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This handsome, wrinkled hulk always turns heads. Calm and gentle, he can also be stubborn, especially without strong leadership. He loves and watches over his family. On the down side, he drools, sheds and snores, and is sensitive to temperature extremes.
The Dogue de Bordeaux, related to the Mastiff, starred alongside Tom Hanks in the 1989 comedy “Turner and Hooch.” The canine star’s name was Beasley, and although he stole nearly every scene he was in, this was his first and only film.
Most of us first encountered the Dogue de Bordeaux at the movie theater in 1989 when the breed stole the movie “Turner and Hooch” from star Tom Hanks. Since then, the imposing dog has made headway into people’s hearts and homes. He’s related to the Mastiff and is characterized by a massive head, muscular body and a serious expression on his deeply wrinkled face. His personality ranges from aloof to outgoing and comical. The Bordeaux is a guardian breed with a fighting history, but these days he’s a companion and show dog.
The DDB is vigilant and courageous, loving and devoted, but he’s not an easy dog to own and should not be the choice of a first-time dog owner. He is strong and stubborn and requires strong leadership, firm and fair training, and early, extensive socialization. Without them, he can become aggressive toward other dogs and impossible to handle by an inexperienced owner.
This is not a breed that can be chained up in the backyard. The Bordeaux loves his people and always wants to be with them, so expect to share your couch and bed with him. Because he is brachycephalic—short-nosed—he may have other anatomical deformities that make it difficult for him to cool off properly by panting. Keep him in air-conditioned comfort. He can die quickly if left outdoors or exercised in the heat of the day.
Slothful and calm unless his services as a guardian are needed, the DDB has a low activity level and is content to snooze the day away, with the occasional break for a short walk or brief playtime. Get him a basketball that he can chase and toss around. The DDB is also seen competing in agility and weight pulling, and some are therapy dogs.
With young children, the Bordeaux is loving and protective, and his laid back nature means that he’s unlikely to send a toddler flying. That said, no dog of any size should ever be left unsupervised with children. The Bordeaux can also get along with cats and other dogs if he’s brought up with them from puppyhood.
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The Dogue de Bordeaux is a relative of the Mastiff, Bullmastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff and similar breeds. He is thought to have existed in France for at least 600 years. The dogs guarded estates and hunted big game such as boar. They led the good life until the French Revolution when their association with the aristocracy probably cost many of them their lives. Others found new lives as butchers’ dogs or farm dogs.
The first recorded appearance of a Dogue at a dog show was in Paris in 1863, but a standard was not written for the breed until 1896. Because Dogues had originated in the Bordeaux region of France, that was the name the breed was given. People today call him the DDB for short. Other names for the breed are French Mastiff or Bordeaux dog.
In the United States, the first Dogue was imported in 1959, but it wasn’t until 30 years later that the DDB gained widespread recognition, thanks to his scene-stealing role in the Tom Hanks comedy “Turner and Hooch.” The breed was admitted to American Kennel Club registration in 2008 and currently ranks 68th in popularity.
Serious and self-assured, but with an underlying sense of humor, the Dogue de Bordeaux is a vigilant and courageous companion. He comes in a range of personalities: aloof, outgoing, comical, sweet, feisty, quick to learn—each belongs to a different dog.
At his best, the Dogue is calm and gentle, but he can also be stubborn. When a dog this size is stubborn and wants to have his own way, he can be difficult to deal with. The DDB must have early and extensive socialization combined with strong leadership by his owner, or he can become aggressive toward other dogs, smaller animals or even people. If you want to live with a DDB, you must be willing to learn how to work with him, control him, and earn his respect.
A Dogue who has an owner he respects is a wonderful family dog. He enjoys spending time with them, including on the bed and sofa. He is not an active dog and is satisfied to lie around the house, making sure everyone is safe. Short walks and playtimes are just his speed. But don’t be fooled. If someone comes to the door, the DDB is right there to protect you from harm.
Toward young children, he is loving, protective, gentle and tolerant. Unlike many large breeds, who can be too rambunctious around little children, the Dogue is usually careful with them. Nonetheless, large dogs are not appropriate babysitters for children, and all interaction between the two should be supervised.
The perfect Dogue de Bordeaux doesn’t come ready-made from the breeder. Any dog, no matter how nice, can develop obnoxious levels of barking, digging, countersurfing and other undesirable behaviors if he is bored, untrained or unsupervised. And any dog can be a trial to live with during adolescence.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Dogue, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Like any giant breed with a short muzzle, the Dogue de Bordeaux has health problems. The limited gene pool for the breed creates a dog susceptible to temperature extremes, heart diseases such as dilated cardiomyopathy and aortic stenosis, and ectropion, a condition in which the eyelid everts outward. The DDB is also prone to footpad hyperkeratosis.
Not all of these conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it is impossible to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible. They should be able to produce independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for common defects and deemed healthy for breeding. That’s where health registries come in.
The Dogue de Bordeaux of America participates in the Canine Health Information Center, a health database. Before individual Dogues can be issued a CHIC number, breeders must submit hip, elbow, shoulder and heart evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). and. PennHip certification of hips is also accepted. Optional CHIC test results that can be submitted are OFA certification of patellas (knees) and thyroid and eye test results from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). A DNA eye test for canine multifocal retinopathy, an inherited eye disease, is now available for the DDB. The thyroid test must be from an approved laboratory.
Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents.
The DDBSA also has a Healthy Stars program that recognizes breeders who obtain various health certifications for their dogs. The DDBSA website includes a list of requirements for each star and the breeders whose dogs have earned them.
Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents. If the breeder tells you she doesn't need to do those tests because she's never had problems in her lines and her dogs have been "vet checked," then you should go find a breeder who is more rigorous about genetic testing.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Dogue at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Dogue’s short coat is easy to groom. Brush him once a week with a rubber curry brush to remove dead hairs.
But there’s more to grooming than coat care. The Dogue has wrinkles and they need special care so they don’t become infected. Wipe them out using a damp cloth or a baby wipe, then dry the folds thoroughly to prevent skin infections.
Carry a hand towel for wiping his wrinkled face after every meal or drink of water. When he shakes that big head, he slings gobs of drool everywhere. He also sheds heavily, so you’ll be spending plenty of time sweeping and vacuuming.
The rest is basic care. Check the ears weekly and clean them if necessary, brush the teeth as often as possible, and trim the nails regularly, usually every few weeks.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as is possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than in making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Look for more information about the Dogue de Bordeaux and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Dogue de Bordeaux Society of America. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the DDBSA’s code of conduct, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical and should be reported to the DDBSA and the American Kennel Club. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Many reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Dogue puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Dogue de Bordeaux might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Dogue in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Dogues available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Dogue. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Networking can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Dogue rescues in your area. Most people who love Dogues love all Dogues. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Dogue de Bordeaux Society of America’s rescue index can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Dogue rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Dogue home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Dogue, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Dogue to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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The Vetstreet team is in Orlando, Fla., exploring all the newest pet products, cat and dog trends and so much more.
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