The Dogo Argentino has always tickled the fancy of dog enthusiasts not only for their appearance but also for their fierce loyalty. Also known as the Argentine Mastiff, it is a large, white, muscular dog that was developed in Argentina primarily for the purpose of big-game hunting, including wild boar; the breeder, Antonio Nores Martínez, also wanted a dog that would exhibit steadfast bravery and willingly protect its human companion to the death. The story of the legendary Dogo- Morocho who defeated a Puma to save 2 young girls is testament to this characteristic of the Dogo Argentino.
In 1928, Antonio Nores Martinez, a medical doctor, professor and surgeon, set out to breed a big game hunting dog that was also capable of being a loyal pet and guard dog. Antonio Martinez picked the Cordoba Fighting Dog to be the base for the breed. This breed is extinct today, but it was said that as a large and ferocious dog, it was a great hunter. Martinez crossed it with the Great Dane, Boxer, Spanish Mastiff, Old English Bulldog, Bull Terrier, Great Pyrenees, Pointer, Irish Wolfhound and Dogue de Bordeaux. Nores Martinez continued to develop the breed via selective breeding to introduce the desired traits.
The Dogo Argentino is a large white short-coated dog with muscular and strong body that rarely has any markings (any type of marking or spot on the coat is considered a flaw).
The standard for females is 60–65 centimetres (24–26 inches) and for males is 60–68 centimetres (24–27 inches), measured at the withers while they weigh in anywhere from 40–45 kilograms. The length of the body is just slightly longer than the height. The length of the front leg (measured from point of elbow to the ground) is approxi- mately equal to one-half of the dog’s height at the withers. The head has a broad, slightly domed skull and the muzzle is slightly higher at the nose than the stop, when viewed in profile. The tail is set low, thick at the base and tapers to a point. It has been described as looking similar to the American Bulldog but very tall with a solid white coat. The breed has also been described as looking similar to the American Pit Bull Terrier, even though the American Pit Bull Terrier is far smaller (13.5 to 27 kilograms).
The dogo may experience pigment-related deafness. There is possibility of an approximate 10% deafness rate overall with some dogos afflicted uniaurally (one deaf ear) and some binaurally (deaf in both ears). Studies have shown that the incidence of deafness is drastically reduced when the only breeding stock used is that with bilaterally normal hearing. Hip dysplasia is also a common health concern.
Dogos are big-game hunters and are sometimes trained for search and rescue, police assistance, service dogs, and military work. As with all breeds, the Dogo Argentino can be good with children, if properly socialized at early age.
Dogo Argentinos have been bred specifically to allow better socialization with other dogs and are well suited for group environments. They get along with other pets in most rural and urban settings ranging from a complete outdoor farm dog to urban housing with a small yard, to crowded apart- ment buildings. Because aggressive traits are purposely bred out, attacks on humans or other pets are extremely rare. The Dogo has a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years.
The story of a Dogo Argentino who saved two girls from a Puma is well known and inspiring. A man named Ulises had decided to go to La Cocha, which is an 8.000-acre es- tancia way up in the Cordoba mountains, about 3.500 feet high, and 70 miles from where Ulises live.
His idea was to go and return the same day, so he took his older daughter, Sofía, who was 10. Once in the estancia, Ulises started doing some work with Tomás, the foreman. Sofía and Yoli, Tomás’s daughter, asked permission to go to a giant fig tree 700 yards from the main house, to pick and eat some figs.
Yoli, who was much faster and more limber than Sofía, reached the tree first. She started climbing the lower branches while the latter approached the tree.
When Yoli was about 7 feet from the ground, she started hearing noises up on the tree, like branches tweaking and leaves moving. She looked up, and saw a big puma jumping down the upper branches. The animal hit the kid with a paw and Yoli went all the way down, falling flat on her back from 2 meters high. The cougar fell on his feet, roaring and looking at Sofía, Ulises’s daughter, who had just made it to the tree. The puma jumped in Sofía’s direction.
Neither of the kids were aware that Morocho, one of Ulises’s top dogos, had been follow- ing them playfully.
The puma was in the air when Morocho jumped into the scene and grabed him by the throat. Both animals locked in a deadly embrace and all hell broke loose. The kids started to scream. Ulises and Tomás rushed to see what was happening. Tomás reached the place first; Morocho had the cougar pinned down. He knelt, took out his knife, and killed it.
Yoli was full of bruises and got a hit from the puma’s paw but was otherwise not seriously wounded. Sofía was petrified in terror, but not harmed. Morocho was scarred but happy to have done his job.