The History of the Dogo Argentino
The history of the Dogo
Argentino and the two brothers who created the breed is as colorful
and passionate as the history of Argentina itself. Antonio Nores Martinez
was not quite 18 years old and Agustin a year younger in 1925 when Antonio
first conceived and took the first step in his vision of a big game hound
created specifically for the varied and rugged Argentine countryside.
"I still remember as if it were yesterday... the
day when my brother Antonio told me for the first time his idea of creating
a new breed of dog for big game, for which he was going to take advantage of
the extraordinary braveness of the Fighting Dog of Cordoba. Mixing them with
other breeds which would give them height, a good sense of smell, speed,
hunting instinct and, more than anything else deprive them of that fighting
eagerness against other dogs, which made them useless for pack hunting. A
mix that would turn them into sociable dogs, capable of living in freedom,
in families and on estates, keeping the great courage of the primitive
breed, but applied to a useful and noble end; sport hunting and vermin
Agustin Nores Martinez, History Of The Dogo
It is important to point out that the Fighting Dog of Cordoba, a breed
established in that area consisting of Mastiff, English Bulldog, Bull
Terrier, and Boxer is now extinct. Much of the early work on the new breed
was devoted to eliminating the fighting eagerness and developing the hunting
instinct. An effort that was essential and highly successful.
The formula Antonio started was:
- 1) the Fighting Dog of Cordoba, to which he added blood from
- 2) the Pointer to give him a keen sense of smell which would be
essential for the hunt.
- 3) The Boxer added vivacity and gentleness;
- 4) the Great Dane it's size;
- 5) the Bull Terrier, fearlessness;
- 6) the Bulldog gave it an ample chest and boldness;
- 7) the Irish Wolfhound brought it's instinct as a hunter of wild game;
- 8) the Dogue de Bordeaux contributed it's powerful jaws;
- 9) the Great Pyrenees it's white coat and
- 10) the Spanish Mastiff gave it's quota of power.
The brothers gathered ten
Cordoban bitches as their nucleus and began bringing in the first of the
contributing breeds as studs until the early offspring showed promise in the
desired direction. At a certain point in the program they had as many as
thirty bitches in their care. This undertaking would not have been possible
for two young men still in school had it not been for the help given them by
their family and friends of their father. The senior Martinez hired a kennel
man to care for the dogs while Antonio and Agustin were in school and the
brothers spent all their pocket money on food for the dogs. They were also
helped by food donations given by their father's friends. Such help was
gladly accepted by the brothers in those early years but the dream and the
plan on how to make it a reality was Antonio's. His was the genius that
guided the program and Agustin was always at his side. Later in life when
Antonio became a respected surgeon, his medical knowledge improved and
refined his dream. He wrote the first standard for the new breed in 1928.
Sadly Antonio never lived to see his dream become reality. He was killed by
a man who intended to rob him during a boar hunt in 1956. Agustin then took
over the dream, working on the new breed, bringing it back from near
devastation and moving the headquarters for the breed from Cordoba to
Esquel, located in Patagonia in southern Argentina. Agustin Nores Martinez
was the Argentine Ambassador to Canada and he used this opportunity of
travel to spread Dogos throughout the world. Big game hunters in Argentina
and it's neighboring countries were using the Dogo on boar and puma. The
Dogo Argentino was fast becoming a legend.
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.
In A Brief History of the Argentinean Bulldog,
by Agustin Nores Martinez, as translated from the original Argentine:
"I feel as a conscience imperative to make
absolutely clear, which is the bulldog's background, the breeds that took
part, what is what we intended to do, and which are the requirements or
conditions that a bulldog must meet to be a typical example of the breed.
This present extension, is a ratification of what was written in my first
book. The fears I point to in the prologue to the four editions are
confirmed a lot of times, when we see young people who ten years ago had
never seen a bulldog, taking the part of "judges" in exhibitions, and who
seemed to dream with "an own bulldog" awarding specimens which are far away
indeed from what a good bulldog must be, as my brother Antonio and I
intended in fifty long years of work and achievements.
To the enthusiasts and honest judges, who really
want to know what the bulldog must be like is dedicated this knew (sic) book
containing the objective history, step by step about how the bulldog was
achieved and the extensive glossary of the standard that I make in chapter
XV of this book. To the others, those who mix the bulldog with the
Bullterrier to make them of lower height and weight, fighters against their
own kind is not this book addressed, but a piece of advice: To devote
themselves to the breeding of the Bullterrier in any of it's two varieties -
White and Color Bullterrier, or the Staffordterrier (sic) - breeds which
were created for fights, really noble animals, by the way, of extraordinary
courage to fight against on another and with those dogs, let their low
instincts loose if that is what they want, but, for God's sake!, do not
spoil a breed which was made, after great sacrifices to be useful for
Since 1937 - more than forty years ago - a group
of enthusiasts have been developing in Patagonia, with real sacrifice, the
hunting instinct of the bulldog and trying to take away from them the
ancestral fighting eagerness."
On the other hand, a few generations of bulldogs fighting between them
will have make (sic) it involutionate, and we have painfully confirmed it
already, to the useless Cordovan fight dog, insociable with it's own kind,
harmful for domestic animals an (sic) useless as hunters or watching dogs.
Happily there is, both in the country and abroad, a group of judges and
enthusiasts, who know what it is and what it must be a good bulldog, and
they use them for big game or they train them as watch - dogs, with which
each generation will gradually improve and coming nearer and nearer to the
goal we intended more than half a century ago."
The Dogo Argentino was recognized by the Cinologic Federation of
Argentina and the Argentina Rural Society in 1964. The Argentina Kennel
Club, a member of the Federation Cynologique International (FCI) recognized
the breed on July 31, 1973.
Undoubtedly a big game hound, the attributes of the parent breeds also
give versatility. Early on in Argentina the Dogo was used for obedience,
military, police work and as guides for the blind. Our members throughout
the world are using the Dogo in a variety of ways from boar hunting in the
former Yugoslavia, moose hunting in Canada, tracking, Search and Rescue, to
Schutzhund training. Our sister club in Germany, Deutscher Dogo Argentino
Club, founded in 1976 has made excellent progress in the Schutzhund field
with their Dogos. Much has been said about the Dogo's courage and tenacity
in the field, an honestly inherited trait courtesy of the Bulldog. However,
this same courage and single mindedness of purpose gives rise to a great
sensitivity and kindness towards humans especially the youngest and those
most in need. The following paragraph was written by Dogo Argentino Club of
America member Adrianne Jordan. Mrs. Jordan teaches retarded children with
the help of her Dogo Argentino, Carlotta. Carlotta was introduced to the
children as a puppy and has had no special training.
"She is 3 years old now - and very mature and well - behaved. My
students adore her and are very proud of her - somewhat possessive too,
when it comes to sharing her with non-disabled peers! Carlotta gets more
than her share of hugs, petting, and walks at school, and handles even the
roughest of my students with impressive tolerance."
The Dogo craves close physical contact with his people, a Dogo never lays
at your feet, he lays on your feet. He is a reliable family guardian,
interested in all activities and enjoying guests along with his family.
Should the Dogo discern a direct threat to any member of his family, he will
act to protect that person.
The Dogo Argentino is the realization of a dream that began almost 75
years ago. To use the word primitive in any context when describing the Dogo
Argentino would be doing the breed a grave disservice. The Dogo is a
consummate hunter, a superb companion, a wise and elegant guardian, he is
The Dogo Argentino Club of America (DACA) was founded in 1985. It is the
first parent club organized for the Dogo Argentino in North America. The
Club classifies the Dogo Argentino as a hound in accordance with the wishes
of the creators of the breed. "I insist, therefore, upon the fact that the
Dogo Argentino is a "hound", that is, a dog that hunts by itself and with
the help of whoever handles it." Agustin Nores Martinez, The Dogo Argentino.
The Club is dedicated to keeping the abilities of the Dogo Argentino
intact. There simply is no reason for the Dogo Argentino now or in the
future to be divided into two types. A "field" Dogo and a "show" Dogo are
one and the same, they were created to be that way, and our breeders are
determined to keep them that way. Perhaps our feelings on the matter are
best described in the opening paragraph of our standard which first appeared
in print in 1985.
"The Dogo Argentino is bred in his native Argentina to hunt big
game, primarily, boar and mountain lion. He hunts great distances over
rugged terrain and engages the game until the hunter kills it. He is one
breed developed from ten. The many attributes from the parent breeds are a
masterful blend resulting in a large, powerful dog with great endurance.
The Dogo should give the appearance of an elegant, smoothly muscled, well
- balanced dog capable of stepping out of the ring and into the hunt.
Judges are asked by the club sponsoring the breed to keep this fact
uppermost in their mind when evaluating the merits of the dog."
One of the primary functions of a parent club is the protection of it's
breed. After much thought the Club decided to give those who show their
Dogos the option of not cropping the ears. Because the Dogo is much admired
for his courage in the hunt and because he does bear a resemblance to the
American Pit Bull, the Club, in looking into the future felt that this
option should be offered. The uncropped ear gives the Dogo a softer
appearance and gives a visible reminder of the Dogo's hound classification.
The Dogo Argentino Club of America's standard regarding height is as
follows; Dogs over one year of age, minimum, 25 inches at the shoulder.
Bitches over one year of age, minimum, 23 ½ inches at the shoulder. All
other points being equal the taller, heavier Dogo is to be preferred
provided he is balanced and in condition. Disqualification, dogs and bitches
over one year of age and under the minimum height. The Club standard has no
top on height as per Agustin's instructions. "That height of 60 to 65 cm.
(just over 23 ½ inches to just over 25 ½ inches) I established was purely
enunciative, but I never thought that they were going to interpret it as a
"gag" or a cliché to judge it. With such a rigid concept we would finish
being able to judge the Dogos in a show with an electronic machine. And the
Dogo must be judged with the head, knowing what the breed was made for."
Agustin Nores Martinez, History of the Dogo Argentino. Our breeders are not
interested in breeding a giant Dogo because as Agustin points out, a dog of
excessive height would not be able to penetrate the dense Argentinean woods.
It is interesting to note that the example Agustin uses in his book, History
of the Dogo Argentino, to denote giant or "excessively big" is that of an 85
cm. (just under 33 ½ inches) Great Dane and a 95 cm. (just under 37 ½
inches) Irish Wolfhound. Both breeds along with the Great Pyrenees were
brought into the breeding program each time the early Dogo began to lose
size and substance. So although we have quite a lot of the giant breed's
blood in the Dogo, it is not difficult for a breeder with a solid knowledge
of genetics working with unadulterated bloodlines to avoid producing both
excessively tall or giants and the small Dogo which would be useless against
boar and mountain lion. Agustin was adamant about disqualifying any Dogos
falling below the minimum height. The Nores Martinez brothers did not
bracket an "ideal" height, they gave the breeders the latitude needed to
maintain the Dogo's hunting abilities.
The Dogo Argentino is a slow maturing breed. Males are not fully finished
growing until at least three years of age. The females are faster maturing,
reaching full maturity at two years of age. The Dogo's white coat should be
thick and glossy with satin - like feel. They need only a once a week
grooming with a rubber curry to keep the coat and skin in good condition.
Because of their white color, the Dogo's skin is more sensitive than that
of the colored breeds. They can sunburn, so shade should be available when
the Dogo is outside for long periods of time. Use only gentle shampoos or
those made for white coats when bathing the Dogo.
The breed is not hyperactive, but young Dogos are inquisitive and keep
themselves busy investigating everything around them. Adolescent Dogos,
particularly males, have a tendency to be show - offs. A favorite feat is to
lounge on a couch or chair, then suddenly slide bonelessly to the floor
while nearby humans grab frantically for a leg or tail to prevent disaster.
The pup then lies on the floor in a rumpled heap and grins up at the
The mature Dogo does need regular exercise to maintain the muscle
structure that is the hallmark of the breed.
Being a rare breed in North America does not exempt the Dogo Argentino
from genetic problems. However, because of the careful work of the Nores
Martinez brothers, the Dogo does not have a serious problem as yet.
The one genetic fault that "comes with" the breed is deafness. The Dogo
Argentino Club of America monitors all litters whelped to DACA registered
parents. The percentage of deaf puppies is 10 percent overall, the same
percentage as that of our sister club in Germany. All Dogo Argentino puppies
sold by DACA members are accompanied by a statement from the breeders'
veterinarian attesting to the fact that the puppy can hear.
The Dogo Argentino is a wonderful family dog. They are very intelligent
and house train easily. A warm body and soft couch will keep a Dogo quiet
for hours. They are clean house dogs that need little coat care. Dogos love
children with a passion. At the sight of a child, a Dogo will light - up
like a child on Christmas morning. They are as gentle and loving with their
children and family as they are tenacious with their prey.
Obedience training is fun for the Dogo. They are natural heelers and
respond wonderfully to positive reinforcement and motivation training. They
enjoy working and pleasing their owners. On the other hand, Dogos don't seem
to understand force training and will sometimes appear stubborn in response
to a force training method, or a forceful attitude. They have a very steady
temperament and seem to adjust themselves quickly to different situations.
In working with Dogos in obedience, you must always keep in mind that the
Dogo is a hound. Like other hounds, you are constantly working to keep their
attention on you and not the exciting smells around them. They will air and
ground scent and this can be very distracting to the dog when working.
Therefore, you must teach them that there is a time to work and a time to
hunt, which can be a test of patience to both handler and dog.
One must understand and keep in mind at all times during the Dogo's
training that it was bred to be a superb hunting dog, therefore its
instincts will not be that of a working dog.
Obedience title statistics from the American Kennel Club confirm the
difference between the hound and working breed groups. From 1980 to 1990
there were 4,001 Companion Dog (CD) titles, and 697 Companion Dog Excellent
(CDX) titles earned by members of the Hound Group. On the other hand, dogs
in the Working Group earned 24,455 CD titles, and 5,223 CDX titles in the
The DACA is the parent club of the Dogo Argentino in the United States.
It is comprised of members that were drawn to the Dogo partially for its
beauty, elegance and versatility, and partially for its intriguing creation.
Imagine a boy with a dream so big, and a brother so devoted to his brother's
dream that he would dedicate his life to its creation. The whole family,
aunts, uncles, parents, and family friends all did what they could to help
these boys. What love, devotion and determination went into this breed.
Starting with one and combining until ten breeds were involved, (most U.S.
breeders, unfortunately, would not even comprehend this discipline).
It took fifty years of their lives to create the magnificent, big game
hunter that we know today as the Dogo Argentino. Breeders today should take
a close look at this kind of devotion. Breeding for a purpose, to make a
breed the best it can be in order to fulfill its purpose, should be the goal
of all breeders.
Unfortunately many of our U.S. breeders today worry about the "marketing"
of their breed rather than the purpose or betterment of their breed. We need
to remember the purpose for which each breed was created or developed, and
try and improve on that. Breeders should always strive for a perfect
I pray that as the Dogos are introduced into our great country, fanciers
and breeders alike will keep the Nores Martinez brothers wishes and
dedication close to heart, for the development of the Dogo Argentino was
truly a miraculous creation.
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