Caulfield woman loves raising, showing, breeding ‘Gentle Giants’
Diana Cobb of Caulfield has always loved animals, especially dogs. Even as a little girl, she knew she wanted to raise, breed and show some type of dog. She just wasn’t sure which breed to choose.
That all changed when she was a young teen and saw the movie “Turner and Hooch.” She immediately fell in love with Hooch, the adorable, slobbery canine star of the show.
She knew right then she would raise and breed the same type of dog as Hooch, a Dogue de Bordeauxs (DDB), also known as French mastiffs.
After watching the movie, Cobb’s future was set in motion. It was only a matter of time before she had her own giant Bordeauxes.
Cobb wanted to be more than a hobby breeder. “I wanted to be an elite breeder,” she said.
Cobb purchased her first DDB, a female named Briggs, in 2014. Briggs unfortunately died in early 2017 at a young age after suffering several seizures within a 24-hour period. The cause of the seizures was never known.
Odin, a natural
In late 2016, just a few months before Briggs died, Cobb purchased a spunky little DDB named Odin from the Huntsville, Arkansas, show kennel Puppycreek.
Now 3 years old, Odin has proven his worth in the show ring – and more importantly by being a lovable “fur-baby,” Cobb says.
When Odin was only 5 months old, he competed in his first conformation, an American Kennel Club (AKC) show where dogs are judged on how closely they conform to the standard of their particular breed.
“I just entered him for exposure at first,” she said. “But he was a natural.”
His ease in the show ring is no surprise to Cobb.
“Odin’s pedigree is pretty impressive,” she said. “His father, Groot, was the AKC 2017 number one Dogue de Bordeaux. His grandfather, Buddha, won Best in Breed at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2012 and in 2014 and went on to compete and show in the national competition on TV both of those years. Buddha is the only Bordeaux to [win Best in Show in the United States], and he did it twice.”
As part of the AKC “working dog” group, DDBs compete against other breeds known for assisting humans with different jobs.
There are a large number of breeds within the group, including, but not limited to, boxers, Akitas, Doberman pinchers, Siberian huskies, great Danes and other types of mastiffs.
The winner of the working group, along with winners from each of the other AKC groups – toy, sporting, herding, hound, terrier and non-sporting – compete for Best in Show title.
Odin has only been competing for a little longer than two years, Cobb said, and he is now only four points away from a grand champion title.
He has won the best of breed title six times at AKC conformation shows. He has also already earned the champion title.
“He won a lot, even before he was fully mature,” said Cobb. “He’s in his prime right now.”
Odin started his show career in March 2017 and has been shown in more than 20 different AKC conformation shows, most of which he’s placed in.
Odin also earned a spot in the 2018 top 20 DDBs in the country, the only Bordeaux in the top 20 list that had not yet been named a grand champion.
“Odin is a natural. I’ve learned a lot from him,” Cobb said. “Odin is a seasoned show dog; he just kind of shows himself. He doesn’t get upset by the other dogs. He’s such a gentle-natured dog. He’s taught me a lot, and I was able to feel more confident [at shows]. I was able to learn a lot more with Odin than with Briggs.”
Cobb says she is extremely proud of Odin and his natural talent. After Odin reaches grand championship status, Cobb says she plans to retire him from the show circuit.
Next in line, Maggie
Cobb has no plans to quit showing dogs, even after Odin retires.
Waiting in the wings is Maggie, a DDB that recently gave birth to two of Odin’s puppies.
Maggie competed in her first DDB Nationals show in November 2019.
“I took her this time just as practice and exposure,” Cobb said. “I was really pleased with her. She was a bit like a star.”
Maggie was entered in three back-to-back shows. On Friday of that week she won best female non-champion. On Saturday she earned second place, and on Sunday she placed third.
“Maggie has a level back,” said Cobb. “The more level, the more structurally sound.”
Cobb said Maggie is already a third of the way to earning her champion title. She will begin showing on a regular basis soon.
Cobb says in addition to showing DDBs, she also enjoys breeding the giant French mastiff breed.
“[My sister-in-law] Dawn taught me a lot about breeding,” said Cobb.
Cobb said she learned that DDBs are an ancient breed, though they were only recognized by the AKC in 2008.
“[Dogue de Bordeauxes] were almost completely wiped out during the French Revolution, and the gene pool is still really small,” she said.
Because of the relative rarity of the breed, the dogs’ large size and the small gene pool, DDBs are prone to several health issues.
“That can be a challenge,” said Cobb. “We do health testing. We test [for issues with] heart, hip, elbows, shoulders, thyroid, patella and eyes. But getting health testing is hard too because it sometimes gives people a false sense of security since issues always have the potential to occur regardless of the parents’ health testing.”
Cobb said she is very picky about the homes and families who buy her puppies. “I want them to understand certain things about Bordeauxes. I check out the homes thoroughly before I’ll sell them a puppy. For instance, I don’t sell to homes with stairs that the puppy has to use. I make sure people understand that until their growth plates are finished, excess use can be harmful.”
Cobb also makes sure potential owners know something most people don’t like to think about – including herself: large breeds usually have shortened life spans, and because of DDBs unique health problems, their life spans are only between seven and eight years.
“They’re heartbreakers, but they’re worth it.”
Editor’s note: For more information on Diana Cobb and her Dogue de Bordeauxes Odin, Maggie and others, visit premiereroux.com.