The Dogo Argentino, Argentinian Mastiff, or Dogo for short, is a fiercely loyal breed derived from selective breeding of the Cordoba Fighting Dog to a variety of breeds from the Dogue de Bordeaux to the Great Dane. This athletic, white dog is not suitable for the first time dog owner, requires plenty of exercise, and a knowledgeable, experienced, and confident handler.
The Dogo Argentino is a large, well-muscled, molossar breed with a weight ranging from 80-100lbs. The short coats should always be white with any markings or spots considered a flaw. They should be slightly longer than they are tall, and females may be slightly longer than males. The head should be large and round, with a slight stop under the eye, supported by a thick neck, and the large teeth should meet in a scissor bite. The eyes vary from light to dark brown, or hazel, and the skin around the eyes should be pink or black. The ears are set high on the head, and most owners choose to crop them, although the natural ear is gaining popularity. Some argue that cropping the ears reduces chance of infection, but in fact diet and grooming are the most influential factors in healthy ears, and cropping does nothing to reduce risk of infection. The thick, long tail should be left natural.
Lifespan and Health
The average life expectancy of the Dogo is 10-12 years and in generally considered a healthy breed. Some of the common ailments of the breed are deafness, skin problems (both factors of breeding for the white coat colour), and hip dysplasia. This is an active, athletic breed and should be kept fit through exercise and a healthy diet, with a well-defined waistline.
The Dogo Argentino is lucky to have a well-documented lineage, and can be described as “one breed from ten”. In the 1920s Dr. Antonio Nores Martinez wanted to develop his “master-breed” that would be the willing big-game hunter, would defend his master to the death, AND be a loyal, loving family pet. The base breed for the Dogo was the now extinct Cordoba Fighting Dog, to which Dr. Martinez methodically crossed 9 other purebreds. The breeds crossed with the Cordoba Fighting Dog for the development of the Dogo were: the Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound, the Dogue de Bordeaux, the Spanish Mastiff, the Pointer, the Bull Terrier, the Great Pyrenees, the Old English Bulldog, and finally the Boxer for its gentleness. The result is not only a wonderful hunting companion, but also a hardworking dog that has demonstrated its usefulness in police, and service work. Unfortunately due to its power and tenacity, the Dogo also became a breed of choice for the dog fighting rings, and in recent years aggression has become too common in the breed.
Originally bred to be social with other dogs so that it could be used for big-game hunting in packs, their popularity in dog fighting rings has led to a breed that can show a tendency for dominance, and in some cases dog aggression. For this reason it is important to socialize your Dogo from young age by providing it with as many positive interactions with humans and canines as you can. A balanced, and socialized Dogo should be friendly, and attention seeking of humans, and comfortable with dogs of any breed and size. Their propensity for dominance, large size, and athleticism can make them a difficult breed to manage and are not recommended for a novice or first time dog owner. They are not recommended for families with small children unless they have been properly socialized with children from a young age.
Your Dogo should be given a consistent set of ground rules, and all interactions, human or canine, should be under your control. Trust should an important focus when developing a bond with your Dogo, any corrections should be firm, but never abusive. A Dogo should NEVER be allowed to unnecessarily guard you or your property. If you are in real danger, your Dogo instinctively will know. Leashed walks, and basic obedience classes are important exercises to help develop a healthy bond with your Dogo. This intelligent, athletic breed also benefits greatly from continued obedience training, agility, or rally-o. Exercise is the easiest way to keep a happy, balanced Dogo, and simply being allowed to run around a fenced yard will not be enough mental or physical stimulation. You should plan on 1-2 hours of exercise per day, preferably some of that at a jog. Backpacks can be a useful tool with an adult Dogo to give this working breed a “job”, and what could be better than having your Dogo carry their own water and poop bags! Because of their heritage in Argentina, Dogos do well in warm weather but can have trouble with the cold.
It is important to note that although not currently on the restricted list for breed specific legislation (BSL) in Ontario, the Dogo Argentino is banned in Australia and the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act. Anyone currently owning, or considering owning a Dogo should be aware of the potential for the breed being added to the restricted list under BSL in Ontario, and what that would mean for you and your Dogo.
Interested in fighting BSL? Please visit http://supporthersheysbill.com/ to find out what you can do to help.
Dogos do not show up in rescues in Canada too often, but they do make appearances here and there, so if you have your heart set on rescuing one of these white beauties, keep an eye on our foster and adoption pages.