What Kind of Dog Is Hooch? Breed Information, Pictures, and Facts

Written by Mike Edmisten
Updated: June 6, 2023
© Seregraff/Shutterstock.com
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Turner & Hooch” was a 1989 movie starring Tom Hanks. (The movie was also rebooted as a streaming series in 2021.) In the film, Hanks played a detective, Scott Turner, who was working on a murder case. The only semblance of a witness in the case was the victim’s dog, Hooch. Turner had to adopt the dog to rescue it from euthanasia. What followed was a series of comedic antics and a whole lot of doggy slobber! The movie release included the tagline, “The Oddest Couple Ever Unleashed!”

You’re likely familiar with the work of Tom Hanks, but what about his co-star in this late 80s film? The movie’s producers considered many different large breeds for the role. The dog trainer for the movie, Clint Rowe, said, “We looked at 50 different breeds — Airedales, shepherds, Rottweilers.”

None of those breeds made the final cut for casting as Hooch. So what kind of dog is Hooch? Let’s talk about this special breed. We’ll also toss in a few fun facts about the “Turner & Hooch” movie along the way, too.

Tom Hanks in 1989, the year Turner & Hooch was released.
Tom Hanks in 1989, the year of the release of “Turner & Hooch.”

©Alan Light / CC BY 2.0 – License


Hooch is a Dogue de Bordeaux.

It is a rare breed. In fact, there were only around 2,000 Dogues de Bordeaux in the world and only about 300 in the United States at the time of the movie’s production.

The breed’s French name translates to “Mastiff of Bordeaux.” Therefore, it is sometimes known as the Bordeaux Mastiff or the French Mastiff. The breed is probably the oldest in France. Some believe the breed resulted from the British presence in France, allowing British mastiffs to breed with French canines. Others point to an even more ancient origin, believing the breed derives from the now-extinct ancient Greek dog breed, Molossus.

Bordeaux mastiff
Hooch was a Dogue de Bordeaux.


Dogue de Bordeaux Size

The Dogue de Bordeaux is a very large breed. These pooches can range from 120 to over 140 pounds, with males growing larger than females. Females average around 24 inches in height, while males can grow up to 27 inches tall. This muscular dog features a massive head. Proportionately, it is the largest head in the canine family.

The dogs have brute strength that has been harnessed in their use as working dogs throughout history. They were even utilized for pulling carts in centuries past. The American Kennel Club formally recognizes the breed as a member of the working group today. 

three Dogue de Bordeauxs on muddy path
The Dogue de Bordeaux is part of the AKC working group.


Fun Fact

While conceptualizing “Toy Story,” Pixar animators wanted Tom Hanks to be the voice for Woody in the computer-animated movie. In order to sell him on the project, the animators created a test video of Woody, using Hanks’ audio from “Turner & Hooch.” They used the clip as a way to sell Hanks on the project. It led to him accepting his iconic role as Woody in “Toy Story,” which was released six years after “Turner & Hooch.” 

Dogue de Bordeaux Aggressiveness

Dogues de Bordeaux have historically been used for bear and boar hunting, along with protecting their owners. The size and strength of the breed, combined with its fearless nature, made it well-suited for these aggressive tasks.

Today, the dog still maintains an unbreakable loyalty to its owner. Proper training is critically important to ensure the dog does not harm other people or animals it may perceive as a threat to its owner.

The Dogue de Bordeaux will always be protective, but training can rid them of their aggressive tendencies. The dog actually has a laidback personality overall and is a wonderful companion. But this is definitely not a breed for a multi-pet household. It often has little tolerance for other dogs or other animals, such as cats. This dog is for a one-pet household.

The breed’s prey drive is still strong today. It can kill small animals, such as rabbits.

Dogue de Bordeaux or French Mastiff with young woman at outdoor park meadow.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is loving and fiercely loyal to its owner.

©Max4e Photo/Shutterstock.com

Dogue de Bordeaux Shedding and Drooling

The Dogue de Bordeaux is a heavy shedder. Weekly brushing is needed to help maintain a healthy coat. But the shedding is nothing compared to the drooling! This breed drools like no other, as seen in the “Turner & Hooch” movie.

Hooch was actually played by multiple dogs, one of which was named Beasley. In one scene, Beasley’s drool actually ruined the passenger seat of the stakeout car. The seat became so saturated with slobber that Beasley just started sinking into the seat. Production was halted so the seat could be replaced. But it was Beasley’s drool that led to classic scenes such as this one!

Owners of a Dogue de Bordeaux have to deal with all that drool. Because of the dog’s wrinkly face, owners need to check those facial folds every day to make sure they stay dry and free from infection. Oh, and drool-proof car seat covers are highly recommended.

Dog of Dogue de Bordeaux breed breed enjoying combing at the groomer isolated on white
Dogues de Bordeaux are heavy shedders and need weekly brushing.


Fun Fact

The stakeout scene in “Turner & Hooch” was completely improvised. It was just Hanks and Beasley (Hooch) in the car, and there are limits to what you can expect from animal actors. As the film’s director, Roger Spottiswoode, said, “You can’t give Hooch the script. He wasn’t very good at reading.” Instead of scripting the scene, they simply started filming.

In a 2001 interview, Hanks recalled the scene. He said, “I’m staking out a scene of a crime with my dog, Hooch … We had a car on the set that was surrounded by bungee-cams, literally cameras that were hanging from bungee cords. And the whole thing was about, whatever this dog does, I react to. We will not ask the dog to do anything specifically. This dog will just do things … And I will react. That was the hardest I’ve ever worked.”

The scene may have been difficult to film, but the end result was pretty darn funny!

Dogue de Bordeaux Socialization

As part of their training, Dogues de Bordeaux need to be socialized with people outside of their primary household. This socialization is important to reinforce proper, non-aggressive behavior.

These dogs love children, especially those in their household. They quickly become quite protective of the kiddos in their human families. However, they need to be monitored with small children. These dogs weigh 100+ pounds and are immensely powerful. Like most giant dog breeds, they often don’t realize their own size and strength. Keep watch so they don’t unintentionally injure a small child.

A lovely pair of Dogue de Bordeaux with serious muzzles on a walk.
Socialization is critical for Dogues de Bordeaux.


Dogue de Bordeaux Food and Health Issues

In the movie, Hooch was known for his love of beer. In reality, the dog did not drink beer on the set. Producers used chicken soup, which the dog loved.

This should go without saying, but never give a dog alcohol. In fact, Dogues de Bordeaux owners need to closely monitor their dog’s diet. This breed is susceptible to several serious health conditions, many of which are linked to digestive issues.

Gastric dilatation and volvulus (serious bloating) are common. High-quality, legume-free dog food should be the mainstay of the dog’s diet. The breed is also prone to heart disease. Legumes can exacerbate the issue and should be avoided.

As with most large dogs, Dogues de Bordeaux have large appetites. Adults can eat 4 to 7 cups of dry kibble every day. It’s not cheap to feed one of these big boys/girls. They can eat upwards of 50 pounds of food per month.

Bordeaux Mastiff puppy drink water from metal bowl on green summer grass. Empty space for text
Dogues de Bordeaux need a diet of high-quality, legume-free dog food.

©Ermolaev Alexander/Shutterstock.com

Dogue de Bordeaux Lifespan

Most large dog breeds have short lifespans. Dogues de Bordeaux sadly take that to an extreme. The average lifespan for this big dog is only five to eight years.

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The Featured Image

Dogue de Bordeaux close-up view
© Seregraff/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

A freelance writer in Cincinnati, OH, Mike is passionate about the natural world. He, his wife, and their two sons love the outdoors, especially camping and exploring US National Parks. A former pastor, he also writes faith-based content to encourage and inspire. And, for reasons inexplicable, Mike allows Cincinnati sports teams to break his heart every year.

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