You are never given the dog you want, but the dog you need.

Breed All About It- The Dogo Argentino

Happy Thursday all! Welcome back for our Thursday series, ‘Breed All About It’!  For those of you that are new, each Thursday we cover a new dog breed- some old, some new- for our readers to enjoy. If you would like to assist in the picking of the next breed that we cover, we have been randomly selecting a country and then a breed that looks interesting, so drop us a line in the comments below and we’ll let you know who got chosen in the upcoming week! This week, Argentina was picked as our destination, and we had a very easy time picking what dog to cover, as there was only one dog breed to truly pick from that I could find!

This week’s breed is the Dogo Argentino- a powerful breed that has sadly earned a rather checkered reputation due to its past.


In the 1920s, the Argentine Dogo was developed in Argentina by Dr. Antonio Nores Martinez and his brother Agustin. The brothers wanted an ideal companion dog that was also a good pack hunter and guardian. This breed excelled at hunting big game such as wild boar and puma. Martinez and his brother were able to create a breed that was devoted steadfastly to its owner, brave, and would protect its handler to death. While they were able to achieve this end, the resulting breed came with a heavy price. The Dogo Argentino quickly earned a bad reputation in Britain when people started using the dogs for dog fighting, which is an activity still popular in many parts of South America and elsewhere.

Rather than go after the dog fighters, Britain enacted a national legislation to control dogs in public. In 1991, The Dangerous Dogs Act was passed. This Act banned three breeds in particular- the Fila Brazileiro, Dogo Argentino and Japanese Tosa. A fourth breed, the American Pit Bull Terrier, has not achieved a full ban, but is heavily restricted in many places.

Several different dog breeds were in the creation of this powerful dog, including the Great Pyrenees, Irish Wolfhound, Pointer, Great Dane, Dogue de Bordeaux, Boxer, Spanish Mastiff, Bulldog, Bull Terrier and a now extinct mastiff-type breed called the Dog of Cordoba. The result was a bullish looking, fearless and powerful hunter who also had great stamina.

All dogs of this breed must be registered, neutered or spayed, tattooed, microchipped and owners are required to carry insurance. The dogs cannot be bred or imported and when in public they must be muzzled, leashed and handled by a person over 16 years of age at all times. Some of the Dogo Argentino’s talents are hunting, tracking, watchdog, guarding, police work, narcotics detection, military work, guide for the blind, competitive obedience and Schutzhund.


The Dogo Argentino is also called the Argentinian Mastiff or Argentine Dogo. It is a large, well-muscled dog. The deep-set chest is wide and there is an abundance of skin on the neck. The head is large and strong with a rounded dome shape from front to the back. The muzzle concaves upwards slightly, with a slight stop and is about the same length as the skull and contains powerful jaws. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite.

The eyes are set well apart, and range from dark brown, light brown, or hazel in color. The rims of the eyes should be pink or black. The ears are high set and are usually cropped to make them stand erect and are triangular in shape. The thighs are very muscular and come down to a short hock. There are usually no dewclaws, although there are some of this breed that are the exception. The thick tail is long and carried naturally low, reaching the hock. The thick, glossy coat is white and has no undercoat. This white coat allows them to deflect the heat while they are working outdoors and to help them regulate body temperature while in extreme heat conditions.

While not accepted in all clubs, sometimes the Dogo Argentino can have a black spot on the head known as “pirata.” This trait in the Dogo´s coat is accepted by Federacion Cinologica Argentina.


The Argentine Dogo is a loyal dog who makes a great guardian of the home and family. Playful and very good with children, it will willingly give kisses and cuddles to any who ask for them. Highly intelligent and powerful, Dogos are able to be trained if you are consistent, using loving but firm authority. The Argentine Dogo is not a breed for everyone.

With the right owners even the more dominant Dogos can be submissive toward all humans and other animals. This breed needs someone who understands how to display leadership: humans who are firm, confident, and consistent. This breed needs rules he must follow and limits to what he is and is not allowed to do. The objective in training this dog is to achieve pack leader status. It is a natural instinct for a dog to have an order in its pack.

As we all know, when we humans live with dogs, we become their pack. We see that evidence in our daily lives with our dogs at home. The entire pack cooperates under a single leader and boundary lines are clearly defined. You and all other humans MUST be higher up in the order than the dog. When you put this breed with a meek or passive owner, problems may arise as the dog will feel he needs to “save his pack” and run the show.

Adult Dogos can be aggressive with other dogs; however, they will not usually provoke the confrontation but may if they sense another dog that is unstable. The breed needs an owner who can tell the Dogo it is not his job to put another dog in his place. They are good with other pets if they are raised with them from puppyhood. They do require early socialization with other animals as well as early obedience training.


This breed will manage in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised and does best with at least an average-sized yard to run in. They need to be given plenty of exercise and to go on at least one long walk or jog daily in order to keep them mentally and physically engaged. Always be mindful of the temperature and remember to bring this breed inside when temperatures drop below freezing. They are not suited to life in cold weather due to the lack of an undercoat and a thin coat that does little to help them retain heat.

Health and Life Expectancy:

As in the Dalmatian, white Boxer, and the white Bull Terrier, the Dogo may experience pigment-related deafness. There is possibility of an approximate 10% deafness rate overall with some Dogo’s afflicted unilaterally (one deaf ear) and some bilaterally (deaf in both ears). Studies have shown that the incidence of deafness is drastically reduced when the only breeding stock used is that with bilaterally normal hearing.Hip dysplasia is also a common health concern. They can live to be anywhere from 9-20 years old.

And there you have it. The Dogo Argentino- a breed that has joined the ranks of breeds who are given a bad rap due to fighting. I am a firm believer that a dog is what the master makes of it. Not all breeds are for everyone and this breed probably is not meant for the unskilled, first-time, dog owner. They do require a firm and consistent hand in order to mold them into their true potential. People teach these dogs to fight, giving them a bad name. Banning the breed, as Britain has, is not the most effective way that this problem could have been addressed, and many have risen up against the Act since its introduction. However, for the time being, these beautiful and powerful dogs are restricted and in many areas, illegal. Personally, this breed wouldn’t be for me, but I still appreciate the powerful beauty that it exudes and can admire the build and physical appearance of the breed as a whole.

That’s all we have for you today though guys! Thanks for dropping by and learning about our new breed of the week! We hope that you enjoyed your visit and that we will see your smiling faces back from our future ‘Breed All About It’ breeds. Drop us a line in the comments below if there is a country that you would like us to consider for the upcoming week and we will be happy to add your country to the hat!

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2 responses

  1. Thanks a million for featuring the Dogo Argentino this time. My sister had a Dogo Argentino years ago, Max, and he was an amazing dog. My girlfriend and I met him when he was 2 years old and for what I was told that he did not “allow” anybody that was not family enter their home. At that time, we did not know much about dogs and when me met him we touched him under his muzzle, he sniffed us both and let us in. My sister was amazed because she said that she did not have family or friends visit anymore because Max wanted to eat them alive. She said, “Wow! He knows you two are family.” I had the great opportunity to stay for a month with them, and I walked him and he always, always made me feel safe. He was a great guard dog, and very good with kids. He was so good at guarding that thieves poisoned him in order to get inside the house for there was no other way he would have allowed anybody to enter “his” home. I still miss him even though he was not mine. My girlfriend, Cynthia, fell in love with him so much that when she had to say good by to him, we were coming back to the US, she almost cried, and later on we asked my sister if she wanted to rehome him with us and she said yes. We were so excited, but before he had a chance to fly from Ecuador to the US he was poisoned. Max was such an impressive dog. My Alex, 11 years old now, is Max’s daughter and sometimes when she is resting or sleeping, I can see a glimpse of Max. We still miss him.

    May 30, 2013 at 6:29 am

  2. Catherine

    I have a neighbour, in France, where the dogo is not restricted at all, and it has jumped out of their garden 4 times and attacked my dogs. It has spent most of its life tied up on its own while the two owners, in their late 50’s work. It is never walked and has never been socialised. After the second attack it was sent away to friends of theirs, where it killed their Yorkshire Terrier. This dog is lethal in the wrong hands and unfortunately being such a huge powerful dog with a big prey instinct, it should be restricted, not because of the dog but because of stupid people.

    November 21, 2014 at 9:47 am

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