About The Presa Canario / Dogo Canario Dog Breed

The Presa Canario dog breed is characterized by its large size, square head, broad chest, strong muscles, thick skin, dense bones, and cropped ears. This mastiff-type breed originated way back when Spanish conquistadores brought its ancestors to the Canary Islands. The name itself, Perro de Presa Canario, basically means ‘Canarian catch dog’ in Spanish.

The dog’s solid built and imposing appearance already give you an idea that it’s not for the faint of heart. Powerful and massive, the presa canario is a great guard dog. It is highly aggressive and territorial, but to the family, it’s protecting, it can be very affectionate and well-behaved.

Vital Characteristics 

  • Names: Presa, Perro de Presa Canario, Presa Canario, Dogo Canario, Canary Catch Dog, Canarian Molosser, Canary Mastiff
  • Origin: Canary Islands, Spain
  • Breed Group: Guardian dogs
  • Size: Large
  • Height: 21-25 inches
  • Weight: 80-100 lbs.
  • Colors: black, brindle, red brindle, fawn, red fawn, silver fawn
  • Life Span: 9-11 years
  • Litter Size: 7-9 puppies


When Spanish conquistadores brought mastiff-type dogs to the Canary Islands, they were then used to guard the farms. Part of their job was to drive away stray animals (like wild boars) and deal with unruly cattle. As a catch dog, it was used to guard the livestock and the farm from unwanted elements.

In essence, the Presa Canario is a cross breed, and its development can be credited to different breeds that all combined to make the Presa what it is today. The imported mastiffs (like the Iberian Presa) and other types of bulldogs (like the Alanos) were crossed with the native Bardino Majero, which is a sheepdog that’s known for its guardian instincts.

The Presa quickly became popular because it was truly a powerful dog, and there was even a time when it was used in dogfighting circles for entertainment. Dog fighting was outlawed in the 1940s but some still did it in secret. When newer dog breeds were introduced, they captured the Canary Island dog owners’ interests, but the Presa was kept mainly as a farm utility dog.

Interest waned but eventually came back, and in 1982, they formed a breed club in the Canary Islands. It as only in 1996 that the Presa Canario became part of the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service, and 2003 when it got recognized by the Untied Kennel Club.

Personality and Temperament

The Presa Canario is a great watchdog, but that means it’s very protective and is actually fearless and aggressive towards whoever is deemed as a threat. This also means it’s not very friendly to other dogs and especially not to cats. If you’re planning to get a Presa, it’s best if there are no other pets involved.

The Presa is also very territorial, so it will really protect its family at all costs. It’s not the best option when you have small children, but the risks are lessened if the dog grows up in your home and is acquainted with your kids as a puppy.