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Perro de Presa Canario

The Perro de Presa Canario is a large Molosser-type dog breed originally bred for working livestock. The name of the breed is Spanish, means "Canarian catch dog", and is often shortened to "Presa Canario" or simply "Presa". The breed is sometimes also called Dogo Canario, meaning "Canarian Molosser".


First introduced to the world outside of Spain's Canary Islands by the American anthropologist Dr. Carl Semencic in an article for Dog World Magazine and in his books on the subject of rare breeds of dogs, the Presa Canario or "Canary Dog" is a large-size dog with a thick and muscular body. The head is broad, massive, square, and powerful. Proper head and good expression are part of the breed standard, and are manifest in the best breed specimens. The ears are normally cropped, both to create a more formidable expression and to prevent damage while working with cattle. If cropped, the ears stand erect. In countries where ear-cropping is banned, the ears are close fitting to the head; they hang down and should be pendant or "rose" shaped. The upper lip is pendulous, although not excessively. Seen from the front, the upper and lower lips come together to form an inverted V. The flews are slightly divergent. The inside of the lips is a dark colour. Males have a standard desirable height range of 23 to 26 inches (58 to 66 cm) at the withers, with a minimum weight at maturity of 103 pounds (47 kg) and a maximum weight of 126 pounds (57 kg). Females have a standard desirable height between 22 to 25 inches (56 to 64 cm) at the withers, with a minimum weight at maturity of 89 pounds (40 kg) and a maximum weight of 110 pounds (50 kg). The breed is also characterized by a sloping topline (with the rear being slightly higher than the shoulders). Another characteristic of the breed is the shape of the paws (cat foot) and the catlike movement of the animal. The body is mesomorphic, that is, slightly longer than the dog is tall, contributing to the feline movement.

Coat and color

The coat is short with no undercoating and slightly coarse to the touch. The coat comes in all shades of fawn and brindle. The acceptance of the black coat is a point of contention among fanciers, as it is allowed by the AKC-FSS, UKC and UPPCC standards, but not by the FCI or FCI standards. White is allowed up to 20 percent and is most commonly found on the chest and feet, and occasionally on a blaze on the muzzle. The breed standard requires black pigmentation and dogs should have a black mask that does not extend above the eyes. The breed is known for its minimal shedding.

Temperament Presas require early socialization and obedience training. In some situations, the Presa can be aggressive toward other dogs and suspicious of strangers.

Health As a large breed, the Presa Canario can be susceptible to hip dysplasia. Other reported health problems include patellar luxation and patellar evulsions, skin cysts, epilepsy, osteochondrodysplasias, demodectic mange and cryptorchidism and Canine leishmaniasis. The latter condition is described empirically as highly likely to affect dogs in areas of Spain and academically described as having increased over 22 years prior to 2006, with risk being highest for dogs that were older, large, lived outside, and lived at the meso-Mediterranean level.

Lifespan The average lifespan for the Presa Canario is between 8 and 12 years.

Basis for the name and standard The Presa Canario has a legislative basis in Spain in the form of recognition by a Real Decreto (Royal Decree) of the MAPA (Minister of Agriculture Fishing and Nutrition), which was published in the Official Gazette of the Spanish Government ([BOE – Boletin Oficial del Estado]). The original [Real Decreto 558/2001] can be read on the site of the Spanish Government Gazette. In the decree, the breed is referred to as "Presa Canario". A breed standard is attached in the Royal Decree and it includes having a black coat and specifies a maximum weight. Any other name or standard is not recognized by Spanish law. In Spain there are two main organizations which are legally recognized by the Minister of Agriculture, Fishing and Nutrition (according to the requirements set by the [Real Decreto 558/2001]): the [RSCE] and the [FCE]. The term "legally recognized" means that these organizations have the power to inscribe the litters into the official Book of Origins of Spain (LOE – Libro de Origines Espanol). The FCE recognizes the breed according to Spanish law, and uses the Presa Canario name and standard, as set by the [Real Decreto 558/2001]. [An official document] of the Spanish Government has been issued and sent to the RSCE to warn it and to invite it to modify its regulations. Another recent legal source that identifies the breed is the [Real Decreto 1557/2005]. This decree also states the breed name as "Presa Canario" and gives the legislative power of official association recognition to the local governments.

Attacks against people In January 2001, Diane Whipple, a 33-year-old woman in San Francisco, California, was killed by two Perro de Presa Canario (or Presa Canario mix) dogs owned by her neighbors, attorneys who had acquired the dogs on behalf of a client who had trained them for fighting. The incident and its background were recounted in the book Hella Nation by Evan Wright, also referenced in the book Night Broken by Patricia Briggs. In August 2006, Shawna Willey, a 30-year-old woman in Coral Springs, Florida, was killed by her own Presa Canario. In March 2012, a 21-year-old man in Sacramento, California, had finished lifting weights in his garage and stepped outside to cool off, and was then attacked by two large Presa Canarios (a 120 lb male and an 80 lb pregnant female). Each dog grabbed one of his arms and together they pulled him to the ground. The driver of a passing car witnessed the attack and hit one of the dogs with the car. The victim then jumped onto the car, which sped him away to escape the attack. In August 2012, Rebecca Carey, a 23-year-old woman in Decatur, Georgia, was killed by dogs that she was caring for in her home. Two were pit bulls, one was a boxer mix, and two were Presas. In April 2013, a 5-year-old girl in White Plains, Maryland, was attacked and critically injured by family-owned dogs at her home. Police thought that at least two of the three dogs at the home, an English bulldog and two Presa Canarios, were involved in the attack. In May 2013, Clifford Clark, a 79-year-old man was attacked, mauled, and killed in Liverpool, England, by a Presa Canario Bull Mastiff mix, which had not been fed for 45 hours. In February 2014, a woman near Znojmo in the Czech republic was attacked by a 60 kilograms (130 lb) Perro de Presa and Akita mix. Police intervened and shot the dog, and the woman survived.

Legal restrictions on ownership Importation and sale of the breed is prohibited in Australia and New Zealand.