AKC Working Group
Originally springing from ancient mastiff stock, possibly even the Greek Molossus, the Dogue de Bordeaux has had many uses over his long history. The breed has served as war dog, flock guardian, and as a combatant in dog gladiator sports where he was pitted against bulls, bears, and other dogs. At the end of the Middle Ages, the Dogue de Bordeaux was used as a cattle drover and personal bodyguard. During the French Revolution, many of these dogs, who were trying to defend their noble masters’ estates, were killed. Luckily, enough of them survived (perhaps among the common people) that the breed did not die out entirely. In the mid-1960s, a number of French breeders, including Raymond Triquet and his French Dogue de Bordeaux Club, saved and strengthened the breed further. The Dogue de Bordeaux is now thoroughly established in France and gaining popularity in other countries. The breed was popularized in the 1998 movie Turner and Hooch. It is recognized by the FCI, the UKC, and the AKC. Despite his fearsome appearance, the Dogue de Bordeaux is gentle with children, family members, and other creatures.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is a short, stocky mastiff with a massive, heavy, broad head. Built somewhat low to the ground, the distance from the ground to the chest is less than the distance from the bottom of the chest to the withers. The head is a very important feature when evaluating this breed. When measured at its broadest point, the perimeter of the skull for males should be approximately equal to the dog’s height at the withers. The top of the skull is slightly rounded. There is a deep groove down the middle of the forehead, with symmetrical wrinkles on each side of the groove. The stop is so pronounced that it almost forms a right angle with the muzzle. The perimeter of the thick muzzle is approximately two-thirds that of the head. The powerful jaw is so undershot that the upper and lower front incisors do not touch each other. The Dogue should always have a black or red mask that can be distinguished from the rest of the coat around and under the nose and including the lips and eye rims. The oval eyes are set wide apart on the head. The nostrils are open wide and the nose can be turned up slightly. The muzzle should be a maximum of one-third and a minimum of one-quarter the total length of the head. The upper lips hang thickly down over the lower jaw, forming a wide inverted V shape when viewed from the front. The ears are fairly small in proportion to the rest of the head and fall back. The skin on the neck is loose, forming a noticeable dewlap. The body is thickset with a short straight topline and a gently rounded croup. The powerful, broad chest extends below the elbows. The front legs should be heavy boned and muscular. The straight tail begins thickly at the base and then tapers to a point. It should not reach lower than the hocks.
The short soft coat comes in shades of fawn to mahogany, generally with a black or brown mask (fawn dogs can be maskless, a coloration that used to be called “red mask”). The color of the nose should match the mask. In the case of maskless dogs, the nose should be pink or reddish. White markings are allowed on the tips of the toes and on the chest, but white on any other part of the body is a fault.
- Height: 23 1/2 to 27 in. (male); 23 to 26 in. (female)
- Size: Large
- Weight: At least 110 lbs. (male); At least 99 lbs. (female)
- Availability: Very difficult to find
- Talents: Watchdog, guarding, police work, carting, and weight pulling
The Dogue de Bordeaux is not an easy dog to breed. Litters are generally small. Caesarean sections are often needed at birth because of the puppies’ extremely large heads. The dams are so broad chested that they lie down on their stomachs to nurse their pups, sometimes squashing them. Breeders must monitor the pups vigilantly or some will probably be lost. Females can be very protective of their puppies. The Dogue de Bordeaux drools and snores. Males will not tolerate other males.
Breeders have softened the temperament of this dog quite a bit from his original ferocity. Today he is extremely loyal, patient, and devoted to his family, but if threatened he will stand his ground. The Dogue de Bordeaux can be very aggressive with other dogs, due to his dominant and territorial nature. Socialize very well with other animals from an early age.
- Children: Good with children only when raised with them from puppyhood
- Friendliness: Very wary of strangers; highly protective
- Trainability: Somewhat difficult to train
- Independence: Moderately dependent on people
- Dominance: Very high
- Other Pets: Good with other pets only when raised with them from puppyhood
- Combativeness: Tends to be fairly dog-aggressive.
- Noise: Average barker
- Indoors: Very inactive indoors
- Owner: Not recommended for novice owners
- Grooming: Very little grooming needed
- Trimming and Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed
- Coat: Short coat
- Shedding: Average shedder
- Exercise: Needs moderate exercise
- Jogging: A poor jogging companion
- Apartments: Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
- Outdoor Space: Does all right without a yard
- Climate: Best in cooler climates
- Longevity: Average (10 to 12 years)