Caporal, owned by Messrs. Delaut and Maurez, deserves to be added to our select list of outstanding Dogues de Bordeaux. Caporal’s heyday was around the year 1889. He was never shown at the Tuileries exhibition, but he was very well known at the foot of the Pyrenees, where the bullfight championships took place and where he was given the title “The Invincible.” His head was covered in scars. At this time Caporal belonged to a Mr. Farniere, who ran a railway network in Tarbes. He was bought by Messrs. Delaut and Maurez in his last years to serve as a stud dog.
At the end of our article no. 5 on Douges de Bordeaux, Caporal was mentioned as a powerful Dogue de Bordeaux and one of the best fighters. To give more idea of this great animal, at the age of seven years his weight was 108 pounds and his height 63 cm (24.8 inches). His color was a very pale red, the lower jaw protruding slightly below the upper jaw. We noticed that Mr. Maurez devoted himself to the Dogues de Bordeaux with much success. For another stud dog he had Roland, a fine dog who received first prize and the prize of honor donated by the President of the Republic. Roland was out of Raoul and Zulln.
Othello: “One of the new generation of top Dogues de Bordeaux.”
Othello, bred by Mr. Maurez, was sold to Dr. Fiard of St. Etienne. Whelped on March 28, 1893 of Marius and Rames II, Othello can be considered one of the new generation of top Dogues de Bordeaux. The mask a darker shade of red, otherwise lighter red; a wonderful, strong wrinkled head, the face being extraordinarily wrinkled; a wide chest; strong paws, and so on. Othello was reported in the article at the age of 13 months together with Buffalo and others in the same class under the breed section of: various dogs and guard dogs at the St. Etienne dog show in April 1894. At this exhibition, Othello received second prize and Buffalo the first prize.
Othello competed again at the dog show in Paris in May 1894, but the judge gave none of the red-masked Dogues de Bordeaux a prize, with the exception of Buffalo, who, because he had already received the prize of honor, was awarded second prize. All the other black-masked Dogues received awards. This can only be put down to sheer ignorance, lack of understanding or mere whim on the part of the judge!
Nero: Black masked.
We can also give a fuller picture of one of Roland’s sons, Nero, who like his father had a black mask. As we have already observed, the Mastiff blood was undoubtedly introduced into our Dogues de Bordeaux breed at some time, hence the milky-coffee coat color, the black mask and the increased height, which was seen in a few specimens. Through research and official information, we have also ascertained how this came about.
In 1888, when the Boston Circus belonging to an Englishman was performing in Paris, three breeders – Guanrand, Oblau and Fotan – allowed their three Dogue de Bordeaux bitches, all in heat, to be mated by a huge Mastiff belonging to one of the circus artists, the first of these happenings on June 14 and that of Mr. Fotan on July 14. As well as this, a certain Mr. Boun had bought a very large Mastiff about the same time and this was the sire of the Dogues de Bordeaux owned by Mr. Blanchet, which carried off first prize because of their black muzzles. This cross-breeding, in spite of the ignorance of some judges, has protected us from destroying our lovely Dogue de Bordeaux breed. Was it really the case that, due to the others being discounted, all the prizes went to the black-masked dogs at the Tuileries exhibition in 1894?
Fortunately, breeders had become wise to this and now there was a hope of returning to the purebred Dogues de Bordeaux in the foreseeable future, under the presupposition that anything detrimental to the breed would be kept at a distance, even to the point of putting the right breeding material at our disposal in order to allow the breeding to be as useful as possible. If a cross-breeding should take place, it is not a matter of mixing blood in equal measure, as certain opportunist experts would have us believe. Their influence is felt right up to the turn of the century, and they maintain that the offspring can be counted as half, quarter and one-eight blood.
Nothing shows up the errors of this concept more clearly than the transmission of certain qualities to new generations and the constancy of this hereditary transmission, especially among male dogs. One puppy is at once compared to the father, then to the mother, and soon is judged to have some of their same bad qualities, another is just like its mother, and a third has a mixture of qualities of both parents by which in actual fact it should not be judged. Qualities are even seen to have come from closer or further-related forefathers, even going back to very distant ancestors. For this reason, bitches with black muzzles often have pups with red muzzles, and conversely, those with red muzzles often have pups with black muzzles, and this with no reference back to the Mastiff. Among these there often appear splendid animals of whom their owners are obviously very proud.
It is from such a cross-breeding that Mr. Chatenoud’s dog Lion originates. If we give this dog’s measurements, and then compare them with those of a Mastiff, we will see that he us more Mastiff than Dogue de Bordeaux, which does him no harm at all, being a strong and powerful dog. The measurements of the dog are as follows:
Height 82 cm; measurement from end of nose to root of tail, 114 cm; head circumference measured from behind the eyes, 67 cm; circumference of muzzle measured at the middle, 44 cm; chest circumference, 110 cm; throat circumference measured from the top of the collar, 70 cm; and weight, 82 kilos.
Now we compare these measurements with those of the real champion Mastiff of the English Championships, “His Lordship,” as quoted in the English book British Dogs by d’Hug Dalziel: Height, 84 cm; measurement from the rear of the head to end of nose, 31 cm; circumference of muzzle measured in the middle, 39 cm; and chest measurement, 119 cm.
When we compare those measurements with those previously mentioned of Lion, then we see that Mr. Chatenoud’s dog is only different from an English Mastiff insofar as he has a shorter body, a very square and large head, a broader muzzle and longer flews. He got all these features from the Dogue de Bordeaux.
On the whole, the quality of the genuine Dogues de Bordeaux can be clearly distinguished from that of the Mastiff in the following ways: Quite a sturdy, stocky body, 1.10-1.20 meters long not counting the tail; a chest circumference that varies from 65 to 72 cm; a square, extensive head that is not round like the Mastiff but is much wider, at least 64 cm in circumference and 28 to 30 cm in length, with a broad muzzle, somewhat longer and squarer and also deeper than the Mastiff, roughly 40 to 44 cm measured to include long pendulous flews, strong jaws and enormous teeth, undershot by 1 cm, but nevertheless the flews must cover the teeth; extensive throat; wide chest and loins; stronger movement than the Mastiff; thick coat; strongly defined and symmetrical wrinkles on the head and cheeks; with a short coat of consistently golden-red which tends to darken on the shoulders.
In Bordeaux and its surrounding area one can find a degenerate type of Dogue de Bordeaux, more a true Bulldog, small with an apple head and short front and with a more undershot jaw where the teeth are visible. Not so long ago such an animal could be seen in the Jardin d’Acclimation. The Bulldogs of Bordeaux, which like all other Bulldogs, were named after a certain type of American ox, have their own characteristic build due to the halting of the development of the nose bone above the nostril, and because the other bones developed, there was a widening but not a lengthening of the muzzle. It is this inherited malformation which was exaggerated still further in subsequent generations, that is to say that the nasal bones slowly disappear and correspondingly the chest circumference decreases as has been observed in the English Bulldog.
A very special specimen of these Bordeaux Bulldogs was Trug I, which certain active breeders simply assumed to be a genuine Dogue de Bordeaux and therefore used extensively at stud for the purposes of export. Trug I belonged to a baker boy in Bordeaux called Rieux. He was a small Bulldog with a small chest but did not arouse any enthusiasm among fanciers in Bordeaux. In 1893, he only got the mention “merit” but then also was beaten by Roland, Pietro I and Due. That year the judges were veterinary surgeons from the Gironde who were already known as Dogue de Bordeaux enthusiasts who understood the local breed better than the English did, which is understandable. Trug was unsuccessfully offered to a French enthusiast for 40 francs, but later it was learned that Trug was sold to an English handler who, with the assistance of an English judge and fellow countryman, imported him to England as a typical example of the Dogue de Bordeaux.
Images courtesy Andrea Bialoblocki, Punkin’ Head Bordeaux