Complete Guide To The Dogue De Bordeaux: Health, Exercise, Feeding and More

The name Dogue de Bordeaux evokes visions of fine wine poured in delicate crystal goblets, but there’s nothing dainty or breakable about these hulking French mastiffs. Powerful, they’re able protectors and faithful, affectionate friends.

When I was much younger, this dog became very popular due to the movie Turner and Hooch. Now that I am a veterinarian, I still love seeing these dogs walk into my exam room. They’re cuddly, sweet, but they don’t live nearly as long as I’d like. Let’s dig into this.

How Big Do Dogue De Bordeaux Get?

HeightWeight
Male23″ – 27″ at the shoulder110 lbs and over
Female23″ – 26″ at the shoulder99 lbs and over

What Do Dogue De Bordeaux Look Like?

Thick-bodied and muscular with a head as broad as their chest, they’re square, stocky and self-assured. Deep wrinkles over the muzzle and forehead convey a thoughtful, pensive expression.

Their short, fine coats are surprisingly soft and come in rich shades of brown and rust, including:

• Fawn
Isabella
• Mahogany
• Red

A brown mask and small white patches on the chest, legs and tip of the tail are acceptable markings — white on the body is a disqualification. Self-colored, their eyes and nose reflect the color of their coat.

Ears are mid-length and set back far on the head, hanging forward instead of to the side. The tail is thick and slightly curved. Brachycephalic, their muzzle is short and wide with a generous chin and mouth — they’re often mistaken for breeds with similar characteristics, including other mastiffs and the Rottweiler.

What Is The Personality of a Dogue de Bordeaux?

The Dogue de Bordeaux is calm and even-tempered — unflappable, nothing disturbs them unless they perceive a threat. Loving toward family and friends, they’re aloof with strangers but rarely aggressive. With early socialization and training, they’re gentle with children and will tolerate other pets.

Despite their lumbering gait, these dogs are active. They need significant exercise, but their bones and joints are slow to develop, so choose low-impact fun, such as swimming, for dogs less than eighteen months old.

Content in most environments, the Dogue de Bordeaux will be happiest with an active family that enjoys the outdoors. They thrive on companionship and may become frustrated, destructive and pushy if left alone for long hours.

What Are The Grooming Needs Of A Dogue de Bordeaux?

Despite their short coat, grooming the Dogue de Bordeaux requires serious commitment — they drool continuously. The moisture produces doggy odor and, if not bathed regularly, skin irritation.

Regular brushing with a stiff-bristled brush or curry comb tames their year-round shedding, but they need a bath at least every four weeks to keep them fresh. That’s a lot of bathing, so choose a mild, pH-balanced shampoo that won’t strip valuable skin oils and dry their coat over time.

The folds of skin over their face need attention every few days. Wipe them clean with a warm wet washcloth and dry them completely. Examine their ears weekly for signs of infection — pinnae that lay over the ear canals obstruct light and air, creating ideal conditions for bacteria to grow.

The Dogue de Bordeaux is heavy, and overgrown nails can cause pain and joint deformities. Their nails are comparatively thick, so trim them monthly with a dremel-type tool for the best results.

How Much Exercise Does A Dogue de Bordeaux Need?

This breed is a working dog, so they really want and need exercise for most of their lives. However, some caution is needed to not overdue it at too young of an age.

For large breed dogs, the concern is just how much to exercise them when they’re young. Every puppy needs some form of exercise to burn off some of that energy so they don’t turn it against the furniture in the house.

I’m a huge fan of long walks and swimming for these puppies and young adults. How long of a walk is needed? There will have to be some sort of trial and error. If you walk the dog 20 minutes and get home and he’s still bouncing off the wall, the walk wasn’t long enough.

If you find the puppy dragging and wanting to lay down before you get home on the walk, then you’ve walked too far. It’s both experimentation and learning to read the signs that your dog is giving you.

This is a dog that, if it has problems orthopedically, it will be very noticeable. If your puppy is limping or walking abnormally at 6 months of age, get it checked out by your vet. Addressing developmental issues early is the best way to help your Dogue long-term.

What Kind Of Dog Food Is Best For Dogue de Bordeaux?

For Dogue de Bordeaux puppies, you will need to make sure you don’t feed them too much too fast. It’s easy because they are usually chow hounds, but you want to control their growth. Growing too fast can cause some early bone and joint problems that are easily avoided.

Best Puppy Food For Dogue de Bordeaux:

Best Adult Food For Dogue de Bordeaux:

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

It’s very important they remain at their optimal weight throughout their life. Have your vet go over with you exactly where to feel to know when your dog is too big.

How Long Do Dogue de Bordeaux Live?

5-8 years according to information from the AKC

What Health Problems Do Dogue de Bordeaux Have?

Why does this breed not live so long? My experience has been as a result of the heavy impact that the most common health conditions have on this breed.

  • Elbow Dysplasia/Arthritis
  • Hip Dysplasia/Arthritis
  • Bloat/GDV
  • Cancer (especially osteosarcoma)

There’s a more complete health concerns list from the national club. I find many of these are common issues that every dog faces. This is definitely a dog that you should get pet insurance for as soon as you acquire them.

Where Can I Learn More About Dogue de Bordeaux?

Dogue de Bordeaux Society of America

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find A Dogue de Bordeaux?

Breeder List From The Dogue de Bordeaux Society of America

AKC Puppy Marketplace

Looking for a rescue?? There’s a contact point with the national breed club.

Interesting Facts About the Dogue de Bordeaux

The Dogue de Bordeaux isn’t as recognizable as ubiquitous breeds, like the Golden Retriever, but they’re unique and worth learning more about.

Did you know?

• They’re Fighters — Literally and Figuratively

Dogue-like breeds date as far back as ancient Rome, but without written records, it’s difficult to identify when the Dogue de Bordeaux’s line diverged. Warriors, it’s likely they were introduced to France by Julius Caesar’s conquering legions in 100 B.C. Close ancestors include other so-called “gladiator dogs,” including the Neapolitan and Greek mastiffs.

Vaguely defined versions of the Dogue de Bordeaux were known in southern France as early as the fourteenth century, but they come and go in historical records until the 1700s. Guard dogs to the nobility, they barely survived the French Revolution. Repurposed as herders and cart-pulling dogs, they became the breed we know today by the late 1800s.

They suffered another setback during World War II when Adolph Hitler demanded the execution of all Dogues de Bordeaux, among others, because of their devotion to their owners. Numbering less than 600 post-war, just a handful of committed breeders saved them from extinction.

• They’re a Different Type of Athletic

Athletes come in all shapes and sizes. The Dogue de Bordeaux is neither particularly quick nor agile, but it is strong, excelling in obedience trials and drafting and carting sports.

• The Journey to America Was Long

The Dogue de Bordeaux was introduced to the American audience in a 1982 Dog World article penned by American anthropologist Dr. Carl Semencic. There were no examples in the United States at the time. The breed was first recorded in the foundation stock service in 1996 and became eligible for AKC registration in 2007.

• The Famous Hooch

The Dogue de Bordeaux’s claim to fame was his appearance opposite Tom Hanks in the hit 1989 film, Turner and Hooch. Hanks played Scott Turner, a small-town detective protecting mischievous canine murder witness, “Hooch.”

Producers considered 50 different breeds, from Airedales to Rottweilers, to find the perfect foil for Hanks’ character. When they finally settled on the Dogue de Bordeaux, there were fewer than 300 in the US. Hooch was played by 17-month-old Beasely and a stunt double named Igor.

Word is the dogs were easy to train but couldn’t be convinced to drink beer — trainers substituted chicken soup. And during a one-hour shoot, Beasley’s slobber ruined a car seat that had to be replaced. Hanks, who had to ad lib based on the dogs’ behavior, said it was the hardest he’s ever worked — both Beasley and Igor have since passed away.

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