Dogue de Bordeaux

Beasley, the canine star of the hit film Turner and Hooch, alongside Tom Hanks, was a member of this ancient breed, which is also sometimes known as the French mastiff. The ancestry of these dogs is said to extend right back to the days of ancient Rome. They were used in combat, being pitted against bears and bulls in amphitheatres.

By the Middle Ages, the Dogue de Bordeaux was to be found working with farmstock, being used in its homeland to drive cattle to market. Later, they guarded estates up until the French Revolution of 1789. The breed then became quite scarce and remained largely unknown outside France until the 1960s, by which time, its numbers had fallen dramatically.

A breeding programme was begun at that stage to save the Dogue de Bordeaux from possible extinction. Soon afterwards, the breed attracted interest in North America, where it has since become popular.

The large, powerful head of these dogs, with the ears set well-back on the skull, reveal their mastiff origins. Their coat colour is very distinctive. This can vary from dark auburn to fawn, with a white area on the chest often being present. The coat itself is short and smooth, making it easy to groom.

Standing up to nearly 69cm (27in) high at the shoulder, and weighing 45kg (100lb) or more, with dogs being heavier than bitches, the Dogue de Bordeaux is very powerfully built. It needs to be well-trained from puppyhood, and will develop into a lively, intelligent family pet, with a protective nature and a tendency to drool!

These dogs are generally trustworthy, although they are usually wary of strangers and may not agree well with others of their own kind, although socialisation during puppyhood should help to prevent this problem later in life. The Dogue de Bordeaux is not a particularly long-lived breed, with a life expectancy of about eight years.


Grooming needs: Straightforward.
Ease of training: Medium.
Health concerns: Breeding stock should be screened for hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as heart problems. The potentially fatal condition of bloat is also a worry, so do not exercise these dogs soon after feeding them.
Best suited to: A home with teenagers, with plenty of space to play.

Did you know? English international soccer stars Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney keep this breed, while a Dogue de Bordeaux is featured on the crest of the French soccer club called Lille OSC.