The Athlete of the Molosser World
Believed to have originated in France more than 600 years ago, the Dogue de Bordeaux is highly regarded for his balanced temperament and imposing presence. The Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as the French Mastiff, Bordeaux dog, Bulldogue Francais, or most commonly among fanciers, as the DDB, is a fearless, powerful dog who excels at both guard dog work and companionship to his family. With a head that may well be the largest in the canine world, the Bordeaux is unmistakable in appearance. Though the breed did not gain significant notoriety until 1989 with the release of the Tom Hanks movie, Turner and Hooch, the DDB has always had a fiercely loyal following here in the United States, since it's import in the 1960s by Dr. Phillip Todd and Steve and Wendy Norris. The Norris Place lines can still be found in a large number of modern pedigrees today. For a more complete history of the Dogue de Bordeaux, click on HISTORY
The Godfather of the contemporary DDB, Dr. Raymond Triquet wrote an updated standard for the breed in 1970. It was and is his hope that this standard will be a tool for breeders to help them stay faithful to the purpose and original design of this mighty breed. The standard calls for a "powerful dog with a very muscular body, yet retaining a harmonious general outline. Stocky, athletic and imposing, he has a very dissuasive aspect." massively built and lower to the ground than either the ancient English Mastiff or the more recently developed Bullmastiff, the Dogue de Bordeaux's most prominent feature is undoubtedly his enormous head. An imposing expression, coupled with deep wrinkles and a powerful jaw lend this breed a fierce demeanor. The short, sleek coat comes in all shades of red from Fawn to Isabella. Limited white markings on the feet and chest are acceptable. All Bordeaux have a "mask" , or a deepening of color around the eyes and muzzle, of either red or black. Both are correct so long as the nose color corresponds to the color of the mask. To learn more about the structure and appearance of the Dogue de Bordeaux, be sure to study the official STANDARD
In a well bred DDB, the most common word you will hear to describe the temperament is "balanced". The French Mastiff is a devoted family dog who is extremely affectionate. Very adaptable with a high stimulus threshold, the Dogue de Bordeaux is sweet and even tempered. It is important to socialize your DDB early on as they can become aggressive with other animals and reserved with strangers if not properly trained. A thoroughly socialized DDB is well behaved with children, puppies, and even strangers. Playfulness is another hallmark of this breed. DO be prepared to have a house full of re-arranged furniture if you own more than one! Despite this calm tranquil disposition, Dogue's make excellent patrol dogs due to their territorial nature. They are very attuned to their environment and respond to a threat instinctively. They are the very symbol of loyalty and courage.
Ability and Aptitude
The Dogue de Bordeaux is an astonishingly versatile breed. Athletic and quick with a keen sense of smell and hearing, the Bordeaux was custom built for guard work and shows an outstanding aptitude with minimal training. Surprisingly fond of water, though not generally great swimmers, the DDB is limitless in it's ability to accompany his owner in any activity on land or sea. Currently the DDB is able to compete in a variety of performance events including Carting, Obedience, Conformation, Weight Pulling, Water Rescue, Tracking, and Search and Rescue. Dogues make excellent Therapy dogs and thrive on the extra attention that comes with this work.
Health and Grooming
The grooming of a Dogue de Bordeaux is minimal. It is important to lightly brush the coat once a week to keep shedding to a minimum. When bathing (suggested every 10-15 days to prevent odors) remember to clean the folds of the wrinkles on the head. It is also imperative to keep the toenails properly trimmed in order to avoid developmental problems in the feet and legs. Ears must be cleaned regularly to help prevent yeast build-up and eyes must be wiped several times daily with a cloth or damp paper towel.
In young dogs, a feeding schedule is an essential tool in monitoring the health of your pup as well as a terrific way to start training your new family member. Remember to raise your dog's food off the ground, to at least shoulder level to prevent problems in pastern growth and in later years to help with digestion.
As is common with all giant breed dogs, too much vigorous exercise can damage the structure of a young dog. Jumping on and off of things should be limited to give the skeleton of a pup time to mature and strengthen. However, once a Dogue is fully developed, it is essential that sufficient exercise be given to prevent the deterioration of the musculature of maturing DDBs. Also a concern for the Bordeaux of any age is the heat. The Dogue is classified as a Molossoidae Brachycephalus (a fancy lable for that squished muzzle) which means that they do NOT tolerate the heat well.
There are a number of health issues that are particular to the mastiff breeds and the DDB is no exception. Here are a few of the more common health concerns in the breed today; Bloat, Heart Disease, Elbow hygroma, Obesity, Epilepsy, Hypothyroidism, Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease, Hip Dysplasia, Calluses & Decubital Ulcers, Entropion, Ruptured Cruciate Ligament, Bone Cancer, and Nephritis (Kidney Disease). This breed is not for the faint of heart. Research the lines you are thinking of purchasing a puppy from to learn what health concerns may have had a role in the evolution of your Dogue.
For all the talk of the docile, sweet temperament of the Dogue de Bordeaux, the truth is, they can also be stubbornn and arrogant! Basic Obedience training is a MUST for all puppies. Socialize early and often. Begin a grooming routine early in order to get your DDB accustomed to being touched (your vet will thank you!). Introduce your Bordeaux pup to the car early on to avoid car sickness. Never engage in any play-biting with humans and do not play games with your Dogue that can encourage the desire to bite due to the DDB's strength and tenacity. the most valuable training tip you can get is "Be Consistent"! It is important to earn and keep the trust of the loyal Dogue. Find socialization and obedience classes near to you and GO! Remember your cute little puppy will be a full grown mastiff sooner than you know and training is a great way to bond with your new pup. Even older Dogues can benefit from the confidence boost that comes with good obedience training. Because of the DDB's high level of intelligence, once he learns a lesson, he never forgets. Dr. Carl Semenic said in the book, Fighting Dogs of the World, "Raise them to be gentle and they will be gentle. Raise them to be vicious, and they will be vicious......Problems lie not in the breed, but in the people."
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