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A large breed of Guard Dog from the Canary Islands. Its history is somewhat mysterious. It is possible that the dog was introduced to the islands as early as 50 BC, as evidenced by reports from visitors from the kingdom of Mauretania. However, when French sailors 'conquer'ed the islands in the early 15th century, the only dog skulls that have been found from the time have been relatively small. When Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they most likely brought along their own large guard dogs that later became known as 'Presa Canario's for a couple of centuries. Unfortunately, this breed seemed to cause extensive damage to cattle as well as protect it, and either became extinct, or was folded into the Perro de Ganado Majorero breed. Yet another 'Presa Canario' dates from the turn of the 20th Century, and was created by mixing the Bulldog, the Great Dane, and the Bull Terrier with indiginous breeds. These dogs were very aggressive, and were mainly bred for fighting. This strain all but disappeared after dogfighting was outlawed in the 1940s.

The dog now known as the Presa Canario is the product of efforts of breeders in the 1970s to resurrect the strain by breeding the remaining Canario fighting dogs with large English dogs. The result is a big, stocky dog that whose appearance is best described as a calico Great Dane. Average height is about 2 feet, and average weight is 100-125 lbs for males, 88-110 lbs for females. The bark is low, loud, and threatening. Presa Canarios are bred to have a strong temperament, and be aggressive towards strangers. They are also reputed to be very intelligent.

One variant of the Presa Canario is a crossbreed of the 'traditional' line (which is still being developed) with the larger Fila Brasileiro. Fila-Presas are generally bad news, as they combine the strength and aggressiveness of the Fila with the intelligence and agressivenesss of the Presa, resulting in a breed that tends to be too dangerous for anything other than dogfighting. Breeding this kind of dog has been outlawed in Spain, and in light of a recent mauling death of a San Francisco woman by Presa dogs that were probably Presa-Filas, will probably soon be outlawed in the United States as well.

Thanks to http://www.bush.to/presa/ for breed information and history, and abcnews.com for the current events tie-in.