Through the centuries dogs have been used in many ways in the service of man. The ability of dogs to be trained to obey the word of command or a whistle has turned out to be valuable to man and he has exploited this characteristic of the dog to the fullest extent possible.
This talent of dogs, in tandem with a latent aggression, a relic of its days as a wild animal, have made them idyllic guard dogs. The French Mastiff dogs, strong dogs with incredible strength, are a supreme example of this type of dog.
The origin of the French Mastiff dogs
The origin of the French Mastiff dogs, also known as the Dogue de Bordeaux, is mired in mild controversies. Like the French poodle, numerous hypotheses exist about these dogs. It is said that, when they invaded Britain, the Romans were so impressed by the performance of these dogs – on the battlefield – that many were taken back to Rome to be fielded in gladiator sports against man and animal.
Another school of thought traces the source to the Greek and Roman Molossus, Mastiffs brought to Europe from the dogs of Aquitaine or from the Spanish dogs of Burgos. Whatever its ancestry, the French Mastiffs have established themselves comprehensively in France as very competent guard dogs and have also gained popularity in other countries. There are some 3000 of them in America. Ironically, these Dogue de Bordeaux do not seem to have originated from Bordeaux and why they are called as “dogs of Bordeaux” remains a mystery.
The French Mastiff dogs exude grandeur and dignity. They are somewhat short (23 to 30 inches) but appear to be large and are massive, muscular and largely symmetrical; and in not many ways, look like Blue French Bulldogs with their flat faces.
The ears are not ‘bat eared’ but fall down the sides of the head. The heads of the French Mastiff dogs are, to some extent, rounded to about 27 to 30 inches in circumference presenting a massive appearance when perceived from any perspective. The coat is short and soft to the touch and comes in a variety of shades ranging from fawn (a brownish color) to apricot (yellowish orange) to brindle (tawny brown or grey marked with streaks) with a black or red mask.
Successive selective breeding has diluted the original ferocity of the French Mastiff dogs. These animals now exhibit a temperament that is a sublime combination of grandeur and goodness and a blend of courage mixed with docility.
The French Mastiff dogs are exceptionally good guard dogs showing unstinting loyalty to the members of the family to which they belong. Notwithstanding their ferocious façade they are remarkably gentle with children. Being a very powerful breed French Mastiff dogs are not suitable for inexperienced owners.
Though French Mastiff dogs are largely outdoor animals requiring a large amount of exercise they also do well in confined spaces like apartments. They are, to a large extent quite dormant when indoors, but have got to be taken out for relatively long walks. Being of a robust build, the French Mastiff dogs are not prone to any ailments but have a tendency to drool and to snore.
The French mastiff dog is only one type among many types of mastiff. Other varietes include English mastiff dogs, Neopolitan mastiffs and even Tibetan Mastiffs.