The temperament of the Presa Canario is much misunderstood in this country. The breed is specifically described as “dog of guard.” This means a defensive posture. Many people believe the Presa Canario should be unapproachable by strangers. THIS IS NOT TRUE! The Presa Canario should be watchful and alert at all times, but accepting of a friendly stranger. Calm, confidence in all settings, ready to protect or interact, whichever the situation might warrant. Presa’s are capable of getting Canine Good Citizen Titles, doing Therapy Work, working in nursing homes, doing all manner of service work all while having gone thru a rigorous course of Personal Protection training. The breed is very versatile and should be neither outwardly vicious or excessively shy. The breed has a loyalty to family that is extraordinary. They bond to family like few breeds I’ve met.
The Myth of the Natural Protector.
A lot of breeders claim their dogs are ‘natural protectors’ and need no training. This is, in my opinion one of the most dangerous advertising ploys out there. It allows breeders to sell their product as guardians without any training. It attracts an unseemly customer. It lulls people into a false sense of security about their safety and the safety of the supposed protector. And it allows the dog, with the mentality of a 3 year old at best, to make decisions on its own about who needs to be dealt with. ALL dogs need to be trained, obedience at least. But if you plan on having your dog for protection, it needs advanced obedience first then protection training that continues with obedience that teaches the dog how to bite, when to bite and most importantly when not to bite! All of this should be topped off with an absolute out command under any and all distractions.
So you think you want a sport dog?
My suggestion to you is to find a good working line German Shepherd or Malinois and save yourself the heartache and stress of attempting to compete with a non traditional breed like the Presa Canario. You will run into some significant problems if you try to work this breed in the sports more suited to herders. First, you will have a hard time finding a trainer willing, much less able to train your dog to a sport title. Secondly, you will have to have way more patience and persistence to train your Presa to a sport title than you would if you just went out and got a herder. Third, its very hard to find breeders who understand enough about sports to be able to identify a proper potential candidate for sports work. Many may think they need to just pick you the hardest pup in the litter and that will be what you need. That will get you a dominant, hard ass protective Presa but it usually will not get you a sport dog. You need a breeder who is able to select you a dog that not only has nerve and courage but also has train ability and drive for a reward (food specifically).
While I do not think this breed is traditionally suited for sports, there are puppies within specific pairings that I do think may have the potential to excel in protection sports. Those puppies can be purchased with that goal in mind, but no guarantee of a title is offered. There are way too many variables in training, raising and socialization to guarantee that.
A Small Gene Pool and Test Breeding.
The Presa Canario has a very small gene pool. From its reclamation, many distinct lines emerged and are what we see in the US today. With that in mind, the importance of test breeding becomes abundantly clear. Dogs with type faults (not lacking type) bred to dogs with excellent type……dogs lacking strong character (not cowards or maniacs) bred to dogs with excellent character……dogs with minor health issues bred to dogs of excellent health. All these pairings become necessary to improve and add to a small gene pool. This is where test breeding comes into play. While I will be the first to say NO German Shepherd should be bred that is failing in one of the three big issues, type, temperament and health, it does become necessary to use a dog that has excellent qualities but may lack in one area. There are thousands of German Shepherds so finding one that excels in all three areas, should be easy. Unfortunately with the state of dog breeding in general, this is not always the case either. At Cabeza Grande Kennel, we favor this test breeding as long as people are willing to keep track of the progress of the progeny and remove a problem dog from their breeding program. With breed improvement as a primary goal, this is how it should be.
The Presa Canario is first and foremost, a working breed. At Cabeza Grande Kennel, we strive for strong working temperament, soundness of body and as typically accurate dogs as possible. One of the first priorities we have as working dog owners, is control. No dog is worked or trained for PP or any other protection sport until advanced obedience has been completed. Our dogs are good workers, but not something the public needs to be afraid of. The essence of a true working dog is calm, confidence in crowd settings, watchful of strangers but accepting of those who mean no harm. Don’t fall for the myth of the natural protector, ALL dogs need training to become effective and SAFE. We also welcome any requests to see our dogs work. While we don’t feel the Presa Canario always makes for a great competition sport dog, we do believe they make the perfect companion guardians. Stable temperaments GUARANTEED!