You are currently viewing Breeding selection (temperament) – by Red Star kennel

Breeding selection (temperament) – by Red Star kennel

I feel a strong need to address questions about dogs suited for Personal Protection and weather or not we should breed only these dogs that are proved top be able to do so.

Even thought that description of a Presa character in the standard describes dog ” specially suited for guard and defense” The facts are that there is only about 10 % of Presas are capable for Personal Protection work. These founding’s are based on temperament tests we conducted in US and Canary Islands since 1997. Situation is not much different if not worst with other breeds like Cane Corso, Dogo Argentino, Boerboel, American Bulldog, Rottweiler, Shepherd and so on….

Presa Canario breed standard calls for a dog ” especially suited for guard and defense…”

Here is criteria being used by us for evaluation:

Beside traffic (stability) test, we have had protection test, during which dog must be able to protect it’s owner by engaging an aggressor. If aggressor could of make it through the dog and attack the owner without dog defending him (running away, hiding behind …) dog would failed the test. Such dog cannot be deemed suitable for protection and should not be used as one as well as should not be bred, since dog displaying such behavior is should be considered to have false temperament according to the standard description. Anyone interested to read about whole test, can find it at:
Question was asked ” what about these dogs that don’t engage the aggressor, but won’t run away either?”

Anyone witnessing IAPC Temperament Test will agree that there is no middle position. Test is conducted the way that dog being put in the situation when he has to either protect or run away.

Another question was ” What about dogs who are stable but were never taught to protect” We can’t sit here and augur ” can he do it or can’t «. My only answer is –train it if you think your dog can handle it and then we won’t have any questions.

Over years there were numbers of breeders saying that there is no need for such test. That their dogs will protect naturally or that their dogs are just as good as these that pass and the only difference is that they just not interested in training. We know they tried, but dogs weren’t good enough. And look at where they are now. Their dogs still won’t protect and offspring’s of these dogs won’t either.

If someone decide to be a breeder of working breed (that is what Presa Canario is classified like) then it’s their responsibility at least to pass all minimum requirement, including mandatory Temperament Test with protection work as a part of it as called by the standard. Only during tests breeder can learn about his dog’s strong sides and weaknesses and after that be able to make an educated decision about proper breeding selection. Don’t look for excuses that your dog just as good, but just isn’t trained. He either has it or he doesn’t. The only one way to know it is through the minimum Temperament Testing similar to one described above, I’m not even talking about excelling in protection at this point, which is a totally different ball game.

Another question was ” What direction is IAPC taking ? ” Someone said that our previous stand was to breed best TYPE to best WORKER and see what will happen to keep the best. I would like to clarify that we would never compromise proven temperament in our breeding. According to IAPC bylaws all breeding dogs must pass minimum BST (breed suitability test) unless dog we breed to by one or another reason couldn’t get all requirements (for example dog out of country or just imported …) In this case such breeding has to be approved by BOD (board of directors) and will be deemed as “Test Breeding” until puppies are fully evaluated.

Speaking about Rank dogs (best of the best) I meant we should strive to breed Rank to Rank. I understand that genetic pull of the breed is too shallow to breed only Ranks, but this is our goal and we should strive for it. Couple years ago it was almost impossible to find Ranks to breed with, now situation is getting better. Tat is why IAPC has different levels of BST. If your dog passed OFA, Temp Test and up to the standard it can be bred by IAPC breeding rules and after approval of BOD. Rank dogs that have more to offer will get BST 1 or BST 2 and breeding of this type is what we should strive for in the future.

I’ve heard an opinion that ” OK dogs can produce excellent dogs while Rank dogs can still produce crap». Yes, that is true, but this is not a rule but rather exception of it.

Look at situation with OFA. When we started to push for OFA years ago, people were saying: ” No need for it. Good OFA can produce dysplastic dog while dog that doesn’t pass OFA can still produce passing dogs». We at Red Star stood strong in our beliefs that each and every breeding dog must be OFA certified. And look at results now. More then half dogs in the OFA database are Red Star Presas, with us being producers the only “excellent ” OFA dogs in the database, whose rating is better then their parents rating. So did it pay off? It sure did!

Same in regards to working dogs. Who’s dogs you see competing at the trials? Red Star Presas. How were they bred? By selection through Temperament t Testing with bite work. Here you got your answer weather or not we should test and breed only these that pass.

I totally understand frustration some breeders will go through, were they deciding to choose our way. Been there. Done that.

We started in 1994 with two Presas we purchased in US. Back then we decided not to buy a puppy but rather go with tested adult, se we can see temperament and hips. Later we end up using only one of them – Panda Turf Bengal. She received OFA “good” and passed our Temperament Test. Her father, mother and brother were featured in the video ” Dog that Protect». AT the same time we purchased two males. Cotan de Alacant Bull from Spain and Turco from Germany. Cotan’s father was Spanish Champion Argual, and Turco was out of Stefan Baumgartner stock Stefan and Rudolph Severin were first and the only Europeans who seriously tested Canary Islands Presas for years and were only interested in working protection dogs. Cotan passed OFA and our minimum TT, but never made it to be a superior worker. Turco passed OFA and happened to be awesome working dog, definitely the RANK dog, which proved his genetics on the field as well as through his offspring’s. We were always looking for more dogs, but none was better then what we have at the time. Turco and Cotan were both bred with Turco’s offspring’s caring out his pride and working glory while Cotan’s pups in majority making nice pets.

Even here we see that temperament and working ability are highly inheritable.

We don’t use Cotan anymore.

Bengal was very stable dog with lack of prey drive. She was good enough for simple leash protection but was loosing interest quickly during more demanding off leash work. That is why she was never bred to Cotan, only to Turco with very good results. Later when Spanish judges came over to US we learned that she was of inappropriate for the breed “blue” color and even thought she never produced blue pups, we got her out of our breeding program. During these times we purchased several dogs from Canary Islands and Spain but none of them worked out due to a health or temperament problems.

We were lucky with two puppies we purchased from Peniate brothers in Grand Canaria. Duna and Batur both passed OFA, Temperament Test and inherited Nala’s (their mother) strong working character. Nala was one hell of a dog. She died in 2001.

While Duna made a great producer, using Batur for breeding wasn’t so successful and after couple of breeding we got him out of the program, scratching it out as another loss.

In 1998 we found a great Rank dog – Spanish Champion Kyma. She passed OFA, TT and was one of the best Presas we ever seen. Unfortunately Kyma was old and had problems getting pregnant. We only had two pups out of her and Batur. Her daughter Yara passed OFA. Temperament Test and a good worker with super prey drive and confidence.

We found Cona and Linda during our 2000 trip to Canary Islands. Both are awesome Rank dogs. Cona’s prey drive and ability to work is amazing. Linda is the toughest female I have tested so far. Both are very level headed and super social.

During same trip to the Islands we purchased a puppy out of Taro de Troikan de Takoronte. Taro is a great dog and was tested by us as well as his brother Spanish Champion Abedul, but Urbo never developed into Rank dog and will not be used by us in breeding, crossing this one out for experience as well.
Lucy is Stefan’s dog that we brought home from our trip to Germany in 2002. She is a daughter of famous Capitan, who Stefan imported from Grand Canaria. She has A-1 hips, Temperament Test, endurance test 25 K and was used as a wild boar hunter.

Definitely a Rank dog.

Canario and Tara both were tested by us in bite work and stability during our 2002 trip to Canary Islands. They definitely feet breed description to a T and we brought them home with us.

The most pride thought we have in dogs we produced. Look at Harif, Primo, Yara, Cheetah, Tianna, Tyra, Tannah, Viuga …and especially latest bunch.
All of them (who is old enough) were able to pass BST as well as some of them exceeding their parents in the working field! These are the dogs we will be using in the future and that is why I can proudly say that breeding Rank to a Rank will not be such an unreachable goal. We don’t have to play “blind ” as we were doing for years anymore. We can test them all here and through serious selection we will find these Rank dogs that will make all of us proud and will take quality of IAPC Presas to the next level.

Right now we are at the comfortable level when we can put together a team of several IAPC Presas against any highly prized rare breeds such as Corsi, Boerboels, Bandogs …on the protection field and have confidence to call them out without fear to be defeated.

And that is what brings joy to our lives and that is what our goals as breeders are.

Program like this will produce few Rank dogs but most of them will be placed as a solid proved family companion/protectors in the families who are seriously looking for such dog and understand necessity of proper development, fair treatment and professional training.

Some people getting confused by high expectations we put on our dogs. Often we hear question like ” Can your dogs be pets? ” Answer is they all are!
Talk to their owners and you will see that all these dogs are family members, not a kennel kept working machines. They all are social house dogs used as companion /protector. It is because of a testing we do dogs that pass are guaranteed to be of stable temperament. But why limit yourself to “just a pet? «.

Why not utilize full potential of your animal?

We go way beyond ” just pet” mentality. We want to make sure that our dogs are capable to handle any task owner ask them to do, be it family pet, protector, service dog, competition dog…. Anything that creators of the breed would be proud of.

Breeding with goals of bettering breed requires knowledge, space, funds and full time devotion. It’s highly unlikely to expect to get two or three dogs (that is what most people, who are not professionals in the dog’s related field can afford, considering living conditions, time …) and expect them to be great breeding materials.

If someone wants to be a breeder on the small scale with couple of dogs and no kennel expenses, be prepared to go through buying and placing many dogs, until you find one or two worth breeding.

If you want to do things right on professional scale, be prepared to take a loss in business up until you have built a good foundation, have enough time and kennel /training space as well as waist training experience or someone working with you, who can provide you with all your training and testing needs.


Alex Vyatkin of Red Star Kennel
June 2002

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