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Dogue de Bordeaux: Dog Breed Information and Pictures

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The Dogue de Bordeaux is one of the French breeds with a classy appeal. This one is a massive mastiff dog, epitomizing strength and power. In the past, these mighty dogs were bred to pull carts, guard flocks, and transport heavy objects. Cut to the present times, and this breed has transformed into an effective family dog. They also have excellent guarding and watching skills. It is also called the French Mastiff, after its place of origin.

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History of the Dogue de Bordeaux

This dog is an ancient breed. Its history dates back to time immemorial, so much so that identifying its origin isn’t possible. There are several theories regarding its origination. The  Dogue de Bordeaux is considered indigenous to France as early as the 14th century. It was known to thrive around Bordeaux in southwestern France, hence the name. Another source says that the Dogue de Bordeaux’s ancestors include the Tibetan Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, and even several Greek mastiff breeds.

An ancient tale even mentions that the legions of Julius Caesar were instrumental in introducing this breed to France in the 1st century B.C. The Romans used these mastiffs as war dogs and even gladiators. They would engage in fierce battles with wild beasts and other canines within the arena. Initially, this breed had two varieties – the Doguin and the Dogue. The Doguin is the smaller kind and has become extinct at present. So, in today’s time, only the larger version, i.e., the Dogue, exists.

Besides earning a reputation as fighting dogs, they also excelled in hunting, guarding, and drafting. In the mid-18th century, these dogs went on to exclusively guard the property of the French nobility. However, the Dogue’s job as guarders ended after the French Revolution. It was because most of their masters were imprisoned or killed mercilessly by the guillotine.

It reached the United States during the 1890s. Dr. Carl Semencic, an American anthropologist, played a pivotal role in introducing this breed to the purebred enthusiasts of America. It happened after he wrote about the French Mastiff in an article published in Dog World magazine. After his first article, there were just 600 dogs left in the world. However, when more people came to know of this breed, it affected their numbers positively.

It was further triggered by the Tom Hanks starrer comedy movie Turner & Hooch, released in 1989. There has been no looking back for this breed since then. It gained global recognition, and its population was on the rise. The American Kennel Club gave it wide acclaim in 2008.

More About the Dogue de Bordeaux

There is a lot to know about this cute and interesting breed. It implies that it is pretty sought-after among the masses. In the list of AKC’s Most Popular Dogs of 2022, it ranked 78 out of 199 breeds.


The Dogue de Bordeaux is well-balanced, powerful, muscular, and massive. These dogs are brachycephalic, having short heads, flat faces, and noses. Because of their big yet short head, they closely replicate a bulldog. When viewed from above and in front, the head resembles the shape of a trapezium. They even have oval-shaped eyes with hazel or dark brown coloration. Their ears are smaller than their skull and appear darker than their coat.

As per the breed standards, their nose must be red or black, and the nose color should change accordingly. For the dogs with a red mask, the color of the nose must be brown. In comparison, those having a black mask must have a black nose. One of their most attractive features that add to their cuteness is the loose skin hanging from their neck, forming a dewlap.

They even have a straight tail which is thick towards the base and tapering near the end.


According to the AKC and FCI, the female French Mastiff should weigh around 99 pounds and above, while the males must weigh about 110 pounds. When it comes to height, the males are 23 to 27 inches. The females are 23 to 26 inches tall. Any deviation from the said standards is a fault.

Personality and Temperament

These dogs are reputable for being even-tempered. Their mighty size and sturdy build perfectly contrast their gentle demeanor. No wonder several breed standards often describe these dogs as gentle giants. When in the bounds of their home, they are the perfect couch potatoes, enjoying the love and affection of their near ones. Contrastingly, they can turn into vigilant guard dogs when the need arises. When interacting with someone they consider a stranger initially, they wouldn’t display friendliness. Instead, they would be wary until they knew his true intention. They are incredibly protective of their family. With their guarding lineage of the past, they can emerge as great protectors if the need arises.

Health Problems

Health Problems

Big dogs have a shorter lifespan. When it comes to the Dogue de Bordeaux, it has much lesser longevity in comparison to other breeds of its size. Data accumulated by the DDBSA showed that the breed lives for 5 to 6 years on average. However, in exceptional cases, some lived for around 12 years. The dog featured in the movie Turner & Hooch lived for 14 years. The recommended tests for this breed suggested by the National Breed Club include shoulder, elbow, and hip evaluation. Some of the problems they suffer from have:

Breathing Problems

Breathing problem is quite common in most brachycephalic breeds. The Dogue de Bordeaux is no exception in this regard. The issue gets triggered when overheated or overexercised. Increased shortness of breath in this breed is a fault per the FCI standards.

Aortic stenosis

It is a condition of the heart where the aortic valve becomes narrow. The initial symptoms come to light when the dog is between 4 and 12 months of age. The notable signs are shortness of breath, intolerance to exercise, lethargy, and fainting. It could also lead to sudden death in the dog. A study suggests that these dogs are increasingly prone to suffer from this condition.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

In this life-threatening condition, the heart is enlarged and weakened. Thus, it loses the ability to pump blood properly. It could cause sudden death in dogs without many symptoms. Most dogs with this condition don’t survive for more than six months.


Around 5% of French Mastiffs suffer from hyperkeratosis. This condition occurs when the dog’s body produces more keratin. It gets accumulated in its footpad or nose. You could see those areas thickening, which may even result in bleeding.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

The X-ray reports voluntarily submitted to the OFA (Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals) show that over 50% of Dogues suffer from hip dysplasia. Similarly, 21% of them are prone to elbow dysplasia.

Patella Luxation

Around 2% of the Dogue population could get affected by patella luxation. Your dog could skip a step while running or walking. You may notice your pooch do a bunny hop if both legs are affected. Your dog might also drag its legs while moving, resulting in a stiff gait.

Retinal Dysplasia

3% of this breed suffers from retinal dysplasia. If your dog has been exposed to toxins or has suffered from viral infections, he may acquire this condition.

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus

It’s a serious problem with this breed and could even be fatal for them if not addressed at the earliest.



Now, do these laid-back dogs need a lot of exercises? The answer is that, yes, they do. Unlike agile breeds, you must give them moderate exercise each day. The exercise regime may include short walks of up to an hour in small intervals and some playtime in the yard. True that they need sufficient space to move around freely. Yet, when exercised well, they may be fine living in big apartments. They are fond of water, and swimming is an apt exercise for these dogs of all ages. It is convenient, too, as it doesn’t put too much pressure on their bones and joints. However, since they are top-heavy, these dogs can only swim for short distances.

When exercising them, you should remember that they are brachycephalic dogs. Brachycephalic dogs can’t cool on their own. So if exercised when it is too hot, they could overheat. It may, in turn, result in panting and heat stroke. So overexercising could trigger panting and breathing difficulties.

Also, give the French Mastiff low-impact exercise until they are eighteen months of age. In this way, it would put less pressure on their joints and also keep their heart rate slow.

While discussing hygiene, you should brush your dog’s teeth thrice weekly. Also, trim their nails periodically, and clean their ears and eyes weekly. Bathe them once every four weeks to keep these dogs clean. Moreover, also make it a point to wipe them using a moist towel. In this way, the folds of their skin would remain clean, keeping bacterial infections at bay.

These dogs are heavy droolers. If you have been living with the French Mastiff for quite some time, you are familiar with the stains of drool on your furniture, walls, and floor. So, to minimize this, make sure you keep the wrinkles surrounding their face dry and clean.


Giving the Dogue de Bordeaux good quality dry dog food – homemade or store-bought is a mandate. It’s a brachycephalic breed and is susceptible to obesity. It would help if you took care of the food you are giving your dog, lest it could take a toll on their health. Avoid giving them table scraps too often. Also, ensure that the food you provide them contains only a little fat or even cooked bones.

Puppies aged between 12-16 weeks and 6 months need three meals daily. As they grow older, you could cut to two meals daily. In short, puppies need about 6-10 cups of kibble, while adults require 4-5 cups.

Coat Color and Grooming

Coat Color and Grooming

They mostly have a fawn coat of any shade, like a light fawn or dark red fawn. They may have white markings on their chest and extremities of their limbs. Anything other than that is considered a fault.

Their coat is short, soft, and fine. They are moderate shedders and may shed all year round. So brushing their coats about two times a week using a rubber curry brush is essential. It would help easily remove old hair and dirt from your dog’s body. In combination, a shedding blade would help remove dead hairs and minimize the formation of mats and tangles.

Children and Other Pets

These dogs are protective, gentle, and loving with the family’s kids. They are mighty but unaware of their strengths. So, they may go on to harm the little ones quite unintentionally, though. Yet, it is advisable never to leave young kids alone with them.

 If socialized well, the Dogue de Bordeaux would share a comfortable rapport with other canines of the family. They would even behave decently with dogs unknown to them. If you have many dogs living together, ensure you keep the French Mastiff from leading the pack. If it does so, then it could become dominant. Controlling such a dog could become a mammoth task indeed. However, they are known to be strong chasers. So, keeping them away from cats and even smaller pets is a mandate.



They are alert and intelligent. However, one flaw in their character is their stubbornness. It could come in the way of hassle-free training. They are a sensitive breed and wouldn’t withstand rough or harsh training strategies. So the bottom line is that you must be firm but gentle. Use positive reinforcement techniques to make the training process a successful one.

Socializing the French Mastiff puppies may help check their aggression towards strangers and other canines. Training them on obedience would help control their instinct to chase to a certain extent. Also, teach them to wear a leash as early as possible. The chasers that they are, taking them out without a leash wouldn’t be safe at all.


To end, the Dogue de Bordeaux is a fascinating breed indeed. With the right training and adequate care, it would fit into the bill of a perfect family pet one could ask for. True that they are gentle and loyal. But their muscular build and inherent stubbornness don’t make them suitable for novice owners.


Q. How much does the Dogue de Bordeaux cost?

They will cost around $1400-$2500. However, a puppy ready for a show will come for $5000. 

Q. Does the Dogue de Bordeaux bite? 

Their bite force is high, around 556 PSI. However, they bite only when the situation gets out of control.

Q. What is the temperament of a Dogue de Bordeaux?

The Dogue de Bordeaux is known to be calm, affectionate, docile, and steady. They are deeply devoted to their family and have a protective instinct, often guarding their family with courage.

Q. What does a Dogue de Bordeaux look like?

The Dogue de Bordeaux has a sturdy body that is set quite close to the ground. They have a jaw that looks like that of a bulldog and deep furrows on their brow. Their eyes are expressive, and they are generally a large and powerful breed.

Q. Are Dogue de Bordeaux dogs sociable with others?

The Dogue de Bordeaux is a large, powerful, and strong canine that requires the guidance of an experienced owner to become more sociable with others. Proper socialization and training is important for these dogs.

Q. How much exercise does a Dogue de Bordeaux need?

The Dogue de Bordeaux is a relatively low-energy breed and does not require excessive exercise. A moderate amount of exercise and regular walks should suffice for this breed. However, they do benefit from mental stimulation and should not be left alone for long periods of time.

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