Dogue de Bordeaux
The Dogue de Bordeaux (DDB) is also known as a French Mastiff, Bordeaux Mastiff, Bordeaux Bulldog, or most commonly in North American culture as a “Hooch” dog from the iconic role in the movie “Turner & Hooch”.
A DDB should appear longer than he is tall, with a massive head. In fact, the DDB is known to have proportionally the largest head of all dog breeds! The coat colour can range from a sandy fawn to a deep, mahogany red, appearing almost brown. They can have black, brown, or red masks, but the red it true to type. Some white markings are permissible on the chest and toes, but chest markings should not reach the collar of the neck. Ears and tail should be left unaltered, and dewclaws should not be removed. The breed minimum weight for males is 115lbs, and 100lbs for females, and there is no maximum weight for either sex, though weight should remain proportional to size. It is common to see overweight DDBs, as owners become fixated on the numbers on the scale and do not pay close enough attention to the dog’s frame. Although a large dog breed, even a DDB should have a waist. As a breed so prone to disease and joint problems, special care (through proper diet and exercise) should be taken to keep your DDB light and fit so as not to exacerbate any predisposed genetic conditions.
Lifespan and Health
The breed’s popularity has increased significantly in North America over the last couple decades, and fanciers worry that not enough attention is being paid to health concerns and the overall health of the breed is declining. A recent study by the Dogue De Bordeaux Society of America suggests the average lifespan of a DDB to be 5-6 years of age, with the oldest recorded DDB being 12. Health issues abound, it’s no wonder the average lifespan is so low. Common ailments include: entropion eyelids, all forms of joint problems from torn ligaments, to hip and elbow dysplasia, to osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease. Many types of cancer, lymphoma, kidney disease, and bloat are also common causes forms death. As a light-skinned, redhead, the breed is particularly prone to skin diseases.
Derived from the ancient molosser breeds, there is some argument on whether the DDB predates the Bullmastiff and the bulldog, but most believe they probably developed simultaneously but in different regions. Throughout history DDBs have been depicted as guardians, hunters, and fighters. As admirable guard dogs, they were once commonly seen guarding French estates, but the DDB breed was almost wiped out during World War II when the guard dogs were often killed as the estates were being raided. Breed enthusiasts carefully brought the breed back from the brink of extinction, and while doing so worked to reduce aggression.
Now bred to retain some of their protective instinct, but with low aggression, DDBs may seem to be an ideal family dog, but are not recommended for households with infant or young children. They should not be considered for first-time dog owners, or for families with children without previous mastiff experience. Protective by nature, DDBs are dominant, and in rescue we often see dominance misinterpreted as aggression. Special care must be taken to properly socialize your DDB in a healthy manner, and protective behavior should NEVER be encouraged. If you are really, and seriously in trouble then your DDB will know, it should never be allowed when you are not in danger. Your DDB should be introduced to as many people and dogs at a young age, in a controlled environment to encourage positive experiences. A healthy DDB should be happy and attention seeking of humans, and capable of interacting with canine breeds of all shapes and sizes. A poorly socialized DDB will be wary of strangers, protective of territory and personal space, and can be aggressive towards other dogs. Many DDBs in that come into rescue are under socialized, as they do make for very happy puppies and owners do not feel the need socialize a puppy doesn’t have any problems. Socializing older DDBs is a slower, more cautious process but many “problems” that land DDBs into rescue can be overcome with positive interaction with humans and other canines. Handling of a DDB needs to be confident but never abusive. Your DDB should always believe that YOU have control of the situation, from introduction to new people to interaction with other dogs. There will almost certainly be stages where your DDB will challenge you, anything from fixated staring, to growling, to (in extreme cases) attempts to bite. Having a consistent set of ground rules, daily exercise and mental stimulation will help curb unwanted behavior, if not eliminate it entirely. DDBs are smart, although their stubbornness can be confused with stupidity. Basic obedience training is always recommended, and although they do not make great agility dogs, they can learn and enjoy the sport, just make sure to keep the jumps low!
DDBs do not show up in rescues in Canada often, but they do make appearances here and there, so if you have your heart set on rescuing one of these fiery, redheads keep an eye on our foster and adoption pages, as well as The Dogue De Bordeaux Rescue of America at http://ddbsarescue.org for available DDBs.