Argentine Dogos: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Dogo Argentino temperament, personality, and behavior.

DOG BOOKS by Michele Welton

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Argentine Dogo Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Dogo Argentino Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Powerful, yet possessed of an almost feline grace, the Dogo Argentino is fearless yet sensitive; vivacious outdoors yet calm indoors.

This impressive dog is best owned by active people who will develop his athletic abilities. He must have plenty of physical exercise to maintain his superb muscle structure and plenty of mental exercise to satisfy his desire to work and hunt.

Despite his intimidating appearance, the Argentine Dogo is usually friendly, yet is also a vigilant guardian with a thunderous bark. Early socialization is an absolute requirement to build the stable, discriminating temperament this breed is known for.

Though tough to the core, Argentine Dogos love to be petted. They crave close physical contact, leaning against you and lying on your feet.

With his dog-fighting ancestry, dog aggression can be a problem. The Dogo Argentino should be thoroughly socialized with other dogs from an early age. He should not be kept with another dog of the same sex.

With his strong prey drive, Argentine Dogos should not be kept with cats, either, unless raised with them.

Strong-willed and independent, but also highly intelligent, the Argentine Dogo will respect an owner who is equally confident and consistent. Because of his hound heritage, the Dogo is constantly intrigued by the exciting smells around him, so you must work to keep his attention during training sessions.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is a large, muscular, mastiff-type dog
  • Has a short, easy-care, white coat
  • Thrives on vigorous exercise and athletic activities
  • Looks imposing, so makes an effective deterrent, yet is usually non-aggressive with people
  • Carries himself with a steady, dignified, impressive presence

An Argentine Dogo may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • A large dog who wants to sit on your feet and lean his weight against your leg
  • Vigorous exercise requirements
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
  • Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
  • Aggression or fearfulness in some lines, or when not socialized enough
  • Aggression toward other animals
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
  • Slobbering or drooling

An Argentine Dogo may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the Argentine Dogo

If I was considering a Dogo Argentino, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. As big-game hunting dogs, Argentine Dogos require plenty of opportunities to vent their energy and do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored, which they usually express by barking and destructive chewing on a massive scale.

    I do not recommend this breed if you simply want a pet for your family. You should have the time and inclination to take your Dogo running or hiking or swimming, not just for a few walks around the block. Ideally you would have an interest in a canine activity such as weight-pulling, or tracking, or agility (obstacle course), or advanced obedience, or schutzhund (protection).

  2. Providing enough socialization. Most Argentine Dogos have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to biting. Some Dogos go in the opposite direction -- without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers.

    If you have children, I do not recommend an Argentine Dogo. Young Dogos (up to about two years old) can be bulls in a china shop. When they romp and jump, they do so with great vigor, and things can go flying, including people. In addition, Dogos may try to protect their own children from other children, which could lead to tragedy if kids are simply roughhousing and your Dogo decides to stop it. With such a massive dog, I wouldn't take the risk.

  3. Animal aggression. The Dogo Argentino was developed to hunt other animals. Most Dogos are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Many have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
  4. The strong temperament. Argentine Dogos are not Golden Retrievers. The best Dogos are versatile working dogs, capable of learning a great deal, but they have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. Some Dogos are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    To teach your Dogo to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. Read more about Dogo Argentino Training.

  5. Slobbering. Individuals with heavy loose lips tend to slobber or drool, especially after eating and drinking.
  6. Legal liabilities. Because they vaguely resemble pit bulls, Argentine Dogos may be targeted for "banning" in certain areas, or refusal of homeowner insurance policies. Your friends and neighbors may be uncomfortable around this breed. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a guard dog should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.

    Frankly, most Argentine Dogos are "too much dog" for the average household. This is a serious working dog with tremendous strength. Very few people really have the knowledge or skills necessary to manage this breed, or to provide the activities that keep him satisfied.

To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

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