She didn’t know why, but she immediately rose to protect him, and grumbled softly, trembling her lips. But be warned, the dogue is so much the protector of “his” children that he may not allow the neighbors’ kids to jostle them. He can’t understand that it’s just “play.” Such a dog shouldn’t be left without supervision when the children’s little friends come to play. Much the same applies to a dogue who lives in a home without children, and then one day in the holidays a grandchild arrives and jumps on him. He may react with threatening behavior and then caution is needed. In our home, when a baby came from the maternity home, I always presented it to the pack, as they did in the past. I showed the baby to the dogues one by one, and then all together, in the house, where they immediately recognized a new smell. I talked to them. I showed them the cradle. They scented it. I caressed them both by gesture and with my voice. They showed their joy by wagging their tails and went to lie down near the cradle, Never do such a thing where you don’t have control of your dogs. There are risks that one has no right to take. I myself knew there was no danger whatsoever. I spent hours with my dogs, feeding them, brushing them, just sitting with them. I still see them, all stretched out on the lawn, the children near them, almost sitting on them. “A comforting sight,” the poet might say. I always allowed my children to hug the puppies when I was there, in front of the mother, without any reaction from her. However, a child should never be left alone with a bitch and her puppies.
Nano de la Maison des Arbres.
Is the Dogue de Bordeaux obedient? Yes, if you dominate him, but never in the way a German Shepherd is. He must be given some time to reach a decision. That’s what the new standard means by the “stimulus threshold” is high. This is true in the case of obedience but above all it’s true of the response to any stimulus (voice, cry, noise, movement, threat, pushing, etcetera). It means that, generally speaking, the dogue doesn’t go off “half cocked.” (There could be exceptions.) Noise, even a loud bang, doesn’t scare him unduly. When he is provoked, you can see by his attitude and in his eyes that he is asking what is required of him. When he’s ready to attack, the stimulus threshold is not so high. When the provoked dog squats slightly, raises his back, shrinks back, looks at his master as if to ask what’s going on, even whines, don’t be too quick to conclude that he’s afraid. He is asking to be reassured because he is not yet mature and sure of himself. He should be talked to and caressed. This was the first reaction of my bitch Nano de la Maison des Arbres to the provocations of the “agitator.” It didn’t last, as she was very stable and completely reliable. ...
Jip de Fénelon.
New owners of Dogues de Bordeaux often ask: “Should he be trained?” The answer is: “You can train him provided that you go to good teachers who are familiar with molosses.” Otherwise it’s better not, because there are instructors who only know how to make a dog vicious. Philippe Sérouil remembers this: His very beautiful black-masked dog Jip de Fénelon bit rather freely in all directions. For instance, he tore my wife’s coat sleeve as she passed by, fortunately, without touching her arm. But he must be educated, by you yourself or someone else, especially if he is dominant. The master should never lose face.
Once it almost happened to me. I had not gone to a show because we were awaiting the birth of one of our sons. A bitch started howling. That was Queen, who I had shut in a small isolated kennel because she was in heat and I didn’t want her to be mated. I went to the big kennel and I saw two bitches fighting, silently, in the way I had been told they do. They were on the floor, motionless, one holding the other by the throat (or, rather, by the scruff of the neck) and the other trying to gnaw the paw of the one trying to strangle her.
Orauch looked at them without intervening and seemed rather pleased. When I appeared in the corridor that led to the paddock, he barred my way; determined, hackles raised, eyes aglow. He wouldn’t allow me to intervene. I had a bucket of water in my hands, as I had read that this was the way to separate dogs when they grip each other. I put down the bucket. I didn’t raise my hand, as that would probably have induced an attack by a dominant male who was, in his way, protecting his bitches. I scolded him: “You bastard, you are not going to attack your boss, are you?” Of course he didn’t understand, but he sensed my intentions were less aggressive than he had first thought. (In reality, I was rather anxious.) His hackles relaxed, and he came to sit at my feet, I put my hand on his head. I opened a kennel. He went in. I had saved face. The bitches let go of each other, the first time of telling. I took care of their wounds, which in spite of everything weren’t too deep.
The males fought as well: Orauch and Paname, my two champions, and Orauch and Iago, my Boxer who had the courage of a lion but lacked his strength. On those occasions I learned that the trick with the bucket of water was just a joke. Again I filled the bucket (the old-fashioned, galvanized iron type), made a swing and the first attempt landed it on Orauch’s skull. He was semi-conscious (but only semi!). Quickly, I could lead Paname, so gentle and obedient, away. In the fight with the Boxer, when Orauch held him full by the throat, I did what I advise should be done in these cases. I took Orauch by his hind legs, lifted them up (to take him off balance) and dragged the hundred kilogrammes of dog to the corner at the door of the kennel. There — slowly, to avoid hurting, but with all my force, increased tenfold by emotion and necessity — I closed the door on Orauch’s mouth. With the door closed, the dogs were one on either side and couldn’t start over again.
Fortunately for him, the brave Iago didn’t match the standard too well. He had too much loose skin on the neck. It was that which saved him. I must add that even in the heat of battle none of these three males was threatening towards me. Immediately after the fight they came to me to be hugged, just as if nothing had happened. But they never forgot their adversary. Nor did I: I never again put two males together and I do not advise anyone to do so. What’s important to know is that these fights have three main causes. First there is food. It’s crazy not to separate dogues when they have their meal, especially if the master isn’t there to supervise. The second cause, in males, is simple — the girls. The third is less well known. Dogues don’t tolerate a stranger pressing his face to the bars to look at them or peering at them over a wall. They get nervous and excited, they push each other aside, they nibble and growl at each other and suddenly, there is an attack. This happens not only in our breed. Always accompany a visitor and send intruders away.
Very curiously, in such cases a dogue can also display an amazing amount of patience. When I lived in Artois, my veterinarian, Pierre Porès, had a Boxer and a Dogue de Bordeaux bitch bred in my kennel, Quetsch de la Maison des Arbres (Mars x Nanouk). Whenever I visited the beautiful house in Houdain, behind the garden rails, I would see the Boxer harassing poor put-upon Quetsch, who never responded. All the same, I would have wished her to give that yapper a lesson!
Raymond Triquet was born in 1926 in Bruay-en-Artois, into one of those miner families, renowned for their simple, courageous and honest people. He taught English at the Bruay-en-Artois lyceum/grammar school and subsequently phonetics, grammar and lexicology at the Lille (III) University. He has translated many standards, and has participated in the formulation of so many others, that he has become known as “Mr. Standard.” He has been president of the Société des Amateurs des Dogues de Bordeaux (French breed club) for many years, as well as a longstanding member of the zootechnical committee of the Société Centrale Canine (French Kennel Club) and the standard committee of the FCI, and a breed judge. But the title that is probably nearest to his heart is that of “woodsman,” as he loves the forest so much. There was still a task to be done: to write and tell the story of “his” Dogue as he knows and loves him, across this richly illustrated book. With the passion of a dog fancier and the rigor of a university man, he gives us an explanation of this dog, his ups and downs, and those of his ancestors. A must-have book for the Dogue de Bordeaux breeder, judge and fancier.