Frequently Asked Questions

1What is a Dogo Canario?
The Dogo Canario is a molossoid dog native to the Canary Islands. These powerful dogs resulted from crossings of native perros de presa or presa de la tierra and dogs, especially mastiffs and bulldogs, brought to the islands by the British settlers. Also included into the original foundation of the dogs is the Bardino Majorero, a shepherding dog native to the island of Fuerteventura. It has always been used as a cattle dog and guardian.
2What do they look like?
The Dogo Canario is a dog of medium size. It is mesomorphoric (trunk of body longer than height at the withers), and has a large cuboid shaped head. It is a powerful and well muscled dog that is clearly of mastiff influences. The chest is wide and deep. Lack of chest width is a serious fault, lack of depth is a disqualifying one. Forequarters are strong and straight with ample bone and cat feet. Hindquarters are well muscled with slight angulation and with low hocks. The tail is wide set at the base, tapering to a point. In action raises like a saber, but is generally carried straight out while moving. The movement is single tracking.
3What is the correct size?
The standard size is 60-64 centimeters (23.5-25 inches) with a minimum weight of 50kg (110 lbs) for a male, and 55-60 centimeters (21.5-23.5 inches) with a minimum weight of 40kg (88 lbs) for a female. Allowances of up to 1 centimeter are acceptable. Weight must be in proportion to height. Larger sizes should be discarded as neither functional nor characteristic. We must not promote a very big animal. It must be functional for what is was created for, companion to the farmer, cattle dog, and excellent guardian. These tasks require an agile and very powerful dog of medium size. Larger sizes may look more impressive, but are not functional animals. The Dogo Canario was first and foremost a working dog and today's breeders must not forget that.
4What are the proper colors?
The Dogo Canario comes in only 2 acceptable colors.....fawn and brindle. Fawn may range from a very light blonde, sometimes referred to as grey fawn to a deep rich sand fawn, called golden or red fawn. Brindles come in the same fawn shades with black striping of more or less intensity. From the very heavily brindles, often called black brindles or "reverse brindled" to dogs of almost entirely fawn coats with very minimal striping, sometimes called "tiger brindles". The dogs MUST have a black mask, no matter what the coat color. The mask should reach to just below the eyes, but not extend over them. The eyes should also have black pigmentation around them, but that should be clearly separate from the mask on the muzzle. Most specimens have white markings. They can appear on the chest, base of the neck, back feet and toes but these should be kept to a minimum. Black was an acceptable color in the breed in the past. It was never really favored and few perpetuated this color. While black dogs do still exist, their color is no longer allowed by the standard. Do not be lured into believing this is a "rare or exotic" color of the dog. It is only rare because it is not allowed, and few breeders strive to breed for disqualifications. The breed has NEVER come in the colors commonly referred to as 'blue" or 'blue brindle". This is not the same thing that grey refers to in the standard. Grey is a shade of fawn that is very light blonde, which is silver like in appearance. Blue refers to the steel grey color that is common (and acceptable) in such breeds as the Neapolitan Mastiff, Great Dane and American Staffordshire Terrier. A dog of this coloration is a mixed blood dog, probably of one of the aforementioned breeds. This coloration also lacks the required black mask and other black pigmentation of the eye rims, nose and mouth lining. People who breed with dogs of this color may tell you that it is a true color of the breed, just not "favored". This is false!!! It has never existed in the breed.
5What are the health concerns?
Due to the low number of dogs in the US and even lower number of dogs tested for hereditary defects, there is not many know aliments specific to this breed. Canine Hip Dysplasia is probably the most widely know health concern to affect this breed, despite past claims that it does not. CHD is a degenerative joint disease known to have a hereditary base. The only way to control this is by screening all breeding dogs and all of their offspring. The DCCA is strongly advocating all dogs to be certified "phenotypically" normal by the OFA, or other techniques such as PennHip. More people need to get involved in screening their breeding dogs. For further information on Canine Hip Dysplasia and a listing of OFA certified dogs, please visit the OFA website. Also reported in the breed is panosteoitis, knee injuries as well as congenital problems including patellar luxation and patellar evulsions, skin cysts, epilepsy and demodecosis. Fur further information on these health conditions please visit our page on Health Issues.
6What is the temperament?
The Dogo Canario is a dog of powerful appearance with a severe expression. His look should denote strength and courage. The dog is a noble breed of great confidence and self security. The dog is never excessively aggressive. An overly aggressive animal is not one of "strong temperament" but one that is unbalanced and insecure. This is neither typical or desirable in the breed. The breed is gentle and affectionate with his family, including children. He should always be tolerant and gentle with them. A dog that shows aggression towards children is a dog of insecurity and unstable character. The Spanish standard states "desconfiado" which literally translates to "distrustful, wary or suspicious". It has been translated by some as "unfriendly", but mistakenly interpreted as "aggressiveness". The best English description of this temperament is aloof or reserved. Aloof is also often mistaken for unfriendliness or aggressiveness. Aloofness in an animal is best described as indifference. The dog acknowledges your presence, but neither reacts positively or negatively towards you. This is the correct description of the Dogo Canario. Upon meeting a stranger, the dog should be watchful and "suspicious", ever keeping his eye out for trouble, but should not react with aggression to a situation not warranted. The dog should accept friendly strangers and even petting from them, but typically show no real enthusiasm for it, never backing away fearfully or reacting aggressively to a friendly person. The Dogo Canario does not have the instant dislike of strangers or "ojeriza" that is associated with the Fila Brasilerio breed. In the Dogo Canario, this atypical and is associated with an insecure and unbalanced dog. For further information on temperament, please visit our Behavior & Training section.
7 What registries accept the breed?
The breed was recognized by the Real Sociedad Canina de Espana, in it's country of origin of Spain in 1982. In June 2001 it was officially recognized by the FCI as a provisional breed for 10 years. This means that during this time, the breed will be closely watched to keep certain of it's continued growth. The dogs may now be registered in any FCI member country and may compete for National and World Championships. They may not compete for the International Champion title until 2011. The United States in not a member of FCI, but the commonwealth of Puerto Rico is. The DCCA endorses registration with the Federacion Canofila de Puerto Rico. PO Box 13898 San Juan, PR 00908-3898. In preparation for future advancement of the breed, the Dogo Canario Club of America opened it's own Stud Books in 2003. For additional information on how to register your dog with the DCCA please visit our Registry Information. There are numerous "American Registries" that accept the Dogo Canario with out any official documentation. Any dog that is claimed to be a Dogo Canario is issued papers and offspring of such dogs are automatically registered. The DCCA does not endorse or accept papers from any of these organizations.
8Is the breed AKC recognized?
No. At this time the Dogo Canario is not given any recognition by the American Kennel Club. Some dogs in the US are registered with the Foundation Stock Service of the AKC. This is a record keeping service that the AKC provides to US rare breed clubs or individuals that may desire future AKC recognition and does not indicate in any way that the dogs are given any AKC privileges. Do not be mislead by those who advertise AKC registered when what they actually have is FSS registration. AKC FSS pedigrees are not accepted by FCI.
9 What is FCI and FIC? Are they the same thing?
No, they are not one in the same. The FCI stands for Federation Cynologique Internationale This is a world canine organization that is comprised of many member countries throughout Europe, Asia and South and Central America. The FCI is not a registration body, but rather a governing body that recognizes one official kennel club from each of it's member countries. The FCI protects and translates the breed standards, record results of international shows and working trials, maintain listings of international judges and set forth rules for international shows and champion titles. For more information on them, visit their website at The FIC stands for Federation of International Canines. The name is misleading as it is an American based registry that accepts and registers many breeds in the United States. Their pedigrees are not accepted internationally, and at this point in time are even declined by many US organizations.
10What is conformacion/registro?
Conformacion is for those dogs born of RRC registered parents. The litter is registered at birth and each puppy is given a name and registration number. Before that dog is eligible for breeding or dog show entries into the CAC (champion certificate class or "open") the dog must pass conformacion. This is a brief examination by a specialist judge to determine the dog's suitability for breeding. Most registered dogs pass this class without incident. Each dog is evaluated and it's strengths and faults pointed out to the owner, so that he/she can make better educated breeding decisions. Registro is the "open book" class where dog of unknown (or unregistered) pedigree can be presented to a specialist judge to ask for registration papers. If in the opinion of the judge a dog is a true Dogo Canario and an asset to the genetic pool, he/she will be issued proper RRC papers. If the dog is not passed, it is considered not to be a Dogo Canario by any official organization. This class is much more stringent than conformacion and many dogs do not pass. Because of the background not being officially documented, the dogs are put through a much more rigorous inspection. The Dogo Canario Club of America continues conformation in the United States and it is a requirement to earning a championship title. Initial Registration is available to dogs not previously registered in an FCI member country or with the DCCA. Additional information can be found in our Registry Section.
11Is the Dogo Canario a fighting breed?
No. NO, NO!!! The Dogo Canario is not a fighting breed. It is a breed that can fight, and can fight well when necessary, but dog fighting was not the purpose behind this breed. There is a brief point in their history, which has been glorified by some, that the dog was involved in this activity, as most molosser dogs were. The Dogo Canario was developed by Canarian farmers to be a farm dog and guardian. He was occasionally used for fights that were for entertainment at local fiestas. But the breeding and selection of these dogs purely for fighting abilities was never done.
12Do they get along with other animals?
This depends largely on the animals involved. The Dogo Canario is strong character and dominant animal. Most of them do not get along well with another of the same sex and same dominant personality. Males and females generally do fine together. They may have minor scuffles from time to time, as all dogs will, but as a general rule do not fight. The breed also generally gets along well with less dominant dogs. Many Dogos Canario peacefully exist in households with smaller dogs or other non dominate breeds, even of the same sex. The Dogo should not show aggression towards a puppy. This is a dog that lacks confidence, in that he sees a puppy as a threat. This in neither typical or desirable behavior of the breed. As the Dogo is a confident dog, he can often be seen taking "abuse" from a younger animal. Many people would lead you to believe this older animal is "soft" or "cowardly", but in truth, he is displaying his self security and in the process in boosting the confidence of that younger animal. A parental correction from an adult to a pup should not be viewed as aggressive behavior. Too many people believe that the Dogo is an aggressive animal that cannot get along with any other dogs. This is just not true. They can and do live with other dogs, even other Dogos peacefully. You must always use caution and common sense when introducing a Dogo Canario into a household with other animals. Dogs of opposite sex are the best choice to get along. Adults of the same sex will sometimes result in problems, especially between two dominant males. This depends greatly on the individual dog's personality and the amount of time the owner spends working with him. Training and socialization are the key factors. No breeder can answer this with absolute certainty. Use caution when dealing with a breeder who will tell you that a Dogo Canario will never fight. And in the same regard tells you they always will fight. Many Dogos also live peacefully in the same household with cats and other small animals. As well as those that live daily with horses and other farm animals. This also, of course, requires the same training and socializing to them as with dog to dog introduction.
13Do they make good pets?
This depends on what you consider a good pet for you. The Dogo Canario makes an exceptional pet for the right home. They are obedient, loyal and bond very strongly with their owners. They thrive on the attention of their human families. They are a dominant breed and do require that the owners be as assertive as they are. This does not mean that you must strong arm your dog into submission, but rather that you must be able to set firm limitations on your dogs and earn their respect. The Dogo is NOT a good dog for a submissive family that will allow the dog to rule the household. Nor are they a good choice that expects a pack of dogs to live in total harmony in one home. Some of them to require supervision around other animals.
14Do they make good guardians?
The Dogo Canario makes an exceptional home guardian breed. They are naturally territorial, watchful of strangers, close bonding with their families and confident in themselves. A "watchdog" or "guardian" dog is very different from having "personal protection". This is a dog that is highly trained in protection of his owner(s). While most Dogo Canario can successfully become personal protection dogs, they are not all born equally. If this is what you are expecting of your dog, the we highly suggest consulting a professional trainer in your area.
15How do I find a breeder?
There are several resources to finding a good breeder. The DCCA has a listing of it's breeders. All DCCA breeders are required to sign and adhere to our Code Of Ethics. You can also use the internet to search for and contact reputable breeders. You will find many breeders throughout the USA, Spain and other countries. The DCCA recommends that foreign breeders be members of the Club Española del Dogo Canario or of their country's nationally recognized breed club for the Dogo Canario. No warranties on breeders are expressed or implied. You can often meet breeders and their dogs at dog shows or working trials. Generally you will meet the breeders finest animals at these events. This gives you an opportunity to see several specimens of the breed competing together, often from several different breeders. You can take some time to talk with each owner there and get their prospective on owning this breed. You can also find breeder listings in national dog magazines. But remember that this is no indication of quality. Magazines accept advertisements from anyone. The last 2 places you can look for a breeder is Pet Stores and Local Newspapers. The DCCA does NOT recommend finding your Dogo Canario through these sources. No reputable breeder will sell his/her dogs through pet stores. A reputable breeder CARES where he/she sends a dog to. Most reputable breeders do NOT advertise in local papers. Most have a well known reputation and do not need to offer dogs for sale through this means. Newspaper ads are usually Back Yard Breeders that have no other means to advertise and sell their dogs.
16 What is the difference between Presa Canario and Dogo Canario?
Absolutely nothing!!! Upon acceptance by the FCI, the breed known as the Presa Canario to most is now known internationally as the Dogo Canario. This is simply a name change on paper and has little meaning to the dog itself. There will be some that will try to seize this opportunity to continue to produce atypical dogs in the name of the 'original' Presa Canario, and try to convince people that it is a different breed from the Dogo Canario. This is totally false and don't be mislead by this claim.