Bellarouge Dogue de Bordeaux


The Dogue lives on an average of 8-10 years, however we are seeing more cases of the average being 6-8 years.  Dogues can weigh from 50kg to 75kg, with the average being about 60kg.


Hip dysplasia is the most common problem of the breed.

The term refers to the shape and fit of the Ball of the Femur with the Socket in the Hip. The ball is to ideally fit snuggly within the socket of the hip, with a good smooth range of movement. There are varying degrees of hip dysplasia, from mild to extreme, the lowest score being 0 and the highest being 104.

Believed to be either genetically inherited or environmental. It can be caused by a genetic predisposition passed on from parents, but can also be caused by a number of environmental factors such impact, trauma, mineral deficiencies etc.

Hip Dysplasia is evidenced by signs of discomfort when running, standing or rising. The dog may be reluctant to rise or rises with difficulty, swaggers or sways its rear end while walking and may avoid excessive exercise, jumping or other use of its hind legs.

There are certainly a number of breeders who are hip scoring their animals, however there are also breeders who still refuse to X-ray their animals. We x-ray all our breeding dogues and many of their off-spring.

The breed average for hip scoring is 18.45

Unless your dog shows signs of pain or discomfort, hip dysplasia does not always mean the end for your dog. While dogs with very high score should not be used in a breeding program, they can still live a long and happy life, some without any evidence of pain. My rescue Bullmastiff, Roxy, had x-rays were so bad, there was no ball and socket, “just a square and a flat”, although the she swayed when it walked, there were no signs of pain or discomfort except early on at diagnosis, her thigh muscles grew in strength and compensated for the weaknesses and she was still alive, happy and active at 11 years old. But the opposite also applied, where a vet told me of a dog whose hips looked far better than Roxy's on x-rays yet the dog was in obvious discomfort, the range of movement in the hips was limited, the dog showed all the outward signs of extreme hip problems and had to have a ball removed from one hip at the age of 2 yrs.


Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is a disease of the the joint cartilage and is especially common in the shoulder joint, although other joints can be affected. It occurs primarily in young, fast growing dogs and appears to be more common in males. Diagnosis can only be confirmed by X-ray examination.

There are theories as to the causes but since this disorder seems to be spontaneous and not so easy to predict, no one knows for sure why some dogs get OCD and some don't. OCD can be hereditary, or a result of an unsuitable diet, or from trauma. It is much more prevalent in Golden Retrievers, German Shepards, Rottweilers and other large breeds. It is uncommon in the small breeds. OCD almost always shows up during the growth phase of a young dog's life... usually 6 to 12 months of age. OCD can affect the shoulder, ankle or elbow joint.

Some people believe that an overweight, growing dog will be much more likely to acquire OCD than one that is trim. Physical impact on the limbs, such as would occur in a dog that repeatedly jumps off of a bed, deck or from the back of a truck, may be a predisposing cause. Repeated impacts to the surface of the humerus may separate the cartilage from the growing soft bone beneath.

Does diet play a role in OCD? It can do. Diet plays a major role in everything a dog does or is. An over fed pup who is carrying more weight than normal has a greater statistical chance of developing OCD than a lean pup. That is NOT to say that you should underfeed a growing pup.

There are no absolute outcome guarantees with regards to hip dysplasia and OCD when breeding. Using breeding stock which have low hip and elbow scores is the best solution to date, however parents with low scores have still been known to produce problematic offspring, the same can be said for the opposite, parents with high scores can produce dogs with good hips and elbows. The fact is, that reputable breeders will do the best they can to ensure good health in their dogs, but mother nature can still be unpredictable. The measure of a good breeder is how they deal with the matter should any genetic health issues arise after the puppies are sold.


Often called Demodex, is a skin disease caused by parasitic mites called Demodectic Mites. Demodectic Mites live on your dog all the time. They are year round inhabitants that do no damage unless or until your dog’s immune system is weakened or weak. When the immune system of your dog is strong and developed, it fights off the Mites, preventing the small number of them on its body from doing any harm. When the immune system is weak, or weakened, the mites do their damage. You won’t even be aware of these mites being on your dogs body, until you see some symptoms. These symptoms are sometimes mistaken for a staph infection, a skin scraping at your vet will confirm the diagnosis.

The symptoms of Demodectic Mange are usually easy to spot. It shows itself in small bald patches on your Dogue, usually found near the base of the ear opening, above the eyes, the belly, paws and sometimes elsewhere. The localized form of Demodex shows itself as one or a few bald spots in the "usual places" mentioned previously. The generalized form of Demodex shows itself in a greater number of bald spots, as it worsens and spreads, and is often accompanied by other infections of the skin and perhaps elsewhere.

There are several causes of Demodectic Mange, and each is valid.

In terms of the Localized form, Demodex usually shows itself in between the ages of 3 and 12 months. Given the fact that Localized Demodex occurs most often at this age, it is often thought that the reason behind it is the still developing immune system of a puppy.  Another factor in Demodex are other illnesses or injury, if a dog is already battling an illness or injury, the lowered immune system can allow the mange mites to increase.

In the Generalized form, Demodex may be the result of a weak immune system, genetically passed along from generation to generation and is evident in adult dogs. It appears that some bloodlines are more susceptible to skin problems than others.

As long as your Dogue does not have a genetic deficiency of its immune system, treatment of Demodectic Mange is usually successful. If there is a genetic deficiency of the immune system, Demodectic Mange can be an on-going lifelong battle that, if kept under control, can be manageable to the point where it does not become life threatening.

For the real life rescue story of Henry, who suffered from severe mange, please see the Dogueinfo website rescue page.


Limping in the rear end does not always indicate hip dysplasia. The anterior cruciate ligament is an important structure in the stifle (knee) joint of the dog because it helps stabilise and strengthen the knee during movement. When the ligament ruptures (tears), it causes instability in the knee which in turn causes inflammation and damage to the joint.

The rupture can occur after a period of gradual degenerative changes in the ligament or by a traumatic accident. Dogues have been known to rupture their cruciate ligament when they go from lying down, relaxing or sleeping, to suddenly jumping up and running around the yard or playing. Their muscles and ligaments have no time to ‘warm up’, so like an athlete, they injure themselves. Slipping over is also another common cause of tearing the cruciate ligament , be wary of your dog on vinyl floors, polished timber floors and other smooth potentially slippery surfaces.

After the vet’s diagnosis, treatment often begins with anti-inflammatory medication, total rest and confinement to a cage, only allowed out of the cage on a leash. Rehabilitation may include some manipulation from a dog chiropractor. However, surgery is often required to repair the damage. The surgically repaired knee may never be as strong as it was before the rupture, and it is not uncommon for the cruciate ligament in the other knee to rupture later.


Entropian, where the eyelid, along with the eyelashes, rolls into the eye, leading to possible ulcerations of the cornea. Surgery is required to correct this condition.

Ectropian, where the eyelid rolls outward, and can also causes irritation to the cornea and conjunctiva. This condition can sometimes just be cosmetic, with the eye looking red and droopy, however if there is irritation, corrective surgery will be required.


Puppies may experience Eosinphilic Panosteitis, (Pano) or growing pains, or wandering lameness. It is an inflammation of the bones often attributed to fast growth and heavy bone. Pano is an acute lameness unrelated to trauma, it can shift from one location to another and can be accompanied by a fever. It is easily treatable by anti-inflammatories and pain relief until the puppy outgrows the condition.  Pano can be seen on x-ray as a shaded "inflamed" area in and around the bone. 


Dogue de Bordeaux can also be prone to bloat, twisting of the stomach, which could lead to death. Acute gastric dilation is usually fatal because the owners have little, if any, warnings of an impending attack. In most cases the animal is found dead, usually the next morning, with a greatly distended stomach. Most breeders agree that it is recommended not to feed your dogue immediately before or after exercise .

The cause seems to be a fast buildup of gases in the stomach, and either too fast for the dog to "burp" out or the burping function is not functioning, likewise the gas is also not able to quickly exit the stomach and into the intestines to be released 

However I have known cases where a dogue has suffered from Bloat but had not been fed that day. Stress is also said to be a possible cause. My personal one experience with bloat, I would say was attributed to stress, as Chewie was panting and anxious due to Ripley being in season.  We made it to the vet and his stomach had twisted, he also still had stomach contents from dinner which was feed to him about 3 hours earlier.

The exact causes are unknown. Although the breed can be affected by bloat, it is not overly common, so nothing to panic about, but merely to be aware of the condition, take steps to minimize any occurrence and recognize the symptoms should it occur. As many people have not experienced Bloat, I have included the information below from a kennel who unfortunately have gone through it themselves, in the hope that it may make others aware and answer some questions:

BLOAT (PLEASE READ) - many thanks to Emberez Kennels who allowed me to publish the information below on my website

G.D.V. (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus) BLOAT!
This is a very serious condition and if your dogs show any signs you must go to your vet

There 3 related conditions when referring to BLOAT

Condition 1. Acute gastric dilatation when the stomach fills up with gas and fluid
Symptom's swelling of the dogs stomach, excessive salivation, restlessness, wreching (trying to vomit) stomach pain (you will know this if your dog moans when you touch his stomach) If your dog can burp or vomit then its unlikely that the stomach is twisted. Some say to keep walking your dog to encourage him to burp. If you are ever in any doubt or your dog cannot burp, go to your vet straight away.

Condition 2. This is the same as above but if the dog is unable to find any relief, his stomach continues to dilate. This is very serious and should be treated by a vet immediately as the stomach can twist in a matter of moments and then there is serious risk of internal organs being damaged. The vet will be able to tell by anaesthetising the dog and passing a stomach tube.

Condition 3. Gastric Dilatation Volvulus like above
If the stomach is dilated then depending on the dog, the stomach can twist up to 180 degrees (Gastric Torsion). The distress shown by the dog would be more severe in this case, the dog would be in tremendous pain or could even be collapsed. I cannot stress enough how little time you have to get him to the vets! When the stomach has twisted and filled with air it can cut off the circulation to other parts of body causing damage. Your dog’s mucous membranes (gums, membrane inside the eyelids) will be pale if not white and tacky.

Why does it happen? know one knows for sure, it tends to be more apparent in the larger, deep chested breeds. In the 4 years I worked as Veterinary nurse the main sufferers I found were Danes and Basset hounds baring in mind there were very few Dogues in the North East. Our Veterinary surgeon now told us that the majority of G.D.V cases he see's are either Weimarners or Dogue de Bordeaux so with out a doubt our breed is a serious sufferer of this condition. Dogs who have suffered with digestive problems in the past have been known to have bloated without being fed.

There is nothing that can determine if you dog is going to get bloat, you can just take precautions.

These are only precautions and not preventatives.

Feeding your dog. Don’t give your dog just one huge meal, try and split the meals into several small meals throughout the day.
Don’t exercise your dog after or just before a meal or drink large amounts of water after a meal.
Dry biscuits swell to at least twice the size once they are in the dogs stomach!
Soak the dogs biscuits before feeding him so they are already swollen. Especially if you have a greedy dog that eats until he is full to the brim. If you soak the food before hand they it get no bigger than it was when it went in.
Elevate their food bowl. Not too high that they have stretch for their food but a comfortable height to prevent them gulping large amounts of air with their food.
Never allow you dog to eat bread dough or anything that contains un-cooked yeast.

Our experiences with bloat.
Firstly 2 years ago with our female "Zeeta" She had just had a litter of puppies, they were 3 weeks when it happened. We fed Zeeta just before we went out, just a normal meal, not big as we were feeding her quite regular throughout the day. We were out an hour at the most and when we came back she was so big and in a lot of pain. She was very restless and was in the prayer position, front paws and fore arms on the ground with her bum held high in the air. (This is a very accurate sign that your dog is in severe abdominal pain)
We rushed her to the vets where they carefully inserted a needle into her side to slowly release the gas. (This should only be done by a vet as the needle can often damage organs that are pushed up against the body wall because of the gas in the stomach)
She got through he surgery and they tacked her stomach to the wall of the abdomen, which can help stop it happening again but isn't a promise as I know of a dog that had it's stomach tacked and it happened again a few months later. One third of her stomach was damaged so we knew it would be hard work trying to get her to eat, which in deed was the case.
She went a week of us trying to encourage her to eat and in the end she got so weak that we decided that Euthanasia was our only option. This had a massive effect on how, feed and take care of our dogs.

After two years of constantly sticking to our rules and the dreaded "bloat" taking over our lives with the dogs, it happened again with "Brock"
Firstly before I talk about Brocks serious time with bloat, he did twice before this incident have "Acute Gastric Dilation" with no food on his stomach, just water. His abdomen swelled in front of us. We rushed him through to the vets but luckily he burped all the way there and there was no need for Veterinary treatment.

I got up early as usual to let the dogs have the run of our land and Brock wasn't his self, he wasn't bloated. We quickly brought him in. He started to wretch and his stomach swelled slightly, his toes were curling causing him to topple over. After this is stomach did swell a little so we rushed him straight through to our vets where they took x-rays and decided after seeing some gas in the stomach, to release it with a stomach tube.
The tube passed easy which meant there was no twisting, they flushed his stomach and he was given antibiotics. He was calm all day at the vets and we brought him home at 4pm. From the journey to our home from the vets Brock's abdomen was so distended you could fit 4 footballs inside him. We rushed straight back to the vets where they were waiting to operate immediately. It shows how quick this can happen even with no food in the stomach. They released the gas like they did with Zeeta using a needle. When they opened up into Brock's abdomen it had twisted. We are so lucky we got there as soon as we did, the damage that can be done in such a small amount of time could be fatal. Brocks internal organs luckily were checked and haven't been damaged. He is currently recovering and we are hoping he will make a full recovery. There is a huge risk that this could happen again to Brock or any of our other dogs, this is why its so necessary that people who own these dogs know about this fatal condition.

By Becky Swainston
Emberez Kennels
Many thanks to Emberez Kennels who allowed me to publish the information above on my website 

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