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

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Last Updated: September 12, 2023 | 12 min read | 33 Comments

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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. In contrast, 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 hefty pup 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, which 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 mixed with breeds like the Boxer or the husky to create the Pitsky.

Appearance

Dogs Standing Outdoors
Dogo Argentinos are primarily white, and 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. Both are powerful, sometimes scary-looking breeds. 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 purebred, this spot can only 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 coats are similar because 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, they have floppy drop-down ears, making them look less intimidating. They both have square heads with broad, friendly smiles. The APBT is also frequently compared 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. 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 powerful prey drive and a loud bark that will warn off the most arrogant 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 owner. 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 a great choice for a 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, 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 lying 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, which is very much undeserved. Due to their origins and immense-looking frames, they are still believed to be inherently vicious and untrainable. The reality, in fact, is quite the opposite.

It is often asked if the Dogo Argentino is more powerful than the Pitbull. Both breeds are quite strong, though the Pitbull is smaller and stockier. They are two very powerful breeds. Yes, they both 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 regardless of how much the media would like you to believe otherwise.

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) has been employed in various countries worldwide and 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 fantastic 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 daily exercise.

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 significantly more mental stimulation than the APBT.

The APBT is slightly more energetic out of the two breeds, and as such, he needs more intense exercise, lots of toys, and plenty of attention. He loves to play-fight with his people, play frisbee, fetch 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 lengthy 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 must 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. Training for the Dogo Argentino will need to start when they are small puppies and continue as adults.

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, and reward 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. 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 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, healthy, 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 or grinding, 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. Neither the Dogo Argentino nor the American Pitbull Terrier is hypoallergenic.

Puppy Price

Sitting Puppies Looking at Camera
ABPTs are the more affordable of 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 brief period to be adopted before they are put down simply because they are thought to be dangerous.

Pitbulls are one of the most common breeds found in shelters, meaning they are also one of the top breeds euthanized. In addition to that, many dogs are mislabeled as Pitbulls, making it harder for them to get adopted. With adoption fees costing between $50 – $350, you may save a lot of money with a rescue pup, and you will also be saving the life of a dog in need.

Can You Mix The Dogo Argentino With A Pitbull?

Yes, this mix is possible. These are called Dogo Pits and can take on characteristics from both parents. This mixed breed is an impressive specimen and can range between 35 and 100 pounds or more. Expect a friendly, sturdy dog with a strong, protective nature. These guys will vary in appearance and temperament. Pitbull mixes are very popular among mixed breeds, as they have both smarts and a striking appearance.

Final Thoughts

These guys are both similarly beautiful, and they are formidable yet kind creatures who are loyal until the end. They would protect their family in a moment 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 have a winner.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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