Dog Breed Review

Presa Canario




Bulky, large and intimidating, the Presa Canario is a natural guard dog from the Canary Island. Although their sheer size is a bit concerning, at home the breed is hardly volatile.

In fact, most Presa Canario fans laud the breed’s temperament as sweet and calm. 

A long time member of the Foundation Stock Services of the AKC, the Presa is a rare breed in most places. With recognition on the horizon, that may all soon change for the breed.

So where do they come from and what makes this breed such a good household pet?

Here is what you need to know about the Presa Canario.


As far as getting the dirt on this relatively unknown breed, there isn’t much information out there to share. Looking at the Presa Canario it is obvious that the breed has some type of Mastiff or Molosser in it. 

Most sources claim that the breed dates as far back as the 15th or 16th century. The credit goes to the Spanish Conquistadors, who many believe gave the breed their size and existence. Moreover, the likely lineage of the Presa Canario was likely from local Hispanic bulldogs, sheepdogs and mastiff. Furthermore, some believe that the Ganado Iberian Presa is the progenitor of this breed.

Originating off the coat of Africa from the archipelago of the several islands, the Canary Islands, the Presa Canario had many jobs. Their main job was to stalk and sometimes kill prey, feral dogs, guard property and at times, herd cattle. 

However, the very same herdsmen and farmers began to use outside breeds like the Doberman, Great Dane and the German Shepherd. The Presa Canario was very popular when the bloodsport, dog fighting was as well. When countries, including their origin home began to outlaw the bloodsport, the breed’s role took a hit and their popularity would dwindle.

Facing near extinction during the early going of the 20th century, a few reputable and prominent fanciers had other plans. Like other breeds, it was the magic of these fanciers that would help reestablish the Presa Canario. 

During the 1970’s, reputable breeding and the formation of an association that would represent and promote the breed, their popularity would rise once again. This was especially true during the 1980’s, when the breed began to emerge in the United States and the United Perro de Presa Canario Club formed in 1990.

Yet, the breed was left without recognition but inching closer in the mid-90’s, when the American Kennel Club would list them as part of the Foundation Stock Services. In 2003, nearly a decade later, the breed would gain recognition with the United Kennel Club.

Today, the breed is still great at guarding property, herding on the farm, and has made waves as a calm and loving companion.


As a large breed, both male and females can weigh and stand at the same height. For their respective heights, male and females should stand between 22 to 26 inches.

With regards to weight, a Presa Canario can range between 84 to 110 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

If you like a dog that is calm, then the Presa Canario is the breed you’ve been waiting for. Calm, cool, and confident, this incredibly strong breed is the type that doesn’t bend nor break under duress. Stemming from their days dog fighting, the Presa can turn it up levels other dogs have a hard time matching. This is a breed that won’t back down from a challenge and will deter intruders with their upright and attentive disposition. Strangers may experience a wary encounter with this breed, but generally, they will warm up and can tell the difference between friend and stranger.

As far as dog, the Presa Canario may have a hard time sharing their space with other breeds. Aggression may result due to their territorial tendencies. However, with dogs they grow up with, and if they receive the appropriate socialization, the breed can co-exist with other dogs.

Inside the home and with the family, you’re getting loyalty and a dependable dog. Their calm and docile temperament is a complete 180 from when they are on assignment. That is, they take their role very seriously, especially when it comes to their family. 

The Presa Canario will want to form a close bond and usually gravitates towards someone particular, the alpha of the family. They can be an active breed but typically your Presa will be happy with whatever you’re doing.

All in all, this is the type of dog you need around to keep the family safe and secure. They do have working potential, but it is their intimidating bulk that is the best deterrent. Dogs and children can count on this breed when they grow together. Loyal to a fault, and their devotion to their master is top notch. 


There are some hot button issues facing this breed but overall, many experts believe the Presa Canario is a healthy breed. When you buy from a breeder, do your research. A responsible and reputable breed provides health clearances. Read your reviews and ask questions before obtaining any puppy from a breeder.

In addition, you should schedule routine visits with the veterinarian to ensure your dog’s good health. If you use preventative care, and buy responsibly, there’s no reason to believe you won’t get between 8 to 12 years.

Like most breeds, the Presa Canario may suffer from a hip malformation known as Hip Dysplasia. This can cause a great deal of pain and lameness. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, the Presa ranks the 13th worst with a whopping 39.3 incidental rate. This out of 239 evaluations and puts them among the Dogo Argentino, American Bulldog, Bulldog and Pug.

When the kneecap slips out of place causing rubbing and agitation, your dog may suffer from Patella Luxation. This breed may have issues with this orthopedic disorder and it can be quite serious leading to osteoarthritis.

Dialated Cardiomyopathy, which is an enlargement of the heart that doesn’t function properly resulting in the most common form of failure has been seen with the breed. Breeds like the Doberman, German Shepherd and Boxers also have issues with this condition.

A Presa Canario may encounter Demodectic Mange, which is an inflammatory disease f the hair follicles and skin due to mite infestation. Your dog may suffer problems with their immune system and come down with lesions if they suffer from Demodectic Mange. 

Osteochondroysplasias is another serious concern. This is an abnormality of the bone and cartilage affecting developmental growth, which can cause deformities.

Other issues the breed may encounter: cancer, epilepsy, mast cell tumors, cryptorchidism and canine leishmaniasis.


To avoid aggression issues early socialization as a puppy is a must. It is best to integrate your Presa Canario with other dogs as much as possible. Cats may be a concern to watch for as well. Again, the more comfortable your Presa becomes, the better they will be with other pets.  Also, you’ll want to teach them who is a friend, who friendly and who is a stranger. This is a protective and territorial breed and if they feel any threat, they will act.

With smaller children, the one big concern is their size. This breed can downright scary when they reach 100 pounds or better. That muscle can have profound effects on smaller children, even if they feel like they’re playing. That said, you’ll want to supervise interactions with children and teach your kids how to treat a dog. As puppies, this is a playful breed and they may play too rough at times.

A short daily walk will suffice this breed’s energy requirement. Canine activities like fetch, obedience and such are all possible.

They will adapt to most surroundings, however, you’ll need to be mindful of neighbors and their territorial instincts. For those who live in apartments, affection, stimulation and attention is a must to prevent boredom. Boredom can lead to destructive and dangerous behavior.

Finally, you’ll want to trim their nails regularly as they do grow rather rapidly. Check the Presa Canario’s ears for debris, odor, and other noticeable issues with their ears. And you should brush their teeth routinely as well to prevent buildup of plaque and other oral issues.  Positive reinforcement and consistency will go a long way with this breed in making sure that you get the most friendly pet possible.


The ballpark figure to feed this breed annually isn’t all too bad. Most say around 300 dollars, while others estimate as high as 500 dollars. How much your Presa Canario eats will depend on their age, activity rate and metabolism. 

A diet this is high in protein concentration like raw meat to the cheap and effective source of eggs will do the trick. Chicken, turkey, beef and fish are all good fits for the Presa, Of course, you should try vegetables and fruit, which is a healthy side for this breed.

Most owners seem happy feeding their Presa Canario three to four cups of high quality dry food per day. Moreover, you can break that up into two meals, which will help reduce the chances of Bloat and obesity.

As always, you should provide your Presa Canario with fresh drinking water. Hydration is as essential as any protein source. A dog with low hydration can affect the ability to work and function properly.


One of the easier elements in owning the Presa Canario is their coat and maintaining it. This breed has a short and flat coat. It should provide a coarse or harsh texture, with their ears feeling finer and longer at the withers and rear legs.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are six acceptable options for the breed’s coat color: Brown, fawn, gold, orange, silver and tiger.

There are two acceptable markings for the breed: brindle and white markings.

The breed does shed seasonally and will require some occasional grooming.

Fun Presa Canario Facts

  • The breed has a few alternatives for names including: Perro de Presa Canario, Dog Canario and Canary Dog.
  • The breed has been a member of the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Services since 1996 and is still part of the class.
  • One of the breed’s old jobs would consist of tracking or killing feral dogs.

Closing Words

While you may have heard very little to nothing at all about the Presa Canario, that doesn’t mean the breed hasn’t been around the game for a long time.

That seems to be changing as the American Kennel Club and others continue to promote this calm and docile breed. They may come across as a mean and intimidating dog, but when ou get to know the Presa Canario, the breed is nothing more than a gentle giant.






More Dogs