Rare Dog Breeds, Ear Trims, & Air Travel

Be Careful with “Designer” Dogs; Inbreeding Often Spells Poor Health & Bas Temperaments


I will be getting an Argentine Dogo puppy form a breeder in Austin in a few weeks.  She will grow to 90-105 pounds, will she be able to fit under the airplane seat at 8 weeks old? Why do people crop dogs’ ears? How long does it take for the ears to heal? Have you ever seen Argentine Dogos in NM? Should I consider giving her a sedative for the airplane ride, checked in or under the seat?


Dr. Nichol:

Dog breeds that are rare in this country, often called “designer dogs”, are becoming quite the rage. The Internet is full of information about their temperaments and unusual appearance. You get the sense that you can rely on excellent health and a loyal, courageous personality. The reality is often very different.


Many unusual breeds come to the US with a mere handful of individuals imported for the purpose of profitable breeding. For some, only one pair of dogs makes up the entire core breeding stock. A small gene pool like that requires inbreeding for propagation. Genetic defects and unstable temperaments are an all too common result. It makes a great case for adopting a mixed bred, or at least, a more common breed of dog. You may have the only Argentine Dogo in New Mexico.


There are still licensed veterinarians who do surgical ear trims. It’s an old fashioned practice that was once required for showing in some breeds. There is no health benefit; it is a totally unnecessary cause of discomfort for puppies. That said, most ear trims heal well in 10-14 days.


Air travel: It is stressful, especially for a baby who just left her mother. Your large breed puppy may need to become a canine accordion to fit beneath an airline seat. I recommend that she be shipped in a heavy plastic kennel. Make sure she has plenty of water and, to avoid low blood sugar, a small amount of food one-hour prior to flight time. I advise against doggy downers. They could make vomiting risky if your puppy gets motion sickness during her first airplane ride.





Reader Feedback


I just read your answer regarding an Argentine Dogo. Ears are cropped because the breed is “designed” to hunt large boar and mountain lions.  The ears are a harder target for the large prey to grab onto. I highly recommend them.  I enjoy my dogo, she’s intelligent, sweet, excellent guard dog, good companion.


Dr. Nichol:

Thanks for the feedback. Yours is not the only letter I received from Dogo owners. I discussed rare dog breeds in this column two weeks ago and suggested that there may be only one Argentine Dogo in the whole state. I was wrong.


Dogs are wonderful soul mates; I cannot imagine my life without one. Still, I remain concerned about inbreeding, especially in rare breeds. So many of the physical and behavior problems I treat are seldom found in the more common breeds and even less so in mixed bred dogs. Most humans I know are mutts. Our species would actually be pretty healthy if we ate less and quite smoking.


Finally, I stand my ground on ear trimming; it is a totally unnecessary cause of discomfort for puppies. The ancestors of many contemporary breeds were required to hunt and fight, making short ear flaps practical. But that was then. Today’s pet puppies don’t need the pain and stress. Peter Rabbit, the Nichol family dog, doesn’t look like Mr. Spock and we’re OK with that.