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Dogue de Bordeaux Health

The last couple of years has been quite a positive time for the Dogue de Bordeaux with good progress being made in several health areas.  During this period feedback from the KC’s Championship Show monitoring programme has been encouraging.  And in particular the breed implemented its own DDB Health Checks scheme in 2014 which was fully compatible with KC guidance for High Profile breeds.

We submitted an Annual Health Report to the KC for the first time in several years.  So it was good to receive a positive response from the Breed Standards & Conformation Sub-Group of the KC Dog Health Group.  Our 2014 Annual Health Report ran to some 25 pages, and the research involved in its preparation proved invaluable when we came to submit our successful application to the KC for Championship status.

Looking for other opportunities to promote the breed’s wellbeing, we gave prominence to health considerations at a well attended DDB Club of GB’s judging seminar.

In the established KC/BVA health schemes our breed continues to make steady progress.  Additionally the DDB community gave strong support to a health survey conducted by veterinary researchers from leading universities.

The DDB Health Check Initiative

In 2014 a new Health Checks initiative for the Dogue de Bordeaux was launched.  The objective was to establish a scheme that would be compliant with KC guidance for High Profile breeds.  In particular it would provide visual checks for visible conditions identified by KC Breed Watch.

The fact that 72 Dogues were assessed during the year is a clear demonstration of the DDB community’s commitment to breed health improvement.

Assessments were carried out by a vet with only the Dogue’s owner present.  It was not a case of pass or fail.  The vet explained his findings to the owners to inform their future breeding decisions.  The feedback was completely confidential.  Results were not sent to the KC or shared with committees.  The Breed Health Co-ordinator subsequently used the findings to compile health statistics.  But crucially it was not possible to identify any individual Dogue from these statistics.

A Group Testing approach was adopted during 2014 so that as many dogs as possible could participate on a single day at a convenient location.  The first session took place at the Northern DDB Club Open Show early in the year and 37 Dogues participated.  Several months later the DDB Club of Great Britain hosted a session at its Limited Show.  This time a further 35 Dogues took part.

For the Health Checks both breed clubs retained the services of a veterinary surgeon who has been a member of the Crufts team and has ‘vet checked’ Bests of Breed at general Championship Shows. All costs were covered by the clubs, thus giving Dogue owners the chance to take advantage of the new scheme absolutely free of charge.

Judges’ Education

While trying to maintain the momentum of ongoing schemes, it is important to take individual opportunities to improve the health of our breed and enhance its reputation.  A good example of this was the Judging Seminar organised by the DDB Club of GB in Autumn 2014.

The GB Club provided a dedicated slot in its seminar timetable for a focused Health Considerations presentation.  The KC Breed Watch scheme was described to delegates and its specific implications for the Dogue de Bordeaux were examined in detail.  The emphasis of the KC scheme was then compared with the recent findings of the breed’s own Health Checks initiative.  To facilitate a broader perspective, the approach to discouraging conformational exaggerations in the breed’s country of origin were considered.  Most pleasingly the Q&A time developed into a valuable discussion between delegates on the issues facing judges of High Profile breeds.

Championship Show Monitoring

For several years now the KC has implemented a monitoring programme for High Profile breeds at Championship Shows.  The judges of each High Profile breed at every show are required to fill in a form reporting on the health of the exhibits that they have gone over.

The forms used in 2012 and 2013 required judges to give an overall health score for every breed, using a seven point scale where 1 was the ‘best’ and 7 was the ‘worst’.  In this way it was possible for the KC to calculate year-on-year comparisons.  These were published during 2014 in its Dog Health Group 2013 Annual Report.


The good news is that the Dogue de Bordeaux was one of the High Profile breeds to have improved its score.  The average grade awarded by Championship Show judges improved from 2.14 in 2012 to 1.85 in 2013 on the seven point scale.  And the highest grade given by any individual judge came down from ‘4’ in 2012 to ‘3’ in 2013.  Of course a favourable trend like this can quickly be reversed by a few poor grades in the future.  Nevertheless a KC recognised improvement is pleasing.

KC/BVA Health Schemes

While recent focus has been on new initiatives addressing KC Breed Watch issues, DDB owners have continued to participate in the established KC/BVA health schemes.  A brief overview of the current status is given in the following paragraphs.

Hip Scoring

By the end of September 2016, according to figures published in KC Breed Records Supplements, 1,457 Dogues de Bordeaux had been hip scored under the KC/BVA scheme.

The Dogue de Bordeaux is now an established member of Division A that comprises those breeds with more than 1,000 dogs scored.  Referring to the 2013 KC Dog Health Group Annual Report we can see that only 34 breeds have achieved this status.

Although there is still a long way to go, this is not an insignificant milestone.  It is important to remember that the first Dogue de Bordeaux hip radiograph was not scored until 7th January 1999, while the KC/BVA scheme has been in existence in its current form since about December 1983.  So the DDB has made considerable progress relative to a number of long established breeds that had a head start.

Apart from the German Shepherd Dog (whose supporters first adopted the hip scoring scheme), the Dogue de Bordeaux is the only breed from the High Profile list to achieve Division A status.  Also the Dogue de Bordeaux was the first of the mastiff-type breeds or so-called Molossers to achieve Division A status.

The average hip score, referred to as the Breed Mean Score (BMS), for the Dogue de Bordeaux is 22.  The median value is 15, the mode is 12 and the standard deviation is 17.

Finally it is interesting to compare the statistics of the Dogue de Bordeaux with those of its close cousins originating in different countries.  Again using the 2013 KC Dog Health Group Annual Report we find the following:

Breed Scored BMS Range Median






Dogue de Bordeaux















Neopolitan Mastiff





Total Graded

Grade 0

Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3










Elbow Grading

In the 2013 KC Dog Health Group Annual Report, the Dogue de Bordeaux is one of only 20 breeds at that time to have had more than 100 dogs tested under the KC/BVA elbow dysplasia scheme.  In fact the DDB stands at tenth in the table, in terms of number of dogs participating in the scheme.

DDB elbow grading results as at 1st November 2013 are as follows:

Eye Examination

Results for Dogues de Bordeaux under the KC/BVA/ISDS eye examination scheme are not readily accessible because the breed is not listed on either Schedule A or Schedule B.  However anecdotal evidence suggests that hereditary eye diseases are not frequently detected in the breed.

Health Surveys

In 2014 many DDB owners supported an extensive survey by a group of researchers from academic establishments such as the Royal Veterinary College and the University of Liverpool School of Veterinary Science.  Particular emphasis was placed on gaining better insights into breed issues with heart problems and cancer.

The questionnaire was developed by an eminent group of veterinary surgeons, following consultation with the DDB Breed Health Co-ordinator.  Respondents were able to remain completely anonymous, and allowed to describe as many of their Dogues as they wanted.

Feedback on no less than 260 individual Dogues was supplied by DDB enthusiasts.  This is a really impressive demonstration of how the Dogue de Bordeaux community is willing to share information with serious researchers.