History of the Dogo
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 control."
Agustin Nores Martinez, History Of The Dogo Argentino
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 mankind.
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 mentally/physically challenged, 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 complete.
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 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 & consideration for recent laws, 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 took this as well as the recent changes in law which no longer allow for cropping of the ears, in several areas throughout the world, the standard now reflects the allowance of cropped or uncropped ears.
The Dogo Argentino is a slow maturing breed. Males are not fully grown 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 a "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 breathless humans!
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 because it is a white coated dog, 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 OR a BAER test print out.
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.
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 same period.
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 strive to preserve or improve on that. Breeders should always consider each breeding with a goal of achieving a perfect specimen.
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.