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Dogo Argentino

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Dogo Argentino

The Dogo Argentino is a large dog from Argentina developed for hunting big game like wild boar and also to be a good companion and protector of its human owners. It is also called Argentine Dogo and Argentinian Mastiff and it has a life span of 10 to 12 years. It is a fairly modern breed having been developed in the 1920s and it is still fairly rare especially outside of Argentina. As well as being valued as a guardian and hunter with the right raising it is also a gentle, loyal and friendly companion but it is best with experienced owners.

The Dogo Argentino at a Glance
Name Dogo Argentino
Other names Argentine dogo, Argentinian mastiff
Nicknames Dogo
Origin Argentina
Average size Large
Average weight 80 to 99 pounds
Average height 24 to 27 inches
Life span 10 to 12 years
Coat type Short and smooth
Hypoallergenic No
Color White
Popularity Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC
Intelligence Very good
Tolerance to heat Very good to excellent
Tolerance to cold Good but nothing too cold
Shedding Average to above average – Sheds more heavily during seasonal times
Drooling High – prone to slobber and drool
Obesity Above average – make sure it is well exercised and its food is measured
Grooming/brushing Average so twice a week apart from during seasonal shedding when it may need daily brushing
Barking Occasional – will be some barking and it is extremely loud
Exercise needs Fairly active – will need owners who are too
Trainability Moderately hard – can be very stubborn
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog Low to moderate – best with experienced owners
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Good with socialization and supervision, best with older ones
Good with other dogs Low to moderate – does have problems with dog aggression, socialization is essential as is supervision
Good with other pets Moderate – socialization is essential it will see them as prey
Good with strangers Good but needs socialization and is wary
Good apartment dog Low – needs a home with space and a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Fairly healthy but some issues include Deafness, hypothyroidism and hip dysplasia
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for license, basic training, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $1000 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $3,000
Rescue organizations D.A.R.N, DAERRS
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 5 Maimings: 3 Child victims: 2 Deaths: 1

The Dogo Argentino's Beginnings

The Dogo Argentino was bred in 1928 in Argentina by Antonia Nores Martinez who was a doctor and his brother Agustin. They wanted a hunting dog that could handle large game but also be a good guard dog and loyal and affectionate companion. They also wanted their dog to be to handle the tricky terrain and climate that Argentina has. The dog's base was the Cordoba Fighting Dog which is actually now extinct sadly. It was used because it was a great hunter and it was crossed with several other breeds including the Spanish Mastiff, Great Pyrenees, Irish Wolfhound, Great Dane, Old English Bulldog, Boxer, Dogue de Bordeaux, Pointer and the Bull Terrier.

By using selective breeding the Martinezes were bringing different traits they wanted in the new breed. The result was a dog that had a great deal of stamina, a white coat that could reflect the heat, was fearless and protective. Argentinean hunters used the dogs in packs over long distances to track boar and then to corner and hold them until the human hunters got there. In 1956 Antonio died but his brother Agustin continued to work on the dog and was responsible for introducing the breed to Canada and various other parts of the world. In 1964 it was recognized by the Argentina Rural Society and the Cinologic Federation of Argentina and then in 1973 it was given recognition by the Argentina Kennel Club.

New Lease on Life

In 1985 the DACA was formed, the Dogo Argentino Club of America and in 1996 it was admitted to the AKC's Foundation Stock Service but is not yet a full member. It is though recognized by the UKC, and was done so in 2001. Some countries though have banned it because some criminals have used it for dog fighting. These include Iceland, Ukraine, Denmark, Singapore, Australia, Fiji and the Cayman Islands. Some countries have also put it under dangerous dogs labels such as the UK where ownership is limited and owners have to register and have certain insurance. In several countries it is still used for large game hunting, places like Canada, Argentina, Yugoslavia and some places like Germany. It is also used successfully in some countries in search and rescue, for tracking, in the military, police, as a guard dog and service dog.

The Dog You See Today

This dog is a large breed weighing 80 to 99 pounds and standing 24 to 27 inches tall. It has a strong and muscular body that is a little longer than it is tall. It is often described as being similar in appearance to the American Bulldog or American Pit Bull Terrier. Its tail has a thick base that then tapers to the tip. At rest the tail hangs down but when it is moving it tail lifts and moves back and forth. It has a strong neck that has extra skin and a wide and deep chest. Its thighs are powerful and it has no dewclaws. Its coat is short, glossy and smooth. It can develop a thicker coat when it gets cold enough and a thinner one when it is warm enough. The white coat does not usually have markings though the Federacion Cinologica Argentina accepts a pirata or black spot on its head. Some have a black marking around an eye.

Its head is broad and rounded and the muzzle is about the same length as its skull that is squared and tapers down. The jaws are powerful and the nose and lips are black. Its almond shaped eyes are set far apart and are hazel, light or dark brown in color. The rim of the eyes are black or pink. Its ears when natural are flat, broad and hang down over its cheeks with rounded tips. However the ears are often cropped in places where there is still allowed making them erect and triangular shaped.


The Inner Dogo Argentino


Dogo Argentinos have a reputation for aggression and dog fighting but the problem has been owners using it in dog fighting and poor raising in a lot of cases. A good breeder combined with owners who understand the dog and give it good socialization and training should mean the dog is not aggressive but in fact is humble, happy, friendly and also protective but in a controlled way. Females tend to mature quicker than the males, the former mature in 2 years and the latter in 3 years. It is an intelligent breed and as focused, fearless and fierce as it is when out on a hunt, indoors it is affectionate, sometimes stubborn but also calm, loyal and sensitive even. Be prepared though it does slobber and drool so that will be some extra work to clean up each day.

It is suspicious of strangers but with socialization early on it should know not to over react and should be aloof until it gets to know them, or they leave! It has a very intimidating look and being protective makes a good guard dog and watchdog. It will act to defend you should there be a threat. Socialization helps it learn when a reaction from it is appropriate and when it is not. It needs experienced and committed owners who are prepared to put in the work and who are ready to deal with laws and public perception too. In all honesty most owners are not suited to this breed, you need to be confident and dominant.

Its bark is loud but it is surprisingly cuddly, it will want physical contact with you often, leaning on you or sleeping on your feet! It will try to be a lap dog and will also want to give wet kisses! It is very loyal and in fact can be playful too. It needs to spend time with its family not chained outside in a yard, this can lead to more destructive and aggressive behavior and the Dogo will be very unhappy. It needs to be close to you, it is very devoted and forms close attachments, it will not be happy being left alone for long periods. Be aware it loves to chew and it has an extremely powerful bite so make sure it has good toys and plenty to rotate through or it will find things in the home to chew that may upset you!

Living with a Dogo Argentino

What will training look like?

The Dogo Argentino need good socialization and training from a strong, firm and experienced leader who is consistent, patient and confident. It is absolutely essential that both are started from an early age, you want to find a breeder in fact who has already started the processes when it is still young with them, and then you will continue and build on it. Being a strong and dominant dog that can be stubborn and willful you need to be experienced in dealing with that and prepared for it. It will respect you more and training will be more successful. Training sessions need to be kept short and engaging, it is easily distracted especially by smells around it. Also keep it positive this is not a dog that will accept force or criticism. Early socialization means introducing it to different people, places, sounds, animals, situations and such so that it reacts appropriately, being protective and fearless it may become too reactive and even aggressive without it.

How active is the Dogo Argentino?

As important as training and socialization is to make sure your dog is very well exercised and gets the mental stimulation it needs. It will need two long walks a day, some physical play with you daily and some time somewhere safe off leash to run. It can join you for jogs or hikes too and would be best taken hunting rather than just being a companion dog. If it is under exercised it will become bored, restless and destructive and those jaws can do an awful lot of damage. Be sure you have plenty of time to commit to taking it out and letting it let off some steam and it is best suited to rural or semi rural settings in a home a with a yard that is well fenced in. it is quite a curious dog and will like to explore.

Caring for the Dogo Argentino

Grooming needs

Start grooming from a young age so it becomes something it accepts. The Dogo is average in terms of grooming, brush it a couple of times a week with a mitt or natural bristle brush to remove loose hair and debris and such. It does shed and even more so when it gets warm so be prepared for hair around the home that will need cleaning up. The short coat makes the brushing easier but being a large dog it is still a job to commit to! Give it a bath just when it needs one only using a dog shampoo. A conditioner is a good way to give its coat a nice sheen.


Its ears should be cleaned weekly using a dog ear cleanser or damp cloth and should also be checked for signs of infection like a bad odor, redness, swelling or such. There should never be a need to insert anything into the ear though as that will do damage and cause pain. Its nails can grow quite quickly and will need to be trimmed when they get too long. Use a proper set of nail clippers or scissors and take care not to cut too far dawn the nail as it will hurt the dog and cause bleeding. Then its teeth should be brushed at least two to three times a week with a proper dog toothbrush and toothpaste.

Feeding Time

The large Dogo will need to eat somewhere between 3¾ to 6 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. Its metabolism, level of activity, age, health and size will all have an impact on how much exactly, and it will also need water.

How is the Dogo Argentino with children and other animals?

Firstly you need to make sure it is well socialized and trained before you let it around children. When it has been, it can be good with them but is better with older ones as younger ones can easily get knocked over. It can be playful and affectionate but its protective instincts means care should be taken, for example if other children come round and they play rough, the Dogo might mistake that for an attack on its children and respond aggressively. Around other pets there also can be issues as it has a high prey drive. It also has a history of dog aggression and while that is meant to have been bred out of them, it is still used in dog fighting. It does have dominance issues with dogs of the same sex.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Dogo Argentino has a life span of 10 to 12 years and is fairly healthy but some issues to look for include deafness, hypothyroidism, eye problems, laryngeal paralysis and hip dysplasia. It also does burn easily in the sun so protection or shade needs to be considered when it is hot.

Biting Statistics

In North American reports of dogs attacking people causing bodily harm over the last 35 years there was mention of 5 incidents involving the Dogo. Of those 5 victims, 3 were classed as maimings, meaning the victims were permanently disfigured, scarred or had loss of limb. 2 of the 5 were children and there was a total of 1 death. Good breeders and Dogo fanciers will tell you this is not an aggressive breed when bred well and raised properly, and while that may be true it is also true that many countries have either banned the dog or put serious restrictions on its ownership because of its potential for aggression and because of the damage it can do. Make sure you are fully in control of your dog, and that you have done everything you can to ensure it is well socialized, trained, exercised, stimulated and always supervised.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Dogo Argentino is not a cheap dog! A puppy from a decent breeder is going to set you back the large price of $3000, and then it can go up to double that for something from a show or top breeder. It is absolutely your responsibility though to make sure you buy from a trustworthy and decent breeder not a back yard one, puppy mill or pet store. There are some rescues linked to the breed if you are interested in adoption though the chances are it will be an adult dog not a puppy and that will mean you do not know its history or whether it has had any socialization etc. There are also local shelters and rescues where you could opt for a mixed dog. Adoption fees run from $50 to $400.


When you have found the dog you want to bring home there are some things it will need. A crate, carrier when it is young, bowls, leash and collar for example and these items will cost about $200 or so. Then there are initial health tests and checks to be done at a vet when you bring the dog home. It will need a proper physical, blood tests, spaying or neutering, micro chipping, deworming, shots and such and these will cost about $290.

Then there are yearly ongoing costs to factor in. $485 a year is about what pet insurance and basic health care like vaccinations, flea and tick prevention and check ups will cost. Then about $270 a year should cover a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. Finally there will be miscellaneous costs that cover things like toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license and that is another $245 a year. This gives a starting figure yearly cost for the Dogo of $1000.


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The Dogo Argentino is not a usual dog for just anyone to own, it is not even a good dog breed for people who have had large dogs. This is a dog with quite specific needs so make sure you have researched it and are sure you have what it takes. A lot of people assume they can handle it and then things do not work out well. With the right care it is non-aggressive, a good guard dog, very devoted and affectionate with its owners and family. Make sure you check into the laws where you live and whether there are any specific ones related to this breed before you bring it home.

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