an aggressive or shy dog.
  2. Feed them a well-balanced nutritious diet adjusted for their age and weight.
  3. Go on lots of hikes and play with your Presa. They love exercise and hate staying still.
  4. Brush them once a week to remove dead hairs and keep their coat beautiful and shiny.
  5. If you’re buying a Perro de Presa, only get them from a reputable breeder. Avoid backyard breeders and puppy mills are all costs. It’s not hard to find healthy puppies for sale.

Common Questions on Presa Canarios

Are they aggressive?

Can they be family dogs?

What diseases can they have in the future?

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