Written for The Vines of Mendoza
A dog is supposedly a man’s best friend, and in Argentina you would be forgiven for thinking it’s a man’s, a woman’s, a grandmother’s and even a gaucho’s best buddy. Dogs rule supreme: in every street corner, every park bench and every handbag. You only need to see the photos of the ubiquitous Buenos Aires dog walkers who take about 20 pooches for a walk at once to notice that this is a nation with a serious pet crush on puppies.
In Mendoza it is pretty much the same. Ladies ‘ooo’ and ‘aaa’ over dogs just as much as they do babies. No man feels quite himself running around the park without his pedigree chum, and dogs are featured on more Facebook posts in Mendoza than Justin Beiber is worldwide.
While all dogs are embraced (literally) in Mendoza, there are two dogs that are the height of fashion – the Bichon Frisé and the Dogo Argentino – and apart from sharing a color (white), they couldn’t be more different.
Yappy, fluffy and small enough to fit in your purse, Bichon Frises (quite appropriately meaning ‘curly lap dog’ in French) are all over the city. They are the favorite mutt of single, middle aged ladies and get their bouffant blow-dried more often then the lady President.
They run around scatter brained, skit from side to side, appear to have ADD and bark incessantly unless you perpetually pet them.
Bichon lovers would call their attention demands ‘affection’ and ‘playfulness’, but most will admit that they have a terrific tendency to eat and hide your shoes. A dog for those who actually want a kid.
One of the native dogs in Argentina, this muscular beast was bred to originally kill pumas and Wild Boar in the Andes mountains and – at sometimes reaching up to 26 inches high and 45 kilos – you can see why. Athletic, strong and with a very serious facial expression, it is not only enough to scare your chiwawa but probably your toddlers too.
Although the Dogo Argentino is banned in certain countries, they are actually generally good with children and other dogs (if trained from a young age) are a very well sought after pure bred which will set you back quite a fair wad of cash… You will however gain massive man points for walking this one round in the park. A dog for someone with something to prove.
Mendoza is a dog eat dog world. Cats need not apply.
Amanda Barnes is a British journalist living in Mendoza. She has lived with both a Bichon Frise (Colin) and a Dogo Argentino (Tango) in her Argentine travels. She is still a cat person. Nonchalant, independent and with a well fitting fur coat.