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Dogo Argentino vs American Pitbull Terrier: Breed Differences

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Dogo Argentino vs American Pitbull Terrier

Dogo Argentinos and American Pit Bull Terriers look a lot alike at first glance, sometimes even being mixed up for one another. Is the Dogo Argentino a Pit Bull? While they both share a similar and unfortunate history, these two breeds have differences that make them separate breeds.

If you’re wondering which breed might be a better fit, there are a lot of things like size, temperament, and trainability to consider. Let’s take a look at the Dogo Argentino and the American Pit Bull Terrier to see what makes them different:Divider 4

Pitbull vs Dogo Argentino: Visual Differences

Dogo Argentino vs American Pitbull Terrier side by side

A Quick Overview

Dogs Argentino
  • Average Height (adult): 24–28 inches
  • Average Weight (adult): 70–99 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10–15 years
  • Exercise needs: 2+ hours (can be more)
  • Grooming needs: Low
  • Family-friendly: Yes, can become overprotective
  • Dog-friendly: Possibly, needs a lot of early socialization
  • Trainability: High, Needs experienced owner
American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Average Height (adult): 17–20 inches
  • Average Weight (adult): 30–60 pounds
  • Lifespan: 9–15 years
  • Exercise: 3+ hours
  • Grooming needs: Low
  • Family-friendly: Yes, can become overprotective
  • Dog-friendly: Possibly, needs a lot of early socialization
  • Trainability: Can be difficult, needs an experienced owner

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Dogo Argentino Overview

dog argentino close up
Photo Credit: wsanter, Pixabay

Originating in Argentina by a doctor in the late 1920s, Dogo Argentinos were bred to hunt boars and other big-game animals. Throughout the years, Dogo Argentinos were used for guarding work as well as companionship. While they’re highly trainable dogs with a lot of versatility, their reputation has caused a lot of controversies. They’re banned in multiple countries along with other similar breeds for being aggressive, but there has been quite a backlash from reputable breeders of these blanket breed bans.

Regardless of the blanket bans, Dogo Argentinos have been trained as service dogs, police dogs, and other jobs in which even and nonaggressive temperament is an absolute requirement.


Dogo Argentinos are both serious and playful, known for being great guard dogs as well as gentle family pets. They can easily become overprotective if they’re not socialized early and taught boundaries, even with unfamiliar children. Dogos are intelligent working dogs and can be trained for a wide variety of jobs, but their dominant personalities need a confident and experienced leader.

Although they have a negative reputation as being dangerous, they are naturally playful dogs that enjoy time spent with their families. That being said, it’s extremely important to get a Dogo Argentino from a reputable breeder to lessen the chance of aggressive behavior caused by poor breeding practices.


Training Dogo Argentinos isn’t inherently difficult on paper since they’re intelligent and generally motivated to learn, but these dogs are very aware of body language and tone. If they think they can push lines and boundaries, they will take advantage of any weakness and become the boss. Patience, consistency, and confidence are all crucial to training these dogs.

If this is your first dog, it is highly recommended to hire a professional dog breeder that specializes in these types of dogs. They also need to be socialized as early and frequently as possible, especially dogs that will be part of big families. 

dog argnetino
Photo Credit: joseltr, Pixabay


Dogo Argentinos are working dogs with loads of energy to burn off. They need at least an hour or two of off-leash roaming and playtime in an enclosed area, with a few long walks a day to stretch their legs. This is the bare minimum as most Dogo Argentinos need more exercise to prevent destructive boredom and separation anxiety.

These dogs make great hiking and camping companions and can even keep their families safe from wild big game, so they’re great for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy long hikes. Some Dogos also enjoy swimming, which is great for homesteads and properties with lakes nearby.

Grooming ✂️

Grooming Dogo Argentinos is simple since they have shorthaired coats. Brushing out the coat once a week will help reduce shedding and get rid of the debris as well. Brushing out the coat will also massage the skin and promote natural oil production. Dogo Argentinos are prone to dry skin, so bathing should only be done if absolutely necessary. After coat care, their nails need to be trimmed on a monthly basis or depending on their activity levels.

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American Pit Bull Terrier Overview

Pit Bull Blue Nose
Photo Credit: Joao Roda, Shutterstock

Few breeds are more infamous than American Pit Bull Terriers, with a lot of debate as to whether or not these dogs are safe. While dogfighting and dogfight breeding have caused significant issues for multiple breeds, American Pit Bull Terriers have had it the worst in terms of bans and breed prejudice. Originally bred for games like bearbaiting and bullbaiting, which are highly illegal now, it’s no surprise that many people today view these dogs as aggressive.

However, with responsible and selective breeding, it’s more than possible to have APBTs that are not born “vicious” or aggressive. In fact, many Pit Bulls have been trained for service and therapy work, which wouldn’t be possible if all APBTs were aggressive.


American Pit Bull Terriers vary quite a bit in temperament with some being playful and rambunctious, while other Pits are more reserved and serious. APBTs can make great family pets in the right environment, but it’s important that boundaries are established right away. Pits tend to be stubborn and dominant if they sense weakness, so a knowledgeable owner is needed. These terriers are very intelligent and highly trainable, but irresponsible breeding has had a major impact on this breed’s temperament.

As with Dogo Argentinos, it is very important to find a reputable breeder to prevent aggressive temperaments that were bred for illegal dogfighting purposes.


Obedient one second and stubborn the next, American Pit Bull Terriers can be a challenge to train. While they’re usually food-motivated and enjoy training, they will test their boundaries as much as possible. It’s important to be calm and collected when training APBTs since they can pick up on body language well. Early socialization needs to be done as early and frequently as possible, as they can become protective of their families even with unfamiliar children.

For inexperienced dog owners, Pit Bulls may be too much to handle and a professional dog trainer is highly recommended.

pit bull terrier
Image Credit: Ivanova N, Shutterstock


American Pit Bull Terriers need a lot of exercise on a daily basis as they tend to get random bursts of energy throughout the day. They need about an hour or two of off-leash running and playtime in a fenced-in area, but they could easily run around all day. APBTs enjoy going for walks as well, so it’s important that they’re leash-walked daily.

APBTs are prone to separation anxiety and destructive behaviors if not exercised enough and left home for too long, so it’s important to come up with a routine for them.

Grooming ✂️

American Pit Bull Terriers are shorthaired dogs, so grooming will be a breeze. Brushing their coats out once a week will massage their skin and help reduce shedding. Since APBTs are prone to itchy skin, brushing will help spread oils throughout their coat and relieve some of the itching. As with Dogos, bathing should only be done if it’s necessary to prevent dry skin conditions.

After coat care, their nails need to be trimmed depending on how active they are, or at least once a month.

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Health Conditions

Most Common Health Conditions of the Dogo Argentino
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Deafness
  • Obesity
  • Dental Problems
  • Bloat/GDV
Most Common Health Conditions of the American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Skin Problems
  • Allergies
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Bloat/GDV
  • Cataracts

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Final Thoughts

Dogo Argentinos and American Pit Bull Terriers have many common traits and similarities, but it’s clear that they are two separate breeds. Where the Pit Bull is leaner and smaller in size, the Dogo Argentino is bigger and stronger. Both breeds suffer from blanket bans and bad reputations, but both can be family dogs in the right environment. Dogo Argentinos are more on the serious side than American Pit Bull Terriers, but both breeds can be trained for working purposes.

If you’re looking for a medium-sized dog with a lot of personality, the American Pit Bull Terrier is a better fit. If you’re looking for a large-sized dog that needs a lot of structure in its life, the Dogo Argentino is the better option.

Featured Image Credit: (L) Eve Photography, Shutterstock | (R) J.A. Dunbar, Shutterstock

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