It's one of the oldest French dogs, its ancestors being the Roman fighting dogs (Pungaces); it was used to protect herds against bears and wolves, to guard butchers' shops and pubs, but also in bloody sports - dog fights, fights with bulls, bears and other wild animals, earning the fame of a feared gladiator. It is widespread in Europe as in the USA.
It is a large-sized, strong, brawny dog. It has a long rather than tall body, with a slender and athletic look, with fast movements. The head is big and wide, with a short muzzle, with an upturned nose and a prominent mandible. The ears are medium-sized, round-ended and drooping. The skin on the face makes wrinkles around its eyes and nose, giving it a fierce look. The fur has short, smooth, soft hair, close to the body, the colours being red-mahogany or reddish-brown, with or without a black mask. It can have a white patch on the chest.
It is an imposing, intelligent, watchful, very brave, calm, well-ballanced dog, curious and proud, that rarely barks. It is very devoted and attached to its master and his family. Strangers are not welcome without the master's approval. It is protective and tolerant with children. If it is socialized from an early age it will accept other household animals, but has a dominant attitude towards other dogs.
This dog's fur needs regular brushing only during the shedding period. The wrinkles on the face must be cleaned regularly not to get infected. In hot weather, it tends to drool. It musn't be kept in strong sun because it can get sunstroke.
It feels best outdoors, where it has room for exercise, with an active master who has experience in raising dogs. It can even adapt to a flat because it has a medium level of activity, but it needs daily walks combined with regular periods of playing and running several times a week. It needs training and socialization.
The training must be done by an experienced person and it must be well-balanced, consistent, carried out in a calm, gentle voice. The dog should be praised and encouraged when the commands are carried out correctly. It is affectionate and devoted to its master and needs the same affection from him.
It's an excellent watchdog. Due to its calm, well-balanced attitude and its remarkable devotion, it is a good and affectionate companion in spite of its fierce mask.