FCI-Standard N° 116 / 23.01.2009 / GB
Tim Taylor and Raymond Triquet. Revised by Jennifer
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE ORIGINAL VALID STANDARD :
Guard, defense and deterrence.
CLASSIFICATION F.C.I. :
Group 2 Pinscher and Schnauzer-Molossoid breeds- Swiss mountain and
Section 2.1 Molossoid breeds. Without working trial.
BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY :
The dogue de Bordeaux is one of the most ancient French breeds,
probably a descendant of the Alans and, in particular, the alan vautre
of which Gaston Phebus (or Febus), Count of Foix, wrote in the 14th
century, in his Livre de Chasse that “he holds his bite stronger than
three sighthounds”. The word “dogue” appeared at the end of the 14th
In the middle of the 19th century these ancient dogues were hardly
renowned outside the region of Aquitaine. They were used for hunting
large game such as boar, for fighting (often codified), for the guarding
of houses and cattle and in the service of butchers. In 1863 the first
French dog show took place in Paris in the Jardin d’Acclimatation. The
Dogues de Bordeaux were entered under their present name. There have
been different types : The Toulouse type, the Paris type and the
Bordeaux type, which is the origin of today’s Dogue.
The breed, which had suffered greatly during the two world wars, to the
point of being threatened with extinction after the second world war,
got off to a fresh start in the 1960’s.
1st standard (“Caractère des vrais dogues”) in Pierre Megnin, Le Dogue
de Bordeaux, 1896.
2nd standard in J. Kunstler, Etude critique du Dogue de Bordeaux, 1910.
3rd standard by Raymond Triquet, with the collaboration of Vet. Dr.
Maurice Luquet, 1971.
4th standard reformulated according to Jerusalem model (FCI) by Raymond
Triquet, with the collaboration of Philippe Serouil, President of the
French Dogue de Bordeaux Club and its Committee, 1993.
Precisions were added in 2007 by Raymond Triquet (Honorary President
of the SADB), Sylviane Tompousky (President of the SADB) and Philippe
Sérouil (committee member of the SADB).
GENERAL APPEARANCE :
Typical concave lined brachycephalic molossoid. The Dogue de
Bordeaux is a very powerful dog, with a very muscular body yet retaining
a harmonious general outline. It is built rather close to the ground,
the distance sternum-ground being slightly less than the depth of the
chest. Stocky, athletic and imposing, it has a very dissuasive aspect.
IMPORTANT PROPORTIONS :
• The length of the body,
measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock, is
superior to the height at the withers, in the proportion of 11/10.
• The depth of the chest is more than half the height at the withers.
• The maximum length of the muzzle is equal to one third of the length
of the head.
• The minimum length of the muzzle is equal to one quarter of the length
of the head.
• In the male, the perimeter of the skull corresponds more or less to
the height at the withers.
Height [A] Height at the withers
= circumference of head. Males 23.5 to 27 and
bitches 23 to 26 inches.
Chest [B] Circumference of the chest taken at the elbows = [A] Height at
the withers + 10 to 12 inches.
Body [C] Length of the body = 11/10’s of [A]
Head [D] Length of the head from occiput (back portion of the head) to
the nose leather = 3 x [F]
Head [E] Skull from occiput to stop = 2 x [F]
Muzzle [F] Length of the muzzle = maximum 1/3 of [D], minimum 1/4 of [D]
Head [G] Width of the skull seen from the front = greater base of a
Muzzle [H] Width at the end of the muzzle = smaller base of a trapezium
BEHAVIOUR / TEMPERAMENT :
An ancient fighting dog, the Dogue de Bordeaux is gifted for guarding,
which it assumes with vigilance and great courage but without
aggressiveness. A good companion, very attached to its master and very
affectionate. Calm, balanced with a high stimulus threshold. The male
normally has a dominant character.
Voluminous, angular, broad, rather short, trapezoid when viewed from
above and in front. The longitudinal axes of the skull out of the bridge
of nose are convergent (towards the front). The head is furrowed with
symmetrical wrinkles, each side of the median groove. These deep ropes
of wrinkle are mobile depending on whether the dog is attentive or not.
The wrinkle which runs from the inner corner of the eye to the corner of
the mouth is typical. If present, the wrinkle running from the outer
corner of the eye to either the corner of the mouth or the dewlap should
CRANIAL REGION - Skull :
male: the perimeter of the skull measured at the level of its greatest
width corresponds roughly to the height at the withers.
- In bitches : it may be slightly less.
Its volume and shape are the consequences of the very important
development of the temporals, supra-orbital arches, zygomatic arches and
the spacing of the branches of the lower jaw. The upper region of the
skull is slightly convex from one side to the other. The frontal groove
is deep, diminishing towards the posterior end of the head. The forehead
dominates the face but does not overhang it. However it is still wider
Stop: Very pronounced, almost forming a right angle with the muzzle (95° to 100°).
FACIAL REGION :
Nose : Broad, well opened nostrils, well pigmented
according to the colour of the mask. Upturned nose permissible but not
if it is set back towards the eyes.
Muzzle : Powerful, broad, thick, but not fleshy below the
eyes, rather short, upper profile very slightly concave, with moderately
obvious folds. Its width hardly decreasing towards the tip of the
muzzle, when viewed from above it has the general shape of a square. In
relation to the upper region of the skull, the line of the muzzle forms
a very obtuse angle upwards. When the head is held horizontally the tip
of the muzzle, truncated, thick and broad at the base, is in front of a
vertical tangent to the anterior face of the nose. Its perimeter is
almost two thirds of that of the head. Its length varies between one
third and minimum one quarter of the total length of the head, from the
nose to the occipital crest. The limits stated (maximum one third and
minimum one quarter of the total length of the head) are permissible but
not sought after, the ideal length of the muzzle being between these two
Fig.1: Good trapezoidal head from the front.
Fig.2: Good head in profile.
Frontonasal depression (or stop) forming an almost right angle (95 to 100 degrees).
with the bridge of the nose.
Fig.4: The bridge of he nose
forms a very obtuse open angle upwards with the upper line of the
Fig.5: Correct prognathism with a good upward
curve in the lower jaws. No contact between the upper and lower incisors. The chin is very pronounced.
Fig.6: The ears set rather high, at the level of the upper line of the skull. The front of the ears’ base is slightly raised, it falls back, but does not hang limply, it has a slightly rounded tip. To measure the ear, lay it toward the eye, it should not reach beyond the eye.
Jaws : Jaws powerful, broad. Undershot (the undershot
condition being a characteristic of the breed). The back of the lower
incisors is in front of and not in contact with the front face of the
The lower jaw curves upwards. The chin is well marked and must neither
overlap the upper lip exaggeratedly nor be covered by it.
Teeth: Strong, particularly the canines. Lower canines set
wide apart and slightly curved. Incisors well aligned especially in the
lower jaw where they form an apparently straight line.
Lips : Upper lip thick, moderately pendulous, rectractile.
When viewed in profile it shows a rounded lower line. It covers the
lower jaw on the sides. In front the edge of the upper lip is in contact
with the lower lip, then drops on either side thus forming an inverted
Cheeks : Prominent, due to the very strong development of
Eyes : Oval, set wide apart. The space between the two
inner corners of the eyelids is equal to about twice the length of the
eye (eye opening). Frank expression. The haw must not be visible. Colour
: hazel to dark brown for a dog with a black mask, lighter colour
tolerated but not sought after in dogs with either a brown mask or
without a mask.
Ears : Relatively small, of a slightly darker colour than
the coat. At its set on, the front of the base of the ear is slightly
raised. They must fall down, but not hang limply, the front edge being
close to the cheek when the dog is attentive. The tip of the ear is
slightly rounded; it must not reach beyond the eye. Set rather high, at
the level of the upper line of the skull, thus appearing to accentuate
its width even more.
NECK : Very strong, muscular, almost cylindrical. This
skin is supple, ample and loose. The average circumference almost equals
that of the head. It is separated from the head by a slightly
accentuated transversal furrow, slightly curved. Its upper edge is
slightly convex. The well defined dewlap starts at the level of the
throat forming folds down to the chest, without hanging exaggeratedly.
The neck, very broad at its base, merges smoothly with the shoulders.
Fig.1:Correct profile of the head, just a tiny bit of the fleshy part of the lower lip can be seen..
Fig.2: Incorrect, over exaggerated Prognathisme, which is an over projection of the lower jaw
Fig.3: Incorrect, insufficient Prognathisme or nonexistent, not enough projection of the lower jaw. This is known as "No chin".
Fig.4:Incorrect, the nose should not be almost parallel to the superior line of the skull. This is know as a "Down Face".
Fig.5: Incorrect, the muzzle is too short, the head resembles that of a bulldog.
Fig.6: Incorrect, the muzzle is too long with insufficiently accused stop.
Topline : Well sustained.
Withers : Well marked.
Back : Broad and muscular.
Loin : Broad. Rather short and solid.
Croup : Moderately sloping down to the root of the tail.
Chest : Powerful, long, deep, broad, let down lower than
the elbows. Broad and powerful forechest whose lower line (inter-axillae)
is convex towards the bottom. Ribs well let down and well sprung but not
The circumference of the chest must be between 25 cm to 35 cm greater
than the height at the withers.
Underline and belly : Curved from the deep brisket to the rather tucked
up, firm abdomen, being neither pendulous nor nor too tucked up.
TAIL : Very thick at the base. Its tip preferably reaching
the hock and not below. Carried low, it is neither broken nor kinked but
supple. Hanging when the dog is at rest, generally rising by 90° to 120°
from that position when the dog is in action, without curving over the
back or being curled.
Fig.1: Correct tail set, thick at base, the tip should preferably reaches the hock, but not below it.
Fig.2: Correct tail set, thick at base, the tip should preferably reaches the hock, but not below it.
Fig.3: Deviated tail, does not hang straight, curled. Not carried low.
Fig.4: Tail broken or nor kinked and deviated. Fault: Fused vertebrae but not kinked. Disqualification: An atrophied tail or a tail that is knotted and laterally deviated or twisted.
Fig.5: Shortened tail (not confirmable)
Fig.6: Tied up tail
Hanging when the dog is in repose; generally carried level with the back or slightly above the level of the back when the dog is in action, without curving over the back or being curled.
FOREQUARTERS : Strong bone structure, legs
Shoulders : Powerful, prominent muscles. Slant of
shoulder-blade medium (about 45° to the horizontal), angle of the
scapular-humeral articulation a little more than 90°.
Upper Arms : Very muscular.
Elbows : In the axis of the body, neither too close to the
ribcage nor turned out.
Forearms: Viewed from the front, straight or inclining
slightly inwards thus getting closer to the median plane, especially in
dogs with a very broad chest. Viewed in profile, vertical.
Metacarpus (Pastern) : Powerful. Viewed in profile,
slightly sloping. Viewed from the front sometimes slightly outwards
compensating for the slight inclination of the forearm inwards.
Forefeet : Strong. Toes tight, nails curved and strong,
pads well developed and supple : the Dogue is well up on his toes
despite his weight.
concave chest ribs too convex, barrel shaped
HINDQUARTERS : Robust legs with strong bone structure;
well angulated. When viewed from behind the hindquarters are parallel
and vertical thus giving an impression of power even though the
hindquarters are not quite as broad as the forequarters.
Upper Thigh : Very developed and thick with visible
Stifle : In a parallel plane to the median plane or very
Second thigh : Relatively short, muscled, descending low.
Hock : Short, sinewy, angle of the hock joint moderately
Metatarsus (Rear pastern) : Robust, no dewclaws.
Hind feet : Slightly longer than the front feet, toes
Fig.1 and 2: Good angulation of the hindquarters.
Fig.3 and 4: Insufficient angulations, straight hock and stifle which cause too high of an elevated rear.
Fig.1: Correct parallel and vertical hindlegs.
Fig.2: Hindlegs too close.
Fig.3: Hocks too close, this is know as "cow hocks"
Fig.4: Open hocks or spread hocks, also know as "bow-legged"
Fig.1: Correct stance.
Fig.2: Normal foot, in profile and from the front. Nice and high on pastern (or fore cannon), well knuckled foot.
Fig.3: Forefeet turning inwards, pigeon toed.
Fig.4: Forefeet turning outward, know as
Fig.5: Forefeet turning outwards, crooked forelegs, Pastern
too oblique or down on
Fig.6: Pastern too oblique (weak pasterns).
Fig.7: Down in pasterns in profile and with splay feet seen
from the front. The foot is
"crushed" in the front profile, know as "flat foot"
or "not well knuckled
GAIT / MOVEMENT : Quite supple for a molossoid. When
walking the movement is free and supple, close to the ground. Good drive
from the hindquarters, good extension of the forelegs, especially when
trotting, which is the preferred gait. When the trot quickens, the head
tends to drop, the topline inclines towards the front, and the front
feet get closer to the median plane while striding out with a long
reaching movement of the front legs. Canter with rather important
vertical movement. Capable of great speed over short distances by
bolting along close to the ground.
SKIN : Thick and sufficiently loose fitting, without
HAIR : Fine, short and soft to the touch.
COLOUR : Self-coloured, in all shades of fawn, from
mahogany to isabella. A good pigmentation is desirable. Limited white
patches are permissible on the forechest and the extremities of the
• Black mask : The mask is often only slightly spread out
and must not invade the cranial region. There may be slight black
shading on the skull, ears, neck and top of body. The nose is black.
• Brown mask : (used to be called red or bistre). The nose
is brown; the eyerims and edges of the lips are also brown. There may be
non-invasive brown shading; each hair having a fawn or sandy zone and a
brown zone. In this case the inclined parts of the body are a paler
• No mask : The coat is fawn : the skin appears red (also
formerly called “red mask”). The nose can then be reddish.
SIZE AND WEIGHT : Height should more or less correspond to
the perimeter of the skull.
Height at the withers :
For males: 60-68 cm.
For females : 58-66 cm.
1 cm under and 2 cm over will be tolerated.
Dogs : at least 50 kg.
Bitches : at least 45 kg.
Females: Identical characteristics but less pronounced.
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and
the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in
exact proportion to its degree and its effect on the health and welfare
of the dog.
SEVERE FAULTS :
• Disproportioned head (too small or exaggerately voluminous).
• Bulldoggy hypertype : Flat skull, muzzle measuring less than a quarter
of the total length of the head. Swollen fold (roll) behind the nose.
Important fold around the head.
• Important lateral deviation of the lower jaw.
• Incisors constantly visible when the mouth is closed. Very small
incisors, unevenly set.
• Arched back (convex).
• Fused but not deviated vertebrae of the tail.
• Forefeet turning inwards (even slightly).
• Forefeet turning outwards too much.
• Flat thighs.
• Angle of hock too open (straight angulation).
• Angle of the hock too closed, dog standing under himself behind.
• Cow hocks or barrel hocks.
• Stilted movement or serious rolling of rear.
• Excessive shortness of breath,rasping.
• White on tip of tail or on the front part of the forelegs, above the
carpus (wrist) and the tarsus (hock) or white, without interruption, on
the front of the body from the forechest to the throat.
DISQUALIFYING FAULTS :
• Aggressive or overly shy.
• Long, narrow head with insufficiently pronounced stop, with a muzzle
measuring more than a third of the total length of the head (lack of
type in head).
• Muzzle parallel to the top line of the skull or downfaced, Roman nose.
• Twisted jaw.
• Mouth not undershot.
• Canines constantly visible when the mouth is closed.
• Tongue constantly hanging out when the mouth is closed.
• Blue eyes; bulging eyes.
• Tail knotted and laterally deviated or twisted (screw tail, kink
• Atrophied tail.
• Fiddle front and down on pasterns.
• Angle of the hock open towards the rear (inverted hock).
• White on the head or body, any other colour of the coat than fawn
(shaded or not) and in particular brindle or solid brown called
“chocolate” (each hair being entirely brown).
• Identifiable disabling defect.
Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be
N.B. : Male animals should have two apparently normal
testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
These are are not part of the standard, it is the opinion of Mr. Raymond Triquet who is the breed expert for the Dogue de Bordeaux, which is still
an evolving breed :
In all breeds the increase in numbers carries the risk of derivatives with the onset of easily recognizable mediocre subjects with little type and others such as hypertypes which are a danger for the breed even if they are admired by some adepts of canine showbiz.
We ask you to read again the recommendations of October 28, 2004 (Breed Club Committee’s meeting at Ham September 4, 2004), of August 5, 2004 (letter from the President of the Breed Club to judges) and of October 18, 2005 (following the appearance, in the same year, of a brown – chocolate coloured Dogue de Bordeaux).
Some complementary information gleaned from the superb show held in Ham on September 2 & 3, 2006 : the breed is doing well – many exhibits are of good type, healthy and have a stable temperament. They are adorable with their owners. Nevertheless, it is necessary to avoid extremes and, to accomplish this, to re-read the standard.
- the perimeter of the head almost corresponds to the height at withers. It can, therefore, be slightly less or slightly more. This means that one must not select heads having a perimeter which exceeds the height at withers by 20% on the pretext that they are spectacular. They are monstrosities.
- Muzzle : the standard stipulates that “the limits (maximum one third and minimum one quarter of the length of the head) are admitted but not desirable. Muzzles of hunting breeds are to be avoided ; likewise those of Bulldogs.
- The muzzle and skull are wrinkled but must not display profound, sweating furrows nor bloated folds. We saw one example which completely surrounded the foreface.
- Incisors : very small incisors set irregularly in the gums constitute a definite fault.
- Nostrils : Wide open nostrils are a quality.
A typical head is powerful, trapezoid (this seems to be disappearing), with the expression of a sphinx conveyed by the wide apart eyes, the well defined lower jaw and the inverted V shaped lips.
- Height at the withers : Until now we have been very lax and some exhibits are the height of Mastiffs. Remember that the old standard of 1921 stated : “The Dogue de Bordeaux is not a giant of the canine species”. The maximum heights are 68cm + 2cm tolerance for males and 66cm + 2 cm for females. From now on a Dogue exceeding these heights should not be awarded an “excellent”.
- Colour : It is necessary to add a precision to the standard. The Dogue de Bordeaux has a fawn coat. This coat may have a black or brown overlay. The hair is “banded” or “agouti” : part of each hair is fawn or pale fawn (isabella) and the tip is black or brown. We have already explained that a brown coat cannot be accepted (graded “insufficient” and not confirmed to standard). In this case each hair is entirely brown (chocolate). In genetics a brown coat is different to a coat with a brown overlay. In Dogues de Bordeaux the coat called “mahogany” is in reality a fawn coat with a brown overlay (the true “mahogany” is a red coat – see the Irish Setter). The brown overlay should not invade all the body to the extent of giving an overall impression of brown. A Dogue de Bordeaux with a brown overlay should be of a lighter colour on the inclined parts of the body, with the hair more fawn than brown. The hair on the shoulders, the ribs etc... may even be completely fawn. In any case, the coat should never be dark brown (chocolate) but should remain luminous. The standard states : the coat is in the range of fawn.
- Chocolate coat : disqualified (hair brown in all its length)
- Coat with invading brown overlay giving an overall impression of dark : no “excellent”
- For white, follow the standard : “non invasive white marks are permitted on the chest and the extremities of the limbs” (not on the throat = fault, not on the chin = disqualification, nor on the neck, head or body but everyone knows that).
- Everyone also knows that “a tail displaying knotted vertebrae but without a deviation constitutes a severe fault”. It is therefore necessary to examine all the tails, which is not always the case. Exhibits meriting only a “good” grading are being awarded an “excellent”.
To end, the standard states that females have “identical characteristics but less pronounced”. Females which resemble males by their corpulence and over developed heads are not good for breeding purposes. They are perhaps spectacular for cynological music halls but judges should prefer females of good type, healthy, with a lively gait..........and feminine.
Honorary President SADB
President of the FCI Standards Commission
September 9, 2006
Translation : Jennifer Mulholland
Note for the attention of judges
Following the SADB Committee meeting in Ham on September 4th 2004
Contrary to what was announced in a dog magazine, it has never been intended to alter the standard of the Dogue de Bordeaux. Adhering to the standard is sufficient to avoid drifting toward exaggerated types. Judges are required not to award a CACS or a CACIB (which means not to allow a specimen to become a Champion) to Dogues de Bordeaux displaying:
1° / In the middle of the stop, a deep indentation set backward with brows overhanging the face. According to the standard, the forehead dominates the face, it does not overhang it. (see the Club’s Illustrated Standard, page 5 fig. 3).
2° / A very important skin fold from the outer corner of the eye to the corner of the lips, across the cheek. There can be a discreet wrinkle across the cheek, not a “roll” (see the Club’s Illustrated Standard, page 1, typical head).
3° / A very important skin fold from the inner corner of the eye to the corner of the lips. One or two wrinkles are normal at this place, not a swollen fold.
4° / A swollen roll behind the nose leather.
5°/ Tiny and badly aligned incisors (called « pearls »).
It should be remembered that excessive shortness of breath and rasping are severe faults (see standard).
These are prudent measures. If wisely applied, they will help us preserve a typical and sound Bordeaux dog in accordance with the standard description.
Montagnac d’Auberoche, October 28th 2004
On behalf of the SADB Committee,
To be or not to be CONCAVE
A new problem arose among Dogue de Bordeaux fanciers especially in
the U.S.A.: "there is much discussion about the topline".
The FCI standard says that the Dogue de Bordeaux is a « concave-lined
« Molossoid » dogs (Pierre MEGNIN’s classification, 1897) have a «
massive body, rather low to ground ». « Concaviligne » (concave-lined,
BARON) animals show a concave outline (not only the head but also the
body). The skull is broad, the muzzle turned up, the topline hollow, the
"extremities" (paws, tail, tip of muzzle) are thick, the feet turn out
and the skin is thick.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is basically a concave dog BUT breeders have tried
for a century to avoid exaggeration. Consequently the standard says "a
very muscular body yet retaining a harmonious general outline", "built
rather low to the ground", metacarpal region (pasterns) "slightly
Now, what is the effect of selection on the Dogue de Bordeaux? The
standard in French says "bien soutenu" meaning "well sustained": no
hollow or sway back.
In concave dogs, the withers are not marked or only very slightly
marked. In our dogue, on the contrary, the withers are "well marked".
Several dogs with straight backs are said to have "well marked withers"
or "pronounced withers": the Dobermann, the Belgian shepherd, the German
Pointer, the Auvergne Pointer, etc. Then there is a slight or very
slight dip behind the well-marked withers. The back slopes slightly down
(except in dogs "camped behind" in the show ring like the Dobermann or
the Boxer when the "slope" is much steeper) towards the loin which is
always slightly or very slightly arched. Let us not speak of the croup
which is not a part of the "topline".
In the Dogue de Bordeaux, the back never slopes down to the rear (it
would be against its nature). The topline is never perfectly "straight"
in a mathematical meaning, nor is it horizontal. At best, after the
"dip" behind the withers, the line rises insensibly to melt into the
slightly arched loin. This is what we call a "well-sustained" topline.
This is why in my Saga of the Dogue de Bordeaux I said in the
commentaries to the standard "No molossus has a rectilinear topline. In
the Dogue de Bordeaux we aim for it as straight as possible in a
Should we describe the topline as dipping from the rear to the front?
Certainly not! A standard being the description of the ideal model, we
would rapidly obtain roach-backed bulldogs. See what the (British)
Kennel Club says about our Dogue’s cousin (or brother) the Bullmastiff:
"Roach and sway backs highly undesirable". The British standard for the
Bulldog says: "top of loin higher than top of shoulder" (which is the
top of the withers). It should never be the case in the Dogue de
Don’t forget: we want no exaggerated features. This is why I suggest to
illustrate this paper with what I called formerly: "the perfect
silhouette", showing the meaning of the expression; "a topline as
straight as possible"
September 24, 2009