Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff)

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self-coloured, in all shades of fawn, from mahogany to isabella; with black, brown or no mask
very large
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Good with kids:
Pros Cons

  • devoted friend

  • fearless guardian

  • alert watcher

  • ill-suited for a city dweller

  • independent and wilful

  • not trustworthy around strange canine and non-canine animals

  • needs great amount of exercise


The Dogue de Bordeaux is a multipurpose working dog and one of the oldest French canine varieties. It was initially developed for wide range of purposes, predominantly hunting, dogfights, protection and cart dragging. Nowadays it either performs guarding duties or serves solely as a family pet.


The official part of the history of the Dogue de Bordeaux began at the dawn of the XX century although it came to existence centuries or perhaps even thousands years earlier. This means that the mystery of its true ancestry will never be unravelled. There are several hypotheses as to how it arrived at the territory of France but they are largely no more than unsubstantiated speculations.

One of them claims that the breed descended from the ancient Middle Eastern livestock guarding dog, which was kept by early farm people between 7 000 and 14 000 years ago. Other experts assume that Mesopotamian and Egyptian war dogs were primarily used in creation of the Dogue de Bordeaux. As a proof to this theory they refer to the appearance of highly resembling Mastiff-type dogs in artworks from between 4 000 and 7 000 years ago.

Nonetheless the most probable assumption says that direct forebears of the breed were brought to the territory of France during the period when it was under the rule of the Roman Empire. In this case it was developed from one of four breeds found in Roman era: the Molossus, the Pugnaces Britanniae, the Tibetan Mastiff, and/or the Alaunt.

However the Dogue de Bordeaux was originally bred it was widely distributed across its native land by the beginning of the Dark Ages. Since the time the dog was often depicted in the paintings of French artists. The main responsibility of the breed member was hunting but it was also utilised as a beast of burden, guardian, and fighter in animal combats. In the course of several centuries the French began to prefer other canine varieties and by the early XIX the population of the Dogue de Bordeaux reduced very substantially. With the exception of the Bordeaux, its home town, the breed remained rather rare right up to the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

60s of the XIX century in France was marked with revival of interest to national breeds and it was finally introduced to dog lovers at the first major French dog show, held at Paris’s Jardin d’Acclimatation in 1863. Its initial standard was set up only in 1896 because of significant variability in conformation of its existing specimens.

The two World Wars had devastating effect on the number of the Dogue de Bordeaux and it stayed in a rather bad shape until the 60s of the XX century. In this decade Dr. Raymond Triquet and several other breed enthusiasts undertook tremendous efforts to rescue the breed from final demise. In 1970, Triquet rewrote its standard to make it more accurate and relevant to the modern appearance of this dog.

The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognised the Dogue de Bordeaux 1995. The breed got full acceptation of the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2008. Today it regained its popularity across Europe although Dogue de Bordeaux is no longer valued as a versatile working animal and it’s primarily acquired for companionship or as a show dog.


The Dogue de Bordeaux is notable for classical disposition of a guarding dog although it’s somewhat more vigorous and strong than majority of other Mastiffs. This dog is completely devoted to its human family with whom it develops very deep ties. Separation anxiety may become a real issue for this breed as it can’t bear loneliness for long periods of time. It’s a huge animal and should never be trusted around small kids without essential supervision of their parents. Nonetheless it can be successfully kept alongside with older children (6 years old and up) on condition that the dog has been early and extensively socialised.

Powerful protective instinct is an integral part of the breeds’ nature so it’s prone to act in a detached and cold manner in the presence of strangers. Basically the well-brought-up specimen will never manifest unmotivated aggression towards other people in the company of its owner. The great size and formidable appearance of the Dogue de Bordeaux make it a very capable guardian. This dog is also constantly alert to every possible danger and becomes a highly reliable watcher.

The Dogue de Bordeaux is known for its belligerent attitude towards other animals including other dogs. Being a very territorial and dominant dog it may instigate cruel fights with strange canines in order to assert its alpha status or just protect its premises. All other creatures are perceived by the breed member as potential preys so they should be kept out of its reach. Of course it commonly gets on with those individual cats and other pets with which it has been raised since a young age.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· cancer;

· lymphoma;

· heart problems;

· hip dysplasia;

· elbow dysplasia;

· arthritis;

· skeletal growth abnormalities;

· flatulence;

· shortness of breath;

· heat intolerance;

· ear infections;

· kidney failure;

· gastric torsion;

· epilepsy;

· hyperkeratosis.


The grooming of the Dogue de Bordeaux is will take some of your time. Its short coat needs only weekly brushing to look neat and clean. The breed sheds average amount of hair but because of its prodigious size the shedding process can be very noticeable and hard to control.

It’s absolutely necessary to thoroughly and after each and every meal clean facial folds of the Dogue de Bordeaux to remove food, water, dirt and other things that easily get stuck in them. The rest is a very standard care and include regular nail trimming and rare bathing. Brush teeth of your pet on a weekly basis for their good health and freshness of breath.


The Dogue de Bordeaux is well-known for its wilful and independent character so its training requires a great deal of both time and patience. It’s unwise to expect from this dog unquestioning obedience if you don’t have outstanding leadership qualities of personality. Be mindful that it will never follow orders of someone whose authority it doesn’t respect.

With consistent and experienced handler this breed is quite capable of learning basic tricks. Start training and socialising your pet as soon as it arrives to your house since it’s much simpler to correct a curious puppy than a renitent 50-kilo grown-up.


Unlike most of Mastiffs the Dogue de Bordeaux has impressive amount of energy and needs lots of intense exercise on a daily basis. At the very least it should get a long and active daily walk but it will definitely appreciate some regular playtime in a safely fenced area.

This breed isn’t suited for keeping in an apartment as it requires a great deal of room to move and frisk. Remember that a bored specimen of the Dogue de Bordeaux will find its own ways to redirect its excessive energies and can become extremely destructive and ill-behaved indoors.