15 Dog Breeds From Latin America

List of canines includes Central America, South America, and island countries

Havanese dog walking on a flowery lawn

Hans Surfer / Getty Images

When you think of Latin American New World dog breeds, probably the one dog that instantly springs to mind is the diminutive Chihuahua from Mexico. The list of dogs from this part of the world is as comprehensive as Latin America is vast.

Latin America's lands include Central America, South America, and islands in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. These areas encompass many types of biomes: deserts, tropical islands, mountains, and more. The types of dogs vary from companions, herding dogs, guards, and hunting.

All dogs—big and small—need consistent training and positive reinforcement. Large, powerful dogs require obedience training for the safety of your family, dog, guests, and the world around you. Small, low-energy dogs also benefit from daily exercise, activities to stimulate their minds and bodies, and socialization training.

Here are 15 dog breeds from Central and South America.

  • 01 of 15

    Chihuahua

    Brown long-haired Chihuahua sitting on floor

    Elles Rijsdijk / Getty Images

    One of the most popular of all the Latin American breeds, the Chihuahua, is closely related to the Techichi dog developed by the Aztecs in ancient Mexico. In the mid 19th century, as the breed gained popularity, most of these small dogs came from the Mexican state of Chihuahua, its namesake. Despite their small stature, this "handbag dog" is smart, active, and sometimes stubborn, feisty, and fearless with strangers and other dogs. They have a big dog personality in a small package. Chihuahuas are also particularly susceptible to cold weather conditions too.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Toy (AKC)

    Height: 6 to 9 inches

    Weight: 2 to 6 pounds

    Coat and Color: Smooth coats or long coats; seen in many colors, either solid or a combination of two colors including black, tan, fawn, cream, white, blue, silver, chocolate, and red

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 20 years

  • 02 of 15

    Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog)

    Xoloitzcuintli Head shot with a blurred woodland background

    TaynaPanova / Getty Images

    The Xoloitzcuintli is also called the Mexican hairless dog. it's pronounced "show-low-eats-QUEENT-lee" or Xolo ("show-low") for short. This ancient Mexican breed traces back to the Aztec people over 3,000 years ago. The Xolo was revered by the tribes and considered sacred, and today they're classed as the country's national dog.

    Most commonly found in the hairless variety, with just a few tufts of hair on their head, they also come in a coated variation. The Xolo also comes in three sizes; toy, miniature, and standard. The loyal Xolo bonds closely with their family members. They have a high prey drive and retain some of their guarding traits, and can be wary of strangers. They make good watchdogs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-sporting (AKC)

    Height: Standard: 30 to 55 pounds; Miniature: 15 to 30 pounds; Toy: 10 to 15 pounds

    Weight: Standard: 18 to 23 inches tall at the shoulder; Miniature: 14 to 18 inches; Toy: 10 to 14 inches

    Coat and Color: Tough, smooth skin that usually has dark pigmentation; tufts of hair on the top of the head and sometimes on the feet and tail too; coated variety has a short, smooth fur covering and they come in a range of colors including black, gray-black, slate, red, liver (brown), or bronze

    Life Expectancy: 14 yo 17 years

  • 03 of 15

    Dogo Argentino

    Dogo Argentino lying on a lawn

    DircinhaSW / Getty Images

    As the name suggests, this canine originates from Argentina, where it developed as a big-game hunting dog. They're a relatively new breed, only around since the 1920s. Despite being bred for their strength, stamina, bravery, and power, they can make great family pets when matched appropriately with the right home.

    These dogs require consistent guidance and socialization training. They tend to be consistently loyal, very protective and patient, gentle, and often playful with respectful older children. Their protective instincts mean they may start to exhibit guarding behaviors and may not like the company of strange dogs. Most Argentinos have a high prey drive and aren't generally suited to living in households with small furry pets. These dogs are smart and energetic, and they will need plenty of daily exercise and enrichment to keep them from becoming bored.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 23 to 27 inches

    Weight: 80 to 100 pounds

    Coat and Color: All-white, smooth, and short coat

    Life Expectancy: 9 to 15 years

  • 04 of 15

    Havanese

    Havanese dog walking on a flowery lawn

    @Hans Surfer / Getty Images

     

    The Havanese is Cuba's only native dog breed. These dogs were first developed in the early 16th century when settlers came to the Island from Spain. They're thought to be closely related to the bichon frise, although they have a silky rather than curly coat requiring high maintenance.

    Providing they get enough company and stimulation, they tend to be adaptable and are often well-suited to apartment living. These smart little dogs can be playful and affectionate, but they also make good watchdogs. They aren't, however, as prolific barkers as other small breeds.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Toy (AKC)

    Height: 8.5 to 11.5 inches

    Weight: 7 to 13 pounds

    Coat and Color: Varies; Silky straight to very wavy with ringlets in black, silver, white, cream, tan, fawn, gold, sable, and red

    Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years

    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    Chamuco

    Two Mexican Pitbulls lying on ground beside owners feet

    Toni François Chamuco / Getty Images

    The chamuco or "devil" is more widely known as the Mexican pit bull. It's a new and controversial breed type; people developed these crosses to be a powerful, brave, tenacious dog that would excel in secret, illegal fighting rings. They aren't suited for novice dog owners but can respond best to positive, force-free training methods.

    It's believed that the Chamuco developed in the 1970s, mixing the American pit bull terrier with the now-extinct Mexican bulldog and some other bull breed types. You generally won't find the Chamuco outside of Mexico. When kept as pets, they are known for being incredibly loyal and protective of their family. They tend to be affectionate and gentle with those they know, including children.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not a recognized breed

    Height: 14 inches

    Weight: 25 to 40 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, smooth in white, brown, and black are common

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

  • 06 of 15

    Argentine Pila

    This hairless breed originated in Argentina, descending from the other hairless breeds found in surrounding countries, with its oldest ancestors dating back 3,000 years. They were bred primarily as companion dogs and are well-suited for apartment life. They are affectionate, playful, and patient. They are well-suited for a highly active family.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not a recognized breed

    Height: Small: 10 to 14 inches; medium: 14 to 18 inches; large: 18 to 25 inches

    Weight: Small: 9 to 18 pounds; medium: 18 to 25 pounds; large: 25 to 55 pounds

    Coat and Color: Hairless; skin color varies and can include spotted or piebald markings

    Life Expectancy: Up to 20 years

  • 07 of 15

    Brazilian Mastiff (Fila Brasileiro)

    The Brazilian mastiff is a large working dog known for its aggression, being used as livestock guardians, hunting, guarding, and tracking. They are natural protectors and considered a dangerous breed not suitable for novice dog owners. Instead of attacking their prey, they pin it down. Its storied past includes hunting for fugitive slaves in the 18th century and returning them unharmed.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Molossoid, mastiff-type (FCI); not recognized by the AKC

    Height: 23.5 to 29.5 inches

    Weight: 50 to 110 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, dense and smooth, soft coat; solid, brindle, fawn, mouse-grey, patched, dappled, or black and tan, and rarely white

    Life Expectancy: 9 to 11 years

  • 08 of 15

    Brazilian Terrier

    This small terrier from Brazil likely descends from a mix of Jack Russells, Parson Russells, fox terriers, and Chihuahuas imported into the country in the 1800s. They are smart, energetic hunters that owners should not trust around other small animals. They are friendly dogs that love to play and dig. They need a yard for running and plenty of mental exercise too.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (FCI); not recognized by the AKC

    Height: 13 to 16 inches

    Weight: 15 to 22 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, sleek, and fine coat; coloring is always tri-color (white, tan and black or white, tan and blue or white, tan and brown)

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    Chilean Terrier

    This native Chilean breed dates back to the 1800s, although it is rarely found outside its home country. It originated from a mix of British fox terriers with indigenous Chilean dogs existing before Spanish conquistadors' arrival. The Chilean terrier is a compact, well-balanced, and elegant dog bred for fox hunting and killing vermin. They are active, intelligent dogs that can make good companions but do not trust it around small furry pets due to their overzealous prey drive.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Mixed breed; not recognized by the AKC

    Height: 11 to 15 inches

    Weight: 11 to 18 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short-haired, tight, lustrous, covering the whole body; White body, neck, and tail, head and ears may be blue and tan, brown and tan, or black and tan

    Life Expectancy: Up to 15 years

  • 10 of 15

    Peruvian Inca Orchid

    The Peruvian Inca orchid or Inca hairless dog is an ancient hairless breed originating in Peru during the Inca Empire observed as far back as 300 BC in Incan pre-Columbian art. The breed is affectionate with its family but wary with strangers. This canine is not a suitable choice for first-time dog owners. 

    Breed Overview

    Group: Primitive-type (FCI); not recognized by the AKC

    Height: Small (10 to 16 inches); medium (16 to 20 inches); large (20 to 26 inches)

    Weight: Small (9 to 18 lbs); medium (18 to 26 lbs); large (26 to 55 lbs)

    Coat and Color: Hairless, smooth skin; chocolate-brown, elephant-grey, copper, or mottled

    Life Expectancy: 11 to 12 years

  • 11 of 15

    Cimarrón Uruguayo

    Cimarrón Uruguayo is a mastiff-type of dog from Uruguay descended from mastiffs brought to the country from Europe. This dog was bred with indigenous, feral dogs and hunted for its attacks on livestock. Ranchers caught the dogs and domesticated them, leading to today's breed. These dogs are commonly used as guard dogs on farms and ranches. This smart, energetic breed needs plenty of attention, exercise, and mental stimulation.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Molossoid breeds-mastiff type (FCI); not recognized by the AKC

    Height: 21 to 24 inches

    Weight: 84 to 99 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short and straight coat, ranging from black, brown, tan, or brindle

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years

  • 12 of 15

    Mucuchies (Venezuelan Sheepdog)

    The mucuchies or the Venezuelan sheepdog is a large livestock guardian dog descended from Spanish breeds like the Spanish mastiff and Great Pyrenees; it was bred for two centuries since the 16th century. It is the national dog of Venezuela, used for herding throughout the Andean mountains of Venezuela. Once prevalent, now rare and facing extinction, they are loyal guardians. These dogs are affectionate toward their families but wary of strangers. An energetic breed, they need plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and space to roam.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not a recognized breed

    Height: 22 inches to 28 inches

    Weight: 66 to 110 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick coat; wide variety of colors, ranging from pure white, white with patches of various brown shades, and perhaps most commonly white with black spots

    Life Expectancy: Up to 11 years

    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Patagonian Sheepdog

    This docile breed developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for sheep-herding work in the southern part of Chilean Patagonia. The Patagonia sheepdog is also called the Magellan sheepdog or barbucho. It likely derived from European working dogs like the Old Welsh gray sheepdog or collies brought to Chile by European settlers.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not recognized by the AKC

    Height: 19 to 20 inches

    Weight: 44 to 53 pounds

    Coat and Color: Long, rough coat; solid or merle, black or brown with or without tan points, sable or dilutes of black/red, including fawn, deep brown, and blue

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years

  • 14 of 15

    Brazilian Dogo (Bull Boxer)

    Brazilian dogo is a molosser or mastiff-type working dog breed originating in 19th century Brazil. The dog is a mix between boxer and bull terrier. It is a medium-sized, strong, agile, and muscular dog that's massive without being stocky. It has a balanced temper and is a good family dog.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not a recognized breed

    Height: 20 to 24.5 inches

    Weight: 50 to 95 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short or medium-length, shiny, harsh, and dense; common colors are white, tan, red, brown, black; white patches on its eyes, tail, chest, face, and feet

    Life Expectancy: Up to 13 years

  • 15 of 15

    Campeiro Bulldog

    The campeiro bulldog, meaning "field dog," was developed in southern Brazil. It is believed to be a descendant of the old English bulldog and Serrano bulldog introduced to Brazil by Europeans. The campeiro bulldog handle cattle and swine at slaughterhouses by subduing them. During the 1970s, it faced extinction due to sanitation regulations at slaughterhouses forbidding the use of the dogs in that way.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not a recognized breed

    Height: 19 and 23 inches

    Weight: 75 to 100 pounds

    Coat and Color: Smooth short hair; traditional coat colors are brown, fawn, and brindle with white markings

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Breeds to Avoid

New World dogs from Latin America derived from terriers, sheepdogs, and bulldogs from Europe mixed with indigenous North and South American dogs. Breeds that are opposites of Latin American breeds are Arctic dogs like American Eskimo or Siberian husky. Ancient spaniels, now gun-hunting dogs, may have originated in Old World, Spain, but didn't significantly influence the development of the most popular Latin American dogs.