Dogo Argentino Temperament: Are They Safe Family Dogs?

A Dogo Argentino dog laying by the water.
© Eve Photography/

Written by Chanel Coetzee

Updated: October 16, 2023

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The Dogo Argentinos are courageous dogs with a fierce sense of duty. These dogs represent a great mix of numerous other dog breeds. Furthermore, they are strong hunters and love seeking out game and spending their days running around outdoors. A Dogo Argentino temperament combines excellent hunting instincts and unwavering loyalty to their human family. As a pet, this dog is affectionate and unafraid to show it. With their strong-willed personalities, they need an owner who is confident in being a pack leader. Even though they are not common dogs, Dogos, as they are affectionately known, are a fabulous addition to most families.

These dogs have been on numerous TV shows, including Animal Planet’s “Dogs 101”, Cesar Millan’s “Dog Whisperer,” and “Ray Donovan.” The star of “Good Bones,” Mina Starsiak, rescued her Dogo Argentino Frank, and he makes regular appearances on her Instagram. Furthermore, these dogs have proven themselves as successful search and rescue dogs, therapy animals, and military canines.


Dogo Argentinos could be mistaken for an albino Cane Corso. They are muscular dogs and have short white coats, with some black on their face, ears, or eyes. In addition, they are built like bodybuilders, with a rising back that connects their chest to their shoulders, resulting in a solid and defined dog. They have a brow that juts out, with dark oval eyes positioned just underneath. Furthermore, their upturned nose and short muzzle give them a strong sense of smell. Then, they have triangular ears that stand upright or, at times, can droop slightly to the side. A Dogo Argentino has a straight and narrow tail, and they are relatively large, weighing between 88 to 100 pounds, and can stand as high as 26.5 inches. 



The Dogo Argentino temperament gives them a strong desire to be close or in close contact with a family member.

©joseltr, CC0 – Original / License

Dogo Argentinos are astonishingly powerful dogs with surprisingly dual personalities. They can be both a loving family member and a ferocious hunter taking on a wild boar. These dogs can be fierce and gentle. However, they are not generally aggressive without good reason. The Dogo Argentino temperament gives them a strong desire to be close or in close contact with a family member. These dogs will welcome most newcomers participating in family events but will be alert for any threats and jump into action when they sense any danger. In addition, they are devoted to their human families but have a powerful prey drive. Therefore, it is advisable to keep them away from smaller dogs and cats unless they were raised together, and even then, it would be a good idea always to supervise them.

As these dogs are independent and strong-willed, they need an assertive and confident owner who will take on the role of pack leader. Additionally, they are athletic and lively dogs who can be boisterous, especially when young. Therefore, they need adequate exercise and stimulation to stay healthy and happy. It is advisable to start training them as soon as you take them home, as this can prevent any unwanted behavior.

If you wait until they are older to start training, you may land up with a headstrong dog to deal with. Also, socialization is extremely important from a young age. Puppy or kindergarten classes starting from around 10 weeks old would be a good idea. These dogs will thrive in an environment with plenty of space to run and play.    


The Dogo Argentino may need lots of physical activity to keep them happy and healthy. However, they do not require much in the way of grooming. They are not high maintenance. Their short white coats just need a quick brush with a mitt or brush once a week to alleviate too much shedding. In addition, they can be bathed with a mild shampoo only when they are visibly dirty. Like any other dog breed, their oral health is essential, and their teeth should be brushed regularly. However, their nails can grow quickly and need trimming at least once a month, depending on their activity. Furthermore, these dogs tend to develop waxy ears, so their ears should be cleaned regularly. 

Dogo Argentinos are independent and clever but not always eager to please. Therefore, they respond well to positive reinforcement when training. It is up to the owner to start training as soon as possible and to maintain a consistent and caring training routine.


The Dogo Argentino temperament allows them to be active and calm, which helps maintain good health. They do not suffer from many health issues and are generally healthy dogs. If they have the correct diet and enough physical activity, their life expectancy is between 9 and 15 years. However, their diets should be monitored closely so they do not carry extra weight. They have short coats, making them heat tolerant and allowing them to participate in intense activity without becoming overheated. However, they should always have plenty of clean drinking water and shade.

One of the biggest health concerns for these dogs is deafness, which can affect up to 10 percent of these dogs. Diligent breeders could reduce this number by half if they do not use dogs with congenital deafness. Therefore, looking for a reputable breeder who does health tests on their dogs is essential. 

Like all large dog breeds, the Dogo Argentino can also suffer from:

  • Bloat
  • Glaucoma
  • Periodontal disease: This issue affects most dog breeds. As it is a dental disease, it can be prevented by regular teeth cleaning at home or by a vet.     
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia: All large breed dogs can suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia. This is when the bone does not fit properly in the joint, leading to arthritis and pain. Luckily, it can be treated with medication or surgery.  
  • Laryngeal paralysis: This is caused by the nerve that opens and closes the larynx, opening only slightly or not at all. This can lead to increased breathing sounds or difficulty breathing. It can be treated surgically.  
  • Hypothyroidism: When a dog’s thyroid gland is underactive, it does not produce enough thyroid hormone. This can cause weight gain, low energy, and increased infection susceptibility.     


The Dogo Argentino legend started nearly a century ago in the Cordoba region of Argentina. The story begins with the Nores Martinez brothers. Antonia was a respected physician, and his brother Agustin was an attorney. When they were growing up, the wealthy brothers often hunted big game but became frustrated when they only had one or two dogs to help capture the game. In addition, at that time, cattle ranchers in Argentina were having a problem with Russian boars and pumas attacking their herds. Therefore, the Nores Matinez brothers began a selective breeding program.

They began with the historic yet now extinct fighting dogs of Cordoba. For 20 years, they crossbred these dogs with many other dog breeds to refine specific characteristics. The breeds they tried included Bull terriers, Irish wolfhounds, Spanish mastiffs, Pyrenees Mastiffs, Great Danes, and more.

Eventually, the brothers were satisfied with the massive, powerful, athletic, high-endurance dog that resulted in the crossbreeding. The result was a dog with a pack-working mentality and an even, affectionate temperament towards their humans. In addition, the primarily white coat helped the dogs stand out in the frantic landscape of a hunt—also, their courage against any threat also provided farmers and hunters with the perfect dog.

Dogo Argentinos soon spread to many other countries. However, they only made it to the United States in the 1970’s. Eventually, the American Kennel Club recognized them as a breed in 2020. 


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About the Author

Chanel Coetzee is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on big cats, dogs, and travel. Chanel has been writing and researching about animals for over 10 years. She has also worked closely with big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers at a rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa since 2009. As a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Chanel enjoys beach walks with her Stafford bull terrier and traveling off the beaten path.

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