Dogue de Bordeaux

Sometimes called the Bordeaux Mastiff, the French Mastiff or the Bordeaux Dog, and known in its homeland as the Dogue de Bordeaux, this massive breed was originally developed to fight bulls, bears and its own kind. In France in the 18th century it was referred to simply as the Dogue.


Dogue de Bordeaux is one of the magnificent grotesques of the canine world. Its blunt, broad head, claimed to be the largest on any breed of dog, is covered in deep furrows that give it the sinister appeal of an ancient gargoyle.

The precise origin of this breed is unknown. Theoriesinclude the following suggestions:

  • Like the Bullmastiff, this is a cross between a bulldog and a mastiff.
  • It is descended from the early Mastiff via the Spanish Alano.
  • It is descended from the Tibetan Mastiff and the Greek Molossus.
  • It is an native French breed that has created slowly there over a period of 2,000 years.

Clearly this is all guesswork, but whichever theory is correct, the fact remains that for many years there existed in France a huge, powerful dog that was capable of attacking any animal that was placed in front of it. On one occasion it was even pitted against a jaguar.

In its fighting days the Dogue de Bordeaux was available in two sizes, the large and the little small. The former would fight anything, but the latter specialized more in batting. The Doguin appeared in Buffon's Natural History in the 18th century, but after that it seems to have faded out of sight, while its larger cousin has continued to prosper.

At one stage in it's history it was known as ‘the Butchers Dog’ because it was employed to drive cattle to market. In more recent times it has become both a devoted companion dog and a show dog.


At the withers, the breed is about 23-26 inches/58-68 cm. The Mastiff type should be evident in the rectangular, heavy and massive body. It must never look leggy or shallow. The head should be big, rounded with pronounced cheeks, and with a rather short, deep muzzle, fairly broad with an undershot bite. The ears are never cropped. The tail is left long. The coat should be smooth, soft and glossy. Its color may be any shade of red but most common is a clear, deep red with harmonizing pigment and hazel or amber eyes.

Country of Origin: France

Height: Males 23.5-27 in (60-68.5 cm) / females 22.5-26 in (57-66 cm)

Weight: Males at least 110 lb (50 kg) / females at least 99 lb (45 kg)

Coat: Fine, short, soft

Colors: Self-colored in all shades of fawn; may have white markings; may have black or brown mask

Registries (With Group): AKC (Working); ANKC (Utility); FCI (Molossoid); КС (Working); UKC (Guardian)


This large, slobbery dog certainly has some of the personality of a teddy bear, and this side of him should be nurtured, but he is also a formidable animal with a pronounced jaw and powerful build who is capable of inflicting great harm even inadvertently. He is aggressive toward other dogs. He must be socialized from an early age, and he must be worked with despite his size and seeming disinterest.


The Dogue de Bordeaux needs regular exercise. His rolling gait won't get him places particularly quickly, but as long as he is moving along, he is benefiting from the effort.


The Dogue de Bordeaux needs firm training from someone he can respect—and that's a tricky combination.


His coat is easy to care for with simple brushing, but his head can be a bit more difficult. The wrinkles are the sources of potential infection if they're not kept clean. A thorough going-over with a clean cloth several times a week will bring any problems to light.


Average life span is 8 to 13 years. Breed health problems: bloat; elbow and hip dysplasia; heart problems; hypothyroidism; panosteitis; and skin problems.

Gallery of Dogue de Bordeaux