The Dogue de Bordeaux is a typical brachycephalic molossoid type, with a short, broad skull, massive head, and powerful physique. The body is slightly longer than tall, and the distance from the chest to the ground is slightly less than the depth of the chest. This dog has a massive head, serious expression, stocky and athletic build, and self-assured attitude.
It’s difficult to unravel the Dogue de Bordeaux’s origin from that of other Mastiff and Bulldog breeds. It probably predates the Bullmastiff, and possibly even the Bulldog, or it may come down from the Bulldog or the Tibetan Mastiff. It may descend from a now extinct breed, such as the ancient Roman molosser or the ancient French Dogue de Bordeaux of Aquitaine. It’s likely the breeds were interbred so that their histories are forever intertwined. But it’s generally thought that the breed (or a strain resembling it) existed in southern France as early as the 14th century.
Early Dogues de Bordeaux were classified into three types (Parisian, Toulouse, and Bordeaux) depending on the region and job, and they came in several colors. They had cropped ears, as did all fighting dogs. Aside from fighting, Dogues were used to bait bulls and bears; control cattle; and guard property and people, particularly the rich. During the French Revolution, many perished with their wealthy owners.
The first use of the name Dogue de Bordeaux was in 1863, following the exhibition of one at the first dog show. The first breed standard was published in 1896. Emphasis was placed on the pink nose, light eyes, and red mask to distinguish it from those with recent Mastiff crosses. The breed suffered setbacks after both world wars, but in the 1960s breeders began a concerted effort to revive it. A 1982 article in a dog magazine introduced the breed to American fanciers, and the 1989 movie Turner and Hooch introduced the breed to the American public (although few knew its name). The breed gradually gained followers, and it entered the AKC Working Group in 2008.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is extremely devoted and loyal. He tends to stay close to its chosen person or family at all times. They are eager to please but may not be particularly good at obedience unless it’s worth their while. Although males can be assertive toward other dogs, most are pretty mellow unless provoked. They get along well with other pets.
Dogues need a chance to stroll around the block and stretch their legs every day, but they don’t need to go jogging or have marathon fetch sessions. They tend to be quiet indoors. Their size and strength can present challenges to people with small quarters or minimal strength. Coat care is minimal. Drooling is abundant and may be less than desirable to those who are house proud or those who don’t like their clothes adorned with glistening streaks.