What’s In This Guide
Do you want to find out more about the Dogue de Bordeaux?
Are you interested in finding your own Dogue puppy?
Or do you have questions about your Dogue de Bordeaux that need answering?
This article takes a look at this fascinating breed in detail.
And tells you everything you want to know about the Dogue de Bordeaux.
Dogue de Bordeaux FAQs
Our readers’ most popular and frequently asked questions about the Dogue de Bordeaux.
- Are Dogue de Bordeauxs good family dogs?
- What does a Dogue de Bordeaux look like?
- Are Dogue de Bordeauxs easy to train?
- Are Dogue de Bordeauxs aggressive?
Breed At A Glance
- Popularity: 63rd most popular dog in the USA
- Purpose: Working dogs
- Weight: 100-110 lbs
- Temperament: Loyal, hard-working, courageous
Dogue de Bordeaux Breed Review: Contents
- History and original purpose of the Dogue de Bordeaux
- Fun facts about Dogue de Bordeaux
- Dogue de Bordeaux appearance
- Dogue de Bordeaux temperament
- Training and exercising your Dogue de Bordeaux
- Dogue de Bordeaux health and care
- Do Dogue de Bordeauxs make good family pets
- Rescuing a Dogue de Bordeaux
- Finding a Dogue de Bordeaux puppy
- Raising a Dogue de Bordeaux puppy
- Popular Dogue de Bordeaux breed mixes
History and original purpose of the Dogue de Bordeaux
Often referred to as the French Mastiff, the Dogue de Bordeaux belongs to a group of dogs called Mastiffs.
This ancient French breed is a large and powerful animal.
They were originally used for a variety of tasks and roles, including hunting big game and fighting.
According to the KC website, the French Mastiff was a member of the very first French dog show in 1863.
Although they were not recognised by the Kennel Club in the UK until as recently as 1997.
Fun facts about Dogue de Bordeaux
- The doggy star of the Tom Hanks film Turner and Hooch is a Dogue de Bordeaux!
- The Dogue de Bordeaux wasn’t recognised by the UK Kennel Club until 1997!
Dogue de Bordeaux appearance
The early Dogue de Bordeaux looked a far cry from the modern breed, as you can see in these pictures, shown below with permission from Jemima Harrison of Pedigree Dogs Exposed.
As she discusses in her interesting article looking at Yesterday’s Dogues you might not believe that the loose skinned, wrinkled dog you see today is the same breed as the dogs pictured here.
Modern Dogues can grow to between 23 and 27 inches at the shoulder.
Males generally weigh a minimum of 110lbs.
And females generally weigh a minimum of 99lbs!
They have short muzzles, expressive eyes, and loose skin on their face – often covered in drool!
Dogue de Bordeaux temperament
The Dogue de Bordeaux is known by owners as a loyal breed.
They are affectionate to their close family.
And love to demonstrate this by spending as much time with you as possible.
However, despite loyalty and love for their close family, they can be wary about strangers.
Training and exercising your Dogue de Bordeaux
Dedication to positive reinforcement training is important with this dog, as is socialization from the moment you bring him or her home at 8 weeks old.
Try following a positive training programme that allows all of his meals to be given in the form of treats.
This will encourage you to stick to training come rain or shine.
Basic house manners can be allowed to slide for small dogs.
But large drooly pups like the Dogue will not be welcome anywhere without their manners being top notch.
Puppy classes are a great benefit too.
They will help your pup meet lots of different types of people and breeds of dog.
Frequent exposure could help them to feel more relaxed and accepting of strangers.
Although the Dogue is a large breed, for health reasons it is best to give them several short walks a day rather than extended periods of intense exercise.
They will also benefit from periods of play in the garden.
This playtime is a great way to bond with your dog!
Especially pups under 18 months old, because it will minimise stress on their joints.
Dogue de Bordeaux health and care
The Dogue de Bordeaux can suffer from some serious health issues.
So if you are considering bringing one into your life it’s important that you are familiar with these conditions
This helps you to choose a puppy that is the least likely to have inherited them.
But also to spot signs of trouble brewing as soon as possible.
Some of the health issues are ones which affect many breeds of dog.
And that any prospective dog owner should be aware of the existence of.
Epilepsy, progressive retinal atrophy and hypothyroidism are a few of these.
Like many larger breeds of dog, the French Mastiff is prone to suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia.
These nasty inherited conditions arise where a malformation of the hip causes an instability in the joint.
Fortunately, hip dysplasia is one of those conditions that for being largely inherited, can be screened for in your puppy’s potential parents.
If you only buy a pup from a breeder whose dogs have better than average hip scores for the breed, you will increase your chances of getting a puppy who doesn’t suffer.
Unfortunately however, the breed mean for Dogue’s is approaching 20.
When you consider that the average Labrador has a breed mean of 11, and lower scores equal better hips, you can see that this is a serious problem for the breed.
This said, there are suggestions that your odds can also be improved further by limiting their exercise at a young age.
And preventing them from jumping or running up and down stairs.
Although research is not yet conclusive on this point, if you are buying a pup from a breed prone to joint issues, it’s sensible to follow this advice just in case.
There are other structural issues that are more specific to the Dogue de Bordeaux.
Let’s take a look at the his face.
The Dogue’s Muzzle
Dogue de Bordeauxs are a ‘brachycephalic’ breed.
You can find out more about brachycephaly in general here.
This shortened muzzle can cause serious breathing problems.
Although this isn’t shown in it’s most extreme form in this breed.
A related potential cause for concern is their nostril openings.
It has been noted that some of our modern Dogues’ nostrils are more closed, making it harder for them to both breathe and potentially regulate their body heat.
Check both the potential parents of your new puppy for signs of this, to reduce your chances of your pup suffering.
And speaking of noses, a quick search online will show you numerous owners whose dogs are troubled by very dry sore skin on their noses.
There are even products being sold specifically to ease this problem in Mastiffs.
Another example of a structural health concern is the issues caused by excess skin.
Today’s Dogue de Bordeaux has more than enough skin.
It hangs loosely off his face in folds that wrinkle and form crevasses.
There are several problems with this type of loose skin being bred into a dog.
Primarily, any fold of skin like this is hard to clean, and forms the perfect environment for germs to fester.
This makes it very prone to infection.
The Dogue’s loose skin also leaves him with drooping lips.
This inability to securely close his mouth causes a constant stream of drool to fall from his mouth.
Given his enormous size, the proportionate amount of drool is not insignificant.
Not only is this messy, but it increases the hostility of the environment on his skin by keeping it constantly moist.
The final serious issue caused by his loose skin relates to his eyes.
When skin at the base of your eyelids hangs down, it exposes tissues that are meant to remain hidden.
This outward rolling of the eyelid is known as ectropion.
Dogs suffering from ectropion have eyes which are very prone to infection, damage and contamination.
Your Dogue will need regular vet checks to ensure that his eyes are staying healthy and not causing him irritation.
Your vet may also need to use surgical intervention to help the dog’s eye health and repair the lids.
Something all dog owners need to be aware of is bloat.
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Several of the more prominent Dogue de Bordeaux websites suggest that this is definitely a prominent issue for the breed.
It is a potentially fatal issue whereby the stomach becomes distended and rotates after eating.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help reduce your dog’s chances of suffering.
Mainly, by helping them to eat their food slowly.
Achieve this through the use of a slow feeder
Or giving smaller portions at more frequent intervals.
There is a good article on bloat on The Labrador Site here, which you might want to check out for further information.
Two other issues with several references to being a serious concern to Dogue owners are cancer and heart disease.
What is the Dogue de Bordeaux Lifespan?
Taking the health issues that Dogues suffer from into account, it is still surprising to see just how short lived they can be.
Although as you may know, giant breeds to seem to live far shorter lives than their smaller cousins.
The Kennel Club website states the breeds lifespan is being over 10 years.
It’s reported that probably the most famous Dogue, the star of Turner and Hooch lived to a ripe old age of 14!
However, if you look at the Kennel Club’s own health survey from 2004 they give the average lifespan as a measly 3.8 years!
This was, however, a very small sample size, so you can draw your own conclusions from their survey summary here.
If you are to believe the recordings apparently taken from the Society study mentioned above, they put the expected lifespan at a middling 5-6 years.
So it’s hard to say how long your Dogue puppy might be expected to share your life with you.
Breeders usually keep detailed accounts of their dogs’ genealogy.
This may well provide you with not only an idea of their longevity, but of the illnesses there fore bearers were prone to.
Do Dogue de Bordeauxs make good family pets?
Mastiffs are guarding breeds at heart.
This means that whilst they are strongly bonded to the individuals they have regular contact with, they are very wary of those that they don’t.
By all accounts they get along very well with the children in their families.
But the problem is that children have friends, who are children.
And your Dogue is unlikely to view them with the same love an affection.
Owners of a giant breed like the Dogue will have to keep them shut away from junior guests.
For the dog’s safety as well as the child’s.
If you live a fairly isolated existence, in a rural location where a guard dog is a reassurance and benefit, then a Dogue will absolutely provide you with just that.
Because they attach very strongly to individuals, this Mastiff breed can suffer from separation anxiety.
Rescuing a Dogue de Bordeaux
If you’re looking to get a Dogue de Bordeaux and aren’t worried about age, consider rescue dogs.
This is a really great option because it gives an older dog a second chance at a great home.
Finding a Dogue de Bordeaux puppy
Finding a healthy puppy from a reputable breeder is really important.
Especially given some of the health problems Dogues are prone to.
This breed really needs help from their clearly willing and loving owners and breeders.
Help to reduce the issues with their shortening muzzle and loose skin, by deliberately breeding parents that show less pronounced traits.
Help by introducing extreme measures to combat their health problems, by only breeding from fully health tested parents.
Generally, Dogue de Bordeauxs cost at least $1000 as puppies
But it is important to remember the vet fees you might also need to pay later in life, given their hereditary health issues.
When buying a Dogue de Bordeaux puppy, only go to a reputable breeder.
Do not go to puppy mills or pet stores.
Puppy mills are the worst place to get your new puppy, as these dogs rarely have good starts to life
And neither does the mother dog used.
Pet stores usually get their puppies from puppy mills, so it’s best to avoid them altogether
Stick to reputable breeders!
Mixed breed dogs are becoming more popular recently, and this includes Dogue de Bordeauxs.
Make sure you still only use reputable breeders, even if you’re getting a mixed breed.
Check out our puppy search guide for more advice on how to find the Dogue de Bordeaux puppy of your dreams!
Raising a Dogue de Bordeaux puppy
We’ve looked briefly at how to help combat potential health problems in Dogues when choosing a puppy.
But there are also ways to help once you’ve got your puppy.
On an individual basis new puppy owners help by socialising and training their Dogues to an incredibly high level.
The Dogue is not for the faint of heart, or light of bank account.
Caring for a vulnerable Dogue de Bordeaux puppy is a big responsibility.
When they need veterinary treatment, and they are likely to do so, they require proportionately more of the vet’s time and medicine – all of which racks up the cost quickly.
They also have a serious drooling problem, due to the way that they have been selectively bred to have loose skin.
Even with conscientious wiping of their mouths, you will have a very sticky home to clear up on a near constant basis.
On the bright side they have a very easily maintained coat, as it’s short, neat and not too prone to shedding.
You should groom him weekly, although given his size that isn’t a fast task!
There are some great guides to help you with all aspects of puppy care and training.
You’ll find them listed on our puppy care page
Unfortunately, despite the Dogue de Bordeaux’s charm, most families are not well suited to him.
The health issues, both known and unknown, alone are very off-putting.
And when coupled with their guarding behaviours and mess, you need a real die-hard fan to give these lovely dogs the home they need.
It’s really important that people have honest breed information.
Because the only result otherwise is a dog who ends up being shunted to a rescue home before he’s even two years old.
So, if you are looking for a bigger dog to join your family, perhaps look for a working breed German Shepherd to join your clan?
Although they don’t have the unique look of a Dogue, they do have a lot of their charm in terms of intense loyalty and devotion.
As well as protective instincts.
And with proper socialisation may fit more smoothly into your life.
Pros And Cons of Getting A Dogue de Bordeaux
So, if you’re still in two minds about whether a Dogue de Bordeaux is right for you, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons we’ve covered here.
Cons of the Dogue de Bordeaux:
Unfortunately, the Dogue de Bordeaux is prone to several serious health problems
Some of these are due to his size.
Others are due to the Dogue’s dramatic short nose and wrinkled face from years of breeding for these characteristics!
Additionally, whilst the Dogue will make a great guard dog for you, this can mean he responds badly to strangers.
Including small children and animals.
These health issues can also mean your Dogue de Bordeaux is very expensive
You must commit to the dog you get, and can’t just get rid of it as soon as it exhibits any poor health, or costly vet bills.
Pros of the Dogue de Bordeaux:
The Dogue de Bordeaux is full of character and loved by many
If you’re prepared for the potential costs and health issues it can suffer from, it will make a great companion for the right family.
It is a loyal, friendly dog that will definitely stand out in the crowd.
If you still think a Dogue de Bordeaux is for you, we recommend taking a look at the following websites before you bring your puppy home:
Dogue de Bordeaux Breed Rescues
Below is a list of breed rescues in USA, UK, Australia and Canada:
- Dogue de Bordeaux Rescue (USA)
- Valley Mastiff Rescue (Canada)
- Homeward Bound Rescue (Canada)
- Monty’s Rescue (UK)
If you know any other great Dogue de Bordeaux rescues, let us know in the comments and we will add them to our list.
References And Resources
- Gough A, Thomas A, O’Neill D. 2018 Breed Predispositions to Disease In Dogs and Cats. Wiley Blackwell
- O’Neill et al. 2013. Longevity and Mortality of Dogs Owned In England. The Veterinary Journal
- Schalamon et al. 2006. Analysis of Dog Bites In Children Who Are Younger Than 17 Years. Pediatrics
- Duffy D et al. Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2008
- Strain G. Deafness prevalence and pigmentation and gender associations in dog breeds at risk. The Veterinary Journal 2004
- Packer et al. 2015. Impact of Facial Conformation On Canine Health. PlosOne
- Willesen et al. 2008. Aortic Stenosis in the Dogue de Bordeaux. Journal of Small Animal Practice
- Bell, J. 2014. Inherited and Predisposing Factors in the Development of Gastric Dilation Volvulus in Dogs. Topics in Companion Animal Medicine.