History and origin of the breed
Ca de Bou
The Ca de Bou is an ancient molossian type of dog whose existence dates back to the 11th century. For centuries, this breed of courageous dogs that has existed in Spain and in Mallorca has remained pure because of the isolation of the islands. Bull fighting was one of the most if not the most popular sport in Spain. The Ca de Bou has earned the title “the fighting dogs of the islands” because these very brave and extremely agile dogs are usually seen in bull rings being used to distract the bull to rescue a toreador. During the British reign, bull baiting was introduced by the English to the islands. These dogs have proven their prowess in baiting bulls. The Ca de Bou has also excelled in dog fighting, a sport that was popular during that time. Bull baiting was banned in Spain in 1883. In 1940, dog fighting was also banned. After dogfights were banned, the number of dogs that were bred decreased. Some breeders of the mainland safed the breed from extintion.
However, Ca de Bou enthusiasts have utilized this outstanding breed for other purposes. Because of the combative personality as well as the intimidating appearance, the dog has become dependable guard dogs. These dogs were also used as farm dogs and kept by butchers. While butchers are preparing to kill the bull, the dog would hold the bull at bay.
Perro Dogo Mallorquin is also known and recognized by the F.C.I. Although the famine of 1920s to 1930s has greatly affected the breed, enthusiasts have managed to register the Cao de Bou in the Spanish stud book in 1923. In 1928, the first official entry was made. In 1929, the dog was shown for the first time at a Barcelona dog show. Very few pure specimens were left by 1964 but the breed standard that was created in 1946 was finally recognized by FCI in 1964. In the 80s, crossing the remaining specimens with the Ca de Bestiar revived the breed.
Breed population however is very low. In spite of being an ancient breed, this outstanding beautiful breed is considered to be a rare breed of dogs. However, the future looks good for this breed as it is slowly gaining popularity.
The Ca de Bou also known as the Perro de Presa Mallorquin is a Molossian type of dog that has an elongated strong and powerful body. This rare breed of medium sized dog noted for having a combative personality originated from the Spanish island of Mallorca, one of the bigger islands that comprise the Balearic archipelago. The history of this breed extends back to the 11th century. Like any other ancient breeds, the origin of the Ca de Bou is cloudy and has been the subject of controversies. One theory believes that modern day Ca de Bou was recreated from an extinct Spanish breed of dog. It was also speculated that the breed was developed from the remaining specimens of the Mallorquin bulldogs.
Historically, the Perro de Presa Mallorquin resulted from the crossbreeding of different breeds like the Alano Español, the Fila de San Miguel with the local fighting dogs that were brought to the Balearics by traders and invaders. During the ancient times, seafaring traders from the east and the west that traded in the Mediterranean regions resulted to the exchange of culture between trading nations. The reciprocal relationship also resulted to the exchange of domestic animals. Traders and settlers have brought with them large strong dogs with powerful teeth and large heads. These dogs with intimidating appearance were utilized to guard and protect the harbors and the settlements against marauding pirates and robbers coming in by sea. Amongst these mostly large, strong and resistants dogs with large heads and powerful teeth, one type distinguished itself and stood out among the rest. It was the mastiff of the Iberian Peninsula, which, in Spain, was used in various areas as a hunting or as a fighting dog against bulls and other dogs. This hunting and fighting dogs were brought by the Spaniards when King James 1 of Aragon expelled the Moors from the Balearic Islands in 1232. Some present day breeders believed that the Pyrenean mastiffs, Spanish mastiffs and the old Spanish Alano they are breeding descended from the mastiffs brought by King James 1 to the islands.
Historically the Ca de Bou originates from the island of Mallorca. The name Ca de Bou literally means 'Bull-Dog' in the native Catalan language. Perro de Presa Mallorquin is the Spanish epihet, appellation of the name.
It is essential to remark that Perro de presa does NOT mean 'fighting dog' or 'combat dog' as many people think. The term literally means 'dog of prey' (compare ave de presa='bird of prey' which meaning: a dog with a strong prey instinct and a dinstict ability to 'handle'a prey with his specific bite.
The Spanish word for 'fighting dog' is perro de pelea, NOT perro de presa. The Ca de Bou or Presa Mallorquin should not be confused with the Perro the Toro (Alano), nor with the Presa Canario which are various breeds.
Illustrator: Pharamond Blanchard
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746 - 1828)
The newspaper 'La Lidia' dealt with this type of luck in one of its colorful sheets. Even Picasso in the collection of aquatints known as Tauromaquia de Pepe Hillo reflects this ancient tradition, in the 50's of the twentieth century.
Illustrator: Pharamond Blanchard