Imposing and powerful, the Canary mastiff or Perro de Presa Canario is a large dog with a natural instinct to guard and protect. They don’t back down and they can be difficult to train. These dogs are potentially dangerous if handled badly and so should only be taken on by those with experience of similar breeds.
Which breed group is the Canary mastiff in?
Breed group: Not recognised by the Kennel Club
Canary mastiff breed history
The Perro de Presa Canario was developed in the Canary Islands to be a working farm dog. It is thought to have emerged in the 15th or 16th century. Spanish conquistadores took mastiff dogs to the islands which were probably then crossed with the now extinct Bardino Majeros together with other breeds including the Iberian Presa. The result was a powerful and courageous dog which was used to protect livestock or to herd cattle.
In the 18th century, traders introduced English dogs to the Canary Islands, and these may have influenced the development of the native breed. Canary mastiffs were used as fighting dogs until the sport was banned in the 1940s. The number of these dogs then fell until interest in the breed was revived in the 1970s. Enthusiasts embarked on a programme to rescue the breed and a breed club was established in 1982. However, the Canary mastiff has never been recognised by the Kennel Club. It is possible to acquire a Canary Mastiff in the UK and the popularity of this dog has risen in recent years.
Canary Mastiff breed characteristics
Canary mastiffs possess intimidating looks and are powerfully built animals. They have large heads with ears set wide apart and prominent cheeks. They are also characterised by pendulous lips which form an inverted V-shape. They have wide noses which are black and attractive oval eyes. They boast muscular necks and strong legs and are longer in the body than they are tall. Dogs carry their tails raised a little above the height of their backs when excited but down when they are relaxed. The Canary mastiff has a single coat which is short and harsh to the touch and the most common colours are fawn, black and brindle.
While Canary mastiffs can appear imposing, they are generally calm and obedient dogs as long as they have been properly trained. They can be wary of strangers and possess a natural instinct to guard and protect. They may become destructive when bored and can be a little stubborn when the mood takes them.
- Lifespan: 9-11 years
- Height: up to 69cm
- Weight: up to 59kg
- Imposing and powerful
- Large heads
- Pendulous lips
- Black noses
- Almond-shaped eyes
- Short and harsh coats
- Fawn, black or brindle
- Guarding instinct
- Wary of strangers
Health issues with canary mastiff
Dogs of this breed can suffer from a variety of health issues which prospective owners should be aware of:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Osteochondritis dissecans panosteitis
- Entropion (Eyelids Folding Inwards)
- Demodectic mange
- Bloat - gastric torsion
What is the canary mastiff bred for?
These striking dogs were originally bred to defend livestock but their courage, tenacity, power and unwillingness to back down saw them used as fighting dogs for many years.
What sort of owners does the Canary mastiff?
Loyal and usually placid, Canary mastiffs can be excellent pets but should not live with small children due to their impressive size. They are naturally protective and suspicious of strangers which makes them excellent guard dogs and they don’t need intensive grooming. Their size makes them unsuitable for life in small apartments, but they only require a moderate amount of exercise. They can be difficult to train and are potentially dangerous if not trained well. This makes them unsuitable for inexperienced owners. This breed requires a strong hand and is not suited to living with other pets as they are driven to be the alpha in the pack.