The Dogue de Bordeaux, Bordeaux Mastiff, French Mastiff or Bordeauxdog is a French Mastiff breed—and one of the most ancient French dog breeds. A typical Cephalic index#Brachycephalic animals Molosser breed, the Bordeaux is a very powerful dog, with a very muscular body. This brawny breed has been put to work in many different capacities, from pulling carts and hauling heavy objects, to guarding flocks and, historically, the castles of the European elite.
The Dogue de Bordeaux was known in France as early as the fourteenth century, particularly in southern France in the region around Bordeaux. Hence, the city lent its name to this large dog.
A uniform breed type of the Bordeaux Dog did not exist before about 1920.The French placed emphasis on keeping the old breeding line pure. Black masks were considered an indication of the Crossbreed of the English Mastiff. As an important indication of purity of the breed, attention was paid to the self colored (pink) nose, lighter eye color (dark amber), and red mask. They were originally bred with huge heads; a pioneer for the breed in Germany, Werner Preugschat once wrote:"What am I supposed to do with a dog that has a monstrous skull and is at most able to carry it from the food dish to its bed?"The Dogue de Bordeaux was at one time known to come in two varieties, Dogues and Doguins, the former, the Dogue, being a considerably larger dog than the latter. The latter, the Doguin, has withered away to nothing more than a mention in breed history books, as it is no longer in existence.The history of the breed is believed to predate the Bullmastiff and the Bulldog. It is said that the Dogue can be found in the background of the Bullmastiff, and others claim that the Dogue and Mastiff breeds were both being accomplished at the same time. Another theory is the Dogue de Bordeaux originates from the Tibetan Mastiff and it is also said that the Dogue is related to the Greco Roman molossoids used for war.as there was a breed similar to the Dogue de Bordeaux in Rome at the time of Julius Caesar's reign, possibly a cousin of the Neapolitan Mastiff. Others suggest that the Dogue de Bordeaux is a descendent of a breed which existed in ancient France, the Dogues de Bordeaux of Aquitaine. Whichever theory is true, it is obvious that the Dogue de Bordeaux shares the same common links as all modern molossers.The Dogue de Bordeaux was once classified into three varieties, the Parisian, the Toulouse and the Bordeaux, types which were bred depending on the region of France and the jobs it was required to do. The ancestral Dogue de Bordeaux had various coat colors, such as brindle and a majority of white markings that carried fully up the legs. It had scissor bites in some regions, undershot in others; a big head or a small head, a large body or a small body; very inconsistent in type. Another controversial aspect was the mask, red (brown), none or black. The Dogue de Bordeaux of Bordeaux of the time also sported cropped ears. Regardless, it had a general type similar to today's Dogue de Bordeaux.
In 1863, the first canine exhibition was held at the "Jardin d'Acclimatation" in Paris, France. The winner of the Dogue de Bordeaux was a bitch named Magentas. The Dogue de Bordeaux was then given the name of the capital of its region of origin, today's Dogue de Bordeaux.During the 1960s, a group of breeders of the Dogue de Bordeaux in France, headed by Raymond Triquet, worked on the rebuilding of the foundation of the breed. In 1970, a new standard was written for the breed, with the most recent update in 1995. This standard is the basis of the standard written for the AKC in 2005.Although the Dogue de Bordeaux first came to the USA in the 1890s for the show ring, the first documented Dogues de Bordeaux of modern times appeared in 1959, Fidelle de Fenelon; and in 1968, Rugby de la Maison des Arbres. Between 1969 and 1980, imported Dogues de Bordeaux in the USA were scarce, limited to a few breeders who worked closely with the French Dogue de Bordeaux Club, the SADB. The breed was first "officially" introduced to American purebred enthusiasts in an article written in 1982 and by the American anthropologist, Dr. Carl Semencic for "Dog World" magazine. That article, entitled "Introducing the Dogue de Bordeaux", was followed by chapters dedicated to the Dogue in Semencic's books on dogs, published by T.F.H. Publications of Neptune, New Jersey. When Semencic's first article on the breed was published, there were no Bordeaux Dogues in the United States. There were 600 examples left in the world, mostly in France, Holland and East Berlin, and the breed's numbers were on the decline. Much later, in 1989, the typical American family saw the Dogue de Bordeaux for the first time on the big screen in Touchstone's movie Turner & Hooch about a police man and his canine partner, although many people did not know that the massive slobbering animal was a Dogue de Bordeaux.Since then, the Dogue de Bordeaux has taken hold in the United States and can be found in greatly increasing numbers across the country. The Dogue de Bordeaux has been supported by multiple breed clubs throughout the years, and has finally found its way to full AKC recognition through the assistance of the Dogue de Bordeaux Society of America. Since 1997, the DDBSA has helped bring the breed to the point in which full AKC recognition could be achieved.The Dogue de Bordeaux has begun to flourish is recent years, with its introduction into more movies and even television, as well as its full recognition status by the American Kennel Club, also known as the AKC (full AKC recognition began July 2008). Its numbers are climbing, but careful attention must be paid to health in the breed if its increase in popularity is to show a positive forward motion.
As with other large breeds of canines, the life expectancy of the Dogue is fairly short. According to data collected by the Dogue De Bordeaux Society of America, the average lifespan of the breed is 5 to 6 years. The oldest dog in the record was 12 years old. The Society is actively recording dogs that are 7 years old or older to celebrate the longer-lived dogs.Because of its brachycephalic head, the Dogue can be affected by breathing problems. (see Brachycephalic syndrome) Some may be heat- and exercise-intolerant as a result. The FCI standard considers excessive shortness of breath and raspy breathing in the Dogue a severe fault. The brachycephalic head shape can also encourage ectropion—an outward rolling of the lower eyelid— which can lead to conjunctivitis (eye inflammation) and bacterial infections.Aortic stenosis is a disease of the heart valve in which the opening of the aortic valve is narrowed. Symptoms include exercise intolerance, exertional syncope (fainting from physical exertion) and sudden death. One study suggests a high predisposition in the breed. No severe cases were found in adult dogs, and most moderate to severely affected dogs died before one year of age, leading the authors to speculate that the disease is more severe in the Dogue than in other breeds.Another heart problem in the breed is dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart becomes weakened and enlarged and cannot pump blood efficiently. Some affected dogs may die suddenly without showing any signs of problems. Others may die from congestive heart failure after several weeks or months. Affected dogs are often euthanized at an early stage to avoid suffering.An estimated 5% of dogs may be affected by footpad hyperkeratosis, a thickening of the footpad and sometimes nose. X-rays submitted voluntarily to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals shows that more than 50% of Dogues in the database are affected by Hip dysplasia (canine).
Data from the Norwegian Kennel Club indicates a mean litter size of 8.1 puppies (ranging from 2-13) for the breed. The breed has a high stillborn and early neonatal mortality rate, with a stillborn rate of 14.2% and early neonatal mortality (death within 1 week from birth) of 10.4%. The average across all breeds in the study was 4.3% stillbirth and 3.7% early neonatal mortality. Excluding stillborn and early deaths, the mean litter size is 6.1. UK Kennel Club data shows that 27.8% (5 of 18) of Dogue litters were delivered by caesarean section.