The powerful and loyal Perro de Presa Canario is an impressively powerful companion that shares many similarities with other Mastiff and guard dog breeds. Although they remain a popular breed in their native Canary Islands, they are less known here in the UK but are nevertheless dutiful and alert guard dogs for owners that require stalwart defenders for their property.
Given his large size and cautious, territorial temperament, the Presa Canario is an excellent choice of breed in the right hands but may not be the preferred choice for prospective owners looking for a house pet.
The Presa Canario can be distinguished by his large, Mastiff-like appearance, resembling very much the English Mastiff and the Bandino Majorero, the latter whence the Presa Canario derives ancestrally.
Their large, compact heads hold dark, oval-shaped eyes widely set apart and medium-sized ears set well apart, slightly aligned with the eye level. Their thick tails taper down towards the tip and, when alert, rises up in a sabre-like form.
Presa Canarios have short, coarse, and flat coats with no undercoat at all. Coat colours include brindle, ranging from dark brown to grey or blond, and shades ranging from fawn to sandy. Black masks and white spots are permitted to an extent.
This breed most closely resembles the Bandino Majorero as well as other Mastiff breeds such as the English Mastiff.
How big do Presa Canario dogs get?
Height: males 60-65 cm; females 56-61 cm
Weight: males 50-59 kg; females 50-59 kg
Judging by their appearance, the Presa Canario appears calm, well-tempered, and attentive at all times. Their high confidence and superb guarding capabilities make them excellent guard dogs, a duty for which they have been bred for centuries.
Moreover, Presa Canarios have been used in Spanish dogfighting as well as shepherding duties, so their potential for aggression can be controlled through proper training yet they can be taught to attack and defend as well.
Aside from their excellent qualities as watchdogs and guard dogs, Presa Canarios have a well-balanced temperament and great qualities such as rather high intelligence, affection, and loyalty, as well as being easy to train.
Are Presa Canario dogs intelligent? Yes, somewhat.
Are Presa Canario dogs affectionate? Yes, somewhat.
Do Presa Canario dogs have high or low energy levels? Very high energy.
Are Presa Canario dogs loyal? Yes.
Are Presa Canario dogs playful? Yes.
Are Presa Canario dogs aggressive? Yes, they can be aggressive, although not with owners if properly trained.
Are Presa Canario dogs easy to train? Yes.
Are Presa Canario dogs good guard dogs? Yes, Presa Canarios are superb guard dogs.
Presa Canarios are a handful (or two arms’ full, really) when it comes to training and socialisation. The good news is that they are quick learners, disciplined and intelligent. Traning them early on as puppies should not be too challenging, provided that they are rewarded for good behaviour and obedience and never disciplined too harshly.
Unfortunately, owners looking for a sociable pet that will get along just fine with other pets, including other dogs, should consider a different breed. Presa Canarios have a dominating temperament that will lead them to bully other pets in the home. They do not tend to get along well with any other pets, and around children, their massive size may pose a hazard.
It is best to adopt or purchase a Presa Canario for guard dog duties on properties that need defending. In this role, they will excel.
Do Presa Canario dogs get along with other pets? Not at all.
Do Presa Canario dogs get along with other dogs? No, they will exert dominance.
Are Presa Canario dogs good with kids? No.
Are Presa Canario dogs good with strangers? Not at all, they will defend their territory dutifully.
Presa Canarios are only suited for a select group of owners. They do not make suitable house pets and they will only thrive in environments in which they can exercise their naturally bred obligations, such as claiming and defending their territory.
They are not an ideal choice for first-time owners nor are they suitable for cramped urban spaces such as small homes or apartment flats. They will only be happy in large estates with fields or gardens which they can claim as their own.
It may seem like they are not an ideal breed for most owners, and this is true, but for owners looking for the perfect guardian for their property whilst having a loyal and loving companion, Presa Canarios are just the right fit.
Are Presa Canario dogs good for first-time owners? No.
Are Presa Canario dogs hypoallergenic? No.
Are Presa Canario dogs prone to drooling? Yes.
Are Presa Canario dogs a good breed for apartment living? Absolutely not.
Do Presa Canario dogs shed a lot? They hardly shed at all.
Do Presa Canario dogs bark a lot? No, not much.
Can Presa Canario dogs be left alone at home? Yes, for moderate lengths of time.
Can Presa Canario dogs handle the heat? Yes.
Can Presa Canario dogs handle cold temperatures? Yes.
Are Presa Canario dogs sensitive to loud noises? Yes.
This breed is quite healthy, ranking a little above average when compared to other breeds. Part of the Presa Canario’s excellent health may be due to his ancestral purebred origins, retaining much of the hardy and robust health inherited through the generations.
Nevertheless, a large mastiff-sized breed such as the Presa Canario is prone to having some health problems, many of which can be treated or at least diagnosed by frequent checkups at the local veterinarian’s clinic.
Some common problems include:
Bloat: as a large breed, Presa Canarios tend to overeat and develop bloat or even gastric torsion. Consult with your veterinarian regarding a suitable diet for your Presa Canario to reduce bloat;
Hypothyroidism: either through inflammation or shrinkage of the thyroid, hypothyroidism can be diagnosed and treated in your Presa Canario, typically through twice-daily medication over the course of 1-2 months;
Cryptorchidism: when the testicles do not descend to the scrotum, they may be stuck in the abdomen, thus requiring neutering via an incision to remove early on;
Luxating patella: pain or discomfort in the knees often stems from a luxating patella, or an ‘out of place’ patella (near the knees).
How long do Presa Canario dogs live? - 9-11 years
Although a large breed, Presa Canarios don’t require quite as much exercise as many other large breeds. About an hour’s worth of exercise and playtime every day ought to suffice, with a little less as puppies so that they don’t overexert themselves.
Take your Presa Canario out for a brisk morning walk every day, always on-lead if in public spaces. Follow up with a half hour’s worth of catch or free roaming time in the yard or garden, preferably off-lead in a safe place such as on your property.
This breed tends to like going for a swim, but due to their massive size they should be supervised and helped if they have difficulty swimming back towards you.
How much exercise does a Presa Canario dog need? - At least 1 hour per day
Do Presa Canario dogs like water play? Yes.
It should come as no surprise that the Presa Canario is a hungry breed indeed. Not only are their feeding habits demanding, but they also have a tendency to overeat as they age. It is therefore essential that your Presa Canario adheres to a strict feeding regimen broken into 3-4 daily sessions, always at the same time and never sooner or later.
Furthermore, their heavy eating habits require a high-quality nutritional content full of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to promote and sustain healthy growth and development.
Consult your veterinarian to develop a suitable feeding schedule and to know exactly how much you should be feeding your Presa Canario every day as he ages.
Are Presa Canario dogs prone to weight gain? Yes, especially as they age.
How much should I feed a Presa Canario puppy? About 310-720g per day, in 3-4 sessions.
How much should I feed an adult Presa Canario dog? About 350-680g per day, in total.
All that’s needed to care for your Presa Canario is occasional brushing and cleaning around the eyes and ears (so as to avoid infection). They are hassle-free when it comes to regular grooming.
Emotionally, Presa Canarios thrive on human interaction much like most other breeds, but they are able to withstand somewhat longer periods of isolation, dutifully guarding their owner’s property even with nobody home.
- Grooming: once a week, brush down your Presa Canario’s short coat and finish off with chamois leather to keep the coat glossy and in great health. Inspect the eyes and ears for signs of infection.
- Emotional care: try not to leave your Presa Canario alone out of habit, but know that he will tolerate being left alone for a few hours without developing naughty behaviours or boredom.
The exact origins of the Presa Canario are a matter of some debate. It is likely that this breed was first bred by Spanish conquerors in the 15th and 16th centuries that colonised the Canary Islands. Originally bred as a farm dog, its ancestors are most certainly the Iberian Presa and English Mastiff breed which were imported in the 18th century.
The Presa Canario has been one of the national symbols of the Canary Islands since 1991 and is quite popular in his native Atlantic Ocean home. Outside of the Canary Islands and Spain, this breed is relatively unpopular and as such finding one for sale or adoption may be a challenge.
Multiple kennel clubs around the world have formally recognised the Presa Canario, including the Federation Cynologique Internationale in 2011, the Spanish government in 2001, and the United Kennel Club.
Although banned in Spain since 1936, Presa Canarios were widely used for dogfighting. Clandestine dogfighting operations likely persist to this day;
The name Perro de Presa Canario can be translated as ‘Canary Dog of Prey’;
This breed is prohibited in Australia and New Zealand.
This relatively rare breed makes an excellent puppy choice for the right owner, but we always recommend that you consult our comprehensive buying guide to ensure that you are ready to make the right choice. Should you decide that you would like to purchase a Presa Canario, our reputable breeders in the UK can assist you.
How much does a Presa Canario cost to buy? - Over £500.
How much does a Presa Canario cost to feed? - An adult Presa Canario costs about £1.30-£1.80 per day to feed.
How much does insurance for a Presa Canario cost? - About £50-£95 per month.
Sensible alternatives to purchasing a new Presa Canario puppy include rescue and adoption.
Additional resources can be found via Presa Canario registries and associations such as: