Dogue de Bordeaux (Bordeaux Dogue, Bordeaux Dog,
French Mastiff, Bordeaux Bulldog)
The Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as French Mastiff, Bordeaux Mastiff or Bordeaux bulldog, is a strongly athletic molosser similar to the Bullmastiff in size and type but with a fawn-colored coat and red or black mask. This impressive dog, characterised as the dog with the biggest head among all dog races, passed through several phases in its long history(read more about the Dogue de Bordeaux history). It began as a ruthless fighter, but was also used as a war dog, a hunting dog and a guard dog.
Dogue de Bordeaux Roumba de L'Etang sur la Touze
own: Kennel La Tour Gelée, France
Origin and History
The Dogue de Bordeaux's origin dates back to the time when English Kings ruled over Aquitaine between 1203 and 1453 (the year when Aquitaine was finally annexed to France). The Dogue de Bordeaux is said to be the result of crossbreeding the English Mastiff with large Aquitainian guard dogs. Later on Spanish mastiff blood was probably infused to give the breed a more ferocious look.
In his book The history of fighting dogs Dieter Fleig explains how precisely valuable fighting dogs found their way into new regions and complemented the local stocks as gifts between royal courts.
According to another theory it would be an ancient Roman breed and a close cousin of the Neapolitan Mastiff.
In The Hunting Book of Gaston Phébus 'dogues' were highly sought after and recommended for hunting boars and bears. These large powerful dogs had their ears clipped into points. Because they were very strong with a ferocious nature and terrible bite, they were kept muzzled when not out hunting.
Rabka de la Tour Gelée
Kennel La Tour Gelée
Originally, they served a dual purpose as war dogs and by guarding flocks from wolves and bears. In the early history of the breed there were two varieties, the slightly smaller Doguin specialized in bull-baiting and donkey-baiting, which has since vanished into nothing but a sentence in reference books, and the Dogue, or butcher's dog, which is the ancestor of the Dogue de Bordeaux.
Taube de la Tour Gelée, 11 months
This was followed by the "glory" of combat with bears and bulls, or battles of Dogue against Dogue. When fighting was outlawed the breed served for personal protection.
The breed suffered two severe setbacks in its history. The first during the French Revolution, when his majestic presence decorated many estates of nobility, the second during both World Wars.
Many of these property guards of aristocratic estates were slaughtered along with their noble masters. At that time the Dogue de Bordeaux had nearly disappeared from the region of Bordeaux.
In the 1890's mastiff blood was infused into the breed to improve the weight and height. The subsequent appearance of the black mask and coffee color coat first started a vivid polemic amongst defenders of the breed, but are now accepted by the standard.
Dogues de Bordeaux - Beauté & Buffalo,
H. Räber, Enzyklopädie der Rassehunde, 2 Bde., Bd. I, Franckh-Kosmos Verlag, 2001
During this period there was lack of consensus about the Bordeaux-type, many breeders claiming they were the only ones breeding the correct type. Actually, the size of the head, bite and body were different from breeder to breeder with no single type appearing as more important than another one.
At least three types could be distinguished: the Toulouse type or 'dogue du Midi', the Paris type and de Bordeaux type. The Toulouse type had a big head but medium-sized muzzle, a fawn or brindle coat with big variations in colors. It was heavier than the average of the breed but less muscular and more ressembled a Great Dane. The Paris type was very similar to a Mastiff but with a bite varying from scissors bite to 2,5 cm undershot. The Bordeaux type had a marked stop and was very similar to the ancient Dogue de Bordeaux.
The athletic and powerful body looks "as though it has been borrowed from a lion" (to cite Desmond Morris) and contrasts with its blunt, broad, wrinkled head.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is a perfect example of an acromegalic breed, with excessive growth in skin as well as the bones of the extremities (the head, hands and feet).
There is evidence of the presence in the region of Bordeaux of molossers which were very similar to the Dogue de Bordeaux as far back as the 14th century as proven by the sculptures on the tower of Saint-Nazaire in Carcassonne showing dogs very similar to the present-day Dogue de Bordeaux.
The word "dogue" first appeared in 1392 and referred to a dogger-type of dogs used for various functions. Out of these different uses evolved most of the molosser breeds we know today. The name "Dogue de Bordeaux" however, only appears in 1863 at the first dog show which took place in Paris in the Jardin d' Acclimatation. The winner of the show was a bitch called Magentas and became known as the 'Dogue from Bordeaux' (Dogue de Bordeaux, in French).
Marble statue of the Molossian type.
Roman copy of a Hellenistic original.
The British Museum.
Photo: T. Clark
Ulthaar de la Tour Gelée
The third standard was written by Dr. Raymond Triquet, a breed-expert, together with the veterinary Dr. Maurice Luquet in 1971. The Fourth standard of 1993 was an updated version that was reworded by Dr. Raymond Triquet and Philippe Serouil, President of the French Dogue de Bordeaux Club, so the standard would be accepted by the F.C.I. (Fédération Cynologique Internationale also known as the International Kennel Club.)
Nevertheless there are still important variations in the breed as well as breeders who hold on to these variations.
Based on a combination of the best dogues he had seen, the veterinary Pierre Meguin published the first standard of the Dogue de Bordeaux in his magazine l'Eleveur (the Breeder) in 1896. At the same time the Comité Français du Dogue de Bordeaux was founded.
In 1910, the second standard of the Dogue the Bordeaux was published by J. Kunstler under the title "Etude Critique du Dogue de Bordeaux". It was a very complete study of the Dogue de Bordeaux and served as a basis for the third and fourth version of the Dogue de Bordeaux standard.
They claim that these variations correspond and can be traced back to the three different types that existed at the end of the 19th century.
Fortunately, enough survived to attract the attention of current French cynologists, and the Dogue is now found throughout France, with specimens also in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Africa and the States.
Mr Raymond Triquet headed the rebuilding of the breed during the mid-1960s and stressed that the dogs should be "superb athletes." The massive head is their trademark, with the jaw undershot and the muzzle masked in either black or red. Their unique, wrinkled face makes this dog very photogenic and gave the breed a great deal of attention in the media.
An Owner's Guide to Raising Your Pet Protector
by Lori Berg, Michael ''Gypsy'' Stratten More information:
Temperament and Character
Despite the dogs' menacing appearance, they are sweet with children and smaller or weaker living beings.
The body is well balanced and muscular with a strong neck and powerful, deep and broad chest.
Accepted colors are: fawn, mahogany, golden or black speckled with a black or red mask.
Roumba de la Tour Gelée
Like the english bulldog, these dogs are undoubtedly very photogenic and one dogue de Bordeaux achieved international fame as Tom Hanks's in the 1989 film Turner and Hooch. The star appeal emanating from this unruly, slobbering French giant with its massive, heavily wrinkled face, who impressid with its intelligence and cooperative nature attracted a great deal of attention to a breed that was unknown in many countries.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is very conscious of its own strength and therefore does not show reactions due to fear or irritability. A fundamental trait of this breed is its temperament: a Dogue de Bordeaux should never show signs of nervousness or aggressivity. An exaggerated flegmatic behavior, or fear are considered serious faults, as well.
The Bordeaux dog is an uncomparable guardian and personal protection dog capable of dissuading any intruder. However, he will react only if he feels his master, his home or the persons he has under his protection are really being threatened.