The Canary Islands
The origins of the Perros de Presa can be traced to the Canary Islands in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as documented in several books. Hence the name, which translates to “The Canary Dog of Prey”. Spanish Conquistadors had taken over the Canary Islands however it is unknown whether the guard dogs had already been on the island or if the Conquistadors had brought them along. Regardless of how they came to be, these large guard dogs were put to work guarding farms, herding cattle, and warding off wild and stray dogs.
Nothing is certain when it comes to the genetic contributions that composed the Presa Canario. Several breeds, however, are certain to have been in the lineup including the Iberian Presa, Presa Espanol, Bandogges, Tiedogs, Bulldogs, Bull Terriers, and finally the Bardino Majorero. The degree to which each of these breeds contributed to what we now know as the Presa Canario is unknown, but many of the traits seen in today’s Presa Canario are evident in its contributors.
Iberian Presa – The Iberian Presa (Perro de Ganado Majorero) was a definite part of the origins of the breed. A cattle dog, the Iberian Presa was similar to an average sized mastiff and known for its intuitive instincts and intelligence. They were a fearless guardian, which is certainly seen in the modern day Presa Canario guard dogs.
Bandogges and Tiedogs- In the 18th century the addition of vastly different breeds were introduced to the developing Preso Canario. At this time, English colonists, traders, and merchants began coming to the island and brought with them Bandogges and Tiedogs, which are predecessors to what we now know as Bulldogs and Mastiffs.
Bulldogs and Bull Terriers – Later brought to the Canary Islands also by the English traders and merchants. These guard dogs were referred to as gladiator breeds.
Bardino Majorero- The final component that led to the development of the modern day Presa Canario was the intentional crossbreeding with a pre-Hispanic sheepdog known as the Bardino Majorero. This guard dog originated on the Island of Fuerteventura and was heralded for its intelligence, physical strength, guardian instincts, little to no barking, impressive teeth, and dauntless courage. With traits inherited from the Bardino Majorero, the Presa Canario was no longer solely a fantastic livestock dog, it was now a fearless fighter. This trait was greatly enjoyed by the islanders.
The 1940’s were a dark period for the breed. An introduction of other breeds that were much more popular and the prohibition of dog fighting both contributed to a decrease in interest in the breed. German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, and Great Danes became the new focus of the island’s dog fanciers and although dog fights were still carried out in secret, most of the Presa Canario were given to farmers or herdsman to function as guard dogs. During this decade, the numbers of the Presa Canario dropped dramatically.
In 1982 an association was formed of breeders from the island of Tenerife. The goal of this group was to revive the declining breed. The Club Espanol de Presa Canario (CEPRC) was then formed with breeders from Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and La Palma.
1983 brought the club official recognition from Spain’s Real Canine Society Central (RSCFRCE). Due to the diligence of this group the breed has seen not only a renewed interest but several Champions of Breed at the island’s annual Monographic events. Breed popularity has even grown beyond the islands into the European continent and the Americas.
In the 1980’s several Presa Canario guard dogs were brought into the United States. This was done either by brokers or breeders that had grown interested in the breed. They had brought the breed over with the mission of introducing this fantastic protection dog breed to American dog lovers. When several breed clubs started popping up within the United States it became obvious that the popularity of the Presa Canaria was on the rise. This rare breed became the focus of several dog fanciers who were anxious for a chance to not only own the breed but to also enter them in shows as well as train them as family guard dogs.
The United Perro de Presa Canario Club (UPPCC) was formed in the United States in 1990. This provided a registry for any purebred Presa Canario Dogs. In the same year, any Presa Canario dogs that were certified could also be registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC) under the Foundation Stock Service program (FSS).
Shortly following the formation of the UPPCC many other groups for these guard dogs sprung up. Many quickly became affiliated with Canary Island’s new Dogo Club as well as its officers and breeders. This affiliation seems to have been an effort to gain FCI recognition and to change the name from Presa Canario to Dogo Canario. Today, responsible breeders who offer these guard dogs for sale have continued the mission to keep the breed healthy and functional. This includes correct morphology, physical balance, good nature, and strong temperaments. The coat colors of the Presa Canario range from black to brindles and light to dark fawns. Regardless of colors, they all have traditional white markings.
A properly trained Presa Canaria can be quite formidable. Even the fiercest hog can be taken down by this ruthless catch dog. Yet at the same time, this guard dog can be a gentle giant, protective of even small children. Constantly aware of in every situation, the Presa Canaria is protective of their family and territory. Their even temperament makes the Presa Canaria one of the best guard dogs for sale.