Originally developed by crossing the old European bulldogges, bullterriers, bandogges and mastiffs brought by the Spanish conquerors with the local island dogs, among them the ancient Bardino Majorero, this powerful new breed was used for herding cattle, guarding property and even for exterminating stray cats and dogs.
The old-type Presa Canario was also a valued local fighting dog, but was being regularly defetead when matched against the more tenacious and tireless imported bull-terrier breeds, inspiring numerous new crossings throughout history, intended to constantly improve its pit-fighting qualities. The years that followed WW2 introduced the popular European breeds to the Canary Islands, like the German Shepherd Dog, Rottweilers and Neapolitan Mastiffs, among many others. This resulted in driving the Perro de Presa Canario to near-extinction.
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The Presa did have a brief period in dog fighting. It is believed to be because the old farmers after working their farms got bored and didn't have much else to do they began dog fighting. That soon became a popular form of entertainment. Some breeders began to add some pit bulls into their dogs. In addition to popular breeds like the German Shepherd , Rottweiler etc dog fighting was outlawed. This is what led to the almost extinction of the breed. There were farmers that continued to preserve their line of Presa canarios to use as they always had as farm utility dogs. The name Perro de Presa Canario is translated as catch dog. The dogs owned by the few farmers were later used as the foundation of dogs used to recreated the breed. Of course the island farmers weren't the bet at keeping records. A parent group was formed an a registry to keep records.