Cordoba Fighting Dog

He is not recognized by the F.C.I.

Origin
Argentina
Translation
Francis Vandersteen
The Cordoba Fighting Dog was a breed that originated in Argentina, where it was pitted against other members of the breed in fights to the death. Not used exclusively for dog fighting, the breed was also used for hog hunting and as a guard dog. The breed was famous for its incredible courage, determination and ferocity. Although extinct by the mid-20th century, the bloodlines of the Cordoba Fighting Dog remain in its descendant, the Dogo Argentino. The Cordoba Fighting Dog was also known as the Argentine Fighting Dog and the Perro de Presa de Cordoba.

The history of the Cordoba Fighting Dog began during the Argentine colonial period. When the Spanish subjugated the many Amerindian peoples found throughout Latin America, they made extensive use of war dogs. The Spanish used a number of different breeds, but perhaps the most commonly used were the Alanos, the early ancestors of the modern Alano Espanol. At the time, an Alano was not a breed in the modern sense, but rather a type of dog. The history of the Alano is unclear, but it is said that they could be descended from the Molossus of Rome, the Alaunt of the Alan tribe in the Caucasus or perhaps the Mastiff of Great Britain. It is also thought that the first Alanos arrived with Christopher Columbus, who also used them in his efforts to subdue the native Indians. Alanos were athletic, ferocious Mastiff-type dogs used for bull hunting in Spain, in addition to their use in warfare. Alanos were large, strong and very ferocious dogs that were deadly in combat when pitted against man or beast. These dogs would eventually spread throughout Latin America, and probably also to Argentina, where they found useful employment in its very important and lucrative livestock industry.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the population of the UK grew dramatically as innovations in agriculture and medicine began to take root. Eventually, Britain's population was so large that the island could no longer support it, grain imports became extremely important to the British Empire, and trading relationships were forged with grain-producing countries around the world. Home to thousands of square kilometers of plains known as the Pampas, Argentina became one of Britain's main agricultural suppliers. Around the same time, dog-fighting became extremely popular in England. In 1835, harassment by bulls and bears, sports that had already pitted dogs against other animals in deadly battles, were banned by Parliament. British amateurs and gamblers then turned their attention to dogfighting, which became one of the most popular sports in urban areas of the British Isles. After a few decades of experimentation, British fighters decided that crosses between the English Bulldog and various types of Terrier made the best fighting dogs. Known as Bull and Terriers, these crosses possessed the size, strength, jaw, determination and ferocity of the Bulldog, as well as the speed, agility, dog-like aggression, quick temper and willingness to fight to the death of the Terrier. Eventually, several distinct breeds developed from the Bull and Terrier, although the Bull Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier proved the most common and enduring.

Many British ships carried Bull Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. These dogs provided company for the crew and occasional entertainment in the form of dog fighting. These dogs were introduced worldwide and greatly popularized the sport of dog fighting. A number of breeds around the world can trace their origins to these dogs, including the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier from the USA, and the Gull Terr and Bully Kutta from the Indian subcontinent. As early as the mid-1800s, Bull Terriers began arriving in Argentine ports, where they made a strong impression. Argentine amateurs began to acquire these dogs and fight them themselves. Dog fighting became most popular in Cordoba, Argentina's second-largest city and capital of the province of the same name.

Cordoba breeders developed a new fighting breed based mainly on the Bull Terrier, but with crosses to a number of other breeds. The resulting breed became known as the Perro de Presa de Cordoba, which translates as the Cordoba Fighting Dog. It's not known exactly which breeds were associated with the development of the Cordoba Fighting Dog, but local Alanos and Staffordshire Bull Terriers were almost certainly used. Other breeds that may have influenced the Cordoba Fighting Dog include the Perro de Presa Canario, Fila Brasileiro, English Bulldog, English Mastiff, Boxer, Bullenbeiser and American Pit Bull Terrier. The Cordoba Fighting Dog closely resembled a Bull Terrier, but was considerably larger, with a head more reminiscent of an Alano. Although the breed apparently appeared in colors such as Brindle and Fawn, enthusiasts in Argentina strongly preferred the solid white dogs that became one of the dog's trademarks.

The Cordoba Fighting Dog has become legendary for its ferocity and courage in the ring. It has been said that the breed never backs down, no matter what the odds, and displays extreme aggression with other dogs. The Cordoba Fighting Dog became so aggressive towards dogs that it was very difficult to breed them, with a male and female usually engaging in bloody combat rather than mating. Local hunters soon discovered that the same qualities that made the Cordoba Fighting Dog an unrivalled fighting dog also made it very useful for hunting wild boar. As the Spaniards were allowed to break free as a food source, Argentina's feral pigs eventually became agricultural pests as well as being extremely dangerous. Cordoba Fighting Dogs were one of the only breeds to possess both the courage to attack a boar and the strength to hold it until its master succeeded in killing it. However, the Cordoban Fighting Dog was so aggressive that it could not be used in packs, as the dogs would instantly start fighting each other. Some Cordoban Fighting Dogs were able to hunt with another dog of the opposite sex, but this was not always the case.

In 1925, Antonio Nores Martinez and his younger brother Agustin, sons of a wealthy landowner, decided to create a big-game hunting breed from the Cordoban Fighting Dog. In the Martinez brothers' more recent book El Dogo Argentino (The Argentine Dog) in 1973, Agustin writes that his brother's vision was to create a new breed of big-game dog, for which he would take advantage of the extraordinary courage of the Cordoba Fighting Dog. By mixing them with other breeds that would give them height, a good sense of smell, speed, hunting instinct and, most of all, deprive them of that relentless fighting spirit against other dogs that made them useless for pack hunting. The Nores Martinez brothers began crossing female Cordoba Fighting Dogs, which were the less aggressive sex, with males of various foreign breeds such as Pointer, Great Pyrenees and Dogue de Bordeaux. The resulting breed became known as the Dogo Argentino and quickly gained a reputation as the best breed for hunting wild boar and cougars in southern South America.

The Dogo Argentino was so successful as a big-game hunter, eventually replacing the Cordoba Fighting Dog entirely for this purpose. However, the breed was still used in dog fighting for several decades. Many breed members died fighting other dogs, which considerably reduced the breed's population and gene pool. As breeders have always favored more aggressive dogs, it has become increasingly difficult to breed them, meaning that fewer and fewer are being born to replace those being killed. Perhaps most damaging of all, a series of political and economic crises in the 20th century prevented many Argentines from affording the luxury of keeping a dog. Changing social mores also made dog fighting, an incredibly vicious and brutal sport, increasingly unacceptable. As a result of all these factors, the Cordoba Fighting Dog finally disappeared, although it's not clear exactly when. The breed was still well known around Cordoba in the 1920s and 1930s, but disappeared shortly afterwards.

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