The Origins of The True Presa Canario
The Perro de Presa Canario is a large Molosser-type dog originally used for working livestock. The name means “Canarian catch dog” in Spanish, and is usually shortened to Presa Canario or simply Presa. The breed is sometimes called Dogo Canario, meaning Canarian Molosser.
When thinking of the name ‘Canary Islands’, small yellow birds are usually what springs to mind. However the name Islas Canarias or Canary Islands is derived from the Latin term Insula Canaria, meaning “Island of the Dogs”.
Legend has it that the original inhabitants of the island used to worship dogs, sometimes mummifying them and treating them as holy animals, and when the Romans first visited the island they gave it the name ‘canarii’ translated as “the ones with dogs”.
The Canary Islands coat of arms shows two dogs indicating the importance of dogs to the Islands.
Much of the early history of the Presa Canario has been lost but it is well documented that in the fifteenth century, the Spanish Conquistadors met strong resistance from the native people. The native people used their fierce dogs against the invaders and there is no doubt that large numbers of dogs were kept on the Islands.
It is generally thought that in the eighteenth century the native herding dog used for guarding livestock was cross bred with the English Mastiff and English Bulldog and this gave rise to the distinctive Presa Canario.
The breed almost died out in the twentieth century but a careful breeding program in the sixties revived the Presa Canario. However, breeders note that there are two varieties, the pure bred Canary Islands Presa Canario and a Spanish cross breed.
Guardian Kennels only breed from authentic Canary Islands Presa Canarios.The true Presa Canario has an excellent temperament and makes an ideal family dog