- Average Height: 23.5 to 27 inches at the shoulder
- Average Weight: 80 to 100 pounds
- Coloring: White
- Coat Type: Short-haired
- Dog Breed Group: Working
- Average Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
Key Personality Traits:
The Dogo Argentino is a big-game hunter and guardian breed from Argentina. He has a massive head with cropped or natural ears and a smooth white coat.
The Dogo Argentino is not an appropriate choice for a first-time dog owner. He is big, powerful, intelligent, energetic, and headstrong. A Dogo needs a leader who can guide him with firmness and consistency without using force or cruelty. If you want a courageous (yet kind) dog, that is the Dogo at his best. But you must commit to a lot of homework to find a reputable breeder and to training, socializing, and exercising him throughout his life.
The Dogo has a high activity level and needs a job to do, which can be anything from being your on-leash jogging companion to his traditional role as a hunting dog and home guardian. He will not be satisfied to lie around and do nothing. The Dogo has a high prey drive, a strong protective instinct, and a territorial nature, so he needs a strong, high fence to keep him on his own property. An underground electronic fence is not appropriate.
Early, frequent socialization is essential. Purchase a Dogo Argentino puppy from a breeder who raises the pups in the home and ensures that they are exposed to many different household sights and sounds, as well as people, before they go off to their new homes. Continue socializing your Dogo Argentino throughout his life by taking him to puppy kindergarten class, with visits to friends and neighbors, and on outings to local shops and businesses. This is the only way he can learn to recognize what is normal and what is truly a threat.
Begin training as soon as you bring your Dogo Argentino puppy home, while he is still at a manageable size. That 20-pound ball of white satin will quickly grow. Try a nothing-in-life-is-free program, requiring puppies to “work” for everything they get by performing a command before receiving meals, toys, treats, or play. It’s always a good idea to take a Dogo to puppy kindergarten followed by basic obedience classes, especially if you are working with a trainer who understands the Dogo Argentino mindset.
Like any dog, Dogo Argentino puppies are inveterate chewers and because of their size can do a lot of damage. Don’t give them the run of the house until they’ve reached trustworthy maturity. And keep your Dogo Argentino puppy busy with training, play, and socialization experiences. A bored Dogo Argentino is a destructive Dogo Argentino.
The Dogo Argentino has a smooth white coat that sheds heavily. Brush him at least once a week to remove dead hair and keep the skin and coat healthy. Clean the ears and trim the nails as needed, and bathe the Dogo on the rare occasions that he’s dirty.
You may have heard that this breed is hypoallergenic. That is not true. No breed is. Allergies are not caused by a particular dog coat type but by dander (the dead skin cells that are shed by all dogs). There is no scientific evidence that any breed or cross breed is more or less allergenic than any other dog. Some people with allergies react less severely to particular dogs, but no reputable breeder will guarantee that a dog is hypoallergenic.
Other Quick Facts:
- The Dogo Argentino can weigh upwards of 80 pounds
- This breed was traditionally used to hunt big game in Argentina.
The History of the Dogo Argentino
The Dogo Argentino was the dream of 17-year-old Antonio Nores Martinez of Argentina. He wanted to create a big-game hound that would be suited to the diverse terrain of his home country, rugged mountains, harsh plains, and beautiful lake country. Starting with the Fighting Dog of Cordoba — an amalgam of Mastiff, Bulldog, Bull Terrier, and Boxer that is now extinct — he mixed in other breeds to accentuate height, scenting ability, speed, hunting instinct, and a sociable nature. The dog he had in mind would be versatile, capable of hunting big game, controlling vermin, and guarding property.
Nores Martinez wanted to breed out the Cordoba dog’s desire to fight and replace it with hunting ability. To that end, he started in 1927 with 10 Cordoban female dogs, using Pointers, Boxers, Great Danes, Bull Terriers, Bulldogs, Irish Wolfhounds, Dogues de Bordeaux, Great Pyrenees, and Spanish Mastiffs to create his ideal dog. He wrote a standard for the breed in 1928.
Argentine and other South American hunters began to use the dogs to track boar for long distances, then corner and hold them until the hunter arrived. Sadly, Nores Martinez was killed in a robbery attempt before he could see the breed recognized by the Cynologic Federation of Argentina and the Argentina Rural Society in 1964. The Argentina Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1973.
Today, Dogos are active in many activities beyond hunting. They have worked as military and police dogs, guide dogs, therapy dogs, and search and rescue dogs and have participated in obedience, schutzhund, and tracking events. The Dogo Argentino Club of America was founded in 1985. The breed is currently a member of the American Kennel Club’s Miscellaneous Class, the final step before full AKC recognition.
Dogo Argentino Temperament and Personality
The Dogo Argentino is an amazingly powerful dog with an amazingly powerful dual personality. He is a loving guardian of his family, including children, and fierce hunter capable of taking on a wild boar. He is both gentle and fierce, but he should never be aggressive without good reason.
With family members, the Dogo has a strong desire to be close to or touching them. He graciously welcomes guests and enjoys taking part in family activities but will spring into action in the event of any threat. Though devoted to his human family, the Dogo has an extremely strong prey drive. He must be kept separate from cats and small dogs unless raised with them, and, even then, supervision is a good idea.
The Dogo can be strong-willed and independent, so he needs an owner who is confident and able to assert his or her authority as pack leader. He is also an athletic and vigorous dog and can be rowdy, especially when he is young. Adequate exercise is important to keep him physically and mentally stimulated.
One of the best ways to prevent undesirable behaviors in your Dogo Agentino is to start training him the first week he comes home. Wait until he’s 6 months or older, and you’ll have a more headstrong dog to deal with. Socialization is also key at a young age, so consider enrolling him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old. Just bear in mind that many such classes require up-to-date vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus). Also, many veterinarians recommend limiting exposure of puppies to other dogs and public places until these vaccines have been completed, so always consult your vet first.
What You Need to Know About Dogo Argentino Health
You can never outbreed the potential for genetic health problems—that’s just not how genetics work. However, you can educate yourself on the more common health concerns of Dogo Argentinos, as well as work with a breeder who is honest and transparent about health problems that occur in her lines.
Conditions that have been seen in the breed include hypothyroidism and deafness. Dogos may also be prone to glaucoma and laryngeal paralysis. And, like many large and giant breeds, the Dogo can develop hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia is a hereditary defect of the hip socket. It can be mild, causing little or no pain, or it can lead to severe lameness. Dogos with hip dysplasia may move slowly or avoid jumping. Depending on the severity of the condition, weight loss, medication, or surgery can help to relieve pain. Dogos that will be bred should have their hips X-rayed and graded by a veterinary orthopedic specialist at two years of age.
Ask the breeder to show written evidence that a Dogo puppy’s parents have hips that have been rated as fair, good, or excellent by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Other health clearances you should expect to see are an OFA BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) test for hearing and an OFA thyroid evaluation.
Whatever you do, don’t buy a puppy from a breeder without written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems common to the breed. There is no substitute for genetic health testing, so if the breeder simply claims that her dogs have been “vet checked,” look for another breeder.
All dogs need proper diet and exercise, but this is especially true for the very active Dogo Argentino. Obesity is one of the most common and preventable health issues in dogs, and one that you can ward off with the right preventative measures. Feed your dog according to your vet’s recommendation and make sure he gets plenty of physical and mental activity.
The Basics of Dogo Argentino Grooming
Grooming the Dogo is easy because of his short coat, though his large size means it’s a big job. A bath every three months (or when he’s dirty) in a mild dog shampoo is a good idea. Brush his sleek coat with a natural bristle brush or mitt once a week. Use coat conditioner/polish to brighten the sheen.
The rest is basic care. His ears need to be checked every week and cleaned if needed and toenails trimmed once a month. Regular brushing with a soft toothbrush and vet-approved doggie toothpaste keep the teeth and gums healthy. It is essential to introduce grooming to the Dogo when he is very young so he learns to accept the handling and fuss peacefully.
Choosing a Breeder for Your Dogo Argentino
Want to find a quality Dogo Argentino? Find the right breeder. There are many factors to consider when researching reputable breeders for your new best friend. Doing your due diligence early on can potentially save you money and heartache down the road if you are able to avoid bringing home a sick puppy or a puppy with genetic issues in his line.
Here are the main questions to ask when thinking about buying a Dogo Argentino.
Has the breeder completed all necessary health checks?
Look for a breeder who can provide written documentation that her puppies and their parents have undergone genetic health testing. They should be able to provide clear, open and honest insight into the common issues seen in Dogo Argentinos as well as the occurrence of problems in their own lines. At the end of the day, reputable breeders will always offer a health guarantee on their puppies. And if they don’t, it’s time to look elsewhere.
Does the breeder seem more interested in making a quick buck than properly placing puppies?
Reputable breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances, and what the dogs are like to live with. They will come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you plan to provide. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps were taken to avoid them. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will clear. While conveniences like being able to shop for and buy individual puppies online seem great, they are almost always associated with disreputable breeders. Always champion quality over convenience.
Does the breeder operate a clean, healthy operation?
Good breeders and breeders that operate dangerous puppy mills can sometimes be hard to distinguish. While there’s no 100% guaranteed way to ensure you won’t purchase a sick puppy, always check out the facility yourself and ask the right questions of the breeder. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life. They also should not be isolated in a separate area of the home, which can be a red flag that something is wrong.
Would an adult Dogo better suit my lifestyle than a puppy?
Puppies are cute. But puppies are also loads of work. Sometimes choosing to adopt an adult Dogo Argentino is a better choice for aspiring dog parents. Adults may already have some training and tend to be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. The same advice on vetting breeders for a puppy applies to an adult. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and request the necessary health certificates before making your decision.
Ready to start your search? Look for more information about the Dogo Argentino and find breeders at the Dogo Argentino Club of America website.
Adopting a Dogo Argentino From a Rescue or a Shelter
Want to adopt rather than shop for a Dogo? There are many great options available, including animal shelters and breed rescue organizations. Here are a few ideas on how to get started.
Use Popular Pet Search Engines. Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com are popular for a reason. These sites have helped many people find adoptable pets based on specific criteria, including geographic location and housetraining status. AnimalShelter is another great resource to connect you with animal rescue groups in your area.
Turn to Social Media. Facebook isn’t just a tool to keep up with friends and family. It can also be used as way to broadcast your intention of adopting a Dogo. Post on your channels about what you are looking for in a dog and you never know what will happen—you may be surprised at who comes out of the woodwork with a potential lead!
Look to Local Experts. Vets, dog walkers, and dog groomers in your area can serve as excellent resources for connecting you with an adoptable Dogo Argentino. These pet pros are often the first group people will turn to when they have to make the tough decision to give up a dog. They also tend to have a larger than average network of other “dog people” who can help you find what you’re looking for.
Talk to a Dogo Argentino Rescue. The Dogo Argentino Club of America’s rescue network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. Breed rescues like these operate with a passion for saving and helping Dogos. Therefore, they tend to be excellent resources not just for finding an adoptable dog, but also for advice on health, training, and other pet parenting tips. You can also search online for other Dogo Argentino rescues in your area.
No matter which route you take, always secure a solid contract with whomever is giving up their Dogo. Petfinder’s Adopters Bill of Rights is a great place to start for determining what to consider normal and appropriate for bringing home a dog from a shelter.
And finally, take your dog to the vet as soon as you can post-adoption. It is always a good idea to get in front of any health concerns and put a plan in place for raising a healthy and happy Dogo. Your vet is the perfect resource to help you do that.
Dogo Argentino FAQs
Are Dogo Argentinos dangerous?
Dogo Argentinos were bred to be hunters. Without proper and expert training, these dogs may prove to be more aggressive than other breeds. Still, they are usually not dangerous to humans.
Dogos are not advised for first-time dog owners, as their temperament and aggressive tendencies need to be properly channeled through the right training via an experienced and confident trainer. Many Dogos do successfully become family pets and serve as “guardians” over their loved ones. Proper supervision between Dogo Argentinos and other pets and young family members is recommended.
How much is a Dogo Argentino?
The cost of a Dogo Argentino varies depending on where you’re located and the quality of the line. This breed is considered rare, so you can expect to pay a premium compared to other more common breeds. Puppies generally cost between $1,000 and $4,000 if you’re purchasing from a qualified breeder. However, some Dogos may be priced as high as $8,000 due to their superior bloodlines.
Are Dogo Argentinos illegal in the U.S.?
The Dogo Argentino is banned in some countries including Australia, Denmark, and Iceland, but there are currently no laws restricting ownership of them in the United States.
Do Dogo Argentinos shed?
While Dogo Argentinos’ shedding may be less noticeable than dogs with longer coats, they do tend to shed heavily. Bathing and brushing your Dogo regularly are the best ways to curtail finding his little hairs all over your home.