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Dogue de Bordeaux

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Large but incredibly friendly, the distinctive Dogue de Bordeaux is a loyal and characterful breed. The memorable star of the movie Turner and Hooch, this adorable canine is much-loved but isn’t the easiest breed to care for. Perhaps best known for its tendency to slobber, the Dogue is distinctive, memorable and unique.

Which breed group is The Dogue de Bordeaux in?

Breed group: Working

Dogue de Bordeaux breed history

Also know as the Bordeaux mastiff and French mastiff, the Dogue de Bordeaux boasts a long history. Seen in southern France as early as the 14th century, the breed was used to pull carts, guard livestock and protect the homes of the wealthy.

The precise history of the breed is unknown and there are several theories as to the origin of the Dogue de Bordeaux. It is believed to predate the bullmastiff and bulldog and some believe that the breed is a descendant of the Tibetan mastiff while others claim it is related to Graco Roman war dogs.

French breeders have worked hard to keep the old breeding line pure. The self-coloured pink nose, amber eyes and red mask are indications of purity. The breed was once divided into three regional categories and the dogs boasted a variety of coat colours. A breed standard was established in the 1920s and in 1970 a new standard was written. This was updated in 1995. By the 1980s there were as few as 600 Dogues de Bordeaux in existence and no examples in America. The Turner and Hooch movie changed all that and raised the profile of the breed across the globe. While the first example of a Dogue de Bordeaux is thought to have arrived in the UK in 1897,  the breed was only officially recognised by the Kennel Club in 1997.

Dogue de Bordeaux breed characteristics

A muscular, massive and powerful breed with a brachycephalic head, the Dogue de Bordeaux is low set. The body is thick-set, with a top-line featuring a slight dip and a rounded croup. Front legs should be straight and heavy-boned and the dogs have cat-like feet. The tail is straight and carried low but should not reach lower than the hocks. Those unmistakeable upper lip hangs down over the lower jaw giving the Dogue de Bordeaux is memorable look not to mention a tendency to slobber! Loose skin on the neck is also a distinguishing characteristic. The coat is short, fine, and soft to the touch. Coat Colours vary from shades of fawn to dark red with a black, brown, or red mask.

  • Lifespan: Average 6 years
  • Height: up to 69cm
  • Weight: up to 50kg
  • Powerful and muscular
  • Low-set
  • Brachycephalic head
  • Skin folds
  • Straight tail
  • Short coat
  • Colour from fawn to dark red
  • Intelligent
  • Loyal
  • Active
  • Easy to train
  • Stubborn

Health issues with the Dogue de Bordeaux

The skin folds of the Dogue de Bordeaux can result in dermatitis while the dogs’ brachycephalic heads often cause breathing difficulties. The breed is also prone to the following conditions:

Conjunctivitis

Elbow dysplasia

Arthritis

Hip dysplasia

Footpad hyperkeratosis

Cardiac issues

What is the Dogue de Bordeaux bred for?

Originally working dogs boasting great strength, Dogues pulled vehicles, hauled heavy loads and were also used to guard a variety of livestock on farms and country estates. Their intimidating appearance, loyalty and tendency to bark at visitors made them excellent guard dogs for castles and later for stately homes.

What sort of owners does the Dogue de Bordeaux suit?

The Dogue de Bordeaux is a large breed but generally exhibits a laid-back attitude. Tending to be loyal and to form strong bonds with people, these canines can be great pets and amazing watchdogs. However, they can also be challenging to handle due to their size and gregarious personalities. This makes them unsuitable for inexperienced owners. They require a secure garden of a reasonable size with high fences as they possess impressive spring. Dogues are unsuitable for families with small children as they are boisterous and can accidently knock children over.

Relatively intelligent dogs, this breed responds well to reward-based training but can be stubborn. If you have seen Turner and Hooch, it might surprise you to hear that Dogues are not generally destructive. Don’t let Hooch’s complete devastation of Scott Turner’s home in the movie put you off but bear in mind that Dogues shouldn’t be left home alone for more than four hours.

Dogues require a significant amount of exercise and enjoy playing. As such, they are best suited to households where someone is at home all day and can devote several hours to entertaining and exercising their pet. The excessive amount of slobber these dogs produce can lead to a copious amount of cleaning up which is also a consideration!


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