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Dogue de Bordeaux

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 Dogue de Bordeaux

The Dogue de Bordeaux is a giant purebred and is one half of the famous detective team from the 1980s movie Turner and Hooch. It is an ancient French breed talented in activities including guarding, weight pulling, carting and police work. Bred for several purposes there were times in Europe where you could find them guarding sheep, pulling carts or guarding the wealthy and noble in their castles.

Here is the Dogue de Bordeaux at a Glance
Name Dogue de Bordeaux
Other Names French Mastiff, Bordeaux Mastiff and Bordeaux Bulldog
Nicknames Bordeauxdog
Origin France
Average size Giant
Average weight 120 to 145 pounds
Average height 23 to 26 inches
Life span 5 to 8 years
Coat type Short, fine
Hypoallergenic No
Color Red, black, brown
Popularity Somewhat popular – ranked 63 by the AKC
Intelligence Average to above average
Tolerance to heat Moderate – is not good in warm or hot climates and will need extra care to prevent over heating
Tolerance to cold Good – can live in climates that have cold weather but not extremes
Shedding Average – there will be loose hair to deal with
Drooling High – this breed does drool and slobber a lot
Obesity Quite prone to weigh gain so monitor food and exercise
Grooming/brushing Short coat is easy to brush but should be done daily
Barking Occasional – does bark but not constantly
Exercise needs High – needs regular activity
Trainability Difficult – needs experienced trainer
Friendliness Good – somewhat social but socialization is needed
Good first dog Low – this dog really needs experienced owners, it is not suitable for new owners
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Low – it is essential is gets socialization and is supervised around other dogs
Good with other pets Good with socialization – prey drive is fairly high though
Good with strangers Low – not an approachable dog, socialization and supervision is essential
Good apartment dog Moderate – as a large dog it needs space to move around in
Handles alone time well Moderate – does not like being alone for long periods
Health issues Not a healthy or long lived breed, some issues include heart problems, cancer, whelping, hip dysplasia and breathing problems
Medical expenses $485 a year for pet insurance and basic care
Food expenses $270 a year for treats and a good quality dry dog food
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for miscellaneous items, toys, training and license
Average annual expense $1000 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1200
Biting Statistics Attacks doing bodily harm: 2 Maimings: 1 Child Victims: 1 Deaths: 0

The Dogue de Bordeaux's Beginnings

The Dogue de Bordeaux is from France and can be found as far back as the 1300s. There are several theories about who its ancestors were. Possibly the Tibetan Mastiff, the Roman and Greek Molossus and from other ancient Mastiff breeds. It was especially popular in the 14th century around the South of France and the Bordeaux region, which is where it gets its name. There were in fact once two varieties the Dogues and the Doguins, the latter being smaller than the former. However the Doguin is now extinct.

At first it was used for pulling heavy loads, guarding sheep and people, herding cattle and hunting large prey. It was also used as a war dog and in baiting sports that were popular at the time. For a time it was even used to guard noble estates but with the French revolution came a dislike of all things linked to the French nobility and lots of Dogues died. However thankfully those Dogues belonging to the common man survived.

In the 1800s the breed was popular across Europe and England but there was a huge variety in appearance from one breeder to another. In the 1890s it came to the US for dog shows but did not take off as a popular companion. Into the 20th century and two world wars numbers dropped significantly everywhere as was true for all large dog breeds.

New Lease on Life

However after the war things started getting better for the breed. In France in the 1960s breeders including Raymond Triquet worked together to rebuild the breed and its numbers. They came up with a new standard which continues to be updated as recently as 1995. In saving the breed its numbers grew again in France and in other countries.

In the US importation of the Dogue was low between the 1960s up to 1980. There were only a few breeders and they used the French standard and worked closely with the French club. In 1982 an article about the breed was written for a magazine and at that time there were none in the US, there were only 600 dogs which were mostly in France.

But then a movie came out called Turner and Hooch starring Tom Hanks as Turner and Hooch was a Dogue de Bordeaux. Interest and numbers in the US increased and several clubs were formed. It was recognized by the AKC in 2008. It is currently ranked 63rd most popular registered dog by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Dogue de Bordeaux is a giant dog weighing 120 to 145 pounds and standing 23 to 26 inches tall. It is a stocky and short dog set lower to the ground not tall like other mastiffs. It has a coat that is short, fine and soft, and loose thick skin that gives it a wrinkled look in places. Common colors are brown, red and black and it can have white markings at the toes and on the chest. It has a straight tail that starts thick and then tapers to the end and is set and held low. Its chest is deep and broad and its legs are powerful and muscular.


The head is very broad, heavy and large with wrinkles. It has a short muzzle and large nose with wide nostrils. Over it lower jaw hang thick upper lips and it has a dewlap from the loose thick skin at its neck. Eye color can be hazel or dark brown and are wide apart. Its ears hang down and are small and dark.

The Inner Dogue de Bordeaux


The Dogue is an alert dog an makes a great watchdog. It will bark to let its owners know if there is an intruder and with its brave and moderately protective nature it is also likely to act in your defense. It is not a good dog though for new owners. It needs very firm and clear leadership, experienced handling and training and an owner ready for dealing with its size and stubborn side.

With the right owner this is a very loyal, devoted dog, calm and quiet when indoors and unless provoked not aggressive. It needs lots of attention though, it will try to sit on your lap and cuddle with you, it will want lots of loving and to be a part of the family. Socialization is very important though as they can have a tendency towards being overly shy or aggressive without it.

Be prepared for drooling, slobber, snoring, snorting and flatulence. For some these things are funny and endearing but for other it could be a big deal breaker. It is an independent dog with a mind of its own so training is not going to be easy or simple, but it is very much needed. If it thinks it is the boss it will be obstinate, difficult to control, destructive and aggressive.

Living with a Dogue de Bordeaux

What will training look like?

Training this dog is hard and needs experience. It is very strong willed and its size means it can easily use its strength to get its own way. It needs very strict rules, consistency and firm leadership. If there are other people in the house then they too must be a part of the training and made clear to the Dogue that they too are higher in pack order than it is.

As well as strict obedience training you should also make sure it is well socialized. It needs lots of exposure to different people, places and animals and children so that it recognizes the good and reacts appropriately. Without extensive socialization this dog breed can be suspicious, aggressive and defensive. In order to have a dog you can feel comfortable taking out for walks and to places like dog parks you need to have it trained and socialized as effectively as possible.

How active is the Dogue de Bordeaux?

In fact when inside the Dogue is quite a relaxed dog, not that active. It should have a yard to go out in and is too large for apartment living really. Its size means it needs a certain level of activity though to keep it healthy and busy. Surprisingly it is more athletic and agile than some might imagine just looking at it. Also make sure to exercise it when it is cooler so it does not overheat. Take for a couple of walks a day and if it is well socialized and trained you could also take it to a dog park. Just make sure you are sure of its reaction to other dogs and dog owners.


When it is young take care to balance the activity so that they stay healthy but do not put too much stress on their joints and ligaments and bones. Because you need to take care of how much exercise they get, they tend to be more rambunctious when younger and more active in the house. Supervision will be needed as they can easily destroy the home.

Caring for the Dogue de Bordeaux

Grooming needs

The coat of the Dogue is short and easy to groom but being such a large dog there is a lot of it and it does shed an average amount so there will be loose hair to deal with around the home and on clothing. Daily brushing can help with that and help keep it clean taking care of small debris and such. Only give it a bath when it really needs one so that it does not get dry skin. It is possible you do not have a large enough bathroom for this dog, so there are a couple of other options if that is the case. There are professional groomers that have bathing stations for all sizes of dogs which you could use. You could also just resort to the hose or sprinkler in the yard trick!

Its ears should be checked once a week for infection signs like redness, discharge or discomfort. Then they should be cleaned using a dog ear cleanser and cotton ball, not by inserting anything into the ear. Its teeth need to be brushed at least two to three times a week and its nails should be clipped if they get too long. If you are not familiar with the nuances of dog nails to avoid hurting your dog and causing bleeding either learn more about them or have the professional groomer do it for you.

Feeding Time

This is a big dog, naturally how much it needs is going to more than other smaller dogs. Other factors that affect how much it eats include its metabolism, level of activity, age and health. Amounts are likely to start out at 4 to 5 cups of a good quality dry dog food, which should be fed in at least two meals to avoid problems with bloat.

How is the Dogue de Bordeaux with children and other animals?

With socialization and training the Dogue is good with children, friendly with pets especially when raised with them and tolerant of other dogs though generally not friendly with them. With children it has been raised with it is very gentle, affectionate, kind and loving. Without socialization and training it should not be left unsupervised with any of them, and an un-neutered Dogue is not going to stand having other dogs of the same sex around it. It can be aggressive, have instincts to chase and kill small animals like cats and try to bite.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The sad thing about the Dogue de Bordeaux is its life span. The average is just 5 or so years, with some living a bit longer up to 8 years. There are several health issues it may have to face such as cancer, hip dysplasia, heart problems, issues with giving birth, epilepsy, joint and bone issues, breathing problems, over heating, eye problems and hyperkeratosis.

Biting Statistics

When looking at attacks that did bodily harm against people in the US and Canada over the last 34 years, the Dogue de Bordeaux is found to have been involved in at least 2 incidents. 1 victims was a child, and 1 of those 2 attacks resulted in permanent scarring, disfigurement or loss of limb. That amounts to just 1 attack every 12 years statistically though keep in mind these reports do not come in from France where the Dogue is more common, and it does not account for attacks against other dogs.


As it stands the Dogue is not likely to be aggressive but keep in mind any dog can attack or snap if under certain pressure or mistreated. It is essential people get dogs they can properly care for, ones that suit their lifestyle and rate of activity. All dogs should be properly trained and socialized too, as well as given the attention they need.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

As this breed has problems whelping and often has to have litters via cesarean the cost of a puppy can be higher than others of a similar size. A pet quality Dogue puppy from a good breeder is going to be between $1200 to $2000. If you want something of show quality from a top breeder that is going to go up into several thousand dollar or even more. You can opt to use ads or backyard breeders or even pet shops to get a dog but there are risks involved in the kind of lines and health your puppy comes with, and also you could be funding puppy mills and the likes. There is also the rescue option, Dogues may be harder to find that way though and are likely to be adults not puppys. There the cost is going to be more around $100 to $400.

When you have your puppy you need to take it to a vet and have it check over and have some tests and procedures done. It needs blood tests drawn, deworming and vaccinated, micro chipping and if old enough spayed or neutered depending on if it is male or female. These costs will be around $300. Things it will need ready at home for it include bedding, collar and leash, crate and such and these will cost another $200 or so.

Each year there will be things the Dogue needs that are going to cost you money for as long as you have it. Obvious ones like food and treats will be around $270 a year. Toys, license, training and other miscellaneous costs will be about $245 a year. Medical basics like check ups, flea and tick prevention and shots along with pet insurance is about another $485 a year. This gives an annual starting cost of owning a Dogue at $1000.


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The Dogue de Bordeaux is a massive dog and a noisy, slobbery one too. Do not under estimate how that is going to impact you, your lifestyle and your home! Its size and its independent nature means it needs strong and firm owners with experience. It needs training and socialization and attention too. In the right homes with the right owners it is a loyal and devoted best friend, mild mannered in general, quiet indoors and kind. In the wrong homes it can be destructive, impossible to control and aggressive. Make sure you know you can handle it before you bring one home.

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