Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
Dog Breeds From South America
Although most of the most popular dog breeds are from Europe, Asia, and even Canada, Latin America has produced some interesting breeds. Five of my favorites are:
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
- Peruvian Hairless
- Brazilian Terriers
1. Dogo Argentino
This dog from the southern part of South America was bred to hunt but has gained an undeserved reputation as a fighting dog. The Dogo Argentino is not a fighting dog, and in fact, since he was developed to hunt in a pack the dogs are never allowed to fight each other.
Dogo Argentinos are large, about 45 kilos (around 100 pounds), muscular, and solid white with few if any markings. About 10% of the dogs are deaf, and some dogs are affected by hip dysplasia, a common disease in big dogs.
They have a life expectancy of about 10 years.
They need to be socialized young since they are so large when full grown, but Dogos are good with their family and do okay with other animals around the homestead. Since so many people think that this dog is a fighting breed, they have unfortunately been banned in the UK, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Israel, and many other countries and cities.
2. Fila Brasileiro
This big South American breed was developed to work as a livestock guard dog. These dogs are great trackers and are also used in hunting large game—many fanciers are proud that their dogs are large and powerful enough to take down a jaguar.
They like to grab their prey by the neck and then hold it down until the hunter arrives. It does not seem to be aggressive, just a normal part of their behavior.
Fila Brasileiro are big, up to about 50 kilos (around 110 pounds), with a long muzzle and loose skin like a Bloodhound. Most of them are fawn, black, or brindle, and have a black mask.
They have some health problems, like most big dogs. They are prone to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and bloat. The average life expectancy is about 10 years.
Filas are great guard dogs but need to be socialized and carefully obedience trained if strangers are going to come into their property.
They are not fighting dogs, but since they are strong and aggressive, they have been outlawed in the UK, Cyprus, Malta, Denmark, Norway, Israel, and some other areas.
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3. Peruvian Hairless Dog
This dog breed was present in South America long before the arrival of the Europeans, and even before the rise of the Incas! They may have a little hair on the top of the head, the feet, or the tail, but are usually completely hairless.
Some of these dogs are small, less than 8 kilos (about 18 pounds), but they are also seen in medium and large sizes (up to about 25 kilos, or 55 pounds). The dogs are usually slim, and although they are clean, the skin needs extra care. Some dogs also need sunscreen, and in some areas, Peruvian Hairless need coats to keep warm.
The hairless trait may be lethal, and some dogs with hair are born in almost every litter. All Peruvian Hairless are prone to epilepsy and skin lesions, and some dogs also have bowel problems.
These dogs are friendly and affectionate to their family but really are only sought out by those looking for a clean, usually healthy, hairless dog.
This is a great choice for anyone paranoid about finding fleas on their dog!
4. Brazilian Terrier
This small dog is known in Brazil as the Fox Paulistinha, and is not really popular in many other countries. They were developed using Jack Russell Terriers, Miniature Pinschers, and even Chihuahuas.
Brazilian Terriers are less than 40 cm (about 15 inches) at the shoulders. They are active, like their cousins, the Jack Russell Terrier, and when out in the countryside are likely to go after wild animals of all sizes. Fox Paulistinhas will also go after and kill pet cats, hamsters and rabbits, chickens, geese, ducks, and anything else that is moving.
They make good watchdogs, of course!
Most of these dogs are healthy and free from problems. If they have to be kept inside, they need to be walked several times a day so as not to become destructive.
At the northernmost part of Latin America, the smallest dog was developed. No one is sure where they are from, or for how long they have been around, but a location in Mexico from 300 B.C. has dog bones similar to the Chihuahua.
A toy of a Chihuahua from Veracruz, Mexico has been dated about 100 A.D.
Chihuahuas are usually less than 3 kilos (about 6 and a half pounds) and come in about any color. They have quite a few health problems—some serious, others that can be dealt with at home.
Some dogs will have hydrocephalus, a condition where the skull plates do not fuse because of fluid. Many of those dogs will not live. Others have luxating patella (trick knee), and it can be spotted at the first exam. Heart murmurs might be picked up too so these dogs should not be bred. Collapsed tracheas and epilepsy are also problems in some dogs.
At home, the eyes have to be kept clean to avoid infection. Puppies need to be fed every few hours when young to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and all dogs should have their teeth brushed daily to control dental diseases.
As they get older, feedings have to be limited in size to control obesity. Overweight Chihuahuas do not live long, but if everything is taken care of these dogs live longer than any other breed, often over 15 and up to 20 years!
Chihuahuas are often given a hard time because of their aggression, but they are also teased by humans and tossed around by some kids. They are a loyal dog, dedicated to one person around the house; except for that person they prefer to be alone or just hang out with other Chihuahuas.
Some Latin breeds, like the Chihuahua, may be available at your local animal shelter. You may even find an unusual dog there, so if you are looking for something else, be sure to visit there first and find out what is available.
You can also check Petfinder.com to find out what dogs are available from shelters in other cities. Breed rescue organizations can be found through typing your location and the breed you are looking for into your search engine.
Visit dog shows to meet breeders of the dog breed you are interested in.
Just do not by from a pet shop or an internet puppy wholesaler. You will be supporting a puppy mill and will end up with a poorly socialized dog that may be difficult to housetrain.
© 2013 Dr Mark
KDF on March 05, 2019:
When I was 19 I got a dog that we assumed was a very large all white Staff (103lbs, 22 in). Now I’m wondering if he was a Dogo. He passed away several years ago now.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 11, 2013:
They do look a lot alike. I saw a dog at the beach a few weeks ago and thought it was a Dogo Argentino but he was only about 25 kilos, so he sounds a lot like your dog.
Deafness is also common in white Boxers! Cute dogs, but I would not want to deal with that problem.
CraftytotheCore on August 11, 2013:
I'd be interested in knowing if the Dogo Argentino has been mixing with other breeds. I have a rescued pit bull mix that looks just like the second photo from the top. He is only 50 pounds though. He is white, with one brown ear and freckles on his nose. I was at the dog park one day and a lady came in with her solid white adopted dog that she thought was also a pit bull mix and the dog was deaf. I told others about this and they didn't really believe me. So I found this interesting that 10% of this breed is deaf!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 04, 2013:
Definitely not Germany, but there are some great dogs down here. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!!
Claire on June 04, 2013:
I also did not realise that there were other such breeds from latin America, and I love big dogs , so how interesting.
Mary Craig from New York on June 03, 2013:
This time you've surprised me completely. The only dog I know in this hub is the Chihuahua. This niche of yours is not only interesting and educational but so beneficial! Love it.
Voted up, useful, awesome, and interersting.