Perico, Presa Canario of 1927

I was so entertained reading the “Origin of the pure arabian blood, legend and truths”, of the book, the Pure Arabian Blood, of Kristian Fenaux, when rang the phone. Hello, yes, I am Manuel Curtó. Who called me was a young Gallego (from Galicia), fan of the Perro de Presa Canario, to say me that in the magazine Aviòn Revue, Num. 218, August 2000, appears a Perro the Presa Canario of year 1927. It is worth that you obtains the magazine, insisted.

I do not remember the name of the Galician boy, who said me, also, that he had read my book, “The Perro de Presa Canario, its true origin”, that had requested me it by phone years ago. Dear friend,from this web site, I profit the occasion to thank you.
At the few days I went to La Laguna with the purpose of buying number 218 of the magazine AVIÓN REVUE. In the Lemus Bookstore, Paco Lemus said that they did not receive it, that I must go to kiosk…, I nonmemory the name to me of kiosk. The proprietor of kiosk said me that yes they received Avión Revue, but that the nº 218 was an edition of the last month, and the units that remained were gave back to the editorial, because that is a magazine that is sold little here, better will be than you request it directly to them. Thus I did it, I requested it by telephone to Madrid and at the few days I received it by mail. I begin to leaf through, many airplanes, old and modern, of all type, of very varied models, I do not understand nothing of airplanes, it had never been happened to me to think that magazines dedicated only and exclusively to this type of apparatuses could be published. Now, thinking about, I see it like the most logical thing of the world, how are not going away to publish magazines dedicated only and exclusively to the airplanes when half world travels already in airplane?
And, indeed, in page 81 they appear photographed, Hidalgo, in pyjama, near the impressive Perico, and around them a writing titled, Cordial ambient… Sometimes. Perico attacks Saint Exupéry, and thus says: In Cabo Juby always a great climate of cordiality existed, although some isolated accident accompanied it, as in the case of the aggression that underwent Saint Exupéry on the part of a dog of the Spanish garrison. The anecdote relates Hidalgo because he was who proposed the idea that, with the purpose of helping the nocturnal guard, a dog of presa of the Canary Islands was engaged in -to whom they baptized with the name of Perico- so that it frightened the marauders of the fort. Certain night, the aviators heard the barks of Perico mixed with shouts of SOS coming from the outside of the fort and when going with lights they found out that the dog had made “presa” in the shoulder of Saint Exupéry and it did not loosen in spite of requests and struggles of his owners. Finally Hidalgo struck the head of the animal with an airplane transom obtaining that the dog loosen to the unfortunate French aviator. Saint Exupéry only left the mishap with some bruises and a fort attack of nerves of which recovered days later.
This fact occurred in 1928. Important, very important this graphical document.
Very few photographies we know of that time. Of the presa canario dogs of principles of century XX until end of the Fifties; due to the shortage of photographies that have been able to compile, it is very difficult to form an objective idea respect to its morpho-phenotypical characteristics, considering, in addition, the amount of crossings that by those years were carried out in order to obtain dogs for the “pechadas” (fights).
Have not been few the students of spanish dogs of bull, of presa, alanos, chatos (flats) etc. And they have not been less the theses exposed respect to his origins, crossings, functions that fulfilled, and others. After long years of study, and reflection, from the origin, function, crossings, etc. of the perro de presa canario, one reaches the conclusion that is not possible its study if it is broken the contact with the peninsular ones. I mean that if in peninsular Spain there were “chatos” (flat) dogs of bull in the Canary Islands also, presas of straight nasal pipe and without prognatismo (undershot bite), evidently in the Canary Islands also, and the reason that it was thus does not have more than one explanation, that to the Canary Islands, was brought of peninsular Spain, as of peninsular Spain they were taken to the Balearic Islands.
And they were brought not only and exclusively once, in the first times of conquest and colonization, no, they were brought at different times, for the refreshment of the castes introduced in the first dates, and is logical to suppose that that continued happening until end of century XIX, or first decades of the XX.
The dog Perico, analyzed in detail, in the measurement that the photography allows it, could be classified very well within the group of the dogs of bull named “chatos” (flat dogs), (Spanish bulldogs for the English of century XIX) -of whom they took a good number to England for the reconstruction of their Bulldog-. Perico has somewhat convex head, nasal pipe short and turned up, tucked lips, and evidently prognato (undershut bite), the body big, massive, compact, straight forelegs, perfectly plumbed (as in the photography is seated nothing we can say of the hind legs, but without a doubt they would correspond with the fores ones).
At sight of the photography of Perico first that had happened to me was to make a comparative study with breeds that in principle could be compatible, as they are the English Bulldog of end of the XIX and first decades of the XX, and the Bullmastiff of the same times. Nothing, Perico, under my point of view, was a different dog, very different. Then we made use of our file, in which there are photographies, engravings, drawings, etc., of dogs of presa (Canary Islands-Spain) of different times, and we found two dogs (that we include as illustration) whose heads are extraordinarily similar to the one of Perico. First, appeared in the New Book of the Dog, Robert Leigthon (1911), and the second, represented in a bronze plate of 1625 found in Paris (exhibit in the British Museum).
The similarity of the cranial conformation, the characteristics as a whole of the head of Perico, with those two dogs is not product of the chance but of a kinship, to my way to see, unquestionable. This mean that the Spanish dog of presa commonly called chatos, Spanish
Bulldog for the English, conserved itself in the Canary Islands until end of the 30´s, probably final of the 40´s. What happened later?
In peninsular Spain all the dogs of presa (alanos, chatos, etc) were extinguished by the same dates more or less. That nobody tear the clothes if I say (basing me on the reality) that of the different castes of old alanos, presas, chatos, of the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands not remained sign some. The Present Ca de Bou and peninsulars alanos are an attempt of reconstruction of those breeds. Known it is that reconstructions never are such but new breeds, if is that they get to be such, to which are gave or adjudges them, the name of the disappears ones.
Written by Manuel Curtò Gracia


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