History of the dogue de bordeaux

Ancient Europe

This French Molosser, with its giant-sized head, is probably the closest relative of the Molossers of ancient Europe. Some consider this breed to be a direct descendant of the Alans/Alaunts of the Middle Ages. And the official history of the breed also refers to the Alan/Alaunt as the ancestor of the breed. Others believe that the Bull Mastiff or the Bulldog have been used in the creation of the Dogue De Bordeaux. The history of the Bordeaux dog is full of fighting. The breed has been used for hunting, guarding of his human family, house and property, and in the ring, pitted against all kinds of animals; bears, wolves, tigers and lions.


In 1863, the first French dog show took place in Paris in the Jardin d'Acclimatiation. The Dogues De Bordeaux were entered under their present name. However, Perre Megnin did not write the first standard of the French Mastiff until 1869. There have been different types of Dogues in the past; the Toulouse type (Toulousain), the Paris type (Parisien) and the Bordeaux type (Bordelais). The latter being the ancestor of today's Dogue De Bordeaux. The Paris type had more wrinkles and was often a heavier built dog. The Toulouse type was a smaller and broader dog with a very heavy head. Professor Kunstler (the man who wrote the first standard for FCI in 1910) considered the Toulouse type to not be a Dogue, but rather a Bouledogue (Bulldog). The Toulouse type was probably closer related to the Spanish Bulldog, if any difference at all. There was also the Doguin, a smaller and lighter Dogue. It was believed to have been developed by crossings to the Bulldog.

Surviving the War

In the 1800's, the breed was hardly known outside of its native regions. But some exports took place to England as early as 1885. This breed, like most of the other Molosser breeds, had a very tough time at the beginning of the 1900's and was threatened with extinction after WWII. Considering the long war and the hard battles in France during, it is almost a wonder that the breed survived at all. The Dogue De Bordeaux popularity was limited a long time after WWII. It was not before the 1970's that the breed began to grow considerably in numbers. However as a show dog, he was viewed very badly, especially in Bordeaux.

First Introduced to England

Where in 1893, he received his only 'honorable mention' and was beaten by the famous Rolland, Pietro and Duc. In actual fact, he was not even a DDB but a 'bouledogue bordelais', maybe even a Spanish bulldog, as Mr Rieux was well known for importing these bulldogs. He tried to sell Turc for 40 francs (which was a small amount) with no success. The French dogue enthusiasts would not touch him. In the end he managed to sell it to the english merchant Mr S. Woodiwiss with the help of an English judge. They brought Turc into England in 1895 and announced him as a true DDB. Pierre Megnin, editor of L'Eleveur (French equivalent of the Stock Keeper) who was very passionate about his national dogue and other french enthusiasts, on hearing this, were very angry. Megnin published in both L'Eleveur and his book 'Le Dogue de Bordeaux' (1896) an attack on 'Turc', announcing him as a bouledogue and not a dogue. Even though he was viewed badly by the nationalists, he was still used as a stud; some of his descendants becoming famous early 20th century dogues, such as Porthos of Mr. Jagourt. Pierre Megnin helped to guide Mr Brooke and Mr Woodiwiss to better dogues. One of these was Cora (M.Dominot), a bitch from Paris. Then came Dragonne, a beautiful red bitch later renamed Amazone de Bordeaux and Tristan , a red dogue with a black mask. That same year 1896, a class was made for Dogues de Bordeaux at the Chow Chow show held at the Aquarium. Mr H.C Brooke became very passionate and enthusiastic about the breed. So he then imported the champion Sans Peur, Diane, Bart, La Goulue and a fawn red masked dogue, whose head was large and full of wrinkles; he was sold to a Mr Haslam who showed him as Brutus. Mr Brooke imported one last dogue. Matador de Midi was from Bordeaux, he was a young fawn dogue with a famous fighting ancestry.

Dogues Fighting Ancestry

A descendant of Caporal, Champion of the Pyrenees for seven years; Megere a bitch who had fought wolves, bears and even a hyena and Hercules who had died fighting a jaguar in San Francisco. Matador du Midi had been trained in fighting and baiting. At eighteen months, Mr Brooke tried him on a Russian bear who stood at six feet. He managed to throw the bear to the ground three times. By 1897, a Dogue de Bordeaux Club was formed, Mr S.Woodiwiss taking up the presidency. With the help of Megnin, Dr Wiart and Mr Brooke, a description of the breed was drawn up and appeared in Bylandt "Dogs of All Nations". The DDB began to have a success at English shows and was being well appreciated. That is, until the anti-cropping laws, banning the amputation of the ears. The DDB lost its popularity, it no longer had that gladiatorial look. By this time, Turc and Cora had died of old age. Dragonne died from blood poisoning caused by a wasp sting. The last few that remained were exported to Canada, where they were never heard of again. The Dogue de Bordeaux was not to return to Britain until the end of the twentieth century. Where it found a new, well deserved popularity.