The True Perro de Presa Canario by Manuel Curto Gracia for Canidapresa

By Manuel Curto Gracia
Irema Curto kennels
Published in Canidapresa issue March – April 2000

The Canario (natural of Gran Canaria) lives on horseback between the pastoral and agricultural past and the modernity that imposes the industrial development, the tourism of masses, whit all what it mean and tolerates, and the television. It is rare to find a canarian family that does not have their roots in the rural environment, where the agriculture and the cattle raising were mainly of subsistence (leaving aside the exploitation of bananas that was and continue being, into the hands of few families). And there is the Canario of the coast, the inhabitant of the small towns, who traditionally has been fisherman, agriculturist and shepherd at the same time. The Canario love as anybody his land, his sea, his folclore, his traditions, pervaded of certain aboriginal feeling somewhat romantic, that has more to do with some ideological movements of the XVIII than with the present reality. The Canario like the goat and the dog, I talk about the canario of the countryside, or those that in some way are united to it, by familiar bonds more of the times, although live in the city, or environs, and their lifes now little has to do with the rural one of their ancestors. For that reason when we go to see Perros de Presa obligatorily we must go town in town, because it is in the towns where they are more present. I am not going to say now that in the important urban cities there are not Presas, there are, without a doubt.

The Canarian (man or woman) is rather timid in front of the visitor peninsular or foreign, good natured, simple, open, and ready to show his Presas when is asked to him if they are possible to be seen, and is not necessary to be surprised if in some occasion the lady of the house asks, with certain double sense, what happens, you want to buy them?

To the breeder (or owner) of a Presa Canario you do not go with sophistications and mystifications, because he knows very well the terrain he step and he is not an idiot, although is not very “put in letters”; do not speak him of genetics, selection, of functionality, nor of working Presas, do not say him the word “cynophilia”, therapy or pathology; just look to the Presas, watch, listen, and if you reach the conclusion that something of what you saw can interest you, does not hurry, because you can finish without dog. The canario, in addition to by money, sells by affection. It can happen that the Presa that did not sell to another one for two hundred thousand pesetas, would sell it to you (by affection) for the same amount.

I am not talking about, of course, of the breeders that have mounted their kennels to make money, those that speak of breed without scruple some, of shows, champions, of papers, of that they have exported Presas to such-and-such country. No. The true Presa Canario (as understand it some of us) is not, nor has been, in the kennels of these people.

The Presa Canario (real) has been, and is, into the hands of those anonymous people that have Presas because they like them, that breed them because they like them, because they love their Presas. Into the hands of these fans I have seen the best Presas, the best guardians, bravest. These “preseros” apply in the breeding and selection of their Presas the same methods that use for their milky goats. Neither more nor less. They would breed a goat that excels in the milky production to have some daughters (and some son also, for sire) with the hope that then be good milkmaids. This way, generation after generation.

The canary goats are of the more milkmaids of the world, and for that reason they have been exported to the Peninsula and other countries. These preseros are not governed by a written standard, no, as they either do not have it for the breeding and selection of their goats. If a Presa reunites the qualities that they think that a Presa must reunite to be considered a good dog, is mate with a Presa female that has, more or less, the same qualities. Thus generation after generation.

It seems opportune to say that these preseros nothing have to do with the preseros of years 30, 40, either 50, nor the Presas that were bred- all we know which is the origin of the Presa Canario that is breed today -, but their methods of breeding and selection yes keep certain analogy with those from those years, for that reason a good number of their Presas really has a strong temperament (we do not confuse temperament with crazy dogs, or is enough that others consider crazy the truely temperamental Presa). Of those Presas Canarios we had the opportunity to see several, Saturday 27 XI of 1999, of the hand of Jose Manuel Granados Guerra, (breeder of Gran Canaria) and of Clemente Reyes Santana (breeder and real expert of the “breed” – attention, I have put breed between quotes, and I hope that you will know why) -.
We saw Presas and presas, biggers and smaller, wider and less wider, the majority of brindle coat. Serious, of deep bark, severe glance, very brave in the guard and the defense, Presa that were never trained, and in all of them could be appreciated unmistakable the seal that transmits the crossing with the Perro de Ganado Majorero (Majorero Cattle dog), (this is the great difference that separates to the Presa of Tenerife of those of Gran Canaria, to those of Gran Canaria which they have not been imported from Tenerife, or have been crossed with those of Tenerife). To my way to see, the quality of the Presa of Gran Canaria is due, to a great extent, to the Perro de Ganado Majorero. The Presa of Gran Canaria (those that do not have to do with those of Tenerife) are the result of crossings (from second half of years 70´s) between different imported canine breeds, as already I have exposed repeatedly in some of my writings, and the Perro de Ganado Majorero. This canary breed is the one that gives cohesion and own identity to the Presa Canario. I say more, all those called Presa Canario that does not have an important presence in their genes of the Perro de Ganado Majorero are not true Perro de Presa Canario. In defense of whatever I am exposing, let me transcribe a paragraph of the official standard of the Presa Canario, approved and accredited by the Royal Canine Society of Spain and the FCI (Federation Cynologique International) that says thus: “Molossoid dog original of the islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria, in the Canary Archipelago (…). Was essentially the result of crossings of the Bardino or Majorero (Perro de Ganado Majorero)… and molosoides dogs taken to the islands. Its ardent temperament was inherited of its ancestor the Bardino or Majorero… These crossings gave origin to an ethnic group of Presas of intermediate type and predominant…. “

Therefore, what are all those Presas in whose genes the Perro de Ganado Majorero is not present? You can call them as you want, but not Presa Canarios. The immense majority of those (badly called) Presa Canario has “papers”, some in several generations, and as Presa Canarios appear, and thus they are sold. This fact, unquestionable, I have exposed it, and denounced publicly, throughout many years. It is more, with the same insistence I have questioned the validity of the judgments made (using the same standard) in the occasion of the initial registries and confirmations of breed in Gran Canaria and Tenerife, taking in consideration the extraordinary difference between both canine groups. The Presa Canario of Tenerife (those that do not have to do with those of Gran Canaria) are, essentially, the product of crossings between Great Dane, English Bulldog, Bullmmastiff – for obvious reasons, I want to make clear that the Presa Canario of IREMA CURTÓ KENNELS nothing has to do with this ethnic group, but with the one of Gran Canaria, in whose genetic inheritance the Perro de Ganado Majorero predominates -.

There is only one standard recognized and accredited by the Royal Canine Society of Spain, the one that says that the Presa Canario is the result of crossings between the Perro de Ganado Majorero and molossoids dogs taken (brought) to the islands. If we analyzed the genealogical trees of the Presa Canarios of Tenerife (included the rest of the Canary Islands, exported to the Peninsula, or to other countries), with some rare exception, the Perro de Ganado Majorero is not present. This fact takes us to question the validity of the present standard of the Presa Canario (recognized and accredited by the Real Sociedad Central Canina de España) at the time of judging both canine groups.

Like example of the exposed thing, I bring here several CHAMPIONS OF the BREED (champions of Spain), in whose genealogical tree the Perro de Ganado Majorero is not present: Barón (RRC 49650), from Tenerife; Diana (RRC 49648), from Tenerife; Urco (RRC 57620), from Tenerife; Catana (RRC57626), from Tenerife; Agarfa de Nivaria Sur (RRC59509), from Tenerife; Argual de Alacant-Bull (RRC57537), from Tenerife; Uga (RRC58948) from Tenerife; Verdugo (RRC59401), from Tenerife; Barón II (RRC59449), from Tenerife; Tamarán (RRC58945), from Tenerife; Bella (RRC61392), from Tenerife; Anaga, (RRC58786), from Tenerife; Diana de los Cardones (RRC61646) from Tenerife; Mencey (RRC67189), from Tenerife; Abedul de Troycán (RRC60467), from Tenerife; Tamara de Taguluche (RRC64329), origins from Tenerife; Carmina-Burana de Camarmeña (RRC67085), origins from Tenerife.

Guayacán del Lomito de la Suerte, Brosco, and Kyma, are not included in the list because I do not know the complete genealogical tree in the last six generations, and are of Gran Canaria origin. Also, they are the champions of monographic who have not been champions of Spain, which they are: Garoe (RRC52511), of Tenerife; Linda (RRC52754), of Tenerife; Sancocho (RRC52528), of Tenerife; Troika (RRC51315), of Tenerife; Enzo (RRC55445), of Tenerife; Tarka (RRC55881), of Tenerife; Tacher (RRC59405), of Tenerife; Bruco (RRC65727), of Tenerife.

With these data, somebody can continue doubting the marginalization that the fanciers of Gran Canaria has been object on the part of the Club Español del Presa Canario?

These champions (in whom the Perro de Ganado Majorero is not present) belong to the ethnic group of Tenerife in several generations. The profane in the subject will ask himself why as much champion of Tenerife. The answer is clear, in Tenerife there is the seat of the Club Español del Presa Canario, whose director has been compose, invariably, of breeders of Tenerife. The occasions in which I have denounced this reality by means of the local press and specialized magazines have not been few, but has not served to nothing. In Gran Canaria were are breed the best presas, with a most important genetic part of the Perro de Ganado Majorero, from towards middle of the 70 ´s to the present time, but the official club has ignored them (year after year). From the foundation of the CEPRC, seeing the marginalization which was put over them, the great majority of the fans and breeders of Gran Canaria did not want to know absolutely nothing of the officiality. The monographic exhibitions, and special of the breed, have been organized by and for the official club, that is to say, for benefit of their unconditional affiliated directors. Somebody will be able to object me (already they have done it) that in Gran Canaria there are important breeders of Presa Canarios, and that all those that they have wanted have been well received by the official club. I, to my time, say them that it is completely false. In Gran Canaria there is a small group of breeders of presas that are aligned with the official club -and that breed with the dogs from Tenerife -but that absolutely represent the breeding and selection that in that island practice the immense majority, that for the reasons that have exposed are of backs to the officiality.

The recognition of the Presa Canario on the part of the FCI will arrive (I think that it will arrive) in the next millenium, and it seems very well to me that that happens, because if we consider it in financial terms, as of that moment we will sell more presas and at higher prices, but what presas?

There has been one who has said that the Presa Canario is a bandog. I will say yes, that all those “Presa Canarios” that does not have an important genetic base of Perro de Ganado Majorero are indeed, bandogs.-although to be right with the meaning (modern) of word BANDOG it is necessary to say that bandog is that dog son of English or Neopolitan Mastiff with American Pit Bull Terrier- But is that bad? It is neither bad nor good, IT IS. Or rather, it is not the Presa Canario that describes the standard, the same standard that appeared to the FCI for its official recognition.

For who is not put in canary canine breeds, I will say him that the Perro de Ganado Majorero is a direct descendant of the cattle dogs introduced from the Iberian Peninsula immediately after beginning the conquest of the Canary Islands, by 1402. I mean that, we are speaking of a canine breed with more than 500 years of existence in the Canary Islands.

It is a “lupomastinoide” of average size, very rustic, magnificent, very clever, with a proverbial instinct, brave in the guard as there is no another one. At the moment is in true danger of extinction, like breed, due to the lack of interest that has been coming (for several decades) on the part of the native population.

By Manuel Curto Gracia
Irema Curto kennels
Published in Canidapresa issue March – April 2000

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