French Mastiff Dog Breed Information
Their History, Traits, Temperament And More

by Ken Alden

The French Mastiff, most often referred to as the Dogue De Bordeaux, is one of the oldest French dog breeds still around today. A member of the American Kennel Club’s working group, this breed usually weighs over 100 pounds and are fearless guard dogs.

Interesting Facts About The French Mastiff

  • The French Mastiff is always popular in France, but didn’t receive global recognition until the 1989 Tom Hanks comedy, “Turner & Hooch.”
  • They have potential health problems which can be prevented with precautions taken early on
  • They seldomly bark, but when they do the whole town knows it.
  • They’re big time droolers but shed less than many Mastiffs
  • This breed isn’t just a “good” family dog. They’re a great family dog.

It’s safe to say that everything we just mentioned doesn’t even scratch the surface. So, let’s go into much greater detail about this breeds amazing history, it’s traits, and their temperament. Read More Below...

Pro-tip: Ever try lifting a Mastiff? Their weight can hurt not only your back but their joints when they hop down from cars, sofas or even your bed. To protect your back and theirs check out the best Mastiff ramps on now.

Cute French Mastiff also known as the Dogue De Bordeaux

French Mastiff History

The history of the modern-day breed dates all the way back to 14th century France. The breed was used as a multi-purpose working dog, capable of hauling carts, guarding large estates, hunting game, and protecting livestock.

As this breed rapidly increased in popularity, breeders made it a point to keep the bloodline as pure as possible. By the late 1800s, the popularity of this breed was higher than ever, with the breed successfully spreading across France.

The appearance of this breed is quite similar to other types of Mastiffs, but we don’t know exactly which breeds make up the current French Mastiff. What we do know, however, is that the way this breed looked in the 1800s depended on where you went in France.

Worldwide Recognition

This dog has always been quite popular in France, but he didn’t receive worldwide recognition until the release of the 1989 Tom Hanks comedy, “Turner & Hooch.” This was believed to be the first time that this dog was portrayed in popular culture.

Since the release of the film and the introduction to a lovable pooch like Beasley (from the film), it’s no surprise that this breed’s popularity skyrocketed!

French Mastiff Traits

Despite his muscular body and intimidating size, this dog has quite a few admirable traits that make him a great family dog and guard dog. In all honesty, this is a breed with an incredible heart and a lot of love to give.

We want to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting when you bring your brand new puppy home. So, let’s go over some of the most notable traits you’ll find in this dog.

They're Quiet

For the most part, you won’t hear a peep from your Frenchie when it comes to barking. The only time he’ll really bark (and boy, is it a loud bark) is when he truly feels as if either he or your family is in serious danger. So, if he barks, make it a point to figure out what he’s barking at!

Even though this dog doesn’t bark too much, he does make a wide array of other sounds. You’ll definitely hear his snoring and deep breathing, even if you’re on the other side of the room.

They're Stubborn

This dog does love to please his owner, but he’ll also push back a little to see what he can get away with. After all, he does have a general understanding of just how large and powerful he looks on the outside and uses that to advantage.

Positive reinforcement is key if you want a well-trained dog that follows your every command. You also need to be consistent with your training and remember: If you give an inch, he’ll take a mile.

They're Affectionate

Despite his ability to pummel an intruder with ease, the French Mastiff is also an incredibly friendly dog when it comes to his own pack. He loves to spend time with his family, snuggle up on the couch, or gently play with the kids of the house.

Even when he plays, he’s known to do so delicately. So, don’t be surprised if you walk in on your dog and your toddler cuddling or playing nicely with his favorite toys.

Pro-tip: Mastiff anxiety, aggression, destructive chewing, jumping up, fearfulness, and other behaviors can be controlled with the right training program.

Here’s a great course that addresses these issues along with many other dog training basics: Check it out now!

They're Territorial

This dog is protective of his own brood and will do just about anything to keep your family safe. In fact, this is perhaps one of the best breeds to bring home if you’re looking for a watchdog or a guard dog. He’ll keep his eye on the property and alert you if anything is off.

They're Powerful & Alert

One of the key traits of a good watchdog or guard dog is a constant state of alert, right? Even when he’s off the clock and taking a nap on the couch, he’ll perk up defensively if a stranger knocks at the door.

The Frenchie can weigh over 100 pounds and has ancestors that were more than capable of pulling heavy carts through the streets of France. This is definitely not a breed to be messed with in any way, especially if you’re an intruder.

French Mastiff Temperament

The exact temperament of this dog varies depending on whether he’s taken on the role of a loving companion, loyal guard dog, or a combination of the two. Regardless, there are quite a few qualities that seem to carry over from one French Mastiff to the next.

They Are Devoted

Once your dog builds a solid connection with you and your family, it’ll last a lifetime. He’ll make sure to always keep an eye out for you and alert you immediately if he fears that the family is in danger. He’ll always be there when you need him.

At the same time, he’ll always be there, even when you don’t need him! Since he’s likely extremely attached to you and your family, it’s very likely that he’ll follow you around and try to keep himself involved in all family activities. Don’t leave your French Mastiff out of anything!

They Are Loyal

This breed is 100% dependent on you and the relationship he’s built with you. He’ll be wary of any new people that you bring into the home and won’t be afraid to step in if he feels that you’re being threatened.

In the same realm, the loyalty of this dog also extends into a never-ending quest for dominance. So, it’s likely that your dog will compete against any other pets you might have to become the alpha in your home.

They Are Vigilant

It should come as no surprise that a dog bred to guard large estates and livestock is extremely vigilant at all times. You can always count on your dog to keep an eye on the place when you’re gone and give you a hearty bark when he feels a stranger’s come too close. 

But, don’t expect your pooch to attack anyone and everything he sees as a threat. He might be a watchdog, but there isn’t too much of a worry about this breed attacking strangers without feeling it’s necessary.

They Are Even Tempered

Even though this breed is highly protective and makes a great guard dog, that doesn’t mean that he’s always in attack mode. In fact, this breed seems to do quite well with strangers and new dogs if they work to build their trust. 

So, don’t expect your dog to start a howling fit every time there’s a knock at the door. He’ll definitely be a little curious about new people, but there should be no concerns about him losing his temper without serious provocation.

They Are Courageous

It takes a lot for a French Mastiff to physically intervene, bite, or bark, but he will if he feels it’s necessary. So, don’t be surprised if your dog comes sprinting over at maximum speed to have your back when a mysterious person gets near.

And when we say that this dog is fearless, we absolutely mean it. The French Mastiff was once successful in the duel arena against several huge animals like wolves and bears, so a 200-pound man is no problem.

French Mastiff Health Issues 

Along with a large breed dog like this one comes a whirlwind of potential health issues. The good news is, a lot of these health problems are preventable if you take the proper precautions early on.

Aortic stenosis is a condition where the aortic valve of the heart narrows significantly, meaning the heart has to work a lot harder to fulfill its normal duties. Since it’s usually genetic, the best thing you can do is check out the medical charts of your dog’s parents.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (aka, bloat) happens when the stomach fills up with far too much food and gas, actually causing it to flip over on itself and trap the gas. This condition is potentially fatal, so try to feed your pooch multiple small meals a day instead of large meals.

Elbow and Hip dysplasia both occur when the joints of large breed dogs like this are overused or formed improperly. The best way to reduce the symptoms of these debilitating conditions is to give your French Mastiff joint supplements with glucosamine or chondroitin.

Cardiomyopathy is a condition where your French Mastiff’s heart is weakened, meaning blood flow is at an all-time low. The best way to prevent and/or treat this condition is through a healthy diet with vitamins and minerals that boost heart functioning.

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Frequently Asked Questions About French Mastiffs

There’s a lot that you need to know about this dog before it’s finally time to bring your new pup home. So, we’re going to take some time to answer some questions you might still be asking yourself.

Are French Mastiffs A Good Family Dog?

french mastiff with woman

This breed isn’t just a “good” family dog. They’re a great family dog.

The gentle nature of this breed makes him the perfect fit for all members of the family, from the very young to the very old.

This breed is known for getting along well with children, regardless of the massive size difference. He’ll love gently playing with your children, hanging around the house, and just being a part of daily family functions.

This breed also fares pretty well when it comes to meeting new people. Even though he might be a little nervous about new people in his house, he’ll likely accept them as soon as he realizes that they’re your friends.

We do find it important to mention that training is key here.

It’s relatively easy to train a Frenchie, but if you let his stubbornness run the training session, he’ll be the one running the house. So, don’t give in to his stubbornness and stay persistent with your training.

Are French Mastiffs Good With Cats And Other Dogs?

This breed usually gets along pretty well with other dogs and cats, but that’s most likely if he spends a lot of time with them from the time he’s a puppy. Since he has a decent prey drive, he might want to chase your small dogs and cats around the house.

In all honesty, it all comes down to proper socialization. So, slowly work your dog up to being around other dogs and playing with them, and you should have absolutely no problems when he’s finally full-grown.

Are French Mastiffs Good Guard Dogs?

If you remember from earlier, we discussed the history of the this dog. The breed was known for being incredibly skilled at guarding flocks, protecting livestock, and keeping a watchful eye over estates and castles.

The good news is, the natural guarding instincts they posses are still around today. The bad news is, this dog excels more as a watchdog than a guard dog.

There’s absolutely no doubt that your French Mastiff will keenly watch your property and keep track of the movements of any strangers. If he sees that there’s a threat, he’ll let you know with a rare bark.

At that point, it’s up to you to check out what he’s barking out and figure out how to respond.

Do French Mastiffs Drool A Lot?

Unfortunately, this Mastiff breed drools a lot. But, that’s to be expected when you bring most types of Mastiffs home, right?

You’ll understand why exactly he drools so much when you get a good look at his face when he’s full-grown. Not only will you realize just how large his head truly is (yes, it’s quite big), but you’ll also see just how much his lips sag.

The more a French Mastiff’s lips droop, the more likely they are to noticeably drool. Keeping a close eye on your dog’s drooling habits will be a godsend when it comes to saving your furniture and floor.

You’ll notice that your dog drools a lot more when he comes inside from doing laps around the backyard after he’s had a lot of water to drink, and when he hears you making dinner.

So, here’s what you can do!

  • Keep a rug or mat near your pal’s bowls to keep the drool from your floor when it’s time to drink or eat.
  • Always have a towel on hand to wipe your dog’s slobber from his face or off the couch.
  • Invest in a doggie bib to collect any excess drool if he’s a habitual drooler. 

As gross as it might sound, take note of how much your dog is drooling. If he’s drooling a lot more than usual for no logical reason, he might have another health condition going on under the surface.

Compared to other Mastiff breeds just where does this dog stand? Does it drool more or less? Learn Here.

Do French Mastiffs Shed A Lot?

Plenty of Mastiffs shed a lot, but this breeds shedding isn’t too bad. That’s because they actually has a generally short coat that’s pretty easy to care for in most circumstances. 

So, how much grooming are we talking about?

You might want to do a quick brushing session on a daily basis, but once every few days should be enough. It might be necessary to vacuum more often when the shedding gets a little more intense at certain times of the year.

In terms of bathing, once every few months is more than enough to keep your beloved pal clean and smelling good.

But, the wrinkles are key when it comes to keeping your French Mastiff clean. 

It would be a good idea to invest in a doggie facial cleanser like the Squishface Wrinkle Paste to delicately clean your dog’s adorable wrinkles. You want to make sure that you’re wiping his wrinkles down pretty frequently to prevent a nasty buildup of dirt, dust, or bacteria.

The French Mastiff...Final Thoughts

The French Mastiff, also known as the Dogue de Bordeaux, is a relatively rare Mastiff breed that’s become increasingly more popular in recent years. This dog will be a great fit in your home if you’re looking for a loyal companion that’s also apt at guarding your home.

They’re great with children and sometimes overly affectionate and cuddly. Just remember that a healthy diet and exercise are important to reducing your dog’s risk of developing certain health conditions.

About Author

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.

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