IS THE DOGO RIGHT FOR ME?

(Copied and revised by Heather Muzzey of Diamondcrest Kennels from an article by Pam Green "Don't Buy a Bouvier”)

Because you have landed here, we assume you must be at least toying with the idea of adding a Dogo to your home. You have doubtless already heard what a marvelous companion a Dogo can be. How they are loyal and majestic with a powerful presence but please also know that THE DOGO IS NOT THE PERFECT BREED FOR EVERYONE.

As a breed, they have a few features that some people find charming, but that some people find mildly unpleasant and some people find it downright intolerable. There are different breeds for different needs. There are over 200 purebred breeds of dogs in the world. Maybe you'd be better off with some other breed. Maybe you'd be better off with a cat. Maybe you'd be better off with goldfish, a parakeet, a hamster, or some houseplants.

DON'T GET A DOGO if you are attracted to the breed chiefly by its appearance. A dog's breed doesn't make you look more MANLY! If you would like a dog because you think he looks tough or makes you look powerful, this is not a reason to get a Dogo. Once they grow out of their "cute" puppy stage, the Dogo is a ~80-100+ lb. dog that requires heavy socialization and training by an experienced owner, as they are not a "happy-go-lucky" breed - they may not "love" everyone they meet. They may be indifferent to other people and dogs and VERY protective of their family and home. Dogos are unique, intensely loyal, protective, sensitive, and serious dogs - traits that require thoughtful consideration before adopting a dog.

DON'T GET A DOGO if you can't give him a job. This breed needs mental stimulation, in addition to regular training and exercise. Whether her job is hog hunting, herding animals on a farm or protecting your family this breeds needs to do something. This is not a breed that does well at a dog daycare type of facility. Additionally, you cannot leave the dog in the yard for 8-10 hours a day while you go to work. If they do not get their mental stimulation needs met, they will find other ways to entertain themselves. This can manifest as fence fighting with a neighbor’s dog, digging holes and chewing on things they are not supposed to.

DON'T GET A DOGO if you don't intend to educate (train) your dog. Basic obedience and household rules training is not optional! As an absolute minimum, you must teach him to reliably respond to commands to come, to lie down, to stay and to walk at your side. You must also teach him to respect your household rules: e.g., Is he allowed to get on the furniture? Is he allowed to beg at the table? What you allow or forbid is unimportant; but it is critical that you, not the dog, make these choices and that you enforce your rules consistently. You must commit yourself to attending an 8 to 10 week series of weekly lessons at a local obedience club or professional trainer and to doing one or two short (5 to 20 minutes) homework sessions per day. As commands are learned, they must be integrated into your daily life by being used whenever appropriate and enforced consistently.

Young Dogo puppies are relatively easy to train: they are eager to please, intelligent and calm-natured, with a relatively good attention span. Once a DOGO has learned something, he tends to retain it well. Your cute, sweet little puppy will grow up to be a large, powerful dog with a highly self-assertive personality and the determination to finish whatever he starts. If he has grown up respecting you and your rules, then all his physical and mental strength will work for you. But if he has grown up without rules and guidance from you, surely he will make his own rules, and his physical and mental powers will often act in opposition to your needs and desires. 
For example: he may tow you down the street as if competing in a weight pull trial; he may grab food off the table; he may forbid your guests entry to his home. This training cannot be delegated to someone else, e.g., by sending the dog away to "boarding school," because the relationship of respect and obedience is personal between the dog and the individual who does the training. This is true of all dogs to a greater or lesser degree, but definitely to a very great degree in the DOGO. While you may want the help of an experienced trainer to teach you how to train your dog, you yourself must actually train your Dogo. As each lesson is well learned, then the rest of the household (except young children) must also work with the dog, insisting he obey them as well.

Many of the Dogo's that are rescued from pounds and shelters show clearly that they have received little or no basic training, neither in obedience nor in the household department; yet these same dogs respond well to such training by the rescuer or the adopter. It seems likely that a failure to train the dog is a significant cause of DOGO abandonment. If you don't intend to educate your dog during puppyhood, you would be better off with a breed that is both small and socially submissive, e.g., a Shetland Sheepdog. Such a dog does require training, but a little bit goes further than with a Dogo. The DOGO can, with adequate training, excel at such working competitions as field trials and hunt tests, obedience, agility and tracking.

⭐DON'T GET A DOGO if you lack leadership and a self-assertive personality. Dogs do not believe in social equality. They live in a social hierarchy led by a pack-leader (Alpha). The alpha dog is generally benevolent, affectionate and non-bullying towards his subordinates; but there is never any doubt in his mind or in theirs that the alpha is the boss and makes the rules. Whatever the breed, if you do not assume the leadership, the dog will do so sooner or later, and with more or less unpleasant consequences for the abdicating owner.

Like the untrained dog, the pack leader dog makes his own rules and enforces them against other members of the household by means of a dominant physical posture and a hard-eyed stare, followed by a snarl, then a knockdown blow or a bite.

Breeds differ in tendencies towards social dominance and individuals within a breed differ considerably. The DOGO as a breed tends to be of a socially dominant personality. You really cannot afford to let a Dogo become your boss. You do not have to have the personality or mannerisms of a Marine boot camp Sergeant, but you do have to have the calm, quiet self-assurance and self-assertion of the successful disciplinarian ("Because I'm your mother, that's why.") or successful middle school teacher and sometimes like a prison guard in that you must always be willing to enforce the rules of the household. If you think you might have difficulty asserting yourself calmly and confidently to exercise leadership, then choose a breed known for its socially subordinate disposition, such as a Golden Retriever or a Lab. If the whole idea of "being the boss" frightens or repels you, don't get a dog at all. Cats don't expect leadership. A caged bird or hamster or fish doesn't need leadership or household rules. Leadership and training are inextricably intertwined: leadership personality enables you to train your dog and being trained by you reinforces your dog's perception of you as the alpha.

DON'T GET A DOGO if you want a totally unaggressive and non-protective dog. Most DOGOs have an assertive and confident personality. When confronted with a threat, a proper Dogo will be more ready to fight than to flee. Thus he may respond aggressively in situations where many other breeds back down. Most DOGOs have some inclination to act aggressively to repel intruders on their territory (i.e., your home) and to counteract assaults upon their pack mates (you and your family). Without training and leadership from you to guide him, the dog cannot judge correctly whom to repel and whom to tolerate. Without training and leadership, sooner or later he may injure an innocent person who will successfully sue you for more than you own. With good training and leadership from you, he can be profoundly valuable as a defender of your home and family (see also remarks on stability and socialization below).

If you feel no need of an assertive dog, if you are embarrassed by a barking dog at your door, or if you have the slightest doubts of your ability and willingness to supply the essential socialization, training and leadership, then please choose one of the many breeds noted for thoroughly unaggressive temperament.

DON'T GET A DOGO if you are unwilling to share your life with your dog. They thrive on companionship and they want to be wherever you are. A puppy exiled from the house is likely to grow up to be unsociable (fearful and/or unprovokedly aggressive), unruly, and unhappy. He may well develop pastimes, such as digging or barking, that will displease you and/or your neighbors. Likewise if your job or other obligations prevent you from spending much time with your dog. No dog is really happy without companionship, but the pack hounds are more tolerant of being kenneled or yarded so long as it is in groups of 2 or more. A better choice would be a cat, as they are solitary by nature.

DON'T GET A DOGO if you don't value companionship and affection. A Dogo becomes deeply attached and devoted to his own family. Some are noticeably reserved, others are more outgoing. They make remarkable eye contact with their favorite people. They like to be near you, usually in the same room, preferably on a comfortable pad or cushion in a corner or under a table, just "keeping you company." They enjoy conversation, petting and cuddling when you offer it, and sometimes even when you don't. They are emotionally sensitive to their favorite people: when you are joyful, proud, angry or grief-stricken, your Dogo will immediately perceive it and will believe himself to be the cause. The relationship can be one of great mellowness, depth and subtlety; it is a relation on an adult-to-adult level. As puppies, of course, they will be more dependent, more playful and more demonstrative.

DON'T GET A DOGO if you are fastidious about the neatness of your home. Although it is technically true that DOGOs do not shed long coats and do not require professional grooming, they do "blow coat" at least twice a year and your house will be full of "dust bunnies" tumble weeding their way about your house. I don't mean to imply that you must be a slob or slattern to live happily with a DOGO, but you do have to have the attitude that your dog's company means more to you than does neatness and you do have to be comfortable with a less than immaculate house. All dogs, like all children, create a greater or lesser degree of household mess.

DON'T GET A DOGO if you dislike daily physical exercise. DOGOs need exercise to maintain the health of heart and lungs and to maintain muscle tone. An adult Dogo should have a morning outing of a mile or more, as you walk briskly, jog or bicycle beside him, and a similar evening outing. For puppies, shorter and slower walks, several times a day are preferred for exercise and housebreaking. But, more than just walks, you need to "work" your Dogo. The Dogo was bred to hunt and work hard and they still thrive on it. Anyone who owns one should be able to devote at least 20 minutes a day working, training, retrieving or playing with them. DOGOs that are not worked - both physically and mentally - are prone to mischief and will not "think." These active, intelligent dogs need jobs and responsibilities - it is best if you designate what these jobs are - you might not agree with what your Dogo decides is important!

DON'T GET A DOGO if you believe that dogs should run "free." Whether you live in town or country, no dog can safely be left to run "free" outside your fenced property and without your direct supervision and control. The price of such "freedom" is inevitably injury or death: from dogfights, from automobiles, from the Pound or from justifiably irate neighbors.

DON'T GET A DOGO if you can't afford to buy, feed and provide health care for one. DOGOs are not a cheap breed to buy, as running a careful breeding program with due regard for temperament, trainability and physical soundness cannot be done cheaply. The time the breeder should put into each puppy's "pre-school" and socialization is also costly. The "bargain" puppy from a "back-yard breeder" who unselectively mates any two Dogos who happen to be of opposite sex may well prove to be extremely costly in terms of bad temperament, bad health and lack of essential socialization.

Being large dogs, DOGOs eat relatively large meals; need I add that what goes in one end must eventually come out the other? Large dogs tend to have larger veterinary bills, as the amount of anesthesia and of most medications is proportional to body weight. Finally, the modest fee for participation in a series of basic obedience training classes is an essential investment in harmonious living with your dog; such fees are the same for all breeds, although conceivably you will need to travel a bit further from home to find a training class teacher who is competent with the more formidable breeds, such as the Dogo. The modest annual outlays for immunizations and for local licensing are generally the same for all breeds, although some counties have a lower license fee for spayed/neutered dogs. All dogs, of whatever breed and however cheaply acquired, require significant upkeep costs and all are subject to highly expensive veterinary costs.

DON'T GET A DOGO if you are not willing to commit yourself for the dog's entire lifetime. No dog deserves to be cast out because his owners want to move to a no-pet apartment or because he is no longer a cute puppy or didn't grow up to be a beauty contest winner or because his owners through lack of leadership and training have allowed him to become an unruly juvenile delinquent with a repertoire of undesirable behaviors. The prospects of a responsible and affectionate second home for a "used" dog are never very bright, but they are especially dim for a large, poorly mannered dog. A Dogo dumped into a Pound or Shelter has almost no chance of survival unless he has the great good fortune to be spotted by someone dedicated to Dogo Rescue. The prospects for adoption for a youngish, well-trained Dogo whose owner seeks the assistance of the nearest Dogo Club or Rescue group are fairly good; but an older Dogo has diminishing prospects. Be sure to contact your breeder, breed organization or Rescue group if you are diagnosed as terminally ill or have other equally valid reason for seeking an adoptive home. Be sure to contact your breeder or rescuer if you are beginning to have difficulties in training your Dogo, so these can be resolved. Be sure to make arrangements in your will or with your family to ensure continued care or adoptive home for your Dogo if you should pre-decease him. The life span of a Dogo is between 10 and 12 years. If that seems too long a time for you to give an unequivocal loyalty to your Dogo, then please do not get one! Indeed, as most dogs have a life expectancy that is as long or longer, please do not get any dog!

CONCLUSION

If all the preceding "bad news" about the DOGO hasn't turned you away from the breed, then by all means DO GET A DOGO! They are every bit as wonderful as you have heard! If buying a puppy, be sure to shop carefully for a responsible and knowledgeable breeder who places high priority on breeding for sound temperament and trainability and good health in all pairings. Such a breeder will interrogate and educate potential buyers carefully. Such a breeder will continue to be available for advice and consultation for the rest of the puppy's life and will insist on receiving the dog back if ever you are unable to keep it. However, as an alternative to buying a DOGO puppy, you may want to give some serious consideration to adopting a rescued Dogo. Despite the irresponsibility of their previous owner, rescued DOGOs have proven to be rehabilitated so as to become superb family companions for responsible and affectionate adopters. Many rescuers are skilled trainers who evaluate temperament and provide remedial training before offering dogs for placement and who offer continued advisory support afterwards. Visit DCDogos.org to view available dogs and fill out an adoption application.

Copied and revised by Heather Muzzey of Diamondcrest Dogos atDiamondcrestkennels.com from an article by Pam Green "Don't Buy a Bouvier”