mâtin et dogue d'Ulm


New Member
Le chien jaune by Georges Simenon, describing the titular dog, says:

"... sa grosse tête rappelle à la fois le mâtin et le dogue d'Ulm."

I am familiar with dogue meaning mastiff (or any big dog with a mastiff-y head) and the WR dictionary confirms it. A few online dictionaries translate mâtin as mastiff as well. (Mâtin does not appear in the WR dictionary.) However, judging by the context, it seems that Simenon is expecting his readers to have two distinct, contrasting mental images for mâtin and dogue d'Ulm and to be surprised that one dog's head could evoke both.

There is some discussion here^H^H^H^H somewhere online saying that some dictionaries translate mâtin as "hunting hound." The only other clue my googling turned up is a sculpture titled "Dogue d'Ulm" in a public park in Brussels. Simenon grew up in Liège rather than Brussels, but perhaps he knew the sculpture. According to the description I linked^H^H^H^H^H^H didn't link, the sculpture is known commonly as Le Chien Vert — coincidence? To complicate things even more, the sculpture looks more like a hound than a mastiff, but the description of the sculpture describes it as depicting a "dogue."


P.S. I would like to have provided you the links, but WR prefers to make you look up my references yourself since I might be spamming you. What crude system. Anyway, just google for "dogue d'Ulm" and "mâtin."
  • Uncle Bob

    Senior Member
    British English
    The French Wikipedia has a short page on "mâtin" and lists m. de Naples, m estagnol, m des Pyrenées and m. belge. It says it is translated as "mastiff".
    For the "dogue d'Ulm" I found a site (here) (Great Danes) which says:
    "Iron Chancellor of Bismarck...further developed the breed by crossing the mastiffs of south Germany with the Great Danes of north Germany.... Their first show was in 1863 in two different breed names: Ulmer Dogge and Danisch Dogge... in 1877 they were shown in Britain under the name of Siberian or Ulm Dog." (My bold)


    New Member
    Thanks! Searching for "mâtin belge" yielded a photograph of a dog from a mâtin belge breeding program, as well as some older photographs and illustrations. They look very different from mastiffs. The line from the book makes perfect sense if mâtin means mâtin belge and dogue d'Ulm ​ means something like a Great Dane.
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