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Is the Presa Canario the right breed for you?

With a society heavily centered around social platforms there has been a rising popularity in the Presa Canario and other similar molossoid and working dog breeds. Before purchasing ANY dog breed, you should be asking yourself whether it is a good fit for you and your family. The Presa Canario was never a common breed. It was considered rare and you would often have to be put on a waiting list to purchase from reputable breeders. In the recent years, the rise in popularity has significantly increased the demand for the Presa and subsequently many have decided to become breeders. Sadly what this has meant for the breed is a severe decrease in quality, increase in health and temperament issues and now an increase in Presas within the shelter system. New owners have failed to research the breed and are purchasing from breeders who are not screening or educating buyers on what to expect. Once the puppy phase ends or the behavioural problems begin, they’re giving their dogs up to the shelter (Non-reputable breeders will not take their dogs back).

What we need to remember is that the Presa Canario was originally a catch dog. Bred to catch and hold cattle and pigs. It is a guardian/working dog breed and is BRED to guard and protect its territory and family. It is a powerful dog that is often suspicious and aloof towards strangers and can be dog aggressive, especially with the same sex. This does not mean every Presa will be dog aggressive but it IS a breed trait and therefore CAN be something we see, especially at maturity. Below are some pointers to consider if you think you may want a Presa Canario:

· If you are looking for a dog to take to the dog park, this would not be a recommended breed. Why? Because dog parks are riddled with unruly, untrained, disrespectful dogs that run rampant and cause conflict. Owners are often unaware of dog communication and warning signs, signs of stress or conflict until it’s too late. Many Presas won’t handle conflict well (especially at maturity) and often won’t back down. Puppies may be negatively imprinted by bad experiences at the dog park that could lead to further behavioural issues down the road. Presas can do serious damage, even kill, when fighting. Especially with smaller dogs. As an alternative to dog parks you could consider meeting with small groups of dogs that you know are respectful, friendly and that mesh well with your Presa.

· If you’re looking for a dog who will welcome any and all strangers / friends into your home, this would not be a recommended breed. You need to be prepared to leash or kennel your dog if they decide not to allow somebody in your home. We can manage and train them to the best of our ability but we cannot fault them for exhibiting genetic traits (aloofness towards strangers and territorial aggression).

· If you have a very laid back, passive personality type and lack the ability to show leadership and guidance, this would not be a recommended breed. Presas are extremely smart, strong-willed and versatile and they require consistent structure and training to prevent behavioural issues from arising. You can’t get a Presa and not train it. You need to be willing to put in the work and time. There are many “easier” breeds that you may want to consider.

· If you’re considering a Presa because it looks mean and you think it will bite people – think again. Only a small percentage of dogs (any breed) will actually bite without formal training. If you’re looking for a personal protection dog and you want to consider a Presa, you should consult with a breeder about selecting a puppy with the appropriate qualities and set your puppy up with a professional trainer from the ground up. Do your research on the breeder, parents of the puppy, pedigree, etc. Don’t just buy based on hear say or Instagram photos of biting dogs. Remember that a dog that participates in bitesport (IGP/IPO, French Ring, PSA, Mondioring) is playing a game. Like other performance sports, they’re playing in drive. Just because the dog is activated in prey/defense at your training club does not mean that dog will protect you when you’re robbed on the street. Just because the parents participate in bitesport doesn’t mean your puppy will even have the same desire or drive. Not to say that it can’t or won’t; just that in majority of cases more formal training for personal protection work will be required. It definitely is possible to have a Presa Canario as a PPD but firstly finding the right breeder and secondly finding the appropriate puppy with the appropriate temperament is crucial.

· Presas will bark. They will want to alert you to strangers near your property or guests at your door. This is a genetic trait/quality. If you want a dog that never barks, not a recommended breed.

· This may surprise you but Presas are extremely athletic and energetic. They require a lot of stimulation, both physically and mentally. They do have an “off-switch” (the ability to calm down and rest inside the home) as long as their needs are met. If you want a dog you can just let outside in the yard to potty and bring back inside without doing much more, you could run into issues. My own Presas will run with the 4-Wheeler and have reached speeds upwards of 30MPH. They are extremely fit and active animals. They swim, hike, run, play, chase, fetch, herd and hunt. They are classified as a working breed. Working breeds need mental and physical stimulation. Border collies will want to herd, beagles will want to sniff, huskies will want to pull and enjoy being in the snow etc. We can’t just put them outside as lawn ornaments or inside as couch warmers and expect that to be enough. If that is what you’re looking for this would not be a recommended breed.

· Presas are generally not recommended for first time dog owners. It’s not to say they can’t work out but the owners need to be aware of what they can expect, what training is involved and a puppy with an appropriate temperament should be chosen by your breeder.

In conclusion, just because you see a dog breed looking fancy on social media, in a movie or a magazine because of its actions, its coloring or because it’s gone viral; don’t go out and get one for that reason. Do you research. Consider the breed temperament and your lifestyle and make an educated decision based on that information.

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