Presa Canario

The Menacing but Loving Spanish Giant

Presa Canario

By Toni Grzunov - Last updated on May 18th, 2021

All you need to know about the Presa Canario

The Presa Canario, also known as the Dogo Canario or the Perro de Presa Canario, is a Spanish breed of large dogs of the Mastiff type. 

They were often the aggressors in fatal dog attacks, which gave them a bad reputation. However, they can make good pets, but you will need to work hard for it.

Originally, these dogs were bred to work with livestock. They were specifically trained to be able to seize large animals while protecting livestock. They use their teeth and weight to immobilize animals and keep them at bay while waiting for humans to manage them.

These large dogs need to be raised responsibly. They will need a lot of training and plenty of socialization. If they are provided with this, they can grow up into loving pets that know how to behave.

As an owner, you will need to be dominant and strong but never aggressive. Presa Canarios can become dangerous around meek owners, so you shouldn’t adopt one unless you have the right temperament for it.

Fast Facts

Group - Mastiff

Weight - Pounds 100-130 Pounds (male) 80-110 Pounds (female)

Height - 23-26 Inches (male) 22-25 Inches (female)

Hair Length - Short

Shedding - Light

Lifespan - 9-12 years

The Appearance of the Presa Canario

Presa Canario dogs are large and look impressive. Their bodies are sturdy and muscular and give off an aura of incredible strength. They are longer than they are tall, with a sloping topline. The rear is a bit higher than the shoulders.

These dogs have a massive, broad head shaped like a square. Their ears are usually cropped, mostly to prevent any sort of injury while they are working with cattle. Nowadays, most people do it to create a more formidable, menacing look.

Some countries ban ear-cropping, so you will need to leave them as they are. If done so, the ears will hang down close to the head. They are medium-sized and shaped like a pendant.

They have large oval eyes that are dark in color and set well apart. Their jaws are extremely powerful, with a pendulous upper lip.

The Presa Canario is also known for the shape of its paws, which resembles a cat’s foot. They also have catlike movement. The way their bodies are shaped only adds to their resemblance to feline animals. 

Presas have medium-length tails with a thick base, whose thickness will normally taper down to a point. When these dogs are alert, their tails will rise up straight like a sword!

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What colors does a Presa Canario come in?

Presa Canario dogs have short, coarse coats with no undercoat. According to the breed standard, there are three allowed colors these dogs can come in:

  • Brindle
  • Fawn
  • Sandy

They can also be black, although that color is not in the breed standard. This means that black Presa Canarios won’t be able to compete on dog shows.

Brindle-colored Presa Canarios can come in all shades, ranging from pale grey to warm dark brown to blond. All shades of fawn and sandy are also acceptable.

These dogs can have white markings on the chest, the neck, and their hind feet and legs. Their mask is always black, although that color should not spread above the eye level.

All about the Presa Canario personality

Presa Canario dogs are infamous all over the world because they can be extremely aggressive and intimidating. However, if raised well, they can also be incredibly loving and loyal pets. It all depends on you, actually.

We can’t stress enough how important it is that these dogs are socialized from an early age with both humans and other animals. Do so as early as possible, while your Presa Canario is still a puppy.

The Presa Canario will develop a strong sense of loyalty to its owner, which might make it behave defensively in certain situations. These dogs will always be highly suspicious of strangers and protective of their homes. This means that Presas make excellent guard dogs.

Presa Canario has a powerful bark that should be enough to scare anyone away (as if their look isn’t intimidating enough), but if they sense danger, they can become violent. Given their size and strength, you can see how this can become dangerous.

This is where you come in, as the owner. You will need to be strong and take on the role of the ‘leader of the pack’. You will need to become the alpha dog in the eyes of your Presa Canario. This way, it will always listen to you and follow all of your orders.

Not only you, your family members as well will need to adopt a dominant personality in order to be able to handle your large pet. These dogs are confident and independent. They are strong-willed but will always respect you and your family if treated correctly. Presas will be gentle and loving in the presence of people they consider their family. 

Handling a Presa Canario can be tough and definitely isn’t for everybody. It takes a lot of dedication, but if you can do it they make wonderful pets, as well as guard dogs.

Is a Presa Canario easy to train?

The Presa Canario is definitely not a dog for a novice dog owner. It can be incredibly hard to handle and if you’ve never had a dog this should not be your first one.

These dogs should always feel great respect for you, which is something only experienced dog owners know how to achieve. You will also need an experienced dog trainer to help you.

Commitment and patience are key because the training might take some time. You will need to assert your dominance and show that you won’t tolerate any type of bad behavior. Obedience training will be a lifelong process with the Presa Canario.

You and your dog should both be aware that the training will never stop, and it can be exhilarating to some. You definitely need to make sure you’re prepared for owning a dog like this.

Always avoid punishment-based training because it might lead to your dog behaving in a hostile way. Use positive reinforcement and always reward good behavior using treats and praise. 

These dogs have a prey drive, and you will need to train them to ignore it from an early age. If you don’t, they could potentially cause a lot of damage to other pet dogs or even local animals in the wilderness.

How much Grooming does a Presa Canario need?

When it comes to grooming, you’re in luck with the Presa Canario. These dogs have a short coat, so you will only need to brush them once a week.

Use a firm bristle brush and wipe your dog down with a soft towel afterward. If you feel it is necessary, you may use dry shampoo but avoid doing this too often. Simply brushing the coat should be enough to keep it nice and shiny.

These dogs don’t have an undercoat and only shed seasonally, in small amounts but are not hypoallergenic. They do drool and this might cause reactions in people with allergies.

You won’t need to bathe Presa Canario dogs too often unless they’ve really gotten dirty. Use a mild shampoo if this happens because harsher ones can cause their skin to dry, leading to irritation.

These dogs have a defensive nature so you will want to get them used to a grooming routine early. They can develop teeth and gum problems, meaning you need to start brushing their teeth from an early age.

A dental routine is important, and it is best to consult with your veterinarian on what the best toothpaste is for your dog. 

The Presa Canario also has strong nails that grow incredibly fast. You should trim them regularly if your pet doesn’t wear them off naturally. If left unattended, the nails can split and crack which can be painful.

Lastly, make sure to regularly check your dog’s ears to avoid wax or debris from building up. This can result in a serious infection, so make sure to clean your pet’s ears if necessary.

The Living Environment of the Presa Canario

The size of the Presa Canario might not make them the best fit for a small apartment. If you don’t have a garden or a backyard, make sure to take your pet for regular walks so it uses up its energy. 

However, never let your children walk a Presa Canario! These dogs require someone with the strength to control them if they become aggressive by any chance. 

It would be great if you could introduce your Presa Canario to various activities from an early age. Bring your pet hiking or swimming and use various puzzles and toys while playing.

If a Presa Canario is properly trained it will become a relatively docile pet that won’t mind staying calm for the majority of the day. The first two years will require the most work.

The Health and Nutrition of the Presa Canario

Presa Canarios are large hardy dogs, so they won’t develop serious health problems usually, although some might occur.

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia are quite common and these dogs are more prone than usual to developing them. Excessive exercise can lead to these conditions at an early age, so always limit too much activity while your dog is still growing.
  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) is another condition that can occur, and it is quite common in deep-chested dogs. If you notice abdominal bloating and that your Presa Canario is drooling or panting, you should immediately visit the veterinarian.
  • A condition that usually occurs in middle-aged or older Presa Canarios is Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). This disease causes the chambers of the heart to enlarge and can’t contract anymore. This should be treated with cardiac medication.

Presa Canario dogs require a well-balanced diet from an early age. This will prevent any sort of abnormalities in their development. Seeing as how large these dogs are they will need plenty of food.

Your veterinarian will be able to develop the best possible feeding plan for your dog, as well as help you choose the perfect dog food for the Presa Canario.

Where does the Presa Canario come from?

These pups are native to the Canary Islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria and were probably developed from the Perro Majorero and the Alano Español and some other breeds.

The Perro Majorero is a large, strong dog breed that is almost extinct nowadays. This breed was brought over from the Canary Islands during the colonization period in the 1400s. They were used as cattle dogs.

Just like them, the Alano Español is another rare dog breed from Spain. They were used in bullfights and for hunting originally. Both of these breeds were probably mixed with the English Mastiffs brought over by colonists, and it created the Presa Canario.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, these dogs were banned for everyone but farmers. They were dangerous and would kill other dogs to protect livestock. They were also used to guard villages. Unfortunately, they were also used for dogfighting. 

New dog breeds were introduced during the 1950s and the 1960s, so the number of Presa Canarios decreased on the Canary Islands. This resulted in the establishment of a group dedicated to guarding the breed against extinction in 1982.

Nowadays, there is a lot of negative press tied to these dogs. They are not allowed to be imported into Australia because they are considered dangerous.

Questions people often ask about Presa Canario

  • +How big do Dogo Canario’s grow?

  • +Is a Dogo Canario a good family dog?

  • +Is it easy to train a Dogo Canario?

  • +What is the difference between Cane Corso and Presa Canario?

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