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Ron Willbie, Animal Photography
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.
You may have heard that the Dogo Argentino 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.
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 the 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 hunting dog and home guardian. He will not be satisfied to lie around and do nothing. He must also be prevented from chasing and killing cats or small dogs belonging to the neighbors. 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 recofnize 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 should spend plenty of time with his family. Chaining a Dogo out in the yard and giving him little or no attention is not only cruel, it can also lead to aggression and destructive behavior.
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.
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 bitches, 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.
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. Daily exercise is important to keep him physically and mentally stimulated.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Ask yourself why you are interested in the breed. Talk with a reputable, experienced Dogo breeder. Describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know about your lifestyle and personality. Choose a puppy whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized by the breeder from birth.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit disease. Run from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed has no known problems, or who keeps puppies isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur.
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.
Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing. Look for your puppy elsewhere.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas. A puppy may develop one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what are the most common causes of death.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Dogo at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
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.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a quality breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out as many problems as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.
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.
Look for more information about the Dogo Argentino and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Dogo Argentino Club of America.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will clear. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include over availability, multiple litters on the premises, a choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Dogo Argentino puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show), and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Dogo Argentino might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive, and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Dogo Argentino in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Dogo Argentinos available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Dogo Argentino. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Dogo Argentinos love all Dogo Argentinos. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Dogo Argentino Club of America’s rescue network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Dogo Argentino rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Dogo Argentino home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Dogo Argentino, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Dogo Argentino to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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