Traits, Personality and Behavior
The Dogo Argentino is not an appropriate choice for a first-time dog owner. He is big, strong, intelligent, energetic and headstrong. A Dogo needs a leader who can guide him with firmness and consistency and without using force or cruelty.
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 much larger. 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, often works well with this breed. It's always a good idea to take a Dogo to puppy kindergarten followed by basic obedience class, especially if you are working with a trainer who understands the Dogo Argentino mindset.
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, visits to friends and neighbors, and outings to local shops and businesses. This is the only way he can learn to be discriminating, recognizing what is normal and what is truly a threat.
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. He will not be satisfied to lie around and do nothing all the time. He must also be prevented from chasing and killing cats or small dogs belonging to the neighbors. The Dogo has a high prey drive 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 for this breed.
Like any dog, Dogo Argentino puppies are inveterate chewers and because of their size can do a whole 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 her dogs are hypoallergenic.
Health Issues Common to Dogo Argentino
All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are 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 in her lines.
The Dogo Argentino has some health conditions that can be a concern, especially if you aren't cautious about whom you buy from. They include hip dysplasia, autoimmune thyroiditis and deafness. The breed may also be prone to allergies or other skin problems.
Ask the breeder to show evidence that a puppy's parents have OFA or PennHIP clearances for hip dysplasia and an OFA BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) clearance for hearing. 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.
5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Dogo Argentino Puppy
Choose a breeder who abides by Dogo Argentino Club of America's Code of Ethics, which prohibits sales to pet stores or wholesalers and outlines the breeder's responsibilities to the breed and to buyers. The Dogo Argentino is not especially common, so you may have a wait of six months or even a year or more before a puppy is available.
Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Dogo Argentinos aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an adult dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Dogo Argentino can live to be 10 or more years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.
Puppy or adult, take your Dogo Argentino to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, and in particular to watch out for the early signs of diabetes and skin problems, including ear infections.
Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you'll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Pet Insurance for Dogo Argentino
Pet insurance for Dogo Argentinos costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Dogo Argentinos are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Dogo Argentinos are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Dogo Argentino is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.