She was part of the Cerbère-class an improved version by Dupuy de Lôme of the Tareau-class with as sister ships the Belier, Bouledogue and the Tigre. The Cerbère was laid down at Brest on 14 September 1875, launched 23 April 1868, completed in October 1868 and stricken in 1887. These vessels possessed a wooden hull and a turtle shaped deck with a aft ship beak shaped.
The armour of wrought iron consisted of a 7-8.7” belt (220mm thick on a 800mm thick layer of wood) while the turret was protected by 7”. According to Conways with a displacement of 3,532 tons were the dimensions of these rams 65,56 (between perpendiculars) x 1640 x 5,66 metres. (maximum). According to Von Kronenfels with a displacement of 3,403 tons (design) and 3,510-3,758 tons in service were her dimensions 66,00 (waterline) x 16,19 (maximum) x 5,50 (design)-5,55/5,82 (full load) fore and aft 5,40 (design)-5,82/5,97 (full load) metres. Hold at keel was 5,37 metres. Proportion length: beam was 4:08. The gun turret was placed on third of the ships’ length and had a diameter of 18,6 metres. The armament consisted of 2-9.4” (24cm) guns later strengthened by 4-1pdr revolver guns and off course a spur ram of 10’. The engines and 6 oval boilers supplied 1,800 ihp (Conways) or 1,530 (Von Kronenfels which also said that the Tigre had 1,880 ihp) allowing a speed of 12-12,5 knots (Conways) or 11,39 knots (Von Kronenfels) and 79,80 revolutions (Von Kronenfels) with a coal bunker capacity of 180 tons. Her crew numbered 159 men.