Top 10 Facts About The Presa Canario

It’s hard to deny that this sturdy type of dog has quite a temper, hence it was added to our list of most aggressive dogs.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the Presa Canario, a breed from which the name reveals where they originated from.

1. The breed was developed on a Spanish island group

As the name of this particular dog breed suggests, the Presa Canario originates from the Canary Islands.

These islands are an autonomous region of Spain, even though they are located quite some distance to the southwest of Spain’s mainland.

In fact, these islands are much closer to Africa and are only situated about 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Morocco.

These dogs have been distributed throughout this island group, including the biggest islands of Tenerife, Fuerteventura, and Gran Canaria.

Presa Canario facts
Dogo Canario / Smok Bazyli /

2. It has had a couple of different names throughout its history

Even though the breed is now officially known as the “Presa Canario,” it also has a couple of alternative names. These include:

  • Dogo Canario
  • Perro de Presa Canario
  • Canary Mastiff
  • Canary Catch Dog
  • Canarian Dogo

3. These dogs have been used for a wide variety of purposes

The official classification of this dog is that it’s used as a guard dog to protect cattle. This means that these were used on farms to both protect cattle.

At the same time, they were trained as herding dogs for both sheep and cattle as well. Their strong personalities and low bark make these dogs perfectly suited for this job as well.

The dark side of this breed is that they tend to have a short temper which allowed malignant dog breeders to train them for dogfighting.

This practice was pretty common on the Canary Islands until it was finally banned in 1936. This doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen anymore after that, however, because it was still pretty common until the 1950s.

If these dogs are raised the wrong way, this obscure dog breed can become an effective killing machine.

Dogo Canario
An alert dog / Smok Bazyli /

4. Male dogs are substantially bigger and heavier than females

So how big is the Presa Canario?

Male dogs are slightly taller than females and stand anywhere between 60 and 66 centimeters (24 and 26 inches) tall. Female dogs reach an average height of anywhere between 56 and 62 centimeters (22 and 24 inches).

The weight of males and females differs quite a bit. Male dogs weigh anywhere between 50 and 65 kilos (110 and 145 lb) and female dogs have an average weight of between 40 and 55 kilos (90 and 120 lb).

This means that males are females about 10 kilos ( or about 20%) heavier than females, a difference in mass that is quite visible.

5. Are Presa Canarios good family dogs?

As you surely expected by now, this isn’t the average family dog. Even though these dogs appear to be calm and reserved at first, they do tend to be very suspicious of strangers.

This in combination with the fact that they can become very aggressive makes this quite a dangerous dog, perfectly suited to serve as a guard dog.

Presa Canarios are alert and can be trained easily. They are docile and very attached to their guard and other family members.

This in combination with the fact that they need a lot of activity every day to release their energy makes small spaces unsuited for these dogs.

Presa canario playing
These dogs need a lot of space to release their energy / Wiki Commons

More interesting facts about the Presa Canario

6. These are extremely muscular dogs and have a large head that appears to be square in shape. In fact, their head needs to have the shape of an elongated cube to pass the breed’s standard.

Another distinctive characteristic of this dog breed is their black mask which should be perfectly in line with the muzzle. The color of their coat is brindle (tan to brown) in combination with multiple other colors ranging from fawn to sandy.

7. This breed is considered to be a Molossus, which means they are ancestors of a dog breed that was native to the kingdom of the Molossians in modern-day Greece.

This ancient Greek dog eventually made it to the Canary Islands and was cross-bred with the Bardino Majorero, a bred native to the Canary Islands.

The most significant period of the breed’s history happened in the late 19th century. When people from Great Britain came to live here and brought their dogs, they cross-bred as well to develop the dog we know today as the Presa Canario.

Molossian hound
Molossian hound / Mike Peel /

8. One of the most remarkable facts about the Presa Canario is that the breed almost went extinct in the 1960s. This was the period in which the Spanish government launched a complete crackdown on dogfighting arenas (and for the better).

It eventually survived and a breeding club was formed in 1982 called the “Club Español del Presa Canario.” It would eventually take until the year 1989 before it was officially recognized by the ‘Real Sociedad Canina de España.”

9. The name of the breed was “Dogo Canario” until the year 2018. This was also the name of the dog when it was first accepted by the international dog federation called the “Federation Cynologique Internationale” in 2001.

This was also the year that it was finally officially recognized by the Spanish government. 10 years before, in 1991, this dog breed became an official symbol of the island of Gran Canaria, one of the islands on which the breed is most popular.

Dogo Canario outside
These dogs love to run outside / Wiki Commons

10. Even though these dogs have received a high honor in their native home Gran Canaria, they aren’t welcome everywhere in the world.

Importing these dogs is prohibited to both Australia and New Zealand, countries that put it on their official ban list.

The main reason is that even though these dogs can be used as herding dogs or guard dogs, some people still train them to become professional fighters. This illegal type of “sport” has also increased the popularity of the breed in the United States.

Either way, the behavior of the dog depends on how it’s trained, just like all the other breeds that made it to our list of aggressive dogs.

Presa Canario Gran Canaria
Presa Canario near the ocean / Caronna /