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Do Presa Canarios Make Good Family Pets?

My sister is a vet and she suggest I contact you with this question. My husband and I have a close friend who bred his Presa and had puppies. He was unable to get rid of all the puppies and is left with 2. A male and female. He is stuck with the reality that he now has to get rid of one. And wants us to take one. They are 2 years old but seem very friendly. Would this be a smart move? We have a 14 year old daughter. She has met both dogs and they seem very friendly but just unsure bc of their age. Can you give me your advice?

Thank you the Robinson’s

Hi “The Robinson’s”

The average Presa is a lot of a very serious breed dog. Typically more of a hobby than a pet. Females of the Molosser breeds (Presa Canario’s are from this family of dogs) are typically more malleable and less problematic than the males.

Presa’s are protection dogs, typically bond with their families quite well, very strongly even, which on the surface may seem great but a bonded to the family Presa and a bonded to the family Golden Retriever are typically going to react very differently when a socially active 14 year old girl has visitors from her peer group over. Particularly when their friends behave in a rambunctious manner which is of course to be expected.

I would have a lot of questions about any dog someone is finding a home for when they’ve kept them as long as this person has. For starters, if he has kept them for 2 years, what has changed that requires him finding them new homes? Where’s the training at? Is it real obedience or just the trick version of obedience? How do they react and respond to direction around things like small children, the elderly, thunderstorms, things they see walking by when looking out windows, how much time have they spent alone in yards every day, are they crate trained, have they ever been separated and left alone and much much more.

Another set of questions would be, do I have time to train – really train this dog? Most people don’t have the time to train, really train a Golden Retriever and with Presa Canario’s it’s really not an option as “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you” intervention may be required from time to time. I have no doubt you can do it, the problem is usually how much is there left over of the Robinson’s at the end of every day to get the training done and maintain it day to day. If you’re unsure as to what is involved download my ebook The Beautiful Balance – Dog Training with Nature’s Template as it will give you an excellent idea of what real training is and isn’t and what your overall commitment would be to do the job correctly.

Overall I can say that a Presa Canario is a great dogs in the right hands and all too often a gun with a brain in the wrong hands. I would take having a Presa in my home as seriously as having a fire arm. I have no objection to either but my own sons would be drilled to my satisfaction into understanding that a gun is not a toy and a Presa is not just a pet. Practically speaking, in my experience this is far easier to convey and more importantly to maintain over the long term, with a firearm, than a cuddly Presa Canario.

Please don’t get the impression I’m trying to talk you out of getting a Presa Canario. Might be a great dog for you. I just don’t want you to underestimate what you would be committing to.


John Wade

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12 thoughts on “Do Presa Canarios Make Good Family Pets?”

  1. We purchased a presa approx 16 years ago from a breeder just outside of london. I was always fascinated by the breed and loved the look and stance. A week after we brought the 18 week old female home, my mom insisted we have you come to the house and meet Lucy and view her interaction with my new born son and 8 year old mastiff. Your advice on the constant training and using common sense ie no baby in dog crate, no baby around dogs during feeding ect were obeyed and we had an incredible loyal best freind to our son as he grew up and an amazing partner for our other dog. I have to think the Hollywood sensationalized storied you hear about presa’s are a result of idiots training the dog to be aggressive and overly protective and antisocial. Thanks again John for your words of wisdom with Lucy.

    1. Hi Mitch,

      You’re very welcome and thanks for your input. I occasionally get some criticism from people that read some of my writings accusing me of being “against” breeds like the Presa Canario or Cane Corso (here is one of those misdirected accusations) but if what I write is read more carefully it’s obvious the truth is quite the opposite. It’s not enough to like the Presa Canario or the Cane Corso, you have to also respect the breed. One way to respect the breed is to take them seriously and take into account that owning one is not the same as owning a Golden Retriever. I’m delighted that your time with Lucy, your own Presa Canario was a positive experience and that I played a role in making it so.



  2. To be honest, I fell in love with this breed for the above mentioned qualities… Stance, appearance , and overall loyalty to the family unit. I had no idea what I had gotton myself (any my family) into until I met with John. The Ferrari vs mini van ideology was somewhat lost on me… it was a puppy, how bad could it be ? These dogs, as John explained to us, are “really” a gun with brain… no joke, their cute as can be when their small but that doesn’t last forever . It took 2 years for my female to realize my female was an alpha (doesn’t put up with sh*t) Don’t get me wrong both of my presa’s are amazing… but it took a lot of work and help ( thanks to John ) to get where we are know. Theses are powerful animals that need to know their place in the family dynamic. They will challenge you all the time, how you react in that moment will ultimately predict how your dogs will behave in general. I feel extremely lucky and blessed that I had the guidance of somebody who has had experience with this breed and was able too … for the lack of better term, smartened me the f*** up. I’m not trying to scare people off this breed, but you definitely need to know what your getting into. I’m not claiming to have it all figured out, but knowing what your getting into should be minimum, this dog breed will keep you on you toes, if you like a challenge, this breed is perfect, but if you want a passive, good around all people and other animals, this might not be the right breed for you. Please be honest with yourself, if you have the time for a dog breed that “WILL” command a lot of your time and respect , you won’t be disappointed . If your new to this breed , educate yourself… know what your getting into, this dog will be with you for their life time !

    1. Lisa Weddle

      So well said Shaune. We adopted my female Nala at 7 months old. A beautiful brown gold brindle and quite large for a female even then. I live on 12 acres with my 3 boys ages 11, 13, and 15 and while she was always watch full over us and the property since turning 2 she has really came in to her own. The are not a breed for anyone to own simply because they like the way their looks. The want to protect what is theirs and they excel at it. They are fun and mine loves to hike in the mountains. She will tolerate my boys rough housing but none of their friends can join in. She adores my 7 year though. She would walk through Hell for that little girl.

  3. Mrs Baljit Sahota

    My son purchased a presa puppy from a breeder and he is now 13 weeks old
    I stay with him most of the day and i have no clue about training this breed as it is a highly alpha breed
    Tbh i was not prepared for this
    He goes for puppy socialization classes to help use energy
    I need help and advice on training please
    Are barking devices any good to help with unruly behaviour or is he too young?

  4. Hi! Thanks for sharing this information, it’s been helpful. I recently got a rescue dog, she’s a 2 year old Presa Canario. I didn’t know anything about the breed, I got her because I’ve always owned a mastiff or a Rottweiler and she seemed like she had that sort of temperament. So far, she’s quiet, calm, gentle and easy going. After reading this, I was worried the other day when an off leash dog came running up to her and got in her face! She just wagged her tail and sniffed it. She loves my mom’s female Rottweiler and they play constantly. She’s even good with my parrot, who flies around freely. She’s shown zero signs of aggression. Is it possible that she will be a sweet dog? So far, I love her a lot, but this article has me really scared to be honest. We clicked right away so I thought I could give her a good home, have I made a mistake?

    1. Hi AG,

      Yes of course, it’s possible she’s a sweet dog and will always be a sweet dog. That doesn’t mean her genetics don’t count for anything or won’t kick in once she settles in. FWIW, people that say they’ve owned mastiffs usually are referring to English Mastiffs. The average English Mastiff is not remotely the same thing as a Presa Canario. One is a dump truck, the other is a dump truck with a Ferrari engine.

      Make sure in the honeymoon period of this rescue and forever afterward, you focus as much if not more on how well she listens to you as to how sweet she is. Don’t fear her, respect what she was bred to do, and train and live with her accordingly.


      John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade
      Embracing Science and Common Sense

  5. Deborah Dunafon

    Hi John
    Our daughter recently “gave” us a Presa Canario 3 year old female. She is very sweet with people. Well behaved and calm. We live in the country so we have plenty of room for her. Last year, the love of our lives, Alpo Chino, the CaneCorso died at 10 years old. So we were excited to get this smaller version of him. After having her for a few days, she started attacking our other two dogs, seriously. Right now we are keeping them apart and trying to reintroduce them slowly. I am getting our little guy neutered and Remi spayed ASAP. My husband is excellent with consistent training but he is worried about this situation. What do you think?

    1. Hi Deborah,

      She’ll be smaller due to gender, as opposed to her breed, as Cane Corso and Presa Canarios are similar in size. Is that what you meant? If not, is she perhaps crossed with something? Probably, doesn’t matter, but some breed genetics combined with indifferent breeding practices have led to low tolerance for cohabitation. What is the gender of the other dogs? Has she ever had a litter? When you say, “she started attacking our other two dogs, seriously”, it’s hard for me to gauge what seriously might entail? Were there injuries? They are going to have to work things out sooner or later, but just dumping them together without setting them and you up for a higher chance of success can be pretty risky. Send some short videos of how she is around you, and how she is around the other dogs, (or if safer, in their proximity), and I’ll create a response video with more detail. Here’s the link for sending video.

      – John Wade

  6. Hi John,

    We own a 5 1/2 year old Presa- he is not neutered. We will be welcoming our newborn son in a couple of weeks and I am just looking for some tips on how to integrate our beloved dog with our new baby? Dre (our dog) is a very sweet boy, and I think somehow he has sensed that there will soon be a new arrival! However as a new mother I will take all of the advice I can get. I am worried Dre may become jealous of the newborn as he has historically been the “big baby” of the house. We will obviously be taking all common sense precautions such as baby gates, and never leaving dog alone with baby. What else can we do for a smooth transition/introduction?
    Thanks so much!

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