Considered to be the oldest native French breed, the Dogue De Bordeaux is named for the city of Bordeaux in the Southwest of that country. Despite the breeds age and its long history little is known for sure of its ancestry. What is known is that Dogue de Bordeaux were originally bred for a variety of purposes, primarily hunting, blood sports, protection, and cart pulling, but are now primarily only used as companion animals or guard dogs. This breed was essentially unknown in the United States until the 1980’s, but is making rapid strides in popularity. Most Americans are most familiar with this breed as a result of its appearance in Turner and Hooch. The Dogue de Bordeaux is also known as the Bordeaux Mastiff, Bordeaux Bulldog, the Bordeaux Dog, the French Mastiff, the Bulldogue Francais, and the DDB.
Although only standardized into its modern form in the early part of the 20th Century, the Dogue de Bordeaux is one of the oldest of all French breeds. This breed was developed in an era long before written records were kept of dog breeding, and as a result very little is actually known about the origin of the breed. There are a number of theories, but most are little more than educated inferences or interpretations. What most experts agree on is that the Dogue de Bordeaux is a member of a large canine family known as the Mastiffs, Molossers, Alaunts, or Dogues. While each member is different, this family is characterized by its large size, brachycephalic (pushed in) head, protective instincts, and Eurasian homeland. Some fanciers think that the Dogue de Bordeaux is older than this family and is not a true member, but this is a small minority opinion. The Molosser family is one of the oldest of all dog types, but there is substantial debate as to the family’s precise origins.
There are at least six major theories regarding how the ancestors of the Dogue de Bordeaux came to reside in France, none of which provides conclusive evidence. The first two theories suggest a Pre-Roman arrival for the breed; the others hold that this breed is descended from Roman era dogs. One theory holds that the Molossers are the descendants of ancient Middle Eastern livestock guarding dogs. These dogs were employed by the very first farmers between 7,000 and 14,000 years ago to defend their flocks against wolves, bears, lions, bandits, and other predators. Based on surviving breeds believed to be closely related to these dogs, it is thought that these early canines were massive in size, long coated, and primarily white and tan in color. As agriculture spread across Europe, farmers brought these dogs along with them allowing them to settled in new lands. According to this theory, over the course of centuries farmers in France would develop the Dogue de Bordeaux through both limited selective breeding and crosses with other ancient breeds. This theory is based on little more than scant archaeological evidence and the distribution and appearance of surviving breeds.
Another theory holds that the Dogue de Bordeaux is the descendant of ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian war dogs. This theory finding its basis in artwork from between 4,000 and 7,000 years ago, depicting dogs very similar to modern Mastiff-type dogs, usually engaged in bloody battles. This theory suggests that ancient Phoenician traders brought these dogs to Western Europe, primarily England, France, and Spain, where they were further developed by Europeans. Unfortunately, these ancient depictions are not conclusive and subject to the interpretation of the viewer and may not show Mastiffs at all, but rather other large unrelated dogs. Additionally, it is debatable how likely it was that Phoenician traders would carry massive war dogs thousands of miles on their small boats. These ancient origin theories are supported by pre-Roman archaeological finds in France which seem to include Mastiff-type dogs, though this conclusion is highly debatable.
The most likely theories all claim that the Dogue de Bordeaux arrived in France during the time when the region was a part of the Roman Empire. The likelihood of this theory is greatly enhanced by the fact that Romans were known to have kept Mastiff-type dogs, and that most of these breeds are native to regions which were either within the Empire’s borders or on its borders. Additionally the Roman Empire’s trading network linked Europe’s myriad regions to each other and the greater world like had never been done before, allowing rapid spread of goods, information, people, language, and dogs from one region to another. It is commonly suggested that the Mastiffs descended from one of four breeds found in Roman times: the Molossus, the Pugnaces Britanniae, the Tibetan Mastiff, and/or the Alaunt.
The Molossus was the primary war dog of the Roman Army, accompanying the legions wherever they traveled. This breed was originally kept by a tribe known as the Molossi. The Molossi were native to Epirus (parts of modern day Greece, Albania, Montenegro, and Macedonia) and may have been either Greek or Illyrian. They were feared for their ferocious war dogs, which were eventually adopted by Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great. The Molossus continued to be bred by the ancient Greeks, who used the breed against the Romans during the Macedonian Wars of 205 to 148 B.C. The Romans were so impressed by the Molossus that once they acquired it, they spread it across their entire empire as a regular accompaniment to their legions both domestic and abroad. It was traditionally believed that the Molossus was the first Mastiff, and that all other members of this family descended from this dog. However, recent scholars have questioned whether the Molossus was a Mastiff at all, and many believe that it was a smaller general purpose breed similar to a Catahoula Leopard Dog or possibly a type of sight hound. This questioning is based on the fact that many descriptions of the Molossus describe it as quick, or that it was a skilled hunter and herder in addition to its skill in battle. One of the only surviving depictions of a dog believed to have been a Molossus is a statue known as the Jennings Dog. The Jennings Dog shows an animal remarkably similar to the Illyrian Sheepdog, but certainly not a Mastiff.
The Pugnaces Britanniae was the war dog of the ancient Celts of Britain. This dog was used by Celtic tribes in their fight against Roman occupation of England and Wales. The Romans were so impressed by this breed as well that they imported it throughout their Empire, likely for use in gladiatorial arenas. One of the primary exports of Roman era Britain was dogs. While little is known for sure of this breed other than it was quite large, many canine historians have identified it as the English Mastiff. These experts believe that the Pugnaces Britanniae gave rise to all other members of the Mastiff family, or at least crosses between this breed and the Molossus did. Due to the paucity of evidence and differing translations of Roman texts, many experts have questioned the Pugnaces Britanniae/English Mastiff connection and instead think that the ancient Celtic war dog was actually the ancestor of the Irish Wolfhound.
The Tibetan Mastiff is one of the world’s most ancient dog breeds (and one of the only ones whose age can be verified through archaeology, historical documents, and genetics), and has been a fierce and dedicated protector of livestock and monasteries on the Tibetan Plateau for many thousands of years. Since the breed’s introduction to the West, many scholars have suggested that this ancient breed is the ancestor of European Mastiffs. Proponents of this theory hold that ancient Chinese traders brought the Tibetan Mastiff along the Silk Road and introduced the breed to the Roman Empire. This theory has recently fallen into increasing disfavor. Besides the complete lack of historical or archaeological evidence, recent genetic evidence suggests that the Tibetan Mastiff is not related to European Mastiff breeds. Additionally, the likelihood of massive dogs being brought thousands of miles along some of the world’s most dangerous and treacherous terrain seems unlikely, especially when there is no evidence that seemingly more likely animals, such as horses or camels, made the journey. Even if any dogs did make the journey, it is almost certain that very few did.
The Alaunt was a breed owned by the Alans, and was much feared across Europe for its tremendous ferocity and destructive capacity on the battlefield. The Alans and their dogs were native to the Caucasus Mountains, but were driven from their lands in the closing days of the Roman Empire by rampaging Huns. Although they were not Germanic, the Alans allied themselves with a number of Germanic tribes (especially the Vandals) many of whom were also fleeing the Hunnish advance. The Alans accompanied the Germanic peoples on their raids across Roman Territory (including what is now France), and some settled in what is now Spain. Although little is known for sure about the Alaunt, it was almost certainly a type of Owtcharka, giant guardian breeds native to the Caucasus and renowned to this day for their ferocity and immense power. Many believe that the Alaunt was the first brachycephalic breed, and that all Mastiffs are descended from it. While there is little surviving evidence to support this theory, many medieval people seemed to believe it, as variations of the word Alaunt were used to describe Mastiff-type dogs beginning in that period especially in France and Spain.
However it is that the Dogue de Bordeaux first arrived in France, it was well-established in that country by the beginning of the Middle Ages. Depictions of these dogs can be found from across France beginning in that time. Unlike in England where Mastiffs were common throughout the country for many centuries, the breed type was never quite as popular in France. The French also used their Mastiffs for different purposes than the English. Whereas the English Mastiff remained primarily a protection animal or a war dog with many also being used for blood sports, the Dogue de Bordeaux was primarily used as a hunting dog, but also as a protector, combatant in animal fights, and as a beast of burden. As a result, French Mastiffs became much more versatile and variable than their English Cousins. French breeders also greatly favored a significantly shorter and athletic animal, which was considerably more capable of hunting wolves, boar, and bear. As the centuries wore on, the French began to favor other breeds, and the Dogue de Bordeaux became increasingly rare across the country. One of the biggest factors involved in the breed’s decline was probably the popularity achieved by the Great Pyrenees, which was greatly favored by the French aristocracy beginning in the 1600’s. By the early 1800’s, the Dogue de Bordeaux was rare in France, with the exception of Aquitaine. Aquitaine is a region in the Southwest of France bordering the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees Mountains. This region has been intermittently independent for centuries and has had a troubled relationship with other parts of France, with which it has significant cultural, linguistic, and possibly ethnic differences. The capital of Aquitaine is Bordeaux, a major port city and the unofficial capital of the French (and global) wine industry.
The French Revolution of the early 19th Century likely caused the death of many Dogue de Bordeaux’s, especially those that remained the guardians of wealthy estates. However, the breed was also kept by many members of the lower classes, and breed numbers were largely restored after the Napoleonic Wars. The Dogue de Bordeaux remained primarily a working breed for many decades. The introduction of animal rights legislation, changing social mores about property defense, and technological advances meant that the Dogue de Bordeaux was losing many jobs it had previously held and was becoming increasingly obsolete and rare. This breed was incredibly variable in appearance, with dogs from different regions of France differing in terms of size, color, purpose, mouth, and head. As these dogs were more of a type than a true breed, they were simply called Dogues (a generic French and Old English term for Mastiff-type dogs), or perhaps by a local name. However, during the mid-19th Century a dog show craze erupted in England and quickly spread across Europe. By the 1860’s, a series of monumental efforts began in France to standardize native breeds and to exhibit them in the show ring. The Dogue de Bordeaux made its first appearance in the show ring at the first major French dog show, held at Paris’s Jardin d’Acclimatation in 1863. The winning Dogue’s name was Magentas, and since she had been born in Aquitaine (where the breed was most popular), the entire breed was named the Dogue de Bordeaux after that region’s capital. At that point there were three distinct surviving varieties of Dogue de Bordeaux, the Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Parisien. Although all three varieties were variable in appearance, the Toulouse was considerably longer bodied than the Bordeaux, and also lighter-boned. Additionally, the Toulouse came in a greater variety of colors, and was predominantly found in brindle. The Parisien variety was most distinguished by its scissor bite, quite different from the drastic underbite of the other two varieties. At that point, the Bordeaux had cropped ears.
There was great debate among early Dogue de Bordeaux breeders as to how to standardize the breed and which characteristics to choose. This was made much more difficult due to the great variability of this breed. Partially because of these problems, there was no standard for this breed until 1896, when Pierre Mengin published Le Dogue de Bordeaux. This work was a joint effort between Mr. Mengin, Mr. Brooke, Dr. Wiart, and a group of French breed authorities. These men settled on the best breed traits of exhibited dogs over the preceding 20 years to include in Le Dogue De Bordeaux. The eventual standard was heavily based on the most numerous and supposedly purest Bordeaux variety, although aspects of all varieties were considered. After great debate, black masks were disfavored as it was thought they were indicative of English Mastiff ancestry although many of these dogs continued to have them. Ear cropping was abandoned. The size of the head was limited to what would keep the dog functional and athletic. All colors other than fawn were eliminated. The inch-long underbite of the non-Parisien variety was selected. This standard was publicized to the world a year later in Henry de Bylants work, The Breeds of Dogs.
The two world wars saw substantial damage done to this breed. This dog was very expensive to keep in wartime, and many starved or were euthanized. Luckily, Aquitaine was spared the worst of the fighting and the breed was able to survive. Although its number were severely reduced, the Dogue de Bordeaux was in much better shape after the war than breeds such as the English Mastiff or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. By the 1960’s, the Dogue de Bordeaux was on the verge of extinction. A group of fanciers led by Dr. Raymond Triquet were determined to save this breed and began efforts to rebuild it. In 1970, Triquet wrote a new standard for the breed which better suited the modern animal. Thanks to the efforts of Triquet and other fanciers, the breed has now reestablished itself across France, and has been imported to a number of other countries as well, especially the United States.
The first recorded Dogue de Bordeaux to arrive in America was a female named Fidelle de Fenelon, imported by the English Mastiff breeder Merle Campbell in 1959. However, Fidelle de Fenelon was used in English Mastiff breeding programs and did not help to establish the Dogue de Bordeaux in that country. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Philip Todd imported Rugby de la Mason des Arbes, but later moved to Holland, taking his Dogues with him. There are no other records of this breed in the United States until 1969, when Steve and Wendy Norris became interested in the breed. That year they began to import Dogue de Bordeaux’s from Europe with the help of Dr. Todd. The Norrises were responsible for first establishing the breed in America. The number of Dogue de Bordeaux’s in America grew slowly until the 1980’s, when the breed experienced a minor boom. In 1986, Turner and Hooch was released in theaters. The movie starred Tom Hanks as police investigator Scott Turner and Beasley the Dog as Hooch, the pet of a murder victim who was adopted by Turner. Due to the rarity of the Dogue de Bordeaux, most people assumed that the movie’s canine star was a Bullmastiff or a mix, but the movie still greatly increased interest in the breed. While the interest generated by the film likely firmly established the Dogue de Bordeaux in America, it also did some damage. Animal dealers began to import low quality Dogue de Bordeaux’s to satisfy the American market, and disreputable breeders who cared only for profit began to sell produce puppies that they sold for very high prices.
In 1995, the United Kennel Club (UKC) granted formal recognition to the Dogue de Bordeaux as a member of the Guardian Dog Group, becoming the first of the two major American kennel clubs to do so. In 1997, the Dogue de Bordeaux Society of America (DDBS) was founded after a year of careful planning. The club’s main goal was to get the Dogue de Bordeaux recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and the breed was eventually put on the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service, which helps guide breeds to eventual full recognition. In 2006, the Dogue de Bordeaux was placed in the Miscellaneous Class, and was eligible to compete in all AKC events other than conformation. Two years later, the DDBS’s primary goal was realized when the breed became a full member of the Working Group. However, not all Dogue de Bordeaux fanciers were happy that the breed earned AKC recognition, and many have refused to have their dogs registered with that organization, instead choosing to remain with the UKC or rare breed organizations.
During the 20th Century, the Dogue de Bordeaux was used to create, improve, or reestablish at least three other breeds. During the early years of the 20th Century, Japanese breeders imported Dogue de Bordeaux’s and other European breeds to improve the bloodlines of the Tosa Inu, the legendary fighting dog of Japan. The Dogue de Bordeaux increased the overall size and bulk of the Tosa Inu, as well as enlarging and strengthening the head. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, the Argentine dog breeder Antonio Nores Martinez began to create a hunting breed based on the Cordoba Fighting Dog. He crossed the Cordoba Fighting Dog with many other breeds to get the animal he desired, which eventually became known as the Dogo Argentino. One of the breeds he selected was the Dogue de Bordeaux, chosen to increase the head size and bulk of the Dogo Argentino. World War II proved devastating to the English Mastiff, and as few as 14 breedable dogs survived the War, and the only one in Britain was thought to be half Bull-Mastiff. The American English Mastiff breeder Merle Campbell imported a Dogue De Bordeaux named Fidelle de Fenelon in 1959 and with the permission of the AKC and breed clubs, had her registered as an English Mastiff. Due to the English Mastiff’s scarcity at the time, essentially all of today’s English Mastiffs can trace their origins back to Fidelle.
For the past 40 years, the Dogue de Bordeaux has been regarded as a rare breed in America. However, that is beginning to change. Since the 1980’s, breed populations have been increasing at a steady rate. In 2009 and 2010, the Dogue de Bordeaux ranked 69th and 68th in terms of AKC recognitions. However, these numbers are inflated by the fact that they include Dogue de Bordeaux’s of all ages who are eligible for full AKC registration for the first time, not only puppies or imported dogs as is usually the case. In America, the Dogue de Bordeaux is used primarily as a companion animal or a show dog, but is occasionally used for personal or property protection as well. Families willing and able to provide this breed with its great needs find that the Dogue de Bordeaux makes a loyal and loving companion and protector.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is very similar in appearance to other Mastiff-type dogs, especially the Bullmastiff with which it is often confused. The Dogue de Bordeaux is a truly massive breed, but is significantly more bulky than it is tall. AKC and UKC standards differ slightly for this breed. AKC standards call for males to stand between 23½ and 27 inches tall at the shoulder and for females to stand between 23 and 26 inches. UKC standards call for males to stand between 23½ and 26½ inches tall at the shoulder and females to stand between 22½ and 25½ inches. Both kennel clubs put a minimum weight for both sexes, 110 pounds for males and 99 pounds for females, but no maximum. However, this breed regularly attains much greater weights, typically up to 145 pounds and sometimes well over 150. The Dogue de Bordeaux is a very bulky breed, and the width of its chest should be at least half of its height. These dogs have very thick bones and legs, a deep chest, and a powerful neck. Though thick, this breed should never appear overweight, quite the contrary. A Dogue de Bordeaux should appear muscular and powerful, even athletic. The Dogue de Bordeaux is slightly longer than it is tall, with an ideal ratio being 11 inches in length for every 10 inches of height. The tail of this breed is very long, starting off very thick at the base and tapering to the end. This tail should be held low when the dog is at rest but should always be carried straight when in motion.
The head and face of the Dogue de Bordeaux are two of the breed’s most defining features. This breed has the typical massive head and brachycephalic face of other Mastiffs. In relation to body size, the Dogue de Bordeaux has one of the largest heads of any dog breed. The circumference of a male’s head is roughly equal to the height of the dog, although the heads of females are slightly smaller. The head itself is slightly rounded and very wide, giving it an almost spherical appearance. The muzzle of this breed is quite short, its length normally being between ¼ and 1/3 of the length of the skull. The muzzle usually points slightly upwards, but not to the extent of a breed such as an English Bulldog or Pug. The Dogue de Bordeaux has a pronounced underbite, with the lower teeth extending up to an inch farther than the upper teeth. The muzzle ends in a slightly upturned nose that is colored according to the dog’s mask. This breed has a very wrinkly face, although not to the extent where other facial features are obscured. These wrinkles continue onto the loose and pendulous lips, forming pronounced jowls. The wrinkles also extend over the body, giving the breed the appearance of having a great amount of loose skin. The eyes of this breed are set wide apart and appear smaller than they are due to the circular wrinkles that surround them. This breed has small and slightly rounded ears, which hang down close to the sides of the head. The overall expression of a Dogue de Bordeaux is serious and intense.
The coat of the Dogue de Bordeaux is short, fine, and soft. The Dogue de Bordeaux comes in only one acceptable color, solid fawn. This fawn may range in shade from dark to light. It is completely acceptable for Dogue de Bordeaux’s to have white markings on their chests and feet, and most breed members do. Dogue de Bordeaux’s may have one of three separate mask colors. This mask typically covers the entire muzzle and part of the face. Black masked dogs may have black shading on the head, ears, neck, and top of the body, in addition to having a black nose. Brown masked dogs may have brown shading in the same places that black masked dogs do, and have a brown nose. Dogs without a mask (also known as red masked or bitred dogs) do not have any shading other than fawn and have a reddish or pink nose.
The Dogue de Bordeaux has a temperament typical of a guardian breed, but is more athletic and energetic than most other Mastiffs. Breed members are known for their stable temperaments and high stimulus threshold; it takes a great deal to get this breed aroused or excited. Famed for its loyalty, This breed is absolutely devoted to its owners, with whom it forms very close bonds. The Dogue de Bordeaux is very affectionate, and loves to lick and snuggle. This can be problematic as many 125 pound Dogue de Bordeaux’s come to think they are lapdogs and that everyone wants to be drenched in slobbery kisses. This breed has also been known to suffer from separation anxiety, which can be a major problem if it takes out its nervousness by becoming destructive.
Proper socialization is absolutely essential for this breed. When trained properly, Dogue de Bordeaux’s are generally tolerant of and polite with strangers when in the company of their master, although somewhat aloof with them. Without proper socialization, the natural protective instincts of this breed often take over and fearfulness or aggression issues often develop. Even well-trained Dogue de Bordeaux’s do not make friends quickly, but most eventually accept new people (such as a roommate or spouse) and form devoted attachments with them. Dogue de Bordeaux make alert and talented watchdogs, but exceptional guard dogs. This breed will not let an intruder enter their domain unchallenged, and will go to any length to protect a family member from harm. However, this breed is not especially aggressive, and almost all breed members will attempt to deter a potential threat with intimidation before they resort to physical force.
Although not generally regarded as a family dog, Dogue de Bordeaux’s are generally accepting of older children (6 years old and up) with whom they have been properly socialized. However, this breed does have a strong prey drive, and they may misinterpret the scampering and noises of small children. Sometimes this breed can also misinterpret the rough play of children and feel the need to intervene. Additionally, Dogue de Bordeaux’s great size means that one could accidentally injure a child merely by walking into him or her. For this reason, most breeders recommend waiting till a child is of school age before placing a Dogue de Bordeaux in the home, and always carefully supervising any interaction between this breed and young children.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is known to have animal aggression issues. Dogue de Bordeaux’s (especially males) are generally dominant towards other dogs, and also may become intensely territorial. That being said, the Dogue de Bordeaux is not especially likely to start a fight, but they will most definitely not back down from one that finds them. While most breed members are accepting of other dogs with which they have been raised with from a young age, problems may develop as the dog matures. This breed tends to be very playful with other dogs which it knows well, and many like to play rough. Owners must be in control of the Dogue de Bordeaux’s at all times, because this breed can and will seriously injure essentially any other dog if a problem develops.
The Dogue de Bordeaux has a very high prey drive as it was used for many centuries to hunt the most dangerous animals in Europe and also to fight against them in arenas. When unsocialized with other creatures, Dogue de Bordeaux’s will pursue and probably attempt to attack any non-canine creature that they sense whether that creature is a mouse or a moose. If you leave a Dogue de Bordeaux alone in the yard for any length of time, they may bring back “presents” of dead animals. In particular, this breed may become a cat killer. While most Dogue de Bordeaux’s will accept other household pets with which they have been socialized, some never do. Owners must always remember that a Dogue de Bordeaux which lives peacefully with a family cat it has known its entire life may (and likely will) chase and potentially attack an unfamiliar feline.
This breed is known to present training difficulties. This breed is often stubborn and willful. It takes a great deal of extra time and effort, as well as training consistency, to properly train a Dogue de Bordeaux. As this dog often makes up its own mind as to what it is going to do, owners may never get the training results that they desire and those who want an obedience champion would be advised to consider other breeds. It is also a breed trademark to regularly challenge authority and to take control if it is determined that the master is not actually in charge. Dogue de Bordeaux’s will almost certainly not obey someone whose authority they do not recognize. Owners of this breed must make sure that they are in a position of authority at all times. It is also of the utmost importance that training begins at a very young age as it is much easier to correct a willing 40 pound puppy than a resistant 100 pound adult.
Much to the surprise to those who are familiar with other Mastiffs, the Dogue de Bordeaux is surprisingly energetic and athletic. Although generally calm, this dog is capable of intense bursts of speed and activity. This breed is no couch potato, and Dogue de Bordeaux’s need an least an hour of vigorous exercise every day, preferably on a long, brisk walk. Since this breed gets winded easily, it does not make the best jogging companion. Dogue de Bordeaux’s really crave the time to wander a yard on their own, and do poorly in apartments. Owners who do not meet the exercise needs of this breed will regret it as this dog will find an energy outlet of its own. Unexercised Dogue de Bordeaux’s often become destructive, excessively vocal, hyperactive, and possibly aggressive or fearful. Massive in size and immensely powerful, a bored and anxious Dogue de Bordeaux can be a complete canine terror in a way that few other breeds can. This is not a breed that will chew on a table leg, it is one that will tear an entire sofa to tiny pieces or chew a door off its hinges. That being said, once their needs are met, Dogue de Bordeaux’s tend to be very calm and relaxed. Dogue de Bordeaux’s are one of the most playful (if not the most) of any Mastiff, and these dogs love nothing more than a romp with their families. The energy level of this breed makes it quite desirable for families who are looking for a dog that is not only capable of protection but also of taking a long hike through the woods.
Potential Dogue de Bordeaux owners need to be aware that this is not a breed for the exceptionally fastidious or easily embarrassed. This is a very messy breed. Breed members love to roll around in the mud and muck, only to track it into the house on their massive paws. Dogue de Bordeaux’s are very messy eaters and drinkers who will leave trails from their bowls to the sofa. This breed is also an intense drooler who will cover humans and furniture with slobber, and many owners carry drool rags with them at all times. This breed is also known for making many unpleasant and loud noises, especially wheezes, grunts, and snores. Of most concern to many owners is the breed’s flatulence. Dogue de Bordeaux’s are very gassy, and their releases are usually extraordinarily potent.
The short coat of the Dogue de Bordeaux is very low-maintenance. This breed should never require professional grooming: only a weekly brushing and bi-weekly bathing is required. Although the Dogue de Bordeaux is only an average shedder, the large size of this breed means that it may release a great deal of hair. Although the coat requires little care, this is not a low-maintenance dog. Owners must carefully clean the facial wrinkles and ears to prevent water, food, dirt, grime, and other materials from getting lodged in them. This should be done at least daily, and possibly after every meal. Otherwise, irritations and infections are likely to develop. It is highly advisable that Dogue de Bordeaux owners introduce their dogs to standard maintenance activities from as young an age and as carefully as possible. It is much easier to trim the nails of a curious puppy than a frightened adult.
Unfortunately, health issues are almost certainly the primary concern for this breed. Dogue de Bordeaux’s are known to suffer from a number of severe health issues, and this breed has one of the shortest life expectancies of any dog. Although different studies have come to slightly different conclusions, most place the life expectancy of this breed at between 5 and 6 years, less than half of what is common for most breeds even other giants. Few breed members live to see their eighth birthday, and it is very rare for a Dogue de Bordeaux to reach an age of 9. According to surveys conducted by the DDBS, the leading cause of death for this breed is cancer, which is responsible for almost 30% of deaths, followed by heart problems at a little over 25%, bloat at nearly 15%, and kidney failure and 8.5%. Although short-lived, many Dogue de Bordeaux’s suffer from painful conditions for years before they pass, especially skeletal and respiratory issues.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Dogue de Bordeaux’s. This breed is victim to many different forms of cancer but is especially prone to lymphoma a cancer which affects part of the immune system. Not only does this breed suffer from cancer at higher rates that most breeds, but it also suffers from it at a younger age. Many breed members are diagnosed with cancer before they turn 5. Just as is the case with humans, cancer in dogs is caused by the rapid multiplication of abnormal cells. Treatment options and likelihood of survival vary depending on the type and advancement of cancer, but most are very expensive and uncomfortable for the dog.
Dogue de Bordeaux’s suffer from a number of problems related to their brachycephalic heads. Their shortened snouts make it difficult for this breed to get enough air. As a result, these dogs often wheeze, snort, and snore. This breed is also highly susceptible to respiratory infections. Of greater concern is that this breed gets winded rapidly when exercise, and cannot go at top effort for very long. Owners must be cautious not to push their Dogue de Bordeaux’s too hard. Because dogs (and humans) use the air that they breathe to cool their bodies, this breed also is very heat intolerant. Dogue de Bordeaux’s overheat and get fatal heatstroke both more rapidly and at lower temperatures than most other breeds.
Because skeletal and visual problems have been known to occur in this breed it is highly advisable for owners to have their pets tested by both the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). The OFA and CERF perform genetic and other tests to identify potential health defects before they show up. This is especially valuable in the detection of conditions that do not show up until the dog has reached an advanced age, making it especially important for anyone considering breeding their dog to have them tested to prevent the spread of potential genetic conditions to its offspring.
A full list of health problems experienced by the Dogue de Bordeaux would have to include: