Letter from Clemente Reyes Santana

Dear Mr. Curtó:

First of all I will introduce myself as a fan of the Perro de Presa Canario, and as such concerned about the state of the breed in our days, as well as interested in the origins of this canine variety. I must confess that I admire the interest with which you follow this breed, especially when for so long these animals were considered as something exotic and undefined. I have had the opportunity to read some of his articles, regretting that they are not also published in the newspapers of Las Palmas to access them for their interest. I think we are of the same opinion in many aspects, but above all in the absurd change of image that they want to give to this race and that threatens to make any resemblance to reality pure coincidence.

It is a pity that the clubs that pretend to recover these animals (that is to say, this breed) engage in experiments and crosses of very dubious origin. On a brief visit to Tenerife I met the secretary, and I believe also the brains (Manuel Martín Bethencourt) of the official club, and after showing me numerous photographs of his animals and exchanging impressions, I have to say that I do not agree with his theories in the least. I have not yet been able to understand if this club is trying to create a dog for decoration, or on the contrary, if they are trying to adapt the standard to the dog that they are getting by means of strange crosses. On the other hand, the representative of Gran Canaria, despite having put great interest in maintaining the character is moving away from the most typical specimens and are focusing on very recent animals so I fear that they are moving away from the most primitive dog.

For many years I have debated in continuous contradictions regarding the Presa Canario breed, and I believe that the most valid alternative is to focus on the oldest and purest specimens and forget about crossbreeding with other breeds that only bring greater selection problems. In this line, some friends and I have been trying for some time to maintain what I consider to be the oldest surviving bloodline in Gran Canaria, that of Juan Santana, in Arucas. So I stay away from shows, where you have to put up with a whole range of improvised cynologists and charming judges who know everything, to the point of awarding a first Bullmastiff cross, and two second crosses of Neapolitan Mastiff. So I limit myself to work with the animals that I consider more typical, and meanwhile, to investigate some obscure points of the origin of this breed. That is why I would like to know your opinion on some aspects that I will explain below.

I know two theories about the origin of the Presa Canario. One, reflected in the notes of Pepito Ojeda, r.e.p.d. (to which I believe the Tenerife club has had access), which relates the Majorero dog with the English Bulldog, 50%, and another, defended by Manuel Sanz Timón, which makes it a descendant of prey imported from the Spanish peninsula. I would like to hear your opinion on this matter. Secondly, I would like to know your opinion about Juanito Santana’s line, which, as I mentioned before, arouses great interest in me, and in a certain way, and in spite of certain defects, I consider it almost ideal.

I have seen many dog fights in my life, and my experience confirms the difficulty of the boquino (prognathus) dog to hold the prey, and yet Mr. Sanz Timón has recently reiterated to me that the prognathism helps the prey function. Is this gentleman referring to the seizure of cattle or is it perhaps an incongruity of such a respectable cynophile?

The scarce bibliography on the Presa Canario breed makes it difficult to reconstruct its history. Over a period of time I have collected some photographs and data on old dogs to whom I owe much of what I know about them. In order not to bore you any more, I will finish, but not before telling you that I would be pleased to exchange, in the near future, some information on this subject. With nothing more to say for the moment, and awaiting to hear from you, I send you my best regards:

Clemente Reyes Santana Galdar, December 29, 1985

Manuel Curtó Gracia

Manuel Curtó Gracia

Propietario del criadero de Presas Canarios "Irema Curtó" desde 1975. Además de ser el criador de esta raza más antiguo del mundo, y de que sus perros sean la base de gran parte de las líneas de Presa Canario, también es autor del libro "El perro de Presa Canario ,su verdadero origen", del libro "El Presa", colaborador en periódicos, revistas especializadas, documentales, debates, programas de radio, televisión, etc.

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Manuel Curtó Gracia

Manuel Curtó Gracia

Propietario del criadero de Presas Canarios "Irema Curtó" desde 1975. Además de ser el criador de esta raza más antiguo del mundo, y de que sus perros sean la base de gran parte de las líneas de Presa Canario, también es autor del libro "El perro de Presa Canario ,su verdadero origen", del libro "El Presa", colaborador en periódicos, revistas especializadas, documentales, debates, programas de radio, televisión, etc.

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