The Dogue de Bordeaux is a large breed, featuring a heavy set body with a huge head, some reaching a circumference of 68.5 - 76 cm. The front legs are straight and heavily boned. The head is wrinkled with an undershot jaw, small ears that hang downward and a muzzle that is about a third of the head's length. The upper lips hang down to the lower jaw. The nose has very wide nostrils while the skin around the neck is loose which forms a dewlap. The tail has a thick base and tapers to a point. The stocky body is covered by a thick skin, with a coat made of soft and short hairs which come in colours of mahogany to fawn and distinctive white markings on the chest and the tips of the toes. The height at the withers is usually 56 - 69 cm but for show dogs, the standard is 58.5 to 66 cm. A male Dogue can weigh in excess of 45 kg. Some have been known to stand 76 cm and weigh up to 65.75 kg.
There are several existing versions as to the origin of the Dogue de Bordeaux but the most widely claimed is that the Dogue may be descended from the mastiff such as the Molossus of Rome or Greece. Some theories suggest that this breed came from the Spanish dogs from Burgos. Whatever the origin was, the Dogue de Bordeaux was known in France since the 12th century. It has been utilized as a war dog, flock guardian, dog fighter, personal bodyguard, hunter, and bull baiter. In the 19th century, dog fighting became a popular spectator sport in Europe, particularly around the Bordeaux region of France, where the breed got its name. The Dogue De Bordeaux became an effective dog fighter and was very popular until dog fighting was banned. The breed became utilized for other tasks, but over time the breed's popularity slowly faded. Raymond Triquet, a French breeder is accredited with saving the breed from total extinction by founding the Dogue de Bordeaux Club. The Dogue breed standard was established only in 1920, where emphasis on keeping the old breeding line was taken. Today, it is still considered a rare breed.
Years of successful breeding has made the Dogue de Bordeaux a more tamed breed than it was originally. The modern Dogue is a good-natured dog with a very calm temperament. This loyal and affectionate dog is very devoted to its family, always needing the attention of the members of its family. It is a fearless dog, often meeting head-on with strangers, which makes it an excellent candidate as a guard dog and watch dog. The only downside of the breed is its tendency to drool and snore.
Training the Dogue de Bordeaux should start at an early age to lessen or avoid aggressive behaviour. An experienced handler is required that could provide consistent and firm training because this breed is a little slow to learn.
Grooming the Dogue is not a problem since the short coat requires only occasional brushing. Bathe only when absolutely necessary.
This breed is prone to hip dysplasia due to its large and heavy body, and is typical of large breeds. It is also prone to certain types of tumours and cancers. It is not a dog that is easy to breed because although litters are generally small, they do have extremely large heads which requires Cesarean section at birth. Being broad chested, the dams often nurse their pups while lying on their stomachs, often accidentally squashing their pups which requires continuous supervision especially within the first few weeks after whelping. Those who survive and grow up healthy can live up to 11 years.
Feed the Dogue de Bordeaux with a mixture of beef, wheat, oats and beet pulp. A few small meals a day is ideal rather than one large meal.
The Dogue needs a moderate amount of exercise. Daily walks and a few hours of fun activities off the lead in a fenced-in garden or secured area is an ideal exercise routine to maintain a healthy physical and mental balance. It will live happily in an apartment provided that the daily exercise requirements are met. It is fairly inactive indoors.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is a dominant breed and has the tendency to become aggressive with other dogs and other males of the same breed. Although it has a ferocious look, it is very gentle with children, but is typically not a breed for a novice pet owner.