Canary Island Controversy
How Tobin Jackson "invented" the Presa Canrio
While accusations of crossbreeding in his Mastiffs dogged Tobin Jackson of Deer Run Kennels, his efforts in breeding Presa Canarios in the late 1980s and early 1990s generated just as much controversy.
In 2001, a Presa Canario named Bane dragged down and killed lacrosse coach Diane Whipple in the hallway of her San Francisco apartment building. A reporter from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote the following in a column about the attack and the growing interest in Presa Canarios:
“Bane, the male that killed Whipple, came from a line developed by a man named Tobin Jackson at a kennel in Frenchtown, N.J., in the 1980s. What no one knew at the time was that Jackson wasn’t importing purebreds from Spain. He was concocting his own line, crossing various mastiff breeds with pit bulls.”
Miguel Angel Sanchez, who spent five years with Jackson after he arrived in Mexico in 1995, said he queried Jackson about the origins of his Presa Canarios.
“Tobin told me his initial stock was originally from Honduras,” he wrote on an email discussion list. “Many times I asked him if he used other breeds to ‘fix’ his Presas. His answer always was no. If he had already told me about Saints and Mastiffs … why would Tobin deny me if he used Neos or other breeds with the Presa?”
Deer Run Enrico, one of the Presa Canarios Jackson took to Mexico with him.
According to Sanchez, Jackson brought four Presas to Mexico with him – two males and two females, among them Deer Run Enrico.
By then, Jackson had sold his most influential Presa Canario, Deer Run Arbaco. The foundation for many early American-based Presa lines today, Arbaco is the first Presa Canario registered with the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service (FSS).
In the United States, the Presa Canario breed – now formally known as the Dogo Canario – is divided into two camps, with Tobin Jackson as their dividing line. On one side are those with American-bred Presas, many of which go back to Jackson’s Arbaco. On the other are those with Spanish imports, who question the validity of the former and call them, derogatorily, “American Presas.”
Tracy Hennings of Cleveland, Ohio, past president of the Dogo Canario Club of America, says that while Arbaco has been described as a “gray brindle,” he was in fact blue – a color that she says does not exist in the Canary Islands, though it is common in Neapolitan Mastiffs, a breed that Jackson had at Deer Run in later years.
“A dilution gene doesn’t exist in this breed. It didn’t come from Spain,” Hennings says. Though other breeds were crossbred into the native Spanish Presa population during the breed’s “recovery period” – including Dogues de Bordeaux, Bulldogs, Bullmastiffs and fawn Danes – there were no Neapolitans, or any other breed that would contribute blue pigment, she says. “Every Presa had black pigment, even a dog [the Catalan breeders] would consider gray or silver.”
Hennings’ first Presa Canario was out of an Enrico daughter who was bred at Deer Run. “I owned her for 12 years. She looked nothing like her mother, her father or her littermates,” she says. “Roxanne had a body more like a Neapolitan – she was very short, but very long, very thick. She was no more than 23 inches tall, and weighed probably 120 pounds.”
What’s the truth in the Presa brouhaha? Arbaco is long gone, as is Jackson, and along with them any hopes of definitive answers. And the Presa world, arguably even more divided than the Mastiff one, is left to hash out the knotty question of who is a bona-fide Presa – and who is not.
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Wed, 03/07/2018 - 2:32pm