Comment to the breed standard for Presa Canario / Dogo Canario

Comment to the breed standard for Presa Canario / Dogo Canario


The official and widely accepted name is CANARIAN DOGO, although in days gone by, traditionally the most common name in Gran Canaria was “GRIPPING DOG” (‘GRIPPER’), due to the variety of colors, all which were acceptable, and in Tenerife, the most common name was “VERDINO” (BRINDLE), as the majority of the dogs were that color. The name “VERDINO” is not the same as “BARDINO”, as ‘bardino’ is the color of the bardino majorero. The color ‘verdino’ was the result of the mixing of ‘bardino’ with fawn and white; which means that it is exclusive to the ‘gripping’ dog, is greenish in color, short, dull and fairly rough. The name “PERRO BASTO” (meaning something like “rough dog”), according to oral tradition, differentiates the dog from the hunting dog or “PODENCO”, which was known as the “FINE DOG”.



That of a medium sized animal, robust build, rectangular profile and particularly solid. It has always been a versatile dog, used in the handling and subjugation of cattle, the guarding and protection of property and in fighting, as it is, due to its ancestry, particularly well prepared to do so. These many activities, usually carried out in a rural environment, have been the gymnastics of an athletic body, which, today, is a perfectly skilled guard and defense dog. Powerful muscles, a wide and deep chest and fairly short limbs give the animal the “power” and “stability” it needs as a low set, broad animal, that moves close to the ground and the longish body, more evident in females, provides a certain “flexibility” and, therefore, agility, in spite of being quite a heavy animal for its size.


Very even-tempered, with great self-control, and game. Dissuasive, serious and sober, factors added to by its presence. Of a very frank character, although a little stubborn, which should be taken into account when is still a puppy, because such a powerful animal should be obedience trained. Quick to learn, in the future, the dog will be able to carry out duties other than the traditional ones.



1. Head 

2. Face 

3. Stop 

4. Snout

5. Flews 

6. Corner of mouth

7. Facial outline

8. Eyes

9. Eyelids 

10. Ear 

11. Occiput

12. Masseters

13. Frontal sinus

14. Neck 

15. Arch of neck

16. Dewlap 

17. Withers 

18. Back

19. Loin 

21. Spine/Femur ang

22. shoulder

23. Shoulder 

24. Tip of breastbone 

25. Upper arm 

26. Elbow 

27. Forearm

28. Carpus

29. Metacarpus

30. Toes

31. Chest

32. Ribcage 

33. Flank 

34. Stomach

35. Groin

36. Thigh

37. Buttock

38. Stifle

39. Leg

40. Hock

41. Metatarsus

42. Topline

43. Tail

Important messurements:


1 snout
2 scull
3 angle between snout and scull
4 cylyndric neck
5 cheast is hight in the withers + 45%
6 withers
7 hight to the elbow is 50 % of high in the withers
8 lnght of the back
9 lenght of the body is hight in the withers plus 18% – 20%
10 hight of the rare
11 topline is stright, slightly rising to the rare
12 hight of the hock


The standard accepts variations of about 4 – 5 cm. for both sexes, but perfection lies somewhere in between, i.e., about 62 -63 cm. for males and 57 – 59 cm. for females. Generally, specimens of minimum or maximum size are less balanced. In the middle range of sizes, the Canarian Dogo has greater personality, as in addition to an athletic body it has great speed and ease of movement, which, for obvious reasons, are reduced in the minimum and maximum sizes. Judges should not accept tall dogs, as breeding from dogs of the maximum size will lead to dimensions which are incompatible with their work and will modify the morphology established by the standard.


Brachycephalic/Squarish, like a slightly elongated cube, with no pronounced angles, broad and muscular. The head of the Canarian Dogo should be large, although always in line with the body size, so that the front and hindquarters are balanced. A head that is too large will affect movement and will reduce the overall symmetry. Craniofacial proportion should be around 60% – 40%, although a 55% – 45% proportion is preferable to a truncated muzzle. If the proportion is correct, the fit and development of the teeth will not be a problem. The size of the head and face should not be very different. We should be looking for well developed faces or muzzles, with very broad mouths, which gives greater bite capacity. The head of the Canarian Dogo should be balanced, solid and compact, forming one unit, free of sharp edges and projections. The length is about 40% of the height at the withers. The skin should be loose but not too much; tight skin, without wrinkles, is unacceptable. The coat, be it brindle, striped, fawn or sandy, is always very coarse.


Proportions od scull. From left – snout to short. Correct proportions (6:4). To long snout


2.1. Head and skull

The length should be 60% of the whole of the head. It is practically as long as it is wide. Seen from the side, the skull is slightly convex at the top, at the occiput, which should not be visible and should be covered with a thick layer of muscle. The convexity of the skull disappears above the frontal bone, which is almost flat. Therefore, the skull should never be vaulted. The frontal sinuses are divided by a deep groove, which is about two thirds of the total length of the skull. The front of the head is covered with abundant, loose skin, forming regular, slight wrinkles, showing movement and expression. The wrinkles are very important in the description of the breed.The zygomatic arches, temporalis and masseters should form a whole, compact and with no sharp angles. We should reject prominent masseters, which lessen the expression of the head.

The occiput is unappreciable, as we have said, thanks to the well developed muscles at the nape of the neck and to the occipital fold of loose skin.


The head is bachycefalic in shape.

2.2. Face or Muzzle

It is shorter than the head. It measures about 40% of the total length of the head; about 10 cm. Wide at the base and full, thanks to well developed masseters, or cheek muscles, and lifting muscles and it gets slightly smaller towards the snout.

The bridge of the nose is flat and straight. A convergent bridge is not at all advisable, even if it is slight, as this usually raises the snout.

A ridged bridge of the nose is a fault that should be eliminated in breeding.

Given that the frontal bone is practically flat and that the bridge of the nose is straight, the stop or frontonasal depression is definite, but not brusque. This contributes a great deal to the expression of the head.

Above the frontal bone, the edge of the eye sockets create a typical fold in the skin, which falls forward at the sides of the head.


Scull and muzzle seeing from front are of similar widness.


lines of scull and muzzle. On the left is correct. In the center nose is to high – incorrect. On the right lines are crossin – partly acceptable. On the bottom total disqualification

2.3. Nose or Snout

Wide, heavily pigmented in black. At the same level as the bridge of the nose. The tip is slightly shorter than the front edges of the flews. The nostrils are wide, suited to making breathing easier.

2.4. Lips or Flews

They should neither be snipey nor excessive; that is, they should hang reasonably loose, which lends expression. Seen from the side, the flews are slightly further forward than the snout. The upper lips hang over the lower lips, and, seen from the front, form an inverted “V”. The lips and mouth lining are always dark in colour.


At the lesft to short muzzle. Upper center image muzzle set tu much to the front. On therigh to long muzzle.

Bottom center image – corrct set and lenght of muzzle

2.5.  Jawbones

Wide, well set in, large molars, small incisors and well developed canines interlocking in pairs.

The teeth of the Canarian Dogo are an essential part of the anatomy. The development of the jawbone has a lot to do with the teeth. When the jawbones grow unevenly, the upper and lower teeth do not fit properly and the result is an excessively undershot or overshot mouth. However, when growth is correct both jawbones are even and, normally, the lower incisors touch the inner part of the upper incisors, with the cutting point halfway up the upper incisor, and the canines, or ‘trappers’, mesh together forming a magnificent grip. This is what is known as the scissor bite, and is the most sought after. The jaws, incisors and canines trap the prey and hold on with a steady grip.

When the upper jaw does not grow enough – we should avoid, as we have already said, a truncated muzzle – the bite is the inverted scissor bite; i.e., the lower teeth touch the upper teeth on the outer part. This bite is perfectly acceptable.

In cases where the incisors touch tip to tip, we have the pincer or pliers bite, where gripping power is minimal and the wearing away of teeth is great. This type of bite is undesirable.

When the upper jawbone is short, the lower teeth are too far forward and this produces prognathism (an undershot mouth) which, when it is more than three millimetres, is a fault and has a negative effect on the expression. In addition, in these cases, the premolars are often missing, and, sometimes, there is nothing for them to grow from.

The space between the canines should be as big as possible and the incisors should be level. Badly aligned incisors is a fault. Remember that the ‘gripping dog uses only the incisors and the canines to grip.




inver scissors (on left) – acceptable. Scissors – correct. Pinzer bite on the right is incorrect

Odległość pomiędzy kłami powinna być jak największa a siekacze powinny być położne w jednej linii. Kiedy siekacze są krzywo rozłożone jest to wadą. Należy pamiętać, że pies chwytający używa tylko kłów i siekaczy do przytrzymywania zdobyczy.


2.6. Palate

The ridges of the palate should be well marked and pinkish-black in color.


The eyes should be hooded, with well developed superciliary arches. The eyes must be large and widely set, although they should always be on the front part of the face and never towards the sides. They should be neither sunken nor protruding and should be bright and have a noble expression to them.

They should be dark chestnut in color, the darker the better, although the color of the coat does have something to do with this. Yellow eyes should be rejected, as they give a hard look and expression.

The eyelids should be heavily pigmented in black, very slightly oval in shape and always taut, but never tight. The conjunctiva should never be visible.


The ears should always be medium sized, with short, fine hair, falling loosely on each side of the head. If folded, they form a rose shape close to the head. The base of the ear is set slightly above the outer edge of the eye. Ears set too high are not desirable and crowd the crown of the head. If cropped, they are straight.


Shorter than the total length of the head. Its average length is about 20 cm.. There should be a slight dewlap on the underside. Very well muscled to grip and shake the prey, and is almost cylindrical from top to bottom. An excessively long or short neck is a fault, as are taut skin, lack of wrinkles and absence of dewlap.


Solid, straight and parallel, which indicates strong bone structure and muscles, never weak. The shoulders should be broad and robust, and sloped, which gives ease of movement and affects the spacing of the front legs. If there is not enough slope to the shoulders or if they are straight, the ribcage will be flat, the gait will be incorrect and the brisket will be shallow.

In males, the length of the forearm to the elbow is, on average, 32 cm., which is about 50% of the height at the withers. The elbows should neither stick out nor be held too close to the body, i.e. they should be loose.

The foot is made up of four rounded toes and one vestigial toe on the inner part. Pads are large and black. Nails dark. White nails are undesirable, although they can seen depending on the color of the coat.




barrle shape – incorrect


french shape – incorrect


Elbows incorrect


Sever defect. Not enaugh cheast. Elbows short and stright


7.1. Thorax and cheast

The girth of the chest established by the standard should be maintained, so the average chest size for males could be about 88 cm.. Taking this average, the difference between the straight girth and the height at withers is more than 20 cm., which gives a broad, deep chest.


Good length of back in the rib area gives good thoracic capacity and, therefore, good lung capacity. The depth of the chest represents 50% of the height at withers; i.e., there should be about the same distance from the foot to the elbow as from the withers to the elbow. This is the ideal proportion. The chest, or brisket, should be slightly lower than the elbow.

When the standard speaks of the cylindrical ribcage, it means that “the ribs should be well sprung, but not barrel shaped or rounded”.

The width of the chest is as important as the depth, as it is the most visible part of the ‘gripping’ dog. It must be ample. that is to say, it must have well developed forequarters. Therefore, the pectoral muscles will be very powerful, especially at the tip of the breastbone. The depth of the chest should be frontal and lateral, forming a whole. From the dorsal line to the breastbone there should be about 31 cm..

The following are considered faults in the body, a saddle back, dropped loins, ribcage not arched enough, insufficient depth or width of chest, poor upper chest, belly too or insufficiently tucked up and too much length in the body, which gives the impression that we are looking at two different dogs, due to the weak loin.

The topline or dorsolumbar line is straight, with no defects, supported by well developed, but not very visible, muscles. It rises slightly towards the top of the loin and its strength determines the flexibility of the animal.


Upper line is stright

incorrect upper lines:




Linia górna karpiowata

7.2. Loin

Should be wide and rounded. The haunch should fall slightly towards the base of the tail. It should not be too long, as this would cause a dropped loin. It should be neither too high nor too low, as this would limit movement.

A high loin means open angles and so, straight stifles and hocks. A low loin means cow hocks, with joints pointing inwards and a lack of strength.

The loin should be slightly higher than the withers; so, the topline should rise from the withers to the top of the lion, which is quite normal in Molosser and gripping dogs. In some cases the height at the withers is the same as the height at the loin. The slope in relation to the topline can be about 20%.


Zad prawidłowy i prawidłowe osadzenie ogona

7.3. Belly

The belly is usually only slightly tucked up, because the ‘gripping’ dog usually carries quite a lot of weight, but it is never dropped.

7.4.  Genitalia

Developed testicles, should be fully descended into the scrotum. The less the scrotum hangs loosely, the better.


The tail base should be set high and the root of the tail must be thick, as this contributes to the appearance. The tail should not be too long, it should just reach the hocks, and it should be very strong. This enables it to be swayed like a sabre, without brushing the back, and it would be quite effective as a rudder. It should measure 40 cm..






The hindquarters should be strong and parallel, with no faults, which means a well muscled loin to carry the hindquarters. Well developed hind legs not only means that the animal can jump or easily reach reasonable speed, but they also act as an anchor when the dog is biting, vital for a ‘gripping’ dog.

Moderate angulation at the hocks, but not too poor, as the loin would be too high and would affect movement.

The feet should be strong and well arched. A narrow, long foot would weaken the hindquarters and would cause fatigue and, therefore, excessive angulation.

The thighs should be parallel to the middle of the body. The legs, slightly sloping from top to bottom and from front to back.

The angle between the tibia and the metatarsus or the hock is open, about 150°. The hocks are always low.

The dewclaw on the inner part of the leg is a throwback that is not very common. It is undesirable and should be removed at birth.

The following are considered faults in the legs; hind or front angulation that is lacking or excessive, cow hocks or bow legs, atrophy of the toes, squashed toes and walking on the heels.


from left: correct. incorrect “cow hocked”. incorrect “x shape”


The movement should cover a lot of ground, be agile and elastic. The stride should be long. This indicates particularly strong hindquarters, well-muscled and which push the animal forward.

In movement, the head is barely raised above the topline.

The legs follow a diagonal movement, i.e., the hind right follows the front left, the hind left follows the front right, and so on.

The following are considered faults in gait/movement; unsteadiness, ‘hackney’ steps, front and hind legs moving in unison and crossing or plaiting of legs.


The bone and muscle structures of the Canarian Dogo are genetically very robust. Therefore, the animal need not be fat or fleshy to look good. A good indication of the correct weight is the underside of the body, which should be tucked up at the belly, although not too much. When the underside is too tucked up and the flanks are over marked, the animal is too thin, and vice versa. A sagging belly is incompatible with the personality of the dog.

12. COAT

The hair of the Canarian Dogo should be rough, not too short, dull and never smooth or shiny. It can be slightly longer at the withers, on the underside of the neck and around the haunches. It is soft to the touch on the head, chest and thighs, but rougher on the rest of the body.

The colour should be as uniform as possible. Brindle and striped are the most desirable, being one of the most characteristic points in identifying the breed. Dark stripes are an ideal colour for guard dogs. The most desirable of the shades of fawn is the middle range, tending to ochre-yellow.

Usually all dogs have a white mark on the chest, in some cases bigger than others. The mask is always dark, tending to black. There may also be white markings at the base of the neck or on the feet. Any other type of markings is a fault.

Ewa Ziemska

Breeder and researcher of Presa Canario. Lived in Poland, London UK and presently stays in Kentucky, USA and traveled through whole Europe and 22 States discovering the breed. Speaks Polish, English and Spanish. Master of Science of Management and Computer Modeling and Engineer of Production Engineering of Kielce University of Technology. Avid traveler, photographer and dog book collector. Instagram @reygladiador