The Argentine Dogo

by LiamBean

This is a fairly new breed as dog breeds go. The breed was created in Argentina, as you might have guessed, by Antonio Nores Martínez.

When Antonio Martinez began, he wanted a dog for big-game hunting. There is a lot of big game in Argentina, including wild boar and puma. But this was a breeder who also felt the dog should be a good family member. To this end he wanted a breed that would also protect its family, would display unwavering bravery, and willingly protect its human companion to the death, if necessary. This meant a dog that was good with humans of all ages and steadfastly loyal.

Martinez succeeded beyond even his wildest dreams.

Kumelén - Cropped Dogo Argentino
Kumelén - Cropped Dogo Argentino

Breeding Base and Additions

A combination of ideal attributes

Antonio Nores Martinez.was a medical doctor, professor, and surgeon.

Mr. Martinez began his breeding program in 1928. He began with the Cordoba Fighting Dog, now extinct, and added to that base over the years. He began with the fighting dog because of its large size and ferocious hunting attitude. But this breed is known for fighting as well so Martinez sought to add breeds known for intelligence, a calm nature, and which would also display human loyalty as well as be a great hunter.

To this end he crossed the Cordoba Fighting Dog with the Great Dane, the Boxer, Spanish Mastiff, Olde English Bulldog, Bull Terrier, Great Pyrenees, Pointer, Irish Wolfhound, and Dogue de Bordeaux. (see picture gallery immediately below)

When Antonio died in 1956, his brother Agustin and Antonio's older children (Rodolfo, Abel, Marta and Beatriz) continued the breeding program. They took the remaining dogs to the Estancia La Cocha in the 1960’s. Over the years the family worked with this closed bloodline and continued to strengthen the breed making it larger, more docile, and more family loyal.

About Antonio and Augstin

Professional Men

Antonio and Agustin Nores Martinez lived distinguished lives. Antonio became a medical doctor and was, later in life, a professor at the School of Medicine of the University of Cordoba, Argentina.

Agustin in turn, passed the bar to become a lawyer and was, for many years, a District Court Magistrate. He later became Chancellor of the University of Buenos Aires and served as Argentine Ambassador to Canada and Japan.

In spite of their impressive accomplishments, these men will probably be better remembered by their legacy to the canine world: El Dogo Argentino.

The brothers, with an eye to history, documented their breeding program in a number of Argentine publications. These include:

  • "El Dogo Argentino," Diana Magazine, No. 89 pp. 28-40, by Nores Martinez, Antonio
  • "El Dogo Argentino," Talleres Caporaletti, Buenos Aires, by Nores Martinez, Antonio in Argentina, 1969.
  • "Historia del Dogo Argentino," Editorial Albatros, by Nores Martinez, Agustin: 1978

Argentine Dogo Breeding Line

Cordoba Fighting Dog
Cordoba Fighting Dog
Bull Terrier
Bull Terrier
Dogue de Bordeaux
Dogue de Bordeaux
Great Dane
Great Dane
Great Pyrenees
Great Pyrenees
Irish Wolfhound
Irish Wolfhound
Olde English Bulldog
Olde English Bulldog
Spanish Mastiff
Spanish Mastiff

Breed Specifics

The size and morphology of the dog

The Martinez family, after many years, ended up with a dog that weighs roughly 80 to 100 pounds (36 to 45 kilograms), stands twenty-three to twenty-five (23~25") inches or sixty to sixty-five centimeters (60 to 65 cm) at the withers or top of the shoulder. The dog has an extremely muscular build, and is solid white without any other color anywhere on its coat. In fact any other color in the coat is considered a flaw.

Beneath the hair Dogos have light colored skin with pink spots. These spots are randomly distributed over the body and may include the snout or even the tip of the nose.

The coat itself is short; a single layer with no undercoat. Though they shed, it is light compared to other breeds.

The Dogo has a broad head and moderately sort snout. They are slightly longer than they are tall. Females may be slightly longer than a male of equal weight.

The Dogo has been described as looking like an all white version of an American Pit Bull Terrier or American Bull Dog. However the American Bull Dog is a considerably smaller breed and the Dogo breeding line does not contain any Pit Bull Terrier blood at all. The square shaped head is the result of the Boxer and Dogue de Bordeaux lines in the breed.

Medical Concerns
As with many all white breeds the Dogo may be born deaf or suffer hearing loss over time. It is estimated that roughly ten percent (10%) of Dogos are born deaf. However, breeders have found that if they are meticulous about the parental line, ensuring that neither the male or female have a history of deafness in their ancestry, pigment deafness can be avoided.

As with many large breeds the Dogo may also be prone to hip dysplasia.

Though Dogos were bred to be big-game hunters, they were also bred get on well with other dogs. After all, a good hunting dog hunts in packs, not as individuals. The dog was bred to corner prey, not take it down. They are therefore "designed" to keep the hunted animal at bey until the human arrives. The bravery bred into the line was required for hunting wild boar and puma which populate the forests and mountainous regions in Argentina.

Despite these work attributes the dog is cheerful, humble, and a friendly breed. He is not a hard barker, and in fact rather quiet for a dog. He is never aggressive with humans. He loves his family, especially children.

It is not known if the Martinez brothers were attempting to create a dog of keen intelligence, but that is exactly what their efforts produced. Not only does the Dogo have strength and stamina, he is also very intelligent. For this reason training is easy as long as you respect the dogs intelligence and avoid resorting to physical punishment. This also means that you must establish yourself as the alpha. This is accomplished by giving the dog rules to live by, what he can and cannot do, with verbal commands. It is also important that the human control access to food. This dog recognizes verbal admonishment readily.

Working Dog
Beside the hunting attributes, Dogos have also been found to be excellent search and rescue dogs, service dogs, as well as military and police dogs.

Home Life
The Argentine Mastiff (another designation for this dog) has been bred specifically for socialization with other dogs. They are therefore quite good in group environments. They get along well with other pets (including cats) and are equally at home in rural and urban settings.  For that reason the Dogo can live comfortably as a ranging farm dog, or as an urban dog with a small yard. They can even adjust to cramped apartment living.

Because of the Martinez bothers' efforts to bred out aggressive traits, attacks on humans or other pets are extremely rare.

Life Expectancy
The Dogo has a life expectancy of nine (9) to sixteen (16) years with the average upper limit being fifteen (15) years. As with most large dogs they do not live as long as smaller breeds.

Antonio's Quotes about the Dogo

Antonio had a number of sayings about his dog. They are:

"Most dogs will lay at your feet; mine will lay on your feet."

"The Dogo Argentino is an endurance hound much like his Irish  Wolfhound ancestor. He is expected to track the wild boar across vast  pampas, corner the animal and attack and hold it for the hunters. He is  capable of dazzling bursts of speed for short distances, but his forte
 is covering long distances at a gallop (hence the arched loins to give impetus at the gallop). Having cornered the boar, he must have enough  strength in reserve to attack and hold a wild boar weighing up to 400  pounds. In a traditional boar hunt the hunter will jump on the boar and
 kill it with a knife thrust to  the heart while the Dogos are locked on with a death grip."

"With most dogs you know intruder has come into your home when he barks. With a Dogo you know an intruder is in your home when he yells."

Dog Fighting and Breed Specific Legislation

Two wrongs that need to be put right

Dog Fighting
Dog fighters are not the brightest folks on the planet. Because the brothers started with a fighting dog many dog fighters assume that the Dogo will be a good fight contestant. They could not be more wrong. Because Antonio and Agustin spent so much time breeding aggressive traits out of the Dogo, they are anything but a fighting dog. Though this dog has the fierce facial features of the Pit Bull (another maligned dog) s/he was specifically bred  to get on well with other members of his or her pack. Since Dogos recognize humans as pack leaders/members this includes people.

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)
It is illegal to own a Dogo Aregentino the United Kingdom without a proper permit. This dog is specifically called out in the Dangerous Dog Act passed in 1991. The penalty for owning an unregistered Dogo can be up to £5,000 and/or up to six months' imprisonment. The dog will also be put down.

The Dogo is completely banned in Aurora Colorado and New York City public housing. As with Great Britain there are fines and the dog will be put down.

The Australian government has a complete and total ban on the importation of the Dogo. They are also illegal in New Zealand, Denmark, Iceland, Israel, Singapore, the Ukraine and Norway.

Opinion on BSL
My personal opinion on this rash of breed specific legislation is that is is both irrational and reactionary. It reflects more on the humans who passed these laws than on the dog the laws address.

As with so many instances of misplaced legislation it is usually the human that is at fault not the dog. I have direct experience with this breed and I can tell anyone interested that maligning this gentle giant as vicious is the height of misplaced fear. And having had a Dogo in my family for a good fifteen years I have seen many fearful reactions to the dog based solely on it's looks and having nothing at all to do with its behavior.


Finding and Owning a Dogo

They aren't for everyone

First, you are committing at least fifteen years of your life as custodian of a very large breed of dog. Do not get one if the medical and feeding expenses are too much to handle.

That said I would be hard pressed to recommend a better dog for companionship, loyalty, and home defender.

When choosing your Dogo, check for hearing problems and possible hip dysplasia.

Dogo Argentino Rescue
Many Dogos in the United States end up at shelters or better still at rescue organizations specifically set up for the breed. Dogos are often abandoned for the usual reasons dogs are left behind; divorce, a move, or even when the owner passes away. For that reason I'm not going to recommend buying from a breeder. I will talk about precautions you want to take should you do that, but here I will list a number of organizations that have rescued Dogos from situations like those listed above or even rescued a dog from a fight club.

Big Love Rescue. This site requires you to answer some basic questions and register for a dog. They contact applications weekly.

Adopt a Pet - Dogo This site also requires registration, though there aren't so many specific questions.

There is even a Facebook rescue organization committed to the Dogo. The link is here;

Facebook DARN (Dogo Argentino Rescue Network)

Buying From Breeders
If you insist on buying rather than rescuing a Dogo please, take the time to talk to some Dogo owners to find the best breeders. Entirely too many "breeders" out there are interested only in making money and not the least bit interested in protecting the breed. For that reason too many breeders do not take the time and trouble to try to prevent hip dysplasia or pigment related deafness from appearing in their lines.

Always consult another owner and heed any advice they give regarding Dogo breeders.


As with the American Pit Bull Terrier, this is another canine breed that is often vilified. Mistakenly bred or, worse, stolen to fight in the ring. In  reality this dog was bred to want nothing more than to have a good family to love and protect.

Updated: 09/29/2013, LiamBean
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LiamBean on 03/22/2013

Thanks Kat. This one is pretty amazing. The brother's had it tough. Antonio and a friend were murdered during a bird hunting trip. To this day no one knows who killed them. The supposition is that it was a robbery gone wrong. Unfortunately, Antonio had not taken a Dogo with him.

Then, after the Perón period with Argentina under marshal law, Augstin was imprisoned for some "political crime." Much of the public abandoned or got rid of their Dogos fearing an implied support for Agustin. Once released from prison Agustin had to starting working with the breed again, almost from scratch.

katiem2 on 03/22/2013

I love dogs and have always been interested in how unique breeds are designed or created. :)K

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