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Dogue de Bordeaux

Other names : Bordeaux Mastiff, French Mastiff, Bordeaux dog

Dogue de Bordeaux
Dogue de Bordeaux
Puppy

The Dogue de Bordeaux is an ancient fighting dog, but has since principally been adopted for his lovely companion dog qualities and also his capacity as a watchdog. He is very close to his owners, gentle with children and protective of his social group and home grounds. Calm by nature, his expenditure needs are moderate but should nevertheless not be neglected. Available owners will bring joy to this dog who does not enjoy being left alone.

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Key facts about the Dogue de Bordeaux

  • Life expectancy : Between 10 and 12 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Calm
  • Size : Big
  • Type of coat : Short
  • Price : Between £680 and £920

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 2 - Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs

Section

Physical characteristics of the Dogue de Bordeaux

Adult size

Female dog Between 22 and 27 in
Male dog Between 23 and 28 in

Weight

Female dog Between 99 and 110 lb
Male dog Between 110 and 121 lb

Coat colour

The coat is a solid colour, ranging from mahogany to dun, always staying in the fawn tones. 
Chocolate is not admissible by official standards. 

Otherwise, white patching is accepted around the chest- as long as it isn’t too widespread- and at the extremity of the limbs. 

Three varieties of mask exist: black mask, brown mask, and no mask.

Type of coat

The hair is short.

The hair is fine and soft to the touch.

Eye colour

The eyes are hazel to dark brown for individuals with black masks. In individuals with a brown mask or no mask, a lighter colour is admissible but not sought after.

Description

The Dogue de Bordeaux is not a giant dog, but a powerful and well built one, generally proportionate-looking, very muscular around the neck, back and limbs. The head is big, characteristic, covered in pleats, wide and rather short: seen from the front, it is trapezoidal-shaped. The skull is slightly convex; the muzzle is thick, short, square, slightly concave. The stop is abrupt. The jaws are very powerful, wide and square, and prognathic. The eyes are oval-shaped, far from one another and wide. The ears are small, with a slightly elevated base, but folded over, and of a slightly darker shade than the rest of the coat. The neck is very strong. The thorax is powerful and deep; the back is large, the kidneys short. The limbs are large. The tail, set low, doesn’t reach past the hock.

Temperament

Affectionate

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Despite his powerful and impressive build, this molossian is affectionate and close to his social group. In this sense, he is a very good everyday-life companion, and always seeks out his masters’ attention and affection.

Playful

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Not very athletic by nature, this Dogue will happily participate in play sessions, but these shouldn’t include excessive physical effort.

Calm

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The Bordeaux dog, as it is also known, is a rather tranquil dog who does not require much exercise to be fully content. This calm breed calls for a gentle, patient, and respectful owner.

Intelligent

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Despite his appearance, this mighty dog is rather malleable, and readily concurs with his master’s various commands, as long as they seem coherent to him.

Hunter

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With this Dogue, the predatory instinct is only slightly developed. He definitely prefers to stay by his owner’s side to protect him rather than to leave in search of potential prey.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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Very protective of his kin, the French Mastiff remains very withdrawn when he meets a stranger. He needs time to give his trust and the slightest incoherence in a stranger’s approach could trigger the excellent watchdog within him.

Independent

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This big molossian of impressive constitution is very attached to his owners and enjoys spending time with them more than anything else. This breed will be unhappy if left alone and excluded from family life.

Behaviour of the Dogue de Bordeaux

Tolerates solitude

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The Bordeaux dog is a sensitive dog who, under any circumstances, prefers being surrounded by members of his social group rather than to be isolated. Loneliness doesn’t agree with him at all and he could prove to be destructive during prolonged absences. 

A precocious and progressive training of managing time when left alone must be implemented a soon as the Dogue de Bordeaux pup integrates the home.

Easy to train / obedience

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Given his overpowering constitution, the Dogue de Bordeaux must be trained and socialised from his youngest age, in order to prevent any extreme behaviour from emerging later on in adulthood. 

The males can be more difficult than the females but their will to please their owners and spend time with them renders training sessions pleasant and productive.

The key points to be worked on are walking on a leash without pulling (keeping in mind the dog’s strength as an adult), teaching ‘go to your spot’ to prevent any rough reactions towards guests, as well as supervised, positive, and regular encounters with his fellow dogs, in order to develop and reinforce a ‘canine code of conduct’. 

Positive reinforcement should of course be put in place, but training should not under any circumstance be laxist. Firmness, diligence, and patience are key in achieving results with this dog, who tends to be difficult if all three of the latter elements are not applied.

Barking

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The strength, courage and determination of this dog mean that he does not have to resort to barking in order to deter potential intruders or chase them away. In fact, barking is very rare for this breed. 

Moreover, despite his strong watchdog instinct, the French Mastiff- as dubbed by the Anglo Saxons- only pays very little attention to what happens outside of his home grounds. He decidedly isn’t the type to bark as soon as a car or person passes by in the street.

Tendency to run away

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Once again, his guardian instinct is such that the idea of taking off is unimaginable to this powerful molossian.

Destructive

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In view of his strength and dislike of solitude, this dog can prove to be destructive when searching for ways to take out his frustrations, or keep busy.

Also, as is the case for most dogs, it is first and foremost when he is a pup that the Dogue de Bordeaux will be most destructive, particularly while teething or testing the boundaries of what is allowed.

Greedy / Gluttony

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A food-lover, this molossian will never refuse his share of food nor a good snack in exchange for good behaviour. This makes this dog potentially vulnerable to weight gain, and therefore necessitates close supervision.

Guard dog

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An ancient fighting dog, the Dogue de Bordeaux is gifted for guardianship, which he carries out with caution and courage, but without being aggressive. 

This born watchdog knows how to tell the difference between guests and intruders, and certainly knows how deter someone if necessary. 

Very loyal and reliable, you can count on this molossian to guard the house as well as its occupants!

First dog

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This dog has a heart of gold- he is affectionate, tender and friendly with members of his social group. In this sense, he can be a good first-time owner dog. Be wary of his strength though, which, if not reined in, can cause damage. 

Novice owners who are too permissive could quickly become overwhelmed by this dog. If he sniffs out a weakness, this molossian will not hesitate to take advantage of it.

Lifestyle

Dogue de Bordeaux in a flat

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Of course, given his somewhat imposing constitution, the Dogue de Bordeaux is a dog who requires space. However, the fact that he is not very keen on physical exercise does not necessarily require wide open spaces. 

Having said that, a house with a garden will always be preferable, as it would allow the dog to regularly get some air.

Still, whether this dog has regular access to the outside or not, he will have to benefit from daily walks beyond the confines of his house, and at least twice a day (or more, especially if the dog lives inside).

Need for exercise / Sporty

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Two outings a day could be enough to respond to the needs of this moderately-active dog, but he requires walks regardless. 

The walks help him expend his physical, mental and social energy, explore his sense of smell, and also reinforce the intraspecific master-dog relationship and consolidate his training (walking on a leash, hailing, freezing, etc.). 

Some tracking and obedience activities could be proposed to this dog who loves spending time with his master. Beware of canine activities that require overly intense physical effort, they are not at all suitable for this molossian.

Travelling / easy to transport

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Walking with the Dogue de Bordeaux is completely doable, and will in fact help him become a balanced and socialised dog, but travel can be complicated. 

The car must be able to accommodate a transport crate that is adapted to the dog’s size. Travel by train requires being muzzled and attached to a leash (which goes for all medium to big-sized dogs). On the plane just as much as in the car, a transport crate fulfilling required norms will be necessary (and at times very expensive), and the dog will have to travel in the hold. 

Regrettably, the atypical physical appearance of this dog often scares people and he is often perceived (in many people’s minds) as one of the categorised and therefore potentially dangerous dogs. This does not quite facilitate travel. 

Last but not least, the physical particularity of this dog’s muzzle, his brachycephaly (flat nose), does not allow him to stay in confined spaces for too long without suffering respiratory consequences.

Compatibility

Dogue de Bordeaux and cats

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The Dogue de Bordeaux can absolutely cohabitate with cats in peace, but for that relationship to be at its best, it is indispensable that both animals are accustomed to one another in a precocious and positive manner, from the pup’s youngest age- most preferably before it turns 3 months old.

Dogue de Bordeaux and dogs

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As is the case with cats, a good relationship with fellow canines will only be possible if the Dogue de Bordeaux pup has been exposed to a precocious and decent socialisation. 

In fact- and especially within the pup’s first three months at least- supervised, positive and regular encounters must be arranged in order to meet the dog’s social needs, but also to develop and reinforce his canine code of conduct, which is essential to his equilibrium.

Following this, once he is an adult, the encounters must continue to take place, because even if well socialised as a pup, if he is not exposed to encounters with his fellow canines for long stretches of time, he will simply become an unsocialized adult dog. 

Last but not least, be wary of alpha males who might have difficulties in getting along with dogs of the same sex.

Dogue de Bordeaux and children

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The Dogue de Bordeaux, despite his impressive constitution, is very gentle and considerate towards children. He is, in a fact, a very good family dog who can integrate a household with children without a problem. 

You should still be careful as, given his size, he could accidentally be too rough with certain children, especially the youngest ones. Some rules of conduct must therefore be established with children, such as:

  • Do not play with the dog without the parents’ approval
  • Leave the dog be when he is sleeping
  • Do not disturb him when he’s in his bed
  • Do not feed him from the table 
  • Don’t tease him, pull his fur, climb on top of him, etc.

Dogue de Bordeaux and the elderly

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The Bordeaux dog is suitable for a wide range of people, as long as they are capable of meeting his needs with coherence, and can be available enough to take him out on regular walks.

Various kinds of families would suit this molossian, but the elderly do not seem to be compatible with the size and force of this dog. What’s more, despite his moderate expenditure needs, this mastiff is not made for a sedentary lifestyle.

Price

The price of a Dogue de Bordeaux varies depending on its origins, age, and gender. You have to count an average of £920  for dogs subscribed to the Kennel Club. 

With regards to the monthly budget required for this dog, it is quite significant since it wavers between £55 and £65 per month. This sum will be sufficient to meet all of the dog’s physiological needs.

Grooming

The Dogue de Bordeaux’s short fur doesn’t require much maintenance. However, the pleats on his face will have to be diligently cleaned to avoid all risk of infection. Same goes for the ears and eyes. 

Grooming and washing will not be necessary, unless the dog is very dirty of course. Otherwise, simple, regular brushes are sufficient to maintain the beauty and quality of his coat.

Hair loss

Hair loss and moulting seasons are moderate with this mighty molossian. You will simply have to increase the frequency of brushes during moulting seasons, namely spring and autumn.

Nutrition of the Dogue de Bordeaux

With this dog’s growth being lengthy and precarious, high-quality kibble must be provided. Veterinary supervision is recommended up until his 18th-20th month in order to ensure a healthy development. 

Daily rations must be adapted to the dog’s age, physical shape, and the amount of exercise he gets, as well as his potential health problems. 

Ill-adapted nutrition could lead to important bone and joint issues. His nutritional regimen must therefore be supervised, thought-through and premium quality. 

Home-cooked rations (homemade food) should be avoided unless you have very good and detailed knowledge of the dog’s needs. 

Two meals a day will suffice, with a light meal being served in the morning, and a more substantial one in the evening. Self-service is not an option so as to avoid the risk of gastric torsion.

Health of the Dogue de Bordeaux

Life expectancy

Life expectancy is estimated at 11 years.

Strong / robust

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The Bordeaux dog is a dog of robust and solid constitution but is nevertheless the subject of various health problems.

Withstand heat

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As in the case of many brachycephalic dogs (flat-nosed), heat is not well tolerated. In fact, this dog cannot regulate his temperature easily, given the respiratory issues that his build causes. 
It is therefore necessary to provide this dog with abundant amounts of cool water as well as a spot in the shade in times of intense heat, and to walk him early in the morning and late in the evenings.

Withstand cold

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This molossian handles the cold well, he is actually used to living outside most of the time. Beware of extreme temperatures however, as his coat remains quite thin.

Tendency to put on weight

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If the provided nutrition is well adapted, and if snacks are not handed out excessively and the walks are regular, the Dogue de Bordeaux can maintain his intended shape without a problem.

Common illnesses

  • Hip Dysplasia 
  • Eye issues (entropion, ectropion, multifocal retinopathy) 
  • Cardiac issues (dilated myocardiopathy, aortic stenosis)
  • Skin problems (hyperkeratosis of the footpads)
  • Growth problems
  • Epilepsy
  • Arthritis

Good to know

Because of his brachycephaly (flat nose), the Dogue de Bordeaux snores and salivates a lot.

Origins and history

His origins are the same as those of other European molossians- that is to say, Asian. The first accounts we have of the Dogue de Bordeaux date back to the Middle Ages: the gothic tower of the Carcassonne church, built in the 14th century, is embellished with a dog that resembles the Dogue a lot. Written testimony speaks of a certain Aquitaine Dog, used as a hunter and watchdog and used also in fights against other animals. There were three types of Aquitaine Dogs: the Toulousain, the Parisian, and the Bordelais. The latter would have been the direct ancestor of the contemporary Dogue de Bordeaux.

Names

Good names for a Dogue de Bordeaux: Abby, Hulk, Lara, Nugget