A perfect intersection of the canines is more important than the overall bite itself, which can be scissors or level. (In exceptional cases we can also accept a reverse scissors bite, if the following requirements are met). The lower canines must be positioned perfectly inside the space between the two upper canines, and be flanked by the first incisor. A holding dog must have canines that intersect perfectly. The teeth must be large and healthy, all the better if all the premolars are present.
When I bought my first bitch 20 years ago, the first thing that I counted were the eight little black flecks in her undercoat. I remember that I did not sleep for a week. Today, it is one of the last things I look at.
The whiter the Dogo’s coat, the happier we are. But for a dog that owes its survival to other functional qualities, the pure aesthetics of the coat are a secondary concern.
The Dogo’s white coat is an important facet of type. But so is correct structure and substance, without which the Dogo would not survive long in the field.
Pure white is a color that has spread to many dog breeds. It is the color of domestication. In the most cultures, white signals animals of worth, and they are frequently assigned a symbolic value.
Coat color in dogs is determined by different pigments. Other animals, including birds and insects, can produce many different pigments. But dogs, like all mammals, can produce a limited number, the melanins, of which there are two types: eumelanin (responsible for black pigment) and feumelanin (responsible for brown pigment).
Selecting for white is not simple, because this color is not regulated by just one gene. In the Dogo Argentino, several different loci (S, C and T) influence the coat. The gene that interests us most is in the S allele series, which completely inhibits melanins and produces a pure white. In fact, in the S locus one finds the alleles that determine the presence of any pigment in the coat. The first allele of this locus, S, determines the complete pigmentation of the body surface. Other alleles regulate the depigmentation of other parts of the coat. The final allele in the series, sw, determines the appearance of a completely white coat.
Thanks to the sw allele, the dark color disappears almost completely, or, as often happens in the absence of very specific selection, appears only in small, asymmetrical areas that exist only around the eyes, on the ears or at the base of the tail.
Because the sw allele is recessive, it is natural to wonder how it is possible that two white dogs can produce offspring with black markings on the eye, tail or ears.
A peculiarity of the S allele series is the presence of minor genes called modifiers whose actions are independent of those of the primary genes. Some gene modifiers increase the extent of the pigmented areas and are referred to as “plus”; others that reduce the pigment area are “minus.”
It is the presence of gene modifiers that creates the appearance of spots around the eye of the Dogo.
The marking around the eye cannot be more than 10 percent of the surface of the head. Clearly, this is an approximate measure, because it is impossible to measure while a judge is assessing other traits of type and conformation. The dark marking (better if it is black) should not be too extensive; in this way it is aesthetically pleasing and not distracting.
Other genes that affect coat color in the Dogo Argentino are found in the T series. The allele in the T series is responsible for flecking in the white areas; it also produces mottling on the pure white carried by the sw gene.
In winter, the Dogo coat develops an undercoat that at times might carry gray hairs. It is better if the white of the coat stays pure throughout all the seasons, and also if the undercoat is a pure white.
The white of the Dogo Argentino should not be confused with albinism, which is regulated by a gene in the C series. Fortunately, albino dogs are very rare; albinism causes the inhibition or total lack of any pigment in the coat, skin or mucous membranes. To sum up, the white of the Dogo is a white from the sw allele. It is affected only by the genes of the T series, which create the mottling of the coat, which is not desirable. But the coat is never the result of albinism from the presence of the C series genes.
The coat is short, but not smooth, and has a glossy texture. It should never appear soft or fluffy. In certain dogs I have seen a pigmentation of the nose, along with the mucous membranes, that is brown. This is a very serious fault because it indicates the presence of recessives that are not desirable. A Dogo with such brown pigment of the nose or mucosa should not be bred and should be disqualified from competition.
Depth of thorax – and by extension, good breathing capacity – is vital in a Dogo. At minimum, the chest should reach the elbow and, ideally a little lower.
A Dogo should never be aggressive toward humans. A Dogo who growls at the judge or the handler should be removed from the ring.
Pay attention to aggression toward animals of the same sex! In a dog that has never been used in the field, same-sex dog aggression can be normal and tolerable enough, but, again, human aggression is never to be permitted.
The relationship between the height at the withers and the length of body identifies the Dogo as a breed that is rectangular and not square. As a result, his tendency is to trot rather than gallop.
Of course, any given Dogo can certainly gallop well, but the breed’s proportions, along with its angulation, predispose it to be a good trotter with good reach. The agile and loose trot demonstrates that the Dogo is a mesomorph, not a brachymorph with a heavy gait.
The gait of the Dogo is almost feline. His movement is agile and quick, and he is always aware of what is going on around him.
When the Dogo’s interest is aroused, his reactions become very rapid, and his attitude change is very obvious.
In this case, he is able to break into a rapid and strong gallop, to bring him quickly to his prey.
In the first phase of the hunt, the dog uses the trot or pace to carefully follow the tracks of his prey. When the distance between him and the game begins to close, his interest is abruptly awakened, and the Dogo’s attitude begins to change, and with it his gait. The final gait that the Dogo uses to close in on the game is the gallop.
The final hundreds of meters that separate the Dogo from his prey are the ones in which he expresses his maximum strength: He launches himself at the game to hold it.
It is important to remember that on a hunt, before reaching the prey, one must cover many kilometers on foot, with dogs following the boar tracks. If the Dogo did not have endurance, with a good foundation, he would arrive at a fight for his life, lacking for oxygen and strength.
To recap, the essential characteristics that a Dogo must have are: rusticity, substance, hard expression, a muzzle that can scent but that is strong, a deep thorax, broad chest, and an alert and combative character.