Is the Dogue de Bordeaux right for me?
The name “Dogue de Bordeaux” translates literally as Mastiff of Bordeaux. Also known as the French Mastiff, the Bordeaux is brave, protective, loyal, and lovable goofy.
He is also large, powerful, and to put it charitably, not the brightest breed around. A good film on the trials and tribulations of Bordeaux ownership is the 1989 movie Turner & Hooch, starring Tom Hanks and Beasley the Dog.
The origins of the Dogue de Bordeaux date back to ancient times. One story is that the Bordeaux is the product of selective breeding over thousands of years. Another is that he descends from dogs marching into ancient Gaul with the Roman legions.
The Bordeaux finds work fighting, guarding, hunting, herding, and as a beast of burden. Before the French revolution, the Bordeaux could be seen guarding the estates of the aristocracy.
Afterward, he could be found driving cattle to market and pulling the local butcher’s cart of meat through the streets. During World War I, he found work pulling wounded soldiers to safety.
A healthy, adult Bordeaux stands about two feet tall and weighs 100 to 150 pounds. Powerful, with a muscular build, the Bordeaux is low-slung with a stocky, athletic build.
The male tends to be slightly larger than the female. Because his great size puts a strain on his heart, the Bordeaux has an average lifespan of just five to eight years. With proper veterinary care and a healthy diet, that can be somewhat extended. The lifespan of the oldest Bordeaux on record was 12 years.
Even among large canines, his head size is legendary. Combine that massive head with the soulful, expressive eyes, and furrowed brow, and the Bordeaux tugs at the heartstrings.
The coat is a short, fairly uniform yellowish-tan to reddish-brown fawn color. White spots on the chest and legs are a breed defect, although a minor one.
Although he thrives on routine, the Bordeaux likes a change of pace now and then. There are several ways to add variety:
- Take a different route for his walk
- Change out his toys
- Work with him on new commands
- Try a new dog food or treat
- Introduce him to new people
The Bordeaux has a short-hair, low-maintenance coat and is fine with a weekly brushing. To prevent sores and infection, clean the skin folds regularly. A soft, damp cloth is sufficient, but skincare wipes with a built-in moisturizer are better.
Make sure to clean and dry the folds thoroughly. Antiseptic wipes also help you deal with perpetual drooling.
You should clean the ears as part of his normal healthcare routine. Check with your vet for proper technique.
Because he tends to pack on pounds, you should feed the Bordeaux a quality, grain-free dog food. Match the food to his specific stage in life, whether it be as a puppy, adult, or senior.
He also needs lots of moderate exercises. Long walks should be part of his routine. Enough room outdoors to pace or roam is ideal. The Bordeaux is mostly a homebody. Even if free, he is unlikely to wander off and is more likely to take a nap.
As with most large breeds, hip dysplasia, a hereditary condition, may develop. As the dog reaches adulthood, the ball and socket of the hip joint fail to develop properly.
Instead of sliding smoothly, they rub and grind, causing deterioration, pain, and loss of function. Due to orthopedic issues, avoid allowing the animal to jump.
Anyone wanting to breed the Dogue de Bordeaux should contact the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). The OFA can determine the condition of the hips and decide if the animal is suitable for breeding.
When exercising the Bordeaux in hot, humid weather, pay careful attention to his breathing. Any wheezing or gasping for breath is cause for concern.
The Bordeaux is susceptible to several health issues, the most dangerous of which is bloat. Bloat is an accumulation of gas that can cause the stomach to swell and rotate, blocking the intestines.
The swelling cuts off blood flow from the hindquarters to the heart, eventually causing death. Bloat can be prevented by feeding the animal smaller meals multiple times a day and giving him time to rest after each meal.
Protect the Bordeaux against freezing temperatures as his thin coat offers poor protection. Other health problems common to the Bourdeaux include are epilepsy, heart disease, skin infections, and respiratory issues.
Temperament and training
The Bordeaux loves being part of a family and does not like being alone for extended periods. If you have to leave him alone, leave him with something to occupy his attention. A chew toy is an excellent choice.
He reciprocates love and companionship and makes a wonderful playmate for children. Normally laid back, the gentle mastiff can move with surprising speed and agility when necessary.
It is essential to socialize the Bordeaux from an early age with a variety of people and animals. You want to encourage him to grow into a calm, tranquil adult. Teach children to play gently with him. The last thing you want is a large, powerful adult who thinks that rough play is normal.
The Bordeaux is a gentle giant who gets along well with older children. As a large, heavy breed, his affectionate nature may work against him. He tends to lean against people. A small child, or frail adult, may suffer a fall and land with a large dog on top of him.
Protective and fearless, the Bordeaux is an excellent choice for a guard dog. He responds best to consistency in training.
The three most important things to remember are repetition, repetition, and repetition. Patience is also a must. Let him keep trying until he gets it. Slow to learn, he is nevertheless eager to please and takes well to training.
Good companions, Bordeauxs are not very playful. They are, however, extremely sensitive to the emotions of friends and family and make wonderful therapy dogs.
The Dogue de Bordeaux tends to be a quiet breed. An excellent watchdog, he is extremely protective but rarely barks without reason. He does, however, have a high “chase” impulse. He will automatically chase anyone or anything he sees running.