What You Should Know Before Getting a Presa Canario Dog

Updated on: Feb 18, 2021
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What You Should Know Before Getting a Presa Canario Dog

The Presa Canario is one of the most powerful and frightening dog breeds out there but does it make for a good pet? It’s easy to be tempted to get such a gorgeous and captivating dog. The Presa basically looks like an extra-large pitbull on steroids - what’s not to love about that?! Well, nothing, the Presa is a fantastic dog! However, there are some things you should consider as the breed isn’t really suitable for everyone.

What are the key characteristics that make Presa Canario special?

The Presa Canario breed is named after its home – the Canary Islands where it was brought by the Spanish conquistadors in the 15th century. Also known as Canary Mastiff, this large breed is a Molosser-type guard dog.

What does this mean for you?

Simply put, the Presa is a fantastic guard dog – one of the best breeds for the job. It’s highly-energetic and playful nature also makes for an awesome pet but – it’s not suitable for everyone.

The reason for that is simple – it’s a guard dog. All guard dog breeds require extra training and socialization from the earliest possible age if they are to become obedient and safe house pets.

So, the short of it all is that the Presa is only suitable as a house pet for experienced dog owners. But to give you more insight, we’ve gone over the 7 main details below.

The 7 things you should know before getting a Presa Canario

1. This is a massive mastiff breed with a very powerful bite

With an average full-grown height of 26 inches (66 cm) and an average weight of ~130 pounds (59 kg), the Presa Canario is a very large mastiff breed. This makes their elegant cat-like walk a bit funny and cute but that shouldn’t fool you – these dogs are a force to be reckoned with when they get in a fight.

Another very impressive physical feature of the Presa is her strong bite – 540 PSI (pound per square inch). To put it into context, that’s two and a half times stronger than the bite of one of the “parent” breeds of the Presa, the Alano Espanol (227 PSI).

It’s still not as strong as the bites of some other breeds, however – the Kangal is at 743 PSI, the Cane Corso is ~700 PSI, and the South African Boerboel reaches the stupefying 800 PSI. Then again, the Boerboel is meant to guard livestock against lions, so the comparison isn’t exactly fair.

Still, for all intents and purposes, the Presa Canario is a very large mastiff breed with superb strength and bite.

2. The Presa is a very low-shed dog

If we’re to look at the Presa as an indoors breed, the breed has some strong advantages here as well, namely its low-shed coat. If you’re looking for a dog that won’t cover your furniture with hair, the Presa is an excellent choice as she lacks an undercoat and therefore sheds very minimally.

That being said, the Presa Canario is not a hypoallergenic breed so the fact that it doesn’t shed doesn’t mean that it’s suitable for people with allergies!

3. These dogs are confident, assertive, and naturally dominant

As a guard dog, the Presa Canario is very dominant and assertive. This was an intentional feature of the Presa breeding as the breed was meant to stand its ground against other wild dogs and wolves. This means several things for you:

  • If you want a Presa Canario as a dedicated guard dog you’ll be impressed by how well this dog does its job.
  • If you want the Presa as a pet and you expect it to interact with other dogs, you may encounter some conflicts with other dominant dog breeds. Especially if you have other pets at home, they’d better be OK with the Presa as their “alpha”.
  • You need to have some experience with other dogs if you are to successfully assert yourself as the Presa’s “master”. When dealing with such large and powerful dogs, it’s vital that the dog respects your authority, otherwise, you may get into trouble.
  • Getting a Presa in a home with young children can lead to some problems if the [dog and/or kids aren’t properly taught how to interact with each other.]

In other words, the Presa Canario is not exactly recommended for new pet owners. This breed requires experience, know-how, time, and dedication.

4. Early and extensive socialization and obedience training are a must for this breed

Because of the Presa’s very assertive personality, it’s important to start training and socializing these puppies as soon as possible.

What does this mean?

Obedience training of a guard dog like the Presa can be done both at home and with the help of a professional trainer. Most people prefer to do it themselves but it’s important to do it properly if you choose that route.

The goal of obedience training is pretty self-explanatory – you train the dog that you are its master and that despite its dominant and assertive personality, the dog should always obey you. If you have a large family with many family members (especially kids), the obedience training should include all family members, otherwise the Presa may develop aggressive tendencies toward some of them.

As for socialization, this is a simple process that most dogs should go through but it’s especially important for guard dogs like the Presa. Simply put, adequate socialization is the process of introducing the dog to new people, dogs, and other pets every day from the earliest possible age. Have a friend visit you on Monday, another friend with a dog – on Tuesday, a friend with kids on Wednesday, and so on.

The purpose of these two types of training is simple – to teach your Presa that she doesn’t need to “guard” you or herself from anything and anyone she encounters. If you want a Presa as a family pet, this is very much a must. Just remember to start when the Presa is still a pup, otherwise the socialization process will be nearly impossible.

5. The Presa is a very physically-demanding dog

This breed is only suitable for outdoor-type people who like to spend time in the park or jogging in the street. That’s because the Presa needs several hours of active running and playtime every day.

Having a well-fenced yard is also good but even that’s no substitute for going out with your dog every day for long periods of time.

6. This is a moderately healthy breed with some issues you’ll need to watch out for

The Presa Canario is not as healthy as some breeds but not as sickly as others either. To ensures that your Presa is as healthy as possible you should:

  • Get the Presa puppy from a reputable breeder
  • Get a health certificate for the puppy
  • Ask to see the pup’s parents and check their health certificates as well
  • Keep your Presa healthy with good food and lots of exercise
  • Keep an eye for any symptoms of potential health conditions

If you go through all these steps, you should have a healthy and happy Presa dog by your side for as long as 10-12 years. Some of the health problems you’ll have to avoid along the way include:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Mast-cell tumors
  • Epilepsy
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy
  • Osteochondrodysplasias
  • Patellar Luxation

Remember to ask your veterinarian about the details of these conditions and what you should look out for.

7. Purely bred and healthy Presa puppies can be very expensive

One last thing to note about the Presa Canario is that it’s not the most affordable breed out there. If you want to get a healthy and well-mannered Presa pup, you should definitely go to an adequate breeder and not a puppy mill. However, you should also “prepare your wallet” so to speak as Presa puppies can easily go for as much as $2,000 per pup.

That being said, Presa Canario dogs are also available in shelters and rescues across the U.S. too. The reason is simple – like other guard dogs, the Presa is difficult to train and look after so many people end up giving their dogs away. This allows you to both save a homeless Presa dog and essentially “get it for free.”

The drawbacks of this method are that the Presa will likely be grown-up and the training & socialization will be harder. Additionally, you’ll still have to do an extensive health check-up to make sure that the dog is healthy.

Who are Presa Canario “right” for?

Presa Canario dogs are suitable for two types of people – those who want a dedicated guard dog and outdoorsy people who want a physically active, cool, confident, and strong pet. If you’re in the latter group, however, you’ll also have to be very good at dog training and socialization, otherwise you’ll run into some problems pretty early on.

Having a large and fenced yard, as well as a large and spacious home is also preferable, as is the absence of babies and toddlers. Any kids you’d want to live with a Presa should be taught on how to interact with such a powerful and assertive dog in a safe manner.

How to prepare for getting a Presa Canario?

Preparing for a Presa Canario is all about getting the necessary know-how. Yes, you should physically prep your yard and home too – a tall fence, powerful leash, large dog bed, and so on – but knowing how to train your Presa is the most important part.

If you don’t have experience socializing and obedience-training dogs you should do one of three things:

  • Go for a different breed
  • Get a lot of know-how stat
  • Contact a professional trainer to help you out