It has been almost 30 years since the Presa Canario was officially recognized. In that short time, the Presa Canario breed has made leaps and bounds in terms of its health, build and reputation around the world.
The rough-riding companion
For most of its several-hundred-year history, the Presa Canario breed has had something of a fearsome reputation. Initially, this Spanish island dog native to both Tenerife and Gran Canaria was used for protection and hunting. Little thought was given to the animal’s specific breeding. It was prized primarily for its usefulness and its loyalty to its owners.
Of course, such general requirements for the Presa Canario’s breeding meant that no standard was established. As a result, the dog’s phenotype (that is, its generally observable characteristics) was allowed to vary wildly. This recklessness created a breed with few strictly defined features.
A lineage of guardians
The key to pinpointing the Presa Canario breed was identifying its ancestry. Today, people believe that the modern Presa Canario was influenced by three primary breeds:
- Perro Majorero: This dog in the mastiff family was known for its intuitive mind.
- Presa Español: Larger varieties of Hispanic dog breeds began to mate with the Perro Majorero, leading to an offshoot breed.
- Bardino Majorero: A pre-Hispanic sheepdog, the Bardino was prized for its intelligence.
The result of these breeds was the Presa Canario, a highly intelligent dog that is highly trainable and fiercely loyal to its owner.
Recognition of the standard
In 1990, however, the Presa Canario was officially recognized as a breed. That may not seem like a huge deal, but the impact was significant. Once the breed was set in stone, physical and social characteristics could be identified and enforced. For the first time in the dog’s history, breeders were able to ascertain a baseline set of features: the muzzle, the spectrum of coat colors, the number of ribs, the average proportions, the animal’s gait, its expression and so much more.
The physical characteristics of the breed were just one aspect of the recognition. Another significant benefit was an exploration and identification of the Presa Canario’s dominant personality traits.