The Dogue de Bordeaux Society of America’s (DDBSA)-developed acronym, H.E.A.R.T.S., defines major points of our breed consisting of Head, Expression, Athletic, wRinkle, Trots like a Lion, and Substance. These six acronyms represent the very essence of the Dogue de Bordeaux. However, this article will focus on the acronym “Athletic,” which, like the other five acronyms, represents an attribute crucial to the Dogue de Bordeaux’s conformation to the American Kennel Club (AKC) Breed Standard.
The Dogue de Bordeaux’s functional roots trace back to his roles as a guardian, gladiator, and hunter. As a working breed, he has proved versatile at many tasks, including draught work, weight pulling, agility, obedience, and even lure coursing! In order to be capable of these activities, athleticism would be a prerequisite, and it cannot be emphasized enough how vital athleticism is to the Dogue de Bordeaux’s conformation to the AKC Breed Standard.
A good portion of the current AKC Dogue de Bordeaux Breed Standard notes proper running gear attributes that facilitate correct movement as “powerful legs with strong bone structure, shoulders having powerful, prominent muscles, slant of shoulder blade being 45 degrees to the horizontal, thighs are well developed and thick, and angle of hock joint moderately open” all denote features that contribute to “good drive from the hindquarters, and good extension of the forelegs, especially at the trot, which is the preferred gait. In addition, he is capable of great speed over short distances by bolting along close to the ground.”
A literature review offers a multitude of references attesting to the Dogue de Bordeaux’s athleticism. French Professor Raymond Triquet, who established the modern-day FCI Dogue de Bordeaux Standard and is considered “the father of the breed,” wrote in his book, The Saga of the Dogue de Bordeaux, “the Dogue de Bordeaux is also able to spring very quickly, close to the ground, for instance, to catch a sparrow, or, with forelegs wide, to play and change direction at speed.”
Referencing judging he has done in Europe and Asia, Triquet further states, “I drew the attention of the veterinarian in charge to the mobility of the shoulder, which enables the front leg to reach for the ground far ahead, while the head is lowered in direct line with the topline, which inclines forward slightly. That this beautiful gait is not seen more often in the ring is because, in general, our Dogues aren’t well trained, their handlers even less so, and the rings are too small. You have to go to Moscow to see those immense rings. In the hall with 60 Dogues de Bordeaux, I too had all the space required to judge their movement.”
World-renowned British author Colonel David Hancock, M.B.E. was a career professional soldier in the British Army. While assigned to 22 countries, he devoted his free time to studying their dogs and ancestries. Hancock developed a photo/image library of over 5,000 depictions of dogs (Charwynne Dog Features) that are used by national and international magazines and film companies. As an author, advisor, judge, and researcher, he has devoted over 50 years to studying dogs. Col. Hancock has several recognitions from the Dog Writer’s Association of America among the many tributes to his works.
In his book, The Mastiffs – The Big Game Hunters, Col. Hancock makes the case that mastiffs, called “powerful heavy hounds, were invaluable in times when, before the invention of firearms, man needed to catch and kill game.”
He states, “scenthounds could track, sighthounds could chase, terriers could unearth, and setting dogs could indicate unseen game. But when big game was hunted, powerful, fearless dogs were needed to risk their lives so that the quarry was either slowed down, pulled down, or ‘held’ for the hunters. Just as in warfare, infantrymen are needed to close with the enemy and destroy him, so too in the hunting field are strong-jawed, powerfully muscled, awesomely determined dogs needed to actually get hold of the quarry. This was the task of the mastiffs, with their enormous physical strength, immense courage, considerable fortitude, and the remarkable gripping capabilities afforded by their mighty broad mouths.”
The common denominator is that a Dogue de Bordeaux needed to function as a working breed in his historical use as a guardian, gladiator, and hunter. The Dogue de Bordeaux must be athletic. In most cases, it was the difference between life and death. The breed must be capable of supple, agile movement, with good reach from the forelegs and powerful drive from the hindquarters. This athleticism is no less important for the breed’s contemporary activities in conformation, obedience, agility, draught work, weight pulling, lure coursing, or just a pleasant stroll with its human companions in various settings.
I was fortunate to be able to make contact with Colonel Hancock through several emails that we exchanged. I cannot think of a better way to summarize what we have covered in this article other than to use the following statement from Colonel Hancock during one of our email exchanges:
“Your breed has a past as a hunting Mastiff in the stag and boar hunt, as a seizer of giant valour and immense value in the hunting down of perhaps the most ferocious quarry pursued by dogs. The blend of power, athleticism, reckless bravery and anatomical soundness in the breed just has to be acknowledged.” —Colonel David Hancock, M.B.E.
Are you looking for a Dogue de Bordeaux puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Dogue de Bordeaux dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
Dogue de Bordeaux Dog Breed Magazine
Read and learn more about the athletic Dogue de Bordeaux dog breed with articles and information in our Dogue de Bordeaux Dog Breed Magazine.
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