Temperament, History, Health and Care
by Ken Alden
The Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as the French Mastiff, is a wonderful family dog that you should consider. These are massive dogs, but that just means there's a lot more to love!
What is a Dogue De Bordeaux? This breed is one of the largest dogs in the world. They are a hefty dog that requires training and socialization. But they are gentle giants who are fiercely loyal and loving to their families.
Today we're going to go over
everything that you need to know about this majestic animal. We will cover the
breed characteristics, history, temperament and personality, health issues,
grooming, diet and nutrition, training, how to choose a puppy, and the pros and
cons of the breed. So let's get started!...
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The Dogue De Bordeaux (French Mastiff) Overview
The first thing that you'll notice about this breed is that it is a very large dog. They stand anywhere from 23 to 27 inches tall. They're also considered one of the heaviest dog breeds in the world, weighing in somewhere between 99 and 150 pounds and are the 63rd most popular breed in the United States.
This breed is
classified in the working group of dogs. They have a short coat with multiple
shades of fawn. The colors range from light to dark red. You might also see
some small patches of white. If there's any downside to this beautiful animal,
it's that it doesn't live long enough. On average, the life span of this French Mastiff is just five to eight years.
This Mastiff is one of the world's oldest dog breeds. They were common in France as early as the fourteenth century, especially in southern France around the region of Bordeaux, which is where they got their name.
At one time, this breed came in two different varieties: Dogues and Doguins. Dogues were larger. Eventually, the smaller Doguins faded away into history and are no longer in existence.
The exact history of this breed is somewhat mysterious. There are many different theories on where this massive dog came from.
It is l believed that the history of the breed predates the Bullmastiff and the Bulldog. You can find the Dogue in the background of the Bullmastiff. But others claim that the Dogue and mastiff breeds were both created at the same time. Another theory says that they come from the Tibetan mastiff. Yet another says that the Dogue is related to the Greco Roman molossoids, which were used for war.
The Cousin of the Neapolitan Mastiff
During the time of Julius Caesar's reign, there was a dog breed similar to this in Rome. It is now believed that the breed was a cousin of the Neapolitan Mastiff.
Whichever theory is true about their origins, we know that the dog shares common links that are the same in all modern molossers.
The Dogues were once classified into three types: the Toulouse, the Parisian, and the Bordeaux. Each type was bred depending on the job that they would do and what region of France they were located.
Ancestors of the modern Dogue had
various coat colors. There was a wide variety of shapes and sizes with this dog
The Dogue de Bordeaux personality ranges from comical and outgoing to aloof. These dogs are bred to be guard dogs, and they have a history of fighting. But they also make wonderful companions and show dogs.
This dog is courageous and vigilant. It's also very devoted and loving. However, it's worth noting that these are not easy dogs to own. We don't recommend this breed for first-time dog owners.
Dogues are strong and stubborn. They require strong leadership from you and fair but firm training. It's also vital that you extensively socialize your dog starting at an early age. If you don't train and socialize your pal, they can become aggressive toward other dogs. Untrained, they can be nearly impossible to handle even for an experienced owner.
Dogues are not a breed that you can leave chained up in the backyard. They love people, and they love being around them. So you can expect to share your bed and couch with this gentle giant. Because the Dogue is brachycephalic (short-nosed), it will have a difficult time cooling off from panting. You should keep your dog in the air-conditioning. This breed can die quickly if they are left outside or if they are exercised in the heat of the day.
Unless his guardian services are needed, this dog is calm and even slothful. Dogues generally have a lower activity level, and they are perfectly fine with snoozing the day away, with occasional breaks for playtime and short walks.
Dogues are loving and protective of children. And they make fantastic family dogs. However, you should not leave any dog alone unsupervised with children.
If your dog is raised with cats and other dogs, they will get along fine.
Fun Fact: According to
the AKC, the very first French dog show in 1863 featured the French Mastiff.
This was the first time that they were called by their current name: Dogue de
Bordeaux. The breed was named after the winning dog in the show, who was from
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● One of the problems with this breed is that they have a much shorter lifespan than smaller dogs. It is not uncommon for this dog to die of heart disease or cancer.
● Other Dogues die from gastric dilatation/volvulus. This is also known as stomach torsion and bloat. When Dogues get this condition, they get a buildup of gas in their intestinal tracts, which causes their stomachs to twist. This leads to medical emergencies with this dog.
● Breeders who use the highest breed standards that have been established by the American Kennel Club are less likely to run into health problems. However, there are still several hereditary health problems that occur with this breed.
● They are also prone to elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia. This is a genetic disorder that causes abnormal cell growth in the joints. It can lead to pain and malformation of the joints. And if it isn't treated, it can cause lameness.
● Because of all of the potential health risks for this dog, it is important that you don't overexercise them. You should be careful not to let the dog put on excessive weight too.
Here are some of the other problems associated with this breed:
● Reproductive issues
● Von Willebrand disease
● Heart disease
● Elbow, shoulder, and hip dysplasia
● ACL rupture
● Hypertrophic osteodystrophy
● Spinal cord compression
● Eye problems
This breed is generally easy to groom. They have very short coats, so they only require minimal grooming. They also don't shed too much. It's a good idea to groom your Dogue once a week.
The good news is they don't require much in the way of grooming. The bad news is they drool — a lot.
Even if you make an effort to wipe their mouths often, you should still be prepared to clean up sticky messes around your home.
You should trim their nails and brush their teeth regularly. On top of that, you should check their ears often to keep them free from infection.
They have a lot of loose skin on their faces, and it can be tough to keep this area dry and clean. But it's still recommended to help cut down on infections in the crevices.
You should feed your Dogue a
balanced complete nutrition diet. And it should be geared toward their size and
Be prepared to duck for cover every time your Dogue shakes his head. As we've been discussing, there's a real slobber issue with this dog yet it can be controlled ...somewhat. So you're going to want to keep a drool rag on hand.
Because this breed has very short hair and a super-soft coat, they don't require too much attention. The occasional use of a glove or grooming mitt is really all you need.
One area that you need to pay attention to is the folds of skin on the dog's face. These folds require routine cleaning to avoid infection and irritation.
Caring for a big dog takes time. It's a good idea to establish a good grooming routine early on so that your dog can get used to it. As for their nails, they tend to wear down naturally, but you should periodically check them and trim as needed.
Fearless but not aggressive
The Dogue de Bordeaux is, by nature, a fearless and vigilant protector. But don't misunderstand me, they are by no means considered an aggressive dog breed. This giant dog will always defend its family. But in general, they are very gentle and docile. They can be downright goofy at times.
Because an untrained dog of this massive size can quickly become uncontrollable, it's crucial that you put them through a rigorous training program as soon as possible. Equally important is proper socialization.
Socialization and training will help prevent a lot of problems with this dog. However, it's worth noting that Dogues have a strong instinct to chase other smaller animals. They're also not very tolerant of other dogs in the house, especially a dog of the same sex.
This breed is moderately energetic, so they will need a proper outlet for that energy. In addition to training, you should be sure to give them adequate exercise. Taking a long walk or several shorter walks is very important for this dog. Just remember that you don't want to overdo it. One of the reasons that too much exercise is bad for this dog is because this breed is prone to orthopedic issues.
Another potential problem is that they are a brachycephalic breed (short-nosed), which means that they can easily overheat, and they can develop breathing problems.
It's important that you have a
firm understanding of your Dogue's endurance level. I mean, let's face it, you
aren't going to be able to carry this dog home if they can't make it through
Fun Fact: The Dogue de Bordeaux is a big dog that actually gets along very well with cats. They get along with other dogs, too if they are raised with them. But it's worth noting that this breed also has a very strong prey drive. So they are likely to chase off animals who stray onto their property.
It is very important that you use positive reinforcement training with this dog. And you should start it from the moment you get them home.
You can use one form of positive training by allowing all of the dog's meals to be given as if they were treats. This will help you to stick to training every single day. Puppy classes are also an excellent idea. Classes will expose your pup to different people and different breeds of dog. The more that you bring them to class, the more relaxed and accepting of strangers they will be.
Because of the health issues that we have discussed, it's a better idea to take your dog on several short walks every day rather than pushing them through extended, intense exercise.
While you should focus on training and socialization, it's also important that you play with your dog. Playtime is one of the best and most fun ways to bond with your Dogue!
Swimming is another thing that's great for Dogues, especially with puppies under 18 months old. Swimming is one exercise that is low impact, and it will minimize any stress on their joints.
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Adult Dogues require four to seven cups of dry food every day. You should split that into two meals. Make sure that your dog doesn't gulp down large amounts of food at once because that can bring an increased risk of stomach torsion and bloat. Feed your dog twice a day and restrict exercise and free-feeding for one to two hours after their meal. It's also important to give them access to fresh, clean water.
As we mentioned earlier, Dogues are prone to food allergies. They are especially allergic to wheat, so you may have to put your dog on a special diet. Fortunately, there are several good-quality large breed dog foods on the market that are wheat-free.
You need to know that these dogs
are expensive to feed. An adult male can easily eat a 50-pound bag of food in a
month. It's essential that you monitor your dog's weight. Excess weight can be
very harmful to this dog's health. So make changes to diet and feeding
schedules as needed.
Fun Fact: Dogues are excellent at dog sports. They may be considered only moderately active; however, their eagerness to please and their willingness to learn make them excel at cart-pulling, therapy work, and obedience. So if you have a cart that needs pulling…this dogs for you!
Getting one of these dogs is a big commitment. Here are several things that you should consider before bringing this gentle giant home.
You have to provide the right amount of exercise
It is critical that you give your Dogue enough exercise. You want them to get enough exercise to keep them healthy and lean. However, you don't want them to get so much exercise that they over-stress or damage their soft, growing joints, bones, and ligaments. You also should take care not to exercise this dog in hot, humid weather because they can overheat.
When you minimize a young Dogue's exercise, you may find that they become rambunctious. Prepare for their uncoordinated gawkiness all over your home. Dogues also require supervision because when they're left for too long on their own, they can become bored and destructive. A bored Dogue pup can use its powerful jaws to destroy your living room.
You have to provide enough socialization
Most Dogues have very protective instincts when it comes to strangers. You have to expose them to friendly people repeatedly so that they can learn to recognize the behaviors of the good guys. This will help them to see the difference when someone poses a threat.
You have to take care to socialize this breed. If you don't, then they will be suspicious of everyone, and that could lead to aggression. Of course, you could also have the reverse problem. If you don't properly socialize your dog, they could become fearful of strangers.
Potential animal aggression
Most Dogues won't tolerate another same-sex dog. Some won't even tolerate dogs of the opposite sex. They tend to get along with cats well if they are raised with them. But some Dogues have a strong instinct to chase and catch cats or other smaller animals. If you don't train and socialize this breed, they could do serious harm to or even kill other animals.
It can be challenging to train and raise a Dogue de Bordeaux because they have very independent minds of their own. Some of them are obstinate, willful, and dominant. And they won't make the training easy for you. It's essential that you show them that you mean what you say with absolute consistency.
Dogues are not only very large, but they're also somewhat noisy. You should be prepared for snuffles, grunts, and loud snoring. Most owners find the noises endearing, but some could find them nerve-wracking.
This is one thing that's hard to prepare for. When I say that Dogues drool and slobber, I'm not talking just a little here and there. No, I'm talking about some serious slobber here. This is especially true when they eat or drink. Fair warning--be prepared that every time your dog shakes his head, you will be toweling off slime and saliva from your clothes and furniture.
Gassiness is another thing that you should be prepared for with this breed. This is actually a problem for all short-faced breeds. Their facial structure causes them to gulp air when they eat. And let's face it, that air has to go somewhere.
Commercial dog food diets make the
flatulence problem even worse because they are full of fibrous and
hard-to-digest ingredients. You will have much less trouble with gas if you
feed them a homemade diet of real vegetables and meat.
Serious health problems
As we've been discussing, Dogues de Bordeaux face some serious health problems. These dogs have a very short lifespan. On top of that, an alarming number of them are crippled by joint and bone diseases, and many more end up with cancer at a young age. To keep this breed healthy, you can follow the advice on this Dogue health page.
Another consideration with this
breed is legal liability. In some areas, Dogues are banned. You can also run
into problems with your homeowner's insurance policy. These giant dogs can be
quite intimidating to a lot of people. And with such an intimidating dog, some
people will be much faster to sue if your dog does anything remotely
Fun Fact: The Dogue de
Bordeaux has very thick, loose-fitting skin. And their coat is fine and short.
They may or may not have a black or brown mask.
How to Choose a Dogue De Bordeaux Puppy
The best place to start searching for a new Dogue puppy is the Dogue de Bordeaux Society of America. They will give you a directory of breeders recommended by the club.
It is important that you find responsible breeders who breed healthy puppies. This is especially crucial with this breed because of their inherent health problems.
Good breeders will help to reduce the problems with the dog's loose skin and short muzzle by purposefully breeding parents with less pronounced traits. You can also combat health problems by only breeding with fully healthy parents.
Generally speaking, a Dogue de Bordeaux pup will cost you at least $1000. But when we're talking about the cost of this dog, it's also crucial that you factor in vet fees that you will inevitably face, given their health issues.
Rescue or shelter Dogue de Bordeaux
If you are looking to rescue a Dogue, you should contact the Dogue de Bordeaux Rescue. This group is dedicated to the breed. And they will provide you with leads on Dogues you can adopt.
Where to avoid...
When buying a Dogue puppy, you should not go to a pet store or puppy mill. The worst place you could get a new pup is from a puppy mill. These dogs don't usually get the healthiest start in life. And in most cases, neither do their parents.
The problem with pet stores is
that they usually get their dogs from puppy mills. For this reason, you should
avoid them altogether. Instead, stick with reputable breeders who can verify
their health testing.
If you're still wondering whether
or not you should get one of these dogs, here is a shortlist of the pros and
cons of this dog breed.
● They have
tons of character
● Sweet, lovable personalities
● Gentle with their families
● If you train and socialize Dogues properly, they make excellent watchdogs
● They are
prone to many serious health problems
● They slobber and drool a lot
● Could show excessive guarding actions
● Larger vet bills because of their health problems
● Short lifespan
This is a giant dog that makes a wonderful family pet. As we've been discussing, this breed has some inherent health problems, and they don't have a very long lifespan. But if trained and socialized properly, they'll provide you tons of love and joy.
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About the Author...
Ken Alden, a dedicated Mastiff owner for over eight years, is acclaimed for his expertise in care, grooming, and training. Read more About Me and my dog Shadow.