5 Latin American Dog Breeds

The list goes beyond Chihuahuas

Havanese dog walking on a flowery lawn

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When you think of Latin American dog breeds, the one that'll spring to most peoples mind is the diminutive Chihuahua. There are, however, a few other popular breeds from this part of the world.

  • 01 of 05

    Chihuahua

    Brown long-haired Chihuahua sitting on floor

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    One of the most popular of all the Latin American breeds, the Chihuahua is credited as being closely related to the Techichi dog developed by the Aztecs in ancient Mexico. When they began being imported to North America, in the mid 19th century, a large proportion of these small dogs were found in the State of Chihuahua. This is how they got their name.

    The breed has grown in popularity, but despite their small stature, and popularity as a 'handbag dog' in popular culture, the Chi is smart, active, and sometimes stubborn and feisty. They're often regarded as a big dog in a small body.

    Chis tend to be loyal and very affectionate with their people, but can be brazen and bossy with strangers, including other dogs. Even if Chis do like to curl up on a lap, they're still active for such a small breed. They need enough exercise and stimulation to prevent problem behaviors surfacing as a result of boredom.

    Because of their size, care needs to be taken around young and boisterous children. Chihuahuas are also particularly susceptible to cold weather conditions too.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 6 to 9 inches

    Weight: 2 to 6 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: 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

  • 02 of 05

    Xoloitzcuintli

    Xoloitzcuintli Head shot with a blurred woodland background

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    The Xoloitzcuintli is sometimes referred to as the Mexican Hairless Dog. If you want to have a go at calling them by their official name, it's pronounced 'show-low-eats-QUEENT-lee'. Or you can stick with the shortened version of Xolo (pronounced 'show-low').

    This is another ancient Mexican breed, and it is, again, able to be traced 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 too. The Xolo also comes in three sizes; toy, miniature and standard. They certainly are a very unique-looking dog, and they have a distinctive personality too.

    In a Xolo you'll find a very loyal dog that bonds extremely closely with their family members. They do still retain some of guarding traits, though, and can be wary of strangers.

    Providing they get enough attention, stimulation and exercise, Xolo's are usually calm and quiet around the home.

    They can have a high prey drive and can be wary of strange new people and other dogs. They make good watchdogs, but to avoid them becoming overly nervous or aggressive, they should have early, appropriate and ongoing socialization and training.

    There are no truly hypoallergenic dog breeds, as every breed will still shed dander from their skin. The hairless Xolo, though, can sometimes be a better choice for people that suffer from allergies.

    While you'll not have a high maintenance grooming regime with a Xolo, their skin, particularly during adolescence, can require a lot of care and attention. It can suffer from a waxy build-up on the surface and acne can break out. They usually need more frequent bathing than other breeds for this reason. You may also have to use sunscreen to protect their skin in hot weather.

    Breed Overview

    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

    Physical Characteristics: Tough, smooth skin that usually has a 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

  • 03 of 05

    Dogo Argentino

    Dogo Argentino lying on a lawn

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    As the name suggests, the Dogo originates from Argentina, where they were developed as big-game hunting dogs. They're a relatively new breed, having only been around since the 1920s. Despite being bred for their strength, stamina, bravery and power, in the right homes, they can make great family pets.

    With their family, they tend to be unfailingly loyal, very protective and patient, gentle, and often playful with respectful older children.

    Their protective instincts mean they may start to exhibit guarding behaviors if they don't receive the right guidance, training and socialization. Argentinos are usually people-friendly but don't always enjoy the company of strange dogs.

    Argentinos can also have a high prey drive, so aren't generally suited to living in a household with small furries. These dogs are smart and energetic, and they will need plenty of daily exercise and enrichment to keep them from becoming bored.

    With their white, short coats, Dogo Argentinos are particularly susceptible to sunburn, and you may need to keep them sheltered and apply sunscreen on hot, sunny days.

    White dogs have a higher chance of having congenital deafness, and the Argentino is no exception. Make sure you look for a responsible breeder. They will also perform brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) testing on her puppies to evaluate their hearing.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 23 to 27 inches

    Weight: 80 to 100 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: A muscular, athletic breed that is sometimes confused with an American Pit Bull Terrier; much larger and has an all-white, smooth and short coat

  • 04 of 05

    Havanese

    Havanese dog walking on a flowery lawn

    @Hans Surfer / Getty Images

     

    The Havanese is Cubas 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.

    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 are some small breed dogs.

    You'll need to be prepared for a high maintenance grooming regime with this breed. While they don't shed much, their long, silky coat can easily develop tangles and mats if it's not brushed out regularly.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8.5 to 11.5 inches

    Weight: 7 to 13 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: May have one or two colors including, but not limited to, black, silver, white, cream, tan, fawn, gold, sable, and red; coat can vary drastically from silky straight to very wavy with ringlets

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Chamuco

    Two Mexican Pitbulls lying on ground beside owners feet

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    The Chamuco is more widely known as the Mexican Pitbull. It's a new and controversial breed type that isn't currently recognized by the AKC or any of the other breed associations.

    It's believed that the Chamuco came about in the 1970s. This was as the result of the crossing of American Pitbull Terriers with the, now extinct, Mexican Bulldog and some other bull breed types. These crosses were developed by those wanting to find a dog that would excel in secret fighting rings.

    The word 'Chamuco' actually means devil, and the illegal fighting rings were looking for a powerful, brave, tenacious dog.

    You won't generally find the Chamuco being kept outside of their native Mexico. Still, the ones that are kept as pets are known for being incredibly loyal and protective of their family. They tend to be affectionate and gentle with those they know, including children.

    Without the right training and socialization, their watchful and protective nature can result in them being standoffish and even aggressive towards strangers, and they're often dog reactive.

    They wouldn't be suited to a novice dog owner, and they will respond best to positive, force-free training methods. Trying to force this powerful and intense breed into doing something they don't want to or are scared off could result in problems.

The Chihuahua may be the most instantly recognizable of the Latin American dog breeds, but several others may also appeal. You may even have been surprised to learn that the amiable little Havanese is more popular than the famous Chihuahua.

Before offering a home to any new dog, it's always important to take your time making a decision. Do your research to make sure your lifestyle will be a good match for the temperament of the dog you're considering.