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Presa Canario Dog Breed: Pictures, Info, Care & More

Written by: Chris Dinesen Rogers

Last Updated on May 19, 2024 by Dogster Team

Portrait of a Presa Canario purebred dog

Presa Canario Dog Breed: Pictures, Info, Care & More

The Presa Canario has a presence that you can’t fail to notice. They are large animals with a confident personality, and they were well suited to their role as cattle drivers and guardians. Their history goes back to Roman times when they were used for these purposes. Researchers theorize the Spanish Conquistadors brought them to the Canary Islands of Spain in the 15th century, where they interbred with local dogs. Let’s learn some more about these fascinating dogs just below.

Breed Overview


22–26 inches


84–110 pounds


9–11 years


Silver, gold, orange, fawn, brown, tiger

Suitable for:

Experienced pet owners looking for a devoted guardian


Loyal, confident, calm, intolerant of other dogs

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)1 and the United Kennel Club (UKC) are two organizations that recognize the Presa Canario as an official breed2. It is on the pathway to this same distinction with the American Kennel Club (AKC)3, which is in the Foundation Stock Service (FSS) as a member of the Working Group.4 The FCI categorizes the Presa Canario as a Molossian type of the Mastiff subgroup.

The former references the breed’s ancestry with a now-extinct dog from Ancient Greece. The similarities are striking with the canine’s large head, muscular body, and intense gaze. The sight of the animal undoubtedly acts as a deterrent. Moreover, this dog is not suitable for novice pet owners due to their size and temperament.

Presa Canario Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Presa Canario Puppies

perro de presa canario
Image Credit: olofin, Shutterstock

We recommend looking for a Presa Canario puppy from reputable breeders listed with the organizations we’ve discussed. Otherwise, you may find it challenging to locate one. The other concern is health screenings. The chances of the dog being inbred are less because of their status in the United States. Nevertheless, these screenings are essential for ensuring a healthy pet.

Getting a new pet is a commitment you must consider carefully, especially with a dog of this size and temperament. Early training and socialization are imperative. We strongly urge you to contact your municipality to find out if there is any breed-specific legislation in place. While these laws don’t address the real problem, they may affect the legality of owning a Presa Canario. We also suggest you contact your insurance company, as similar restrictions may exist with some companies.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Presa Canario

The historic roles of the Presa Canario demanded an intelligent and alert animal. Their job was to protect a herd, the farm, or their family. That’s evident in their personality. They are affectionate with their tribe but are wary of strangers. They take their work seriously and are highly protective of what’s considered “theirs.” It’s another reason why we recommend this breed for experienced dog owners only.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Presa Canario can make a delightful pet when raised and trained properly. They aren’t overly playful but are intense in everything they do. We recommend teaching young children to respect the animal’s space and not to disturb them when they’re sleeping or eating. You should also supervise playtime with the kids because of the dog’s strength and size.

cane corso presa canario mix
Image Credit: Austin James Photography, Shutterstock

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

Part of the historic duties of this dog included chasing off other dogs. They also have a high prey drive. These factors make the Presa Canario unsuitable in a household with other pets. That includes cats and pocket pets. These traits are so ingrained in the breed that instinct will kick in when another animal runs away from them.

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Things to Know When Owning a Presa Canario:

Enthusiasts in the Canary Islands and abroad have made it their mission to bring back this breed that nearly went extinct. They have selectively bred the dog with the same characteristics as they had centuries ago. Here is a bit more information about caring for these special dogs.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

We strongly urge you to give your dog a commercial diet suitable for the animal’s weight and life stage. The dietary needs of large breeds differ from small ones because they grow slower. You should feed your pet three to four times daily, spacing meals throughout the day. That will ensure your pooch’s blood sugar stays stable and that they have the energy to fuel their growth and development.

You can cut back to two meals daily once your pet becomes an adult. We don’t recommend a single feeding because of the breed’s risk of bloat, a risk shared with other large-chested canines. It can occur when a pet scarfs down their food while inhaling a lot of air, which can then distend the pup’s stomach, causing it to twist. It is a medical emergency requiring immediate veterinary intervention.

You can help prevent bloat by trying to encourage your pup to eat slowly with a puzzle feeder. It can provide valuable enrichment while reducing your pet’s chances of bloat. You should discuss your pet’s risk with your vet for any additional prevention measures.

Exercise 🐕

We recommend walking your Presa Canario several times daily to provide adequate exercise and mental stimulation. You shouldn’t bring your dog to a dog park because of the inherent risks we’ve discussed. You can let your pooch run in a fenced yard. However, this breed has a high wanderlust potential. Therefore, we suggest supervised outdoor time.

a Presa Canarios dog outside in the woods
Image Credit: TamaraLSanchez, Shutterstock

Training 🎾

During training, you must be consistent and confident to build trust with your pet. The Nothing In Life Is Free (NILIF) approach is an excellent option for dogs of this size. We suggest reserving treats as training aids to make following your commands easier. Remember that this breed is used to working. Many animals need it for a good quality of life and mental health, so it’s not cruel to ask your pup to perform for a treat.

The Presa Canario doesn’t usually bark frequently. Like many guardian dogs, they reserve vocalizing for alerting their owners of a threat. Nevertheless, the breed’s wariness of strangers may inadvertently encourage this behavior. It’s something you must curb early.

Grooming ✂️

The Presa Canario has a smooth, short coat that doesn’t require much care. Weekly brushing with a hound glove will keep your pet’s skin and fur in tip-top shape. We recommend checking their nails frequently and trimming them as necessary. You should also inspect their ears to get them used to being handled. This will make vet exams less stressful for everyone.

Health and Conditions 🏥

The Presa Canario breed is not a part of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) Canine Health Information Center (CHIC). This program provides guidance and accountability on recommended health screenings. Nevertheless, tests for conditions often seen in large and giant breeds are an excellent place to start. You should only buy a puppy from a seller who does these screenings.

Minor Conditions
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Epilepsy
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Bloat

Male vs. Female

Of course, a Presa Canario is a large animal. However, males are usually visibly bigger than females. Either sex will make an excellent pet with a consistent and devoted caregiver. However, it’s a commitment that a novice shouldn’t undertake without sound veterinary advice.

Research has shown that most bite injuries occur in intact canines, particularly males. However, neutering is also a mixed bag, with some breeds seeing elevated risks of some conditions and others seeing decreased risks. There’s also a greater propensity for weight gain. Therefore, we urge you to discuss spaying and neutering with your vet.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Presa Canario

1. The Presa Canario Has Had Several Names

The breed’s current name is the accepted one. However, people have also called these pups the Dogo Canario and Perro de Presa Canario. The last part refers to the breed’s origin in the Canary Islands.

2. The FCI Groups the Presa Canario With Pinschers and Schnauzers

The breed is in the subgroup Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs, in reference to one of the pup’s historic jobs.

3. The Presa Canario Is Suited as a Guardian

The size is enough to intimidate anyone. However, the Presa Canario’s bark is just as unnerving. It is low and deep. Even if you didn’t spot the dog, you’d know you were dealing with a formidable foe.

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Final Thoughts

The Presa Canario is a handsome dog that makes a strong impression at first glance. This robust and muscular animal fits the guardian role to a tee. It’s no wonder enthusiasts rallied around this breed when it nearly became extinct. This dog requires an experienced owner who can match the pooch’s confidence and courage. Your reward is a devoted and reliable pet that will protect your family and property.

Featured Image Credit: TamaraLSanchez, Shutterstock

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