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Dogo Argentino vs. American Pitbull Terrier: Breed Differences & Similarities

Considering the Dogo Argentino and the American Pitbull Terrier for your next canine companion? These two breeds look quite similar but share some surprising differences. Find out what you can expect before welcoming either breed into your home.

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Last Updated: April 26, 2021 | 11 min read

Dogo Argentino vs Pitbull Terrier

The Dogo Argentino and the American Pitbull Terrier (APBT) are similar in looks, so much so that the Dogo Argentino is often mistaken for an APBT, and a white APBT is often mistaken for a Dogo Argentino.

They are both sociable pups, but the APBT is much more outgoing and friendly with strangers, whereas the Dogo Argentino is warier and naturally more protective of his estate with a high prey drive.

There are some distinct differences and similarities to consider when comparing the Dogo Argentino vs the Pitbull. There is no escaping that the Dogo Argentino is an intense dog, much more than the APBT, so don’t take this chap on half-heartedly. Read on to find out more about these wonderful canines!

Breed Comparison

Dogo Argentino

  • Height 24-27 Inches
  • Weight 74-100 Pounds
  • Temperament Friendly, Loyal, Reserved
  • Energy Average
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 9-15 Years
  • Price $2,000 and Up

Pitbull Terrier

  • Height 17-21 Inches
  • Weight 30-65 Pounds
  • Temperament Affectionate, Energetic, Loyal
  • Energy High
  • Health Above Average
  • Lifespan 12-16 Years
  • Price $800 and Up

Breed History

In order to understand what these guys are about, we need to look into their history.

Dogo Argentino

Two White Dogs Looking Left
Dogo Argentinos were bred as hunting dogs in Argentina.

The Dogo Argentino’s journey began in 1928 in Argentina, where he was bred by a renowned Doctor. Dr. Martinez was also a dog-lover and weekend hunter, and he wanted to create a powerful hunting dog to join him on his weekend pastime.

By breeding the now extinct Cordoba fighting dog, with several other purebred dogs, he engineered the Dogo Argentino. Dr. Martinez took him on hunting trips where he demonstrated his ability to take down mountain cats and other large animals. Over time, Dr. Martinez discovered that he had a loving and loyal pooch on his hands and one that would protect his master until the end.

Since the discovery of his caring side, he has also become a family companionship dog. The Dogo Argentino has been placed into the ‘Miscellaneous Group’ by the American Kennel Club, which is the last step towards being officially recognized as a breed.

American Pitbull Terrier

Autumn Colored Dog Looking at Camera
APBTs were bred as fighting dogs, but now have a reputation for being great family dogs.

The APBT is one of four breeds that fall under the umbrella term ‘Pitbull’ type dog; a Pitbull is not a breed itself but a descriptive term for dogs bred from Bulldogs and Terriers. The three other breeds are American Bully, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

It is common for other breeds to be incorrectly labeled as Pitbull as most people do not fully understand what Pitbull means, and even the professionals get it wrong too at times.

The APBT is a descendant of dogs bred in England for bull-baiting. Dog fighting in America became a popular sport in the 1800s, and when this sport was outlawed in England in 1835 immigrants took him to America where they continued to fight him.

They bred the biggest and best fighting dogs to create a more powerful fighter, and this was how the APBT was born. Because of the APBT’s origin, he now has a bad reputation for being naturally vicious; however, this is not true.

Since dog fighting became illegal the dogs have been bred for their sweeter-side and are now used as farm dogs or as family companionship dogs.  They are also popular with the designer dog crowd, often being mixed with breeds like the boxer, or the husky to create the Pitsky.

Appearance

Dogs Sanding Outdoors
Dogo Argentinos are mostly white whereas APBTs come in a collection of colors.

The Dogo Argentino and the APBT are quite similar in their appearance as they are both quite stocky and muscular, and as such the Dogo Argentino is often mistaken for the APBT and vice versa. There are, however, a few differences that set them apart from one another.

The Dogo Argentino stands taller at 24 to 27 inches, and weighs 85 to 100 pounds, whereas the APBT stands slightly shorter at 18 to 21 inches and weighs 35 to 65 pounds. Some would describe the Dogo Argentino as the larger brother, having the same muscular frame but much bigger and more imposing.

The Dogo Argentino comes in one color and that is white. He is allowed to have one dark spot on his head that covers one eye, however, if you would like to register him as a pure breed then this spot is only allowed to cover up to 10% of his head.

The APBT is born in a vast array of colors and almost all are accepted, except in merle. Their coat is similar in that they both have very short and shiny hair.

Both breeds are often subject to ear cropping procedures in order to keep with traditional looks; however, this is slowly becoming less common. If the ears aren’t cropped, then they have floppy drop-down ears which make them look less intimidating. They both have square heads with a wide friendly smile!  The APBT is also compared frequently to the American Bulldog.

Temperament

Very Happy Smiling Dogs
Though both breeds are incredibly loyal, Dogo Argentinos make better guard dogs.

Despite the Dogo Argentino and the APBT being very similar in appearance, they are distinctly different in temperament.

The Dogo Argentino is very much a protective dog, and as such he has strong guarding tendencies that will always come through no matter how much you might not want them to. He is wary of strangers and will protect his estate if he thinks there is something of concern to him or his pack.

He has a very strong prey drive and a very loud bark that will warn off the most arrogant of intruders. Some would say that a Dogo Argentino is not the best breed for those with young children, however, many parents of this breed would disagree and say that they have co-existed with their young children just fine.

The Dogo Argentino is particularly stubborn and as such, he needs a dominant master, if he doesn’t feel that you are dominant enough then he will be likely to dismiss you entirely. For this reason, he is not for the novice dog owner.

The APBT, although needing a pack leader to keep him in line, is unlikely to attempt to assume the ‘top-dog status of the household. For this reason, the APBT is much easier to handle.

The APBT is dissimilar to the Dogo Argentino in that he has little to no guarding tendencies. So, if it is a guard dog you are after then the Dogo Argentino is the better option.

The APBT is very sociable with all that are happy to play with him, both family and strangers alike, and for this reason, APBT fanciers say he would make a terrible guard dog. He does, however, make a great sibling for young children and is said to be very gentle and protective of them, which is why they are also known as ‘nanny dogs.”

Where they are similar in that they are both affectionate and loving towards their family, and you will often find yourself sitting on the sofa with them laying across your lap at the end of the day, or any time of day if you have an APBT!

These guys both have a terrible reputation and one which is very much undeserved. Due to their origins and their immense looking frames, they are still believed to be inherently vicious and untrainable. The reality, in fact, is quite the opposite.

Yes, they are powerful. Yes, they have a strong bite. And yes, if they are raised to be dangerous then they will be exactly that. But the same goes for any dog breed. These guys are just as good as the owner that raises them, however much the media would like you to believe otherwise.

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) has been employed in various countries and various states throughout America. There are many different laws and rules regarding both these breeds, such as compulsory muzzle wearing, obtaining special insurance, mandatory sterilization, or even outright bans on owning either breed. If you are considering either of these dogs it is imperative that you research the local laws and how this will affect you.

If you raise them correctly, you will have a well-behaved and well-balanced pup. Of course, you need to do your research to see if they will suit you and your lifestyle. A great way to get an insight into how awesome they are as pets in their family setting is to check them out on Social Media. Pugsley the Pitbull shows us all exactly how loving and affectionate these guys really are.

Exercise

Dogs Running Outside
Pitbulls tend to be more energetic than Dogo Argentinos, but they both need about an hour of daily exercise.

The Dogo Argentino and the APBT are similar in their exercise needs in that they are medium energy dogs and they both need around 60 minutes of exercise a day.

They do differ, however, in that the Dogo Argentino is more likely to become bored and uninterested than the APBT, so to keep him entertained you must switch up activities. He needs more mental stimulation than the APBT for sure.

The APBT is slightly more energetic out of the two breeds, and as such he needs more intense exercise and loves to play-fight with his masters, or play frisbee, ball, or take part in doggy agility courses. But he is happy doing the same thing every day as long as he gets to interact with his master!

Both breeds can become highly destructive if they become bored or are left on their own for long periods of time. It goes without saying that they could cause a significant amount of damage in a short space of time if they were to become restless. Both these breeds need companionship, so if you have to leave them at home a lot you should consider a less intense breed.

Training

Dogs Responding to Sit Command
Since Dogo Argentinos can be more stubborn, more involved training is needed.

The Dogo Argentino and the APBT require similar approaches to training, but the Dogo Argentino will require a much more disciplined approach. As stated earlier, the Dogo Argentino is strong-willed and it will take an even stronger-willed master to prevent him from becoming unruly or obnoxious.

If you don’t think you are up to this challenge then do not take him on, for you will most definitely lose and risk upsetting the household dynamic. With that being said, they are both intelligent dogs that love nothing more than to please their master.

Consistent positive reinforcement training is the way to go with these guys, and the rule is to never react in a negative way to the dog, no matter what behavior he exhibits. If you react to a dog negatively, they too will react negatively. Be positive, treat him will small treats and plenty of verbal praise if he displays good behaviors or has learned commands.

If he is displaying unwanted behaviors, a stern no or simply ignoring him will teach him that this behavior is wrong. Obedience training with a professional trainer would be particularly useful for the Dogo Argentino to instill discipline into his routine.

Both breeds need to be socialized from a very early age. It is suggested by some websites that neither of these breeds is particularly welcoming to other dogs and combining that with the Dogo Argentino’s high prey drive, these guys would really benefit from being taken to puppy school.

Socialization is important to ensure that they are comfortable with all humans and other animals in a variety of situations, and it will teach them to recognize that in most cases neither man nor dog is a threat.

You’ll also want to make sure you pick the right crate size for your pup, which is important in crate training. A crate that’s too big can mean that your dog potties inside the crate, and one too small and you’ll have a pup that feels cramped.

Health

Dogs With a Stethoscope
Both breeds have few health issues and are generally healthy pooches.

Generally, the Dogo Argentino and the APBT are healthy dogs without too many major concerns. The Dogo Argentino is estimated to live between the ages of 9 to 15, whereas the APBT lives slightly longer at 12 to 16. Both breeds are known to suffer from skin allergies.

The APBT’s main health concerns that he is tested for are Cerebellar Abiotrophy and Hip Dysplasia. Physical impairment and mobility are affected by Cerebellar Abiotrophy, as this is where the part of the brain that controls coordination and balance is damaged, less commonly it can also cause cognitive impairment. Hip Dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip joint, which can lead to crippling arthritis.

It is estimated that around 10% of Dogo Argentinos are born deaf. The reason the percentage is so high is that they are pure white in color. Pigment-related deafness can occur in other breeds too, such as the English Bull Terrier. All reputable breeders are required to conduct a BAER test, which is an electrodiagnostic test that examines the components of his ears to identify if he is deaf.

Hypothyroidism, which is where the gland that controls metabolism and energy levels is ineffective, can also affect this breed but he is not required to be tested for it.

Nutrition

Human Hands Feeding Dogs a Treat
High-quality kibble with all the right nutrients is ideal for your Dogo Argentino or APBT.

The APBT needs a high-quality kibble and will consume 2 ½ cups of food a day. The Dogo Argentino will consume slightly more at three cups a day. As they are both prone to skin allergies, the Veterinarian might suggest a specialized kibble, but in any case, high-quality food is always best to keep your beloved pet in the best condition.

Grooming

Dogs Getting Baths
Special attention needs to be given to either breed’s skin, which is prone to sensitivity.

The Dogo Argentino and the APBT both have short hair, and as such, they only require a brush once a week. This is more to remove any dead hair and to keep them looking shiny. Other grooming practices such as nail trimming should be completed every two to three weeks, and ear and dental cleaning should be completed every week, which is the same as your average pup.

Both of these guys are similar in their bathing requirements in that they only require a bath every two or three months. They do tend to get dirty while out exercising (or hunting in the Dogo Argentino’s case) and so you should bathe them as required.

Try not to bathe them too often as this can damage their natural skin oils. You can get doggy wipes and dry shampoo to keep them clean and smelling fresh without the need for bathing.

It is common for these guys to have sensitive skin and develop skin allergies. If they do have skin allergies then you may need to treat or bathe their skin with medicated ointments as instructed by the Veterinarian, and if so, bathing may be required more often.

Puppy Price

Sitting Puppies Looking at Camera
ABPTs are the more affordable breed between the two.

The Dogo Argentino is more expensive at around $2,000 from a reputable breeder, whereas the APBT costs, on average $800 to $1,500. If you want a Dogo Argentino from an award-winning hunting bloodline, then you should expect to pay anywhere up to $4,000.

Regarding the APBT, the more desirable the characteristics the more you can expect to pay. For example, one of the most popular APBT colors is blue, so expect him to be more expensive than the other colors.

You could also consider rescuing either a Dogo Argentino or an APBT from a shelter. There are much fewer Dogo Argentinos in kennels than there are APBTs, but there are hundreds of thousands of APBTs desperate for a home. They are almost always euthanized immediately or are given a short period to be adopted before they are put down, simply because they are thought to be dangerous.

A study found that 93% of Pitbulls in shelters were euthanized. With adoption fees costing between $50 – $350, you could be saving a lot of money, as well as be saving a life!

Final Thoughts

These guys are both similarly beautiful, they are formidable yet kind creatures who are loyal until the end! They would protect their master and his family if the moment ever arose. They are both playful and energetic and will supply you with a lot of laughter and fun.

Coming from a Pitbull-type dog parent, despite websites suggesting they aren’t great with dogs, it really does depend on the pup. My boy is so chilled that he was used in Rescue Kennels to profile the newbies to see if they could be rehomed with other dogs! He is super relaxed around all animals (except flies, they really do drive him nuts!) and so it really is dependent on their upbringing.

If you are a novice dog owner then it is not suggested to take a Dogo Argentino on as your first pup, the APBT would be much better suited to you. Otherwise, these are both great choices for anyone who has the resources and time to dedicate to them.

Whoever you decide to pick, if you can brave the looks and the critics, then you’re onto a winner.

Leave a Comment

18 Comments

JameySternhagen

October 18, 2019 at 2:52 am

I just recently lost my doggo I rescued him from a fighting pit 12 years ago I thought it was my last day on Earth. But I was able to get out of there with the best friend I ever had. He was the smartest dog I've ever seen or have ever met.

He died of old age the night he passed he kissed me on the nose he winked at me he laid down and passed away. My wife and I will miss him dearly the best thing that ever happened to us was finding him.

Kelly Wilson

October 20, 2019 at 6:01 pm

Sounds like a great dog, thanks for stopping in and sharing your story!

Glenn

November 16, 2019 at 3:22 am

I rescued a dogo I’ve been a hounds man all my life . And I wish I would have known about the dogo. When I was young, the most well minored smartest hunting and family friend I’ve ever seen. I'm just in love with this breed it’s a pleasure to have rascal.

Kelly Wilson

November 25, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Thanks for the comment Glenn!

Steven Morris

December 20, 2019 at 5:44 pm

Im not sure if its just the 2 dogos that i have had but they have done great with small dogs , cats and small children. Super affection and want nothing more than to be close to you. But they do shed alot more than an American Pitbull Terrier. White hair all over the place. And endless amounts of kisses.

Kelly Wilson

December 27, 2019 at 1:53 pm

Sounds like a great pup Steven, thanks for the comment! We have friends with Dogos and totally get the shedding part!

Cory

April 3, 2020 at 10:41 pm

The Dogo is absolutely not for novices. But if you are an experienced dog handler than they are the best dogs you’ll ever own.

Kelly Wilson

April 4, 2020 at 1:49 am

Thanks for the comment Cory, we agree!

Emily

December 21, 2020 at 4:55 pm

Thank you for this article. I was given a Dogo/APBT mix this weekend. Prior to this weekend, I'd never heard of a Dogo before. Your article is very informative for a first-timer. She seems to be fitting in well with the rest of the pack...a Yorkie, a red bone coon hound, and two heelers.

Kelly Wilson

December 21, 2020 at 5:27 pm

Thanks for the comment, Emily! Sounds like you've got yourself a great pup!

Jeff Fitzpatrick

December 31, 2020 at 10:21 am

I’ve had dogs my whole life from German Shepards to Chihuahuas. I got a Dogo a year ago and I love Pancho to death. He definitely has an attitude and can be a bit defiant but this Dogo is smart as hell. This by far is the most athletic dog for his size that I’ve ever seen.

He runs and jumps (and man can he jump) like a deer and he’s about 110lbs. He’s fairly friendly to my friends at first and when he gets to know them he’s great. He always wants to play. He loves to fetch and play tug of war. He’s very physical and just super strong!!

But, he loves to love on me as well!! You are right about getting a Dogo they can be frustrating and hard-headed but they are also great guard and watchdogs. People definitely think twice about approaching me he looks like he could eat you for lunch with that muscular body and size. People always ask me what kind of dog he is because they are rarely seen around. I wouldn’t trade Pancho for the world!! Great dogs!!!

Kelly Wilson

January 1, 2021 at 7:12 pm

Sounds like an Amazing dog Jeff! Thank you for taking the time to stop by and comment!

Lance D Stach

January 13, 2021 at 9:15 pm

Thanks for actually being a lot closer to the truth. I'm tired of websites saying these dogs are like all ways. I have owned both and currently have a 6-year-old Dogo. The Dogo is truly a challenging dog and the trainers I have used will say people don't understand what a Dogo is because of the websites that give false information about this breed.

Kelly Wilson

January 14, 2021 at 4:40 am

Thanks for the compliment, Lance! Yes, it takes a very special type of dog owner to own and maintain a Dogo. But they can be excellent family pups when they are well trained. We appreciate you taking the time to stop by and comment!

Maria Videla

May 15, 2021 at 2:02 am

Thanks so much for this great article. We own two APBT, one pure breed and the other one a rescue and love how friendly they are with our kids and family. It's sad that because their reputation is so bad, it's hard to socialize them at the dog park for example or with neighbor dogs. Thanks for spreading such valuable information!

Kelly Wilson

May 15, 2021 at 12:47 pm

Thanks for commenting Maria! We appreciate that you've gotten value out of this article!

Lisa

May 21, 2021 at 7:07 pm

I've always wondered if Dogo's and APBT's were somehow related since their body structure (and large bowling ball sized heads!) are so similar. I've shared my home with a Staffy, 2 Pit/Lab mixes, and an American Bully. My American Bully loves people but he is not a fan of larger or herding dogs (he really hates the "Border Collie Stare") but puppies are A-OK. He would have been an amazing agility dog but during training, we found he had some structural issues so he's now a Nose Work dog and loves it!

My Pit/Lab mixes have completely different personalities but one was rescued as a young adult and one as a puppy. Thankfully they both love agility so it keeps them busy. Dogo's are beautiful and I've often considered getting one in the future. This article was so helpful and full of good advice. I really appreciate the positive outlook for both breeds provided in the article. Thank you for the information.

Kelly Wilson

May 22, 2021 at 2:34 pm

Hi Lisa! Thanks for stopping by to comment, and appreciate your feedback. Glad you found the information useful!