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Presa Canario: The Island Dog Breed

Presa Canario: The Island Dog Breed

Strong and protective, the Perro de Presa Canario is a breed to be admired. Unfortunately, because of their propensity to become aggressive, the breed has frequently been used in dog fighting rings. However, don’t let their bad reputation scare you. Because if they are in the right hands, they will show only the best breed traits they possess.

The Presa Canario has a calm and pleasant personality, especially when they are with people they trust, despite being initially sluggish to warm up. They are a self-assured breed with a strong presence. The Presa Canario has a calm, self-assured demeanor and takes a solid, watchful position.

With this breed, a firm and skilled trainer is essential, especially to avoid the dog from becoming overly dominating and violent. They don’t work all that well in homes with young children or other animals. They need a lot of space, so an apartment isn’t an option.

If you want to know more about the Canary Mastiff and learn why he is the animal symbol of Gran Canaria, keep reading.

History of the Presa Canario

The Presa Canario is the perfect guard dog due to its menacing appearance and hyperawareness, which were originally utilized for herding cattle. The Canary Dog of Prey, another name for this breed, is thought to have originated in the 15th and 16th centuries during the conquest of the Canary Islands when larger dogs were used for very essential jobs including guarding farms, working livestock, and even killing stray or wild canines.

The Iberian Presa, a medium-sized mastiff breed and perceptive guard dog, is the ancestor of the Presa Canario. The Presa Canario may have developed from a number of other breeds, including the Presa Espanol and the Bardino Majorero, a sheepdog that was first domesticated on the island of Fuerteventura.

The Presa Canario became well recognized for its intelligence, bravery, and physical resilience throughout time, as well as for its ability to radiate natural guardian instincts, even without the need for excessive barking. Over time, these island canines evolved into distinct breeds. These dogs were frequently bred for dog fighting, which is not surprising.

Dog fighting was outlawed on the islands in the 1940s, but fights were reportedly still taking place in the following decade. It was at this point that the Presa Canario population began to decline due to the introduction of competing fighting breeds like the Great Dane, Doberman Pinscher, and German Shepherd. 

Fortunately, competent breeders produced effective Presa Canarios in the 1970s that were both big and brave, with sharp watchdog instincts, a headstrong, daring temperament, and an intensely territorial attitude. The Presa Canario has been outlawed in many nations because of its territorial tendencies. Although the breed is legal in the United States, the American Kennel Club does not officially recognize it.

Dog sitting on the grass

Source: Instagram (@presacanario_official)


The Presa is without a doubt a beast, towering above other dogs with a stately demeanor and intimidating build. However, that does not imply that it is the ideal option for every dog owner. It is advised to work with an accomplished master who is passionate about this breed and who is well-versed in the traits of the Presa Canario. To develop into a well-balanced dog, this dog needs a lot of socialization and training from the time it is a puppy.

If you talk to someone who has a Perro de Presa Canario, they’ll probably emphasize the dog’s independence. To get the most out of the breed, you’ll need to have expertise training huge dogs because the breed has a strong will and likes to dominate situations.

The dog should receive appropriate training throughout its entire life; otherwise, you risk leadership problems and having to live with a dog that frequently displays violent behavior. The Perro de Presa Canario may make a wonderful watchdog if properly socialized, and the more laid-back aspects of their personality may also manifest around their human companions.

Be aware that getting a Perro de Presa Canario requires a sizable time commitment for training and care, so be sure your household and lifestyle are suitable for this breed before you adopt. All of your family members will need to take part in raising a Presa Canario puppy.

A Presa who has been properly raised is devoted, self-assured, fearless, and protective. Although this breed can be unpredictable among other dogs, strangers, and even kids, it is fiercely protective of its family. Don’t forget that this breed is huge and energetic. It necessitates regular activity and spacious home. This dog is not advised for an apartment because of its size, but also his need for space. 

Living with & Caring for a Presa Canario

The Presa Canario breed is loving and loyal to its family, but it usually does best with experienced, active owners who can socialize their pet well and give it plenty of opportunities to play outside. The breed may need more chances to meet new people and learn how to behave around them when they are young. They are also strong, smart, and wary of people they don’t know.

It is not a good idea for a family with young children to get a Perro de Presa Canario. The breed is big and strong, and it often tries to take charge of situations, which can make it act violently. Also, the Perro de Presa Canario shouldn’t live with smaller pets. They have a strong need to hunt, and you don’t want your small pets to end up in their mouths.

Even if you have a fenced-in yard, you shouldn’t leave your dog outside alone and unattended for long periods of time because of how big and strong they are. As we’ve already said, these dogs are big and need a lot of space, so if you live in a small city apartment, this is not the breed for you.

Feeding the Presa Canario

For a large-breed dog with high levels of energy, good quality dog food that is specially made for large and active dog breeds is a must! If not given a lot of regular exercise, the Perro de Presa Canario has a propensity to put on weight. Instead of leaving food out all the time, feed your Perro de Presa Canario twice a day by weighing out their food.

It is up to you what type of diet you are going to feed your dog. Some owners prefer to feed their dogs raw meat, vegetables, and other sources of protein like eggs. However, human food can be confusing for newer dog owners. There are so many food items that are safe for us but dangerous for our canines. 

That’s why it’s much more convenient to feed them special dog food. Just make sure you get the good stuff. You will recognize high-quality dog food by its high amounts of protein. Carbohydrates like corn are mostly cheap fillers in canine food, and your dog does not benefit much at all. Unless your pup is a Dalmatian, he will most likely thrive on a high-protein-based diet. 

The Presa Canario dog can typically adapt to a wide range of environments and climates. Make sure your dog has access to enough fresh water to stay hydrated and cool throughout the hotter summer months. Just like us, dogs need to stay well hydrated as well. 


This high-energy breed will yearn for daily activity, like outdoor playtime or numerous daily walks. They are eager to please their owner and are quite trainable, so they can also pick up new tricks or play indoor games like hide-and-seek. The Presa Canario can participate in more strenuous outdoor activities including swimming, trekking, and retrieving balls or flying discs thanks to its powerful, athletic build.

The Perro de Presa Canario needs a lot of activity since it is a breed with a working dog heritage. Aim for at least an hour of exercise each day, and consider including tasks to keep the dog engaged both cognitively and physically. But one hour is basically the bare minimum that this breed needs. So if you don’t have a lot of time, or you don’t like exercising, this isn’t the right dog for you. 

Grooming the Presa Canario

The coat of the Perro de Presa Canario is frequently a blend of black, brindle, tan, and silver. Their coat is straight and short, which means that they don’t shed too much. You will only have to brush them about once a week. If they are in the ‘shedding season’, you can increase it to 2-3 times a week if needed. 

The Perro de Presa Canario will occasionally need to be bathed to keep its short coat clean. However, don’t do it more often than once every 1 to 2 months. Additionally, this breed has strong, quick-growing nails that require routine trimming with a nail clipper or grinder. Once a month, look at your Perro de Presa Canario’s nails to see if they require trimming. If your Perro de Presa Canario spends enough time outside, there’s a good chance that their nails will stay in excellent condition on their own. 

Besides that, other important parts of grooming are taking care of your dog’s ears and teeth. For the ears, clean them every time you give your dog a bath. Just use some cotton balls and a little bit of cleaning solution. Check if you notice any redness or weird discharge. These could be signs of a possible ear infection.

When it comes to their teeth, try to brush your dog’s teeth at least a couple of times a week. Once a day would be ideal, however, 3 times a week will be fine as well. This will get rid of tartar formation and the associated bacteria. That way you will prevent all the dangerous dog dental problems that your canine could face. 


These dogs are capable of being patient, affectionate, and submissive—but only with the right instruction from knowledgeable owners. They have a strong innate instinct to attack anything that seems dangerous. The Presa Canario breed needs intensive socialization and obedience training from an early age, and they will respond best to fair, consistent discipline and established boundaries.

Early socialization is crucial for this breed, in the end. Always remember to praise your Perro de Presa Canario when he behaves well and follows the right training procedures. If you, however, think that this is too much for you, you can always consider hiring a professional dog trainer or enrolling your dog in a dog training class. 

Because dog training isn’t easy, and this breed definitely needs someone who knows what he is doing, we would in no way suggest getting this exotic dog breed if you are a newbie in the canine world. This dog is only for experienced dog owners, who know how to handle strong and powerful canines.

A cute Presa Canario laying on a chair

Source: Instagram (@ruralk9s)


Generally speaking, Perro de Presa Canarios is a healthy dog, but like all breeds, they are prone to some health issues. Although not every Perro de Presa Canario will contract one of these illnesses, it’s still vital to be aware of them if you’re thinking of getting one. 

The Presa Canario has a 9–11 year lifespan on average. The Presa Canario is prone to major hereditary illnesses that can severely impair them or decrease their lives, despite the fact that the Canary Dog is a sturdy specimen when it comes to working life and endurance. It is up to you to make sure your dog is living as healthy as possible. Only with a healthy diet and a balanced lifestyle, the lifespan of your dog can be as long as possible. 

The most important Presa Canario health problems to be aware of are:

  1. Hip dysplasia
  2. Dilated cardiomyopathy 
  3. Patellar luxation
  4. Epilepsy
  5. Osteochondrodysplasias

The best thing you can do to prevent these diseases from happening is to make sure you are buying your dog from a reputable breeder. Only a responsible breeder will do all of the necessary health tests and screening to make sure the puppy you are taking home is as healthy as possible.


The Presa Canario is one of the most beautiful dogs in the world. They are smart, strong, hardworking, and have a lot of power. These canines, however, could turn out to be total disasters if they fall into the wrong hands and don’t get proper training. 

Not only do they need an owner, but they also need a pack leader who can show them how to act best. These dogs won’t give you their unconditional love or reveal their sweetness to you until all of their needs have been addressed.

Also, this breed is not a good choice for people who like to sit around all day. They need to be stimulated a lot, and I mean A LOT. Both physically and mentally. If you don’t like to exercise or want a breed that doesn’t need much care, you might want to look for a different dog.

Last but not least, they are a rare breed. So you will have to pay a lot to call one of these puppies your own. Prices range from $1000 to $4000, depending on where you live and how much demand there is.

But that’s not all. You’ll also have to pay for premium dog food, dog training classes, trips to the vet, toys, puzzles, and more… That’s why it’s so important to think about all of these things before getting a dog. Too many of them end up in shelters when their owners find out how much it costs to own one.

My name is Katy and I am 27. I love to travel and you would be surprised how good I am at karaoke. 🙂 Passionate dog lover and a "mother" to a beautiful toy puddle named Zara. I work as a volunteer in a local shelter and I am a veterinary assistant helping our four-legged friends every day.