Dogo Canario (Canary Dog, Perro de Presa Canario)

Country of origin:
Canary Islands
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
brindle: from warm dark brown to pale grey or blond; fawn to sandy
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Download standard:
Pros Cons
  • excellent watch and guard dog
  • great protector
  • doesn't need a lot of grooming
  • difficult to train
  • doesn't suit families with small children
  • can be aggressive

The Dogo Canario is a powerful and fearless mastiff-type dog, which originated on the Canary Islands. The breed was used as a cattle driver, a guardian and exterminator of homeless (feral) dogs. It’s not eligible to keep this dog in many countries due to its fierce nature and aggressiveness. As a serious animal it requires serious approach to its training and a highly responsible owner.

The Dogo Canario’s development as a distinct breed began somewhere between XVI and XVII centuries. The majority of its forebears were imported to the Canary Islands by Spanish conquistadores. It’s strongly suggested that among these dogs were the Iberian Presa and different types of Bulldogs (Alanos). British colonists brought along with them to the islands various kinds of Bulldogs and Mastiffs, which also played a certain role in creation of the breed. Finally the Bardino Majorero was added to the cross and from it the Dogo Canario inherited its remarkable intelligence, intrepidity, prowess and impressive set of teeth.

The Dogo Canario performed multiple services for Spanish farmers. It was used to catch half-feral cattle and ferocious boars, to defend the stock from wild animals and humans and to guard the master’s possessions. The breed also effectively drove off and exterminated homeless and wild dogs. Thanks to its incredible power and tenacity this dog earned a reputation of a relentless fighter in dog-fighting circles. This cruel entertainment was declared outside the law in the 40s of the XX century but it persisted under-the-table for at least another dozen of years. Moreover other breeds such as the German Shepherd Dog and the Doberman became highly preferred guardians and replaced the Dogo Canario in this role. The combination of these two factors led to a significant drop in the population of the dog and since then it was predominantly used as a farmer’s assistant.

The 70s of the XX century were marked with revival of interest in the Dogo Canario and dedicated breeders managed to re-establish such distinct traits of the dog as uncompromising confidence, impressive power, highly developed territorial instinct and reserved dignity. Nowadays, while the breed has reached certain popularity in clandestine dog’s fighting clubs, it remains virtually unknown outside its homeland.

In the 1996 the Dogo Canario was accepted by the American Kennel Club's Foundation Stock Service. The United Kennel Club gave it its full recognition in 2003.

The Dogo Canario is one of those dogs that by all means require timely and extensive socialisation with all kind of situations and living creatures. However once you have been accepted as a part of its pack it will defend you from all kind of threats at all costs. The breed has calm and reserved temper but if you are looking for the dog that will be fawningly attached to you and your family than you should probably look somewhere else. This dog has pretty bad reputation with children but if it has spent enough quality time with them in the early age it will treat them with due respect in the maturity as well.

The Dogo Canario is aloof and wary with strangers and definitely it won’t let unfamiliar person to pet. A well-socialised dog will remain indifferent about the presence of other humans without showing inappropriate aggression. This vigilant and observant animal possesses imposing voice and intimidating appearance, which make it an excellent watch and guard dog. Sometimes its bellowing bark is plenty enough to scare off some apprehensive intruder.

As a catch dog the Dogo Canario is extremely aggressive towards other canine animals. It certainly wouldn’t be wise to keep it together with another dog of the same sex. This breed is highly authoritative in its nature and won’t back down from a fight in order to assert its alpha status. Unfortunately the Dogo Canario is also an infamous cat chaser and may never accept a home cat (or other creature) even if they have been raised in the same household. It’s worth to remind that timely socialisation can partially resolve an aggressive issue but it won’t be able to eliminate it completely.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• patellar luxation;
• epilepsy;
• skin cysts;
• osteochondrodysplasias;
• cryptorchidism.

The short and rough coat of the Dogo Canario needs minimal grooming. It should be brushed with a firm bristle brush and cleaned with a soft wet cloth as necessary. Bathe your dog only if it’s completely dirty. This breed is a seasonal shedder and requires more thorough brushing in these periods in order to remove dead hair from the skin surface.

The Dogo Canario drools in lesser extent if compared to other mastiff-type dogs. The drooling intensifies after it eats or drinks or during hot weather so keep a bunch of napkins handy just in case.


The Dogo Canario is a natural leader and certainly doesn’t live to please. This purports that its training poses usually a significant difficulty. Even if you want to teach your dog basic tricks you should get some help and advice from a professional handler, who has already worked with this breed. The trainer should have an aura of confidence around him and occasionally show the dog, who is in control.

The Dogo Canario will react with open aggression to the roughhousing during the training session and it’s imperative to use moderately firm training techniques while working with the breed. However it would be unrealistic to except 100% obedience from this dog and quick results from your training effort so be patient, committed and kind to your dog.

The Dogo Canario’ exercise requirements are fairly low but it certainly can’t be ascribed to a coach potato. Its master should take it for a walk of minimum an hour long on the daily basis. The dog is the most happy with some work at hand but it will be quite satisfied with an opportunity to surf on the territory with a high fence.

It’s essential to keep your Dogo Canario restrained by a leash at all times because it’s going to pursue every stray cat in its view. The master of the Dogo Canario should take serious approach to the training of this dog and invest tons of time in its proper socialisation so this breed isn’t the best choice for the novice dog owner.