Written by David Espinoza
Yes, it seems like yesterday that the FCI decided to go with the name "Dogo Canario" and change the real standard of 1989. When you understand the history and events that led to this event it was no surprise.
The line of division between the Perro de Presa Canario and the Dogo Canario had really been drawn years earlier.
When ever you read a history , be it Manuel Curto, Bethencourt, Clemente Reyes Santana, or anyone else, there are places these histories are actually in agreement. Imagine that. One of the issues that there is consensus is that the breeders in Las Palmas had a totally different idea what a Perro de Presa Canario should be.
The traditional Las Palmas breeders and their families wanted a dog that represented the dogs that they grew up with. Remember these dogs were not "Perros de Presa " because of what they looked like, the were "Perros de Presa" for what they did. The reason the Breeders in Gran Canaria supported
a variety of coat colors was the working dogs that they dealt with had these coat colors. To eliminate the coats of white markings and the black color for dog fancy and whimsy was sinful to the Traditional Canarian who used dogs to accomplish tasks.
The argument , between the club ( exhibition, dog show, CEPC) breeders and the traditional ( working) breeders in Gran Canaria , prior to adopting the standard of 1989 ,was fierce. Prior to 1989 the tradional breeders, were using dogs that had nothing to do with the dogs of the CEPC. They were using dogs steeped in the tradition and actually used to hold the cattle, dispatch wild dogs, and protect goat herds.
When the standard was adopted in 1989 it was the traditional breeders that won. The RSCE gave them a victory. Though the amount of white allowed in the coat was reduced , the different coat patterns, white blazes, white "collars" , white "socks" , etc remained intact. The color back was accepted. Al these were based on traditional coat colors and patterns of the actual, real, traditiona, authentic Perro de Presa Canario.
The decision of the FCI to eliminate traditional coats and change the name was simply the FCI giving the Club Breeders ( show breeders, the CEPC)
what they wanted in 1989. Not having any interest at all in working attributes they listened to the voices of of the ignorant fashion and fancy breeders.
The FCI standard and name was a temporary, stop gap, measure, it was made temporary to allow them time to review the decision and survey the world of the Canary Island dog.
When the FCI announced their watered down version of the Presa Canario, changed its name, and changed the standard (to fit dog their dog show mentality) many fans of the breed were simply amazed, livid ,and disappointed. How could a entity such as the FCI chage the name of a breed known for generations ? How could they change what coat colors were acceptable and had been a part of traditonal "Perros de Presa" forever ?
Our knee jerk reaction here, at El Presa, was to protest, by way of the petition. Our , online petition grew , over time and was to be presented prior to the FCI prior to the permanent adoption of the new name and standard.
Then we had a change of heart, What would be the outcome if they heard our plea ? Keep the name, keep the coat colors, keep the patterns. After much discussion Paolo and I decided the best thing to happen would be for the Name change, the standard changes, and the marginalization and castration of a traditional working breed by dog show enthusiasts, to stay in place.
Why ? We figured that the line in the sand drawn in 1989 should become more apparent, it should be more "formalized" . The two philosophies were opposed from the beginning .The purpose of one side was to perpetuate a working breed, the purpose of the other was to create a hoax, an illusion, a shadow, of the traditional working molosser of the Canary Islands.
There are some who insist the Dogo Canario and the Presa Canario are the same breed. Those of us familiar with the landscape know, there a Presa Canarios, on paper, as Dogo Canarios. We know due to rules and protocol this must be the case in some countries. We all know there are a few dogs of the Dog show club lines that have some working ability. We Know there are some long pedigreed, authentic Presa Canario dogs that do not have the drive , or , intensity for working. We know there are some hard core, working Perros de Presa Canario that are more "typical" and "correct" than many "Champion Dogo Canarios'. We are, thankfully, seeing more of this type all the time.
What do we think in the face of all this seemed contradiction and confusion ? We think it best the FCI keeps the dogo Canario a specific, seperate, breed. Many have said the Presa Canario, Dogo Canario debate is pointless to argue. I agree, there is no arguement. The Perro de Presa Canario and the Dogo Canario are two different breeds, developed for different purposes, by different people, using different breeds. Yes, they do overlap and there are exceptions but these intersections are few and far between when the facts are examined and laid out.
There are some that argue that there is no need for working dogs on the Islands anymore. There are fewer goats and cattle, wild dogs to be killed, there is no need for a guardian. They reach a conclusion since there is not the need of yesterday it is ok to take the ability away, its ok to persue the breed based on appearance.
I disagree, I think if the Presa Canario is to move forward as a legitimate working breed, which it is, the traits and drives that made a "Canarian catch dog" are the traits that will save it. What better BSL fighter is there than a Perro de Presa Canrio, well trained and obedient that can be observed by the public ? What better way to see that these dogs are the "GOOD GUYS" than to see them participating in working trials, obedience trials, dock jumping competitions, Shutzhund excercises, or whatever. Yes there will always be the immature little puke that is attracted to the breed because they want a "bad ass dog" , their neighbor has a dog that "needs a lesson taugh "t, and other rot. They need to be put in check by the community at large. This mentality has the potential to hurt the breed to the point they cannot be owned. ITS HAPPENING.
Those of you who come here to look for a breeder, those of you who write PMs asking for advice, need to know. We are breed enthusiasts. We care about the future of the breed and the perception of this breed. Responsible ownership is not an option, it is mandatory. Training, in at least, obedience, is a must. Not because these dogs are vicious, not because they are mean , or "Bad ass' , but because they are large and enthusiastic, and they will not fail to protect themselves from a perceived threat. When that door is accidentally left open you need to be able to call them back ( recall) to you, reliably, every time. When they jump up in their excitement, you need to order them to stop ( better yet never do it) . You need to be in control of your dog AT ALL TIMES. Obedience is control.
Obedience is easier taught to dogs with good drive. We must preserve all the traits of the legitimate Canary dog. Though they may not all be used in the traditional task. They will make a dog that is eager and easier to train.