National Dog of Guatemala

Though the Guatemalan Dogo is not yet accepted by the FCI or AKC, it is officially recognized by the Asociación Canofila Guatemalteca, or Guatamalan Canophilia Association, and frankly, it would be curious for the organization not to acknowledge the only breed native to Guatemala, and the national dog of its own country as decreed in 1981.

Before we get to the breed’s background, readers will notice this breed’s strong similarity to the Dogo Argentino. In fact, the two breeds are totally unrelated. The Guatemalan Dogo was created out of the Bull Terrier, Boxer, and Dalmatian, and while the Dogo Argentino also has Bull Terrier and Boxer behind it, its DNA also includes the Pointer, Great Dane, Pyrenean Mastiff, and Bulldog. Also, the Guatemalan Dogo was already in existence at the end of the 19th century. This is known because of twelve photographs taken in that time period that show the Galusser family with dogs that look like Dogo Guatemaltecos. The Dogo Argentino, on the other hand, was developed in the mid-1920 making the Dogo Guatemalan the older of the two breeds.

For most of the 1900s, the Guatemalan Dogo was called the Guatemalan Bullterrier, largely because the English Bullterrier was so significant in the formation of the breed. The name was changed by the Asociación Canofila Guatemalteca at the end of the 20th century because the phenotypic characteristics of the breed were molosser.

Around the 1990s, the Guatemalan Canophila Association asked the veterinarian and zoo technician, Dr. Arturo Chávez, to study the breed in order to establish a breed standard so that one day, international recognition might be sought. “Carrying out this task has been a challenge but also a great satisfaction, because it is my hobby,” said Dr. Chávez at the time, but saving the breed meant placing advertisements in the country’s newspapers to encourage breed owners to attend meetings, and some brought along their dogs. Dr. Chávez noticed not only that the dogs differed in their phenotype, but that they were aggressive, a product of the lack of socialization, and being chained to guard property.

Chávez ]searched the country for more dogs, and when he and his team of collaborators found a dog with desired characteristics, they asked the owner to either sell the dog or allow it to participate in a breeding program. In the process, Chávez also taught owners how to socialize their dogs,  properly keep them, and reminded them that they should give love to their pets. The Dogo Guatemalteco is now regarded as trustworthy and a reliable family dog, but experienced owners say the breed is not a good choice for a novice dog owner.

Image: Guatemalan Dogo photo by Blabriel is from Wikicommons and is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 license

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