A Dogo Argentino is a treat to the eyes – he strides with pride, looks regal, confident, determined and courageous. This muscular and confident dog will come up to you, make an eye contact and then lovingly lick up your face – a perfect blend of power and gentleness.
Powerful, agile, intelligent dog who can hunt cooperatively with other dogs with great speed and stamina and virtually no inherent aggressive tendencies toward people or other pets…that’s how a Dogo Argentino is!
The Dogo Argentino or Argentine Dogo originated in Argentina and is the only national dog of Argentina. Around 1927, the creator of the breed, Dr Antonio Nores-Martinez, MD, saw the need for an animal who could hunt the large game predators like Russian boar, jaguar, red fox and puma, who were destroying the local livestock. His vision was of a large dog who was not just pleasing to the eye, but also capable to huge strength and power. His brother Agustin outlined how the dog would be like. Antonio began his work of developing the Dogo by using the ‘Cordoba’ or the fighting dog of Cordoba (now-extinct) for foundation stock. But, certain changes were necessary to make a good large game hunting dog. Together, ten different breeds were used to make dog we know today as the Dogo Argentino – the English Short Hair Pointer and Irish wolfhound (for scenting, sighting capabilities and wild game hunting instincts respectively); Great Dane (to improve head shape and height); Bulldog (for boldness, obedience, broad chest and high pressure jaws); Dogue De Bordeaux (for powerful, relentless jaw strength as well as good muscle structure and strength); Boxer (for vivacity and dexterity for the hunt, and the desired gentleness and docility expected of a family companion); Great Pyrenees (for vigour and dense white coat, strength and substance); Bull Terrier (for fearlessness, agility and aggressiveness); Spanish Mastiff (for raw power, a menacing scowl and additional size). After several generations of trial and error, came a solid white dog, with a short, dense hair coat who has the distinction of being the only white dog of his size developed to be a silent large game hunter.
As the Martinez brothers envisioned, the Dogo Argentino came to be a dog with tremendous endurance and hunting talent. Dogos can track a predator across vast plains, corner it and then attack and hold it in a death grip for the hunters who follow close behind. Dogos are capable of dazzling bursts of speed over short distances, but they are best at covering long distances at a rolling lope.
Smart and handsome…
The Dogo Argentino is a large, white, short-coated dog with a smooth, muscular body, displaying both power and athletic ability. The length of body is just slightly longer than tall, but females may be somewhat longer in body than male dogs. The head is powerful with a broad, slightly domed skull and a powerful muzzle that is slightly higher at the nose than the stop, when viewed in profile. Ears may be cropped, or hang naturally, close to the skull.
Temperament – eager to please!
The Dogo Argentino has a very strong temperament, great intelligence and like most dogs, works very hard to please his master. This makes the breed ideal for obedience training as well as training for practical use, such as jobs around the home or farm. Do not be fooled by the cold, hard, intimidating stare that is characteristic of the breed; this look was never meant for human beings. Quite the contrary, the Dogo is a very sensitive breed who does not react well to harsh treatment from its master. These dogs are very receptive to positive reinforcement styles of training and learn very quickly with this kind of handling.
Groom him regularly…
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 Dogo on rare occasions when he’s dirty.
Exercise him regularly!
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 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.
Living with a Dogo…
The Dogo Argentino is a people-friendly breed and builds a long lasting bond with his master and family. The Martinez brothers worked very carefully to instill this trait into the breed and today the results are clearly apparent. Talk to any pet parent of Dogo and you will hear the same things. “He doesn’t lie at my feet, he lies on my feet!” “He constantly wants me to pet and hug him!” “He is like my shadow, I can’t go anywhere without him following!” Indeed the Dogo longs for human contact, both physical and emotional.
Dogo Argentino bonds to master and family and you can count on protection from the dog should you encounter an attack or some other trouble. With his strength tenacity and intelligence, the Dogo is a guardian, who will rush in to protect you without regard to his own well-being. You can feel safe taking your Dogo for a walk down a lonely street in the middle of the night.
The Dogo Argentino can be expected to live about 10-12 years.
On a concluding note…
Today, Dogos are active in many activities beyond hunting. They have worked as military and general police work including narcotics detection, 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. The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognised the Dogo Argentino in 2001.
(Paramjeet Singh Dhesi runs Elite Squad Kennel (www.EliteSquadKennel.com) in Ludhiana, Punjab. He is an avid dog lover who imports rare breeds to India.)