The Perro de Presa Canario will be a reality

Miss Josefina Gómez-Toldrá, Mr. Salvador Gómez-Toldrá, gentlemen of Planeta Agostini: The Perro de Presa Canario is not a breed, it will be a breed. That is what we wish and hope, and that is what many fans in the Canary Islands are working for. It will be a racial reality over the years, just as it was in the past, and hundreds of years ago. I have read carefully, attentively, the booklet published by Planeta-Agostini entitled, Perro de Presa Canario (Perro de Pelea Canario). And I think that they have done a disservice, not to the Perro de Presa Canario that is being bred at the moment, which is not yet a breed at all, but to the Perro de Presa Canario that it can become. The desire for prominence makes many people take false steps. This desire to be the first, (salti qui salti, peti qui peti, in Catalan), (caiga quien caiga, in Spanish). With this brochure, the cinófilo world is given a false image of the reality called Presa Canario. The current Presa Canario, the diversity of specimens existing at this time in the Canary Archipelago, does not correspond to what is stated in this brochure. Sad reality. The dams of the Spanish Club (this club will be Spanish when it is recognized by the SCFRCE), of Tenerife, are not the Presa Canario, they are only a part of what is bred in the Canary Islands. In these islands more dogs are bred, many more, in Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

Many of us who have nothing to do with that club raised them. Many of us breeders do not agree with the policy followed by the members of the aforementioned club until the 1st Regional Show of Presa Canario Dogs (October 19, 1987). Let it be clear that the work done since the seventies until now in the breeding/breeding, recovery/reconstruction of the Presa Canario is not only due, far from it, to that “group of dog fanciers guided and directed by the Club del Perro de Presa Canario”, as you say in your unfortunate article. No, the group they refer to is insignificant in relation to the number of fanciers we breed in the Canary Islands. What you read in this brochure is the version that the CEPPC has presented outside, claiming to be the only club recognized by the Central Canina Española for the recovery of the breed. This pretended exclusivity has been maintained until the eve of the I Muestra Regional de Perros de Presa Canarios. The day before, I say (18th of X, 1986), at a round table, we met Mr. Valentin Alvarez, president of the RSCFRCE, a member of the Spanish Canine Breed Commission, the president of the Canary Islands Canine Society, a veterinarian representing the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Canary Islands Government, the president of the Club Español del Presa Canario, its secretary, the president of the Club de Perros de Presa Canarios de Gran Canaria, and yours truly, and as a listener, seated apart, the editor-in-chief of the magazine El Mundo del Perro.

Well, at that round table we reached extremely important agreements, and this was possible thanks to the President of the Spanish Central Canine Club, the representative of the Spanish Canine Breed Commission, and the President of the Canary Islands Canine Society – today, 1991, I can say that these agreements were possible thanks to the pressure exerted by the “opposition”, agreements that the Spanish Presa Canario Club and the Spanish Central Canine Club later failed to comply with in their entirety. And these agreements were the following: That from that date on no one was going to mean more than anyone else in the recovery/reconstruction of the Presa Canario, that no club, from Tenerife or Gran Canaria, was going to have exclusivity in this task that we are all interested in, that every year there will be an exhibition (pay attention, I say exhibition, not show) of Presa Canario dogs in both Canary provinces, and afterwards we will sit down, with members of the Commission of Spanish Breeds, different fanciers of the two provinces to debate. Consequently, there is no standard (breed standard), no draft standard, or anything like that for “Presa Canario”, in quotation marks, at this time. Let’s not rush reality. Let us not put the cart before the horse. No one should believe the “draft standard” that appears in the brochure. No heights on the cross, no lengths, no heads, no tails, no mantles, no nothing. That will become clearer. Of course, each club can set its own standards, but only for its own internal use.

The dogs photographed in your booklet are owned (or bred by) gentlemen who belong to a club, the Perro de Presa Canario. In Gran Canaria there is also an important club, very important, made up of seventy or so members, among which there are outstanding breeders, breeders of real pedigree. And in Gran Canaria there are more fans, more breeders, without being those of that club. And there is another, less important club. But beware, in this part of the century we tend to relate importance with number, with volume. And it is well known that the importance lies in the subject, in the individual. An individual can, at a given moment in history, mean much more than an entire collective. There is no doubt that clubs are important, but not all-important. Clubs have only their importance. At this moment in time, each and every one of the Presa dogs bred in the Canary Islands is significant, no matter who breeds them. And as long as we do not go concretizing, all the fans, with time, no specimen of Presa Canario has to be more than the others. My dogs may mean a lot to me, they may be the best, but this is a purely subjective analysis. I believe this is what has happened with the members of the Spanish Presa Canario Club and their dogs. They are important to their owners, not least because they are the product of their work. But, be warned, they are just that, their dogs. There are other clubs, other breeders, new and old, with name and with more experience (allow me to use the quantitative adjective) and knowledge, and the same can be said of other enthusiasts and breeders who do not belong, nor wish to belong, to any club, for whatever reason. Amateurs, all breeders who have their own voice and want to be heard, taken into account, and of course they have a lot to say, and they will say it, with their words, and with their dogs, in these annual shows, where they do not go to compete, I repeat, but to show what is being done and how, what is being bred.

In the fascicle in question they say that the origin of the Canary Island prey is due to the English, or rather, to the crossing of English dogs brought to the Canary Islands in the nineteenth century with the Perro de Ganado Majorero (Majorero Cattle Dog). I thought so too, at another time, and I wrote it and published it in the newspaper El Día (Tenerife), and in the canine magazine El Mundo del Perro. But since then it has rained a lot, and some people don’t want to hear about it. Several centuries ago (in the Agreements of the Cabildo of Fuerteventura, in the Agreements of the Cabildo of Tenerife, and in the Ordinances of Tenerife) the prey dog was already mentioned. The ancient Perro de Presa Canario descended -I tried to demonstrate it in a work titled Los Perros de los Conquistadores y Colonos de Canarias, published in El Día, of which it seems you have no news- from the Perro de Presa Español. I am waiting for someone to contribute something new. I am not saying that today’s Presa Canario is descended, or that of the seventies was descended, from the Spanish Presa Canario.

As for the Majorero Cattle Dog, I dare say, without fear of being wrong, that it is not descended from the dogs of the aboriginal Canary Islanders. This cattle dog (as it is called in Fuerteventura, or Perro de la Tierra) is descended from Spanish cattle dogs. This dog was numerous in all the Canary Islands from the time of the conquest and colonization, not before. This reality is easily verifiable and demonstrable. But this requires nothing less than starting from data, from a past and present reality (there are the dogs, there is the history), not from prejudices. The history of the Canary Islands is plagued with falsehoods, prejudices, lies and half-truths. The dogs of the aboriginal Canary Islanders were called canchas, which the conquistadors and colonists called zatos or gozques, both Castilian words. These dogs “were some small zatos or gozques that the natives raised and called cancha” (Fray Alonso de Espinosa).

And I do not want to go ahead without making it clear that “bardino” means a certain coat, or mantle, of certain dogs and other domestic animals (see Diccionario Crítico Etimológico Castellano e Hispánico, by J. Corominas, and J.A. Pascual). And that “verdino”, or “berdino” is a degeneration of the first (bardino), and means the same thing, a certain type of coat on a dog, cattle, horse, goat. etc. Bardino does not mean breed, neither in the case of the Perro de Ganado Majorero, nor with respect to the Perro de Presa Canario, which some (north of Tenerife) call berdino. And of course bardino, or berdino, does not mean flat dog, as journalist Elfidio Alonso has written in his usual section in El Día.

And I am surprised to read what follows in the fascicle of reference: “If it had not been for the current movement to revalue the historical-cultural heritage that, in this case, the Government of the Canary Islands is carrying out jointly with the Spanish Club of the Canary Reservoir Dog through the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries…”. Yes, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has been involved in this delicate matter of the Canary Island Dams. Don Juan Quevedo Martinón, president of the club, works in that department. This is the root of the matter. And it seems to me that they have done a disservice to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. I am sure that the said department, its most prominent officials, on whom the yes or no decision depended, willingly collaborated (in the financial aspect only, as far as I know). Then they will have realized, I suppose, that they have been made to put their foot in their groin. The first false step was taken (or was it made to be taken?) by publishing that famous triptych whose upper margin reads: Gobierno de Canarias, Consejería de Agricultura y Pesca (Government of the Canary Islands, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries). Then there is a dog of prey and underneath it says: Perro de Presa Canario (the dog of prey was, if I am not mistaken, the one called Felo, property of Mr. Quevedo Martinón -that’s the way things are done-). You, brothers Gómez-Toldrá, have based your booklet “Perro de Presa Canario” on this triptych.

And at the end of the booklet we read: “The club controls most of the crossings that are being carried out; thanks to which a very early recognition by the official canine society, and, later, by the Fédération Cynologique International is possible”. I am not encouraged, of course, by the idea of fanning the flames of controversy. I have already said that on the eve of the I Muestra del Presa Canario we reached an agreement, and this is that we are going to stop throwing our heads at each other, rightly or wrongly, but as this issue, and what has motivated it, is a real immediate past that the official international and unofficial cynophilia does not know in the smallest detail, we must not pull the blanket but inform. Nothing is healthier than information. Accurate information leads to a knowledge, if not exact, then very close to reality. And the important thing, at this time, is to know where the Perro de Presa Canario stands, apart from the desire for prominence of some, and the desire for profit of others (often one and the other are the same).

The Presa Canario Club does not control most of the crossings that are taking place. No sir. The Club, no club, is nothing without the individuals who compose it. Club is an association, a society of equis persons. These equis people, who are the CEPPC, only control their crosses, have controlled, better or worse, to their taste and whim, their dogs. But from that to saying, “most of the crossings…” there is a chasm. Nobody has controlled me at all, and it seems to me that in the Presa Canario world (although I have never exhibited my specimens, which will come) I mean something, and the same can be said of many other fanciers and breeders. No, gentlemen, the reality is quite different Salvador Gómez-Toldrá, Josefina Gómez-Toldrá, Planeta Agostini. I hope, I trust, I wish, that the treatment of the rest of the dog breeds presented in your Great Canine Encyclopedia was/is more fortunate.

And on top of that, I am included in the Bibliography section. I do not understand how you have managed to match my writings, my data, with those provided by the Spanish Presa Canario Club.

Published by the author in El Día on October 25, 1987.

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