Breed of the Month: Dogue de Bordeaux

Dogue de Bordeaux

Description: The French Mastiff has brown or hazel eyes set far apart on the large head. Ears are short and slightly rounded. The muzzle is short and broad with the teeth meeting in an underbite. The neck and chest of the Dogue is very broad and deep, respectively. The tail is thick at the base and tapers to a point. The short and smooth coat is somewhere between a dark mahogany and a light faun.

History: The origins of the French Mastiff are somewhat disputed. One such hypothesis is that the modern Dogue descended from a variety of European Mastiffs and other working breeds. Others believe that the breed came from Tibetan Mastiffs and Bulldogs. Either way, the French Mastiff has lived in and around France for about the last 600 years.

Wars like the French Revolution and both World Wars devastated the population of the Dogue De Bordeaux. However, successful breeding programs during the early 1960s helped establish a breed standard and increase the population of the breed.

The first Dogue De Bordeauxs came to America in 1959. In 1989 the Tom Hanks movie, ‘Turner and Hooch’, helped popularize the breed. Beasley, who played the character, Hooch, starred in only one movie.

The Dogue de Bordeaux was recognized by the AKC in 2008. Currently, the French Mastiff is the 68th most registered dog with the AKC.

Size: According to the AKC breed standards, Males: 23–27 inches at the withers, weighing at least 110 pounds. Females: 23–26 inches at the withers, weighing at least 99 pounds.

Temperament: The Dogue De Bordeaux is a breed that is loving of their family, calm, mild mannered around the house, and an excellent guard dog. While the French Mastiff is loving towards their family, they can be very protective and wary of strangers. That being said, the French Mastiff needs a firm pack leader and is probably not a good fit for a first time dog owner or an inexperienced owner. This breed is exceptionally tolerant and loving towards children. However, play time between children and dogs should always be supervised. Dogue De Bordeauxs are inactive indoors but, still need a daily pack walk to get sufficient exercise. This breed will require early socialization with other people, dogs, and other animals if you don’t want your dog excessively protective and aggressive.

Grooming: Opinions differ concerning how much the Dogue sheds. Some sources claim that there is minimal shedding with this breed while others say the French Mastiff is an excessive shedder. Although, there seems to be more agreement around French Mastiffs being an average shedder. Brushing your French Mastiff once or twice a week should cut down on the hair you will find around your house. Dogues will need more grooming care than just brushing their coat because this breed has a wrinkly face that needs to be kept clean by washing thoroughly on a daily basis. Dogues also tend to slobber profusely so a towel will need to be kept handy after eating and drinking.

Health: The Dogue de Bordeaux happens to be prone to hip dysplasia and  hyperkeratosis, which is a hardening of the foot pads. Hyperkeratosis cannot be cured but, can be treated by removal of the excess skin as well as the of application of ointments. The French Mastiff is also susceptible to epilepsy and heart problems.

The Dogue is a brachycephalic breed, meaning it has a short muzzle and can have issues with breathing. Dogs with short muzzles don’t pant as effectively as longer muzzled dogs, which can lead to heat stroke.

Exercise: While the French Mastiff is fairly inactive indoors, they still need exercise. Exercise requirements are low but, they still need a daily pack walk for mental and physical wellness. Excessive exercise in hot temperatures should be avoided or well monitored.

Lifespan: About 8 to 10 years.

Trivia: One of the most notable Dogues is Beasley who starred in the 1989 film, Turner and Hooch.