Qualities of a Presa Canario Dog

Was the old Perro de Presa Canario physically and psychically similar to the number of dogs of prey that have proliferated over the last three to four years? No. Just like that, a few days ago, a former dog fighter from Tenerife told me. Those dogs, the traditional dogs of prey, those of the land, were more serious, less playful, much more distrustful of strangers. And they were quiet, with little barking, and their bark was sort of cavernous, low-pitched. And they did not bite for no real reason. His mere presence and growl was more than enough to deter any stranger. And he didn’t joke around with dogs. It did not even respect those of the house, hence hunters kept hunting dogs out of the reach of the prey dogs, and the same was true of ducks -small dogs about a foot high with no defined breed-. Many quarrels between neighbors and non-neighbors, and relatives, motivated this peculiar behavior of the country’s dogs of prey.

A Perro de Presa Canario would take any kind of stick without complaining. And beware of him, who was a fearsome adversary.

Santos el Verga (from La Esperanza, Tenerife) told me that on a certain occasion he was in the kitchen working, and the Valiente (his dog of prey) was lying at the door. When he went to leave, the dog, without moving, without blinking, began to growl at him, as if to say, don’t bother, I’m fine here. But Santos, a man of the country, made to deal with animals, neither short nor lazy, grabbed the stick (which was behind the door) and after telling the dog, “Get out of there!”, and seeing that the dog was still growling, he beat him with a stick. But the Brave One was not intimidated. With every stick the man gave it, the animal backed up a step, but without ceasing to growl. In this way man and dog went to the side of the road, which was some thirty or forty meters from the kitchen. Once there and seeing that the human had the game won over the canine, he snapped his fingers and spoke to him in a reconciliatory tone. Immediately the dog’s expression changed, and, changing his attitude, he went after him as happy and content as if nothing had happened there. This story seems to me to be a perfect description of the Canary Reservoir Dog’s temperament, the old one. It was a rustic dog, made by rough men for hard work. Are these characteristics present in the prey dogs that are bred, through crossbreeding, in our days? In most of the specimens, it seems to me that it does not. I have trained some of these new prey dogs and they do not respond, that is the truth and no other, to those characteristics that so distinguished the old prey dogs. And there is an explanation. Most dog breeds are nowadays bred for commercial purposes. They are presented at shows to compete in beauty, and to the extent that the specimens presented are beautiful, they are valued. We live in a society of fads, fashions, uselessness, consumption for consumption’s sake. Dogs are bought for the mere fact of owning them, or for their companionship, or for whatever, anything but their usefulness. And of course, these dogs cannot (should not) be rustic, or at least only in appearance, but not in behavior. In this society, dogs must be sociable, delicate, gentle and feminine. At shows the dogs have to know how to be. One of the ways, perhaps the only way, for dogs to learn to be in these socio-economic events is to lose verve, energy, strength, temperament.

Most of the dogs that are being used to recreate the Perro de Presa Canario are the product of these show dogs. And to make matters worse, the quality of temperament is not taken into account. A good part of the fans are satisfied with the forms. Thus we find, something unthinkable with the old Perro de Presa Canario, that a simple Perro de Ganado Majorero “gives firewood upside down” to one of today’s crossbreeds, which the members of the Club del Presa Canario call presas canarios. It is true that in appearance some of the imported dams (Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux, etc.) are fearsome, but only in appearance.

And these Presas Canarios (which at the moment I prefer to call crossbreeds, or mestizos, because they are nothing else) are presented (presented) with the full support of the Presa Canario Club at official and unofficial dog shows. And what are they presenting themselves for? I have heard people representative of the dog world (judges) talk at these shows about the working capacity of the canary prey, its strong temperament, its bravery, and its prey in the fight with other dogs, its extraordinary conditions for guarding and defending, etc. etc. etc. But do these dogs prove anything at shows? Have these representative gentlemen ever seen any of these dogs fight, guard, defend? Moreover, have CPPC members seen them at work? Whether they excel in anything or not of what is mentioned no one or very few know. It would have to be said that all these qualities are assumed, like soldiers, in the beginning, their courage.

The Presas Canarios are taken to the shows so that people can see them, so that the representatives of the Spanish canine officialdom can see them, so that the Canina Central can recognize them as a Canary breed, and by extension Spanish.

This is not that it is pitiful, no, it borders on mental derangement. It is mad to pretend, at this point in time, to sell a pig in a poke. It is a crazy thing to try to sell the image of a canine breed, for the moment non-existent, to the Canarian people by touching the fibers of the nationalist sensibility. No one with two fingers in front, a minimum of canine culture and sense of history, and some respect for the truth, would think of getting into such a mess. There is no one who can change the present and past reality. We can do for the reality to come, nothing more. So, will the future Perro de Presa Canario be similar to that of the past, of Spanish origin and not Guanche as some members of Solidaridad Canaria claim, or of English origin, as Mr. Martin Bethencourt, acting secretary of the Club del Perro de Presa Canario, voluntarily uninformed or self-interested, claims? Time will tell.

Published by the author in El Día on November 21, 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.

Sitio web