Difference between the Presa Canario and the Dogo Canario

The question was: What is the difference between the Presa Canario and the Dogo Canario?  I have not been able to find a clear answer.


My response:

Originally there was no “breed” called Presa Canario or Dogo Canario in the Canary Islands, but rather a wide variety of bully/mastiff/guard/farm type dogs. These had any shape, size, or color much like other mixed breed dogs would.  The name of these dogs varied as well, but it didn’t matter because it was not a “breed” at all, but just a collection of mixed breeds.  When a group of  Canary Islander aficionados got together to form a tightly specified “breed” as defined by a standard, with color, size, look, structure, and morphological limitations, there were some disagreements, however, the majority moved forward and formed a standard and became recognized in Spain as an official breed called the Presa Canario.


As time went on, and breeding continued, acceptance with the world-wide FCI registry was desired. At this time the breed club got together and reviewed where they were, what the original standard was, what they were able to achieve, and what was still left to accomplish. They decided that some changes were appropriate at that time including a name change to “Dogo Canario” to make the name seem less violent; and rejection of the black color since there were only 14 black dogs and those didn’t seem to have qualities they needed enough to keep them included.  So with acceptance into the FCI with the new standard, all Presa Canario’s instantly became Dogo Canario’s.


This change alienated some who disagreed with these changes. A small minority started claiming they were breeding the “true” Presa Canario as defined by the previous standard.  Some of these breeders have looked to foreign standards like the UKC in the United States which did not change with the Spanish standard.  Others said they were going to stick by the older standard submitted to the Royal Spanish Canine Society (RSCE).  However, the RSCE recognizes and supports the FCI standard, the and not previous revisions.


So what is the difference? Depends on who you talk to. One breeder in the Canary Islands says he is breeding the true ancient lines of the Presa Canario and his dogs are much heavier, wider, and shorter than the standard. Some dogs in the USA are taller and more Mastiff-like and can weigh 200 lb (90kg). Some look similar to beefed-up boxers. Some like bull mastiffs. Some US dogs have the same look as the Dogo Canario as defined by the standard, but are skinnier and less-molosser. Many do not have black masks as many historical dogs didn’t either. Many have excessive white and some are all white or all black just like some historical dogs. Meanwhile, almost any breeder of dogs that fit the world-wide FCI standard of Dogo Canario, if asked, would say they are breeding Presa Canario’s as well.


So what is a Presa Canario?  There are too many people claiming this title to answer this definitively. That is why you have had difficulty finding a clear answer.


Then what is the Dogo Canario? It is the dog defined by the current FCI standard which was updated last year as part of full acceptance as a breed. Have these dogs become wider and more molosser? Yes and no. Some historical dogs were wider and more molosser than most any dogs today, while most were skinnier. You can only work with the dogs you currently have and if you are trying to develop a homogeneous breed and you don’t have homogeneous dogs, you have to do the best you can. You cannot look at dogs to determine a breed, you can ONLY look at the standard.  Has the standard changed? Yes, but not as much as is claimed by some. In fact, some dogs as bred by “Presa and not Dogo” breeders do very well in shows. Recently an additional centimeter or two was added to the acceptable height while maximum weights were defined for both male and female specimens.


Hope this helps.

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