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.



Dog Longevity

One thing about dogs that fascinates me the most is the differences in lifespans between dog breeds.

At 29 years of age, the Australian Cattle Dog name Bluey is the oldest living dog, passing away in 1939. However, a study regarding longevity in Australian Cattle Dogs showed that most Australian Cattle Dogs live, on average, 13.41 years. Although Australian Cattle Dogs live longer than average, it’s not the longest living breed of dog.

As for the longest living dog breeds, these breeds are amongst the average longest living: Toy Poodle 14.67 years, Miniature Dachshund 14.4 years, Canaan Dog 14.67 years, Swedish Vallhund 14.77, Border Terrier 14 years, and Cairn Terrier 14 years.

The Dogue de Bordeaux, or French Mastiff, has the shortest life span of 5.29 years. Other breeds like the Irish Wolfhound and Bloodhound have an average lifespan of around 7 years.

The British Veterinary Association compiled results of a survey by dog owners who gave information about their deceased dogs, resulting in information from 3,000 dogs.

From the abstract of the article: “The mean age at death (all breeds, all causes) was 11 years one month, but in dogs dying of natural causes it was 12 years eight months. Only 8 per cent of dogs lived beyond 15, and 64 per cent of dogs died of disease or were euthanased as a result of disease. Nearly 16 percent of deaths were attributed to cancer, twice as many as to heart disease.”

If you are interested in more information regarding breeds and their average life spans, you might want to check out Dog Longevity created by Dr. Kelly M. Cassidy. On the site you will find information on life spans of dog breeds, including information from the US, Canada, and the UK. You will probably notice some variance in breed life span between the different countries. I would attribute this to statistical noise and probably not habits of dog owners by nation. None of the differences in life spans between the countries seems to be statistically significant.

I realize there is so much more information that could be covered but, I just wanted to give you all a brief overview of dog breed longevity and some interesting facts. There is just an overwhelming amount of information and a multitude of variables when it comes to the life spans of all the different breeds of dogs. Selective breeding has given us a wide variety of dogs and a wide variety of health concerns for these dogs. Future posts about health issues, selective breeding, designer dogs, diet and other posts will hopefully provide more information about the life spans of our dogs.

Do you have any stories about the life span of your dog or a dog you know? Any anomalies you have witnessed in the age of a dog?