Choosing a Presa Canario

The Presa Canario, also known as the Canary Dog, is a massive, strong breed that is a natural guard dog and cattle herder. Not for the faint of heart, this dog has the potential to be a fearsome foe.

History and Origin

Native to the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain, the Presa Canario is a muscular dog with a strong personality. This breed was originally used for fighting and was developed by crossing now extinct herd dogs that were brought to the Canary Islands by Spanish settlers. The breed was an excellent fighting dog but their numbers dwindled almost to extinction when fighting was banned in the 1940s. In 1960, some interested breeders tried to restore the Presa Canario by crossing the Perro de Ganado Majorero and other large powerful breeds. From this crossing two variations came into being.

The Presa Canario coming from the Grand Canary Island is a very large, strong dog resulting from the Perro crossed with the mastiff and the Great Dane. The other variation comes from Tenerife and is more agile. This version was developed by crossing the bulldog, bullmastiff, Great Dane, Staffordshire bull terrier, pitbulls and dogue de Bordeaux.

Today, the Presa Canario is said to be a mix of all the crosses and breeders are working towards characteristics of an excellent herding dog and guard dog. They are however banned from several countries due to their tendencies toward aggression. The breed is allowed in the United States, but the American Kennel Club does not recognize the breed at this time.

Appearance and Size

The Presa Canario is a large, powerful dog with a big square head. The nose is black and the eyes are dark. The ears are often cropped and the tail in medium in length. The body is massive and exudes power. The hair coat is short and rough and comes in striped brindle, gray, and fawn with white markings on the neck and chest with a dark mask around the eyes and face. The Presa Canario stands 22 to 26 inches from the shoulder and weighs 90 to 125 pounds.


The Presa Canario has a strong, naturally aggressive nature. This breed is a formidable fighter but is very loyal to his owner.

Home and Family Relations

The Presa Canario needs to be owned by experience masters. This breed was originally used for cattle herding, dog fighting and as a guard dog. They can make companion animals if socialized and trained from an early age. The Presa Canario will tolerate children, but must be supervised at all times. Children need to be taught not to threaten or aggravate this breed. If the Presa Canario is raised with other household pets they will tolerate them. They are gentle and loyal to their family, but aggressive to strangers.


The Presa Canario needs lots of early socialization and obedience training. They are very independent and must have an experienced owner to teach them control.


The Presa Canario requires little grooming. Daily brushing keeps the short hair coat shiny and clean.

Special Care

The Presa Canario needs to be owned by an experienced owner and socialized and trained at an early age. When out in public, a strong leash is required. This breed is classified as a Dangerous Dog in many countries and even areas of the United States.

Common Diseases and Disorders

Gastric torsion (bloat) is a life-threatening sudden illness associated with the stomach filling with air and twisting.

Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.

The life span of the Presa Canario is 8 to 10 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.