The Bloodhound is one of the oldest of Hound breeds. They are believed to have been originally bred by monks in Belgium and were originally used to hunt deer and wild boar. They were taken to England by the Normans in 1066, and from there made their way to the United States. In spite of their name, these dogs were not aggressive; historically the term “blood” referred to animals of good breeding. Hence, the Bloodhound was the “hound of pure or noble blood”.
Bloodhounds are very tenacious trackers, and will follow a scent for hours and even days without giving up. They have been used over many years to track animals, criminals and people that have been lost. In the US, their ‘testimony’ is taken as evidence in a court of law, however the English were the first to use a Bloodhound in law enforcement back in 1805.
This breed was recognized by the AKC in 1885.
The Bloodhound is a big solid dog, weighing as much as 170lb (62kg), and growing up to 27 inches (69cm) tall. There are only 3 color choices: black and tan, liver and tan, and red. Their coat is short, and has a harsh texture.
Loose skin hangs in folds particularly around the head and neck, and they have long drooping ears. In fact, they can look quite mournful. Don’t be surprised to see strings of drool hanging from the side of their mouth.
Bloodhounds are extremely affectionate, loyal and gentle. They are trustworthy and are wonderful with children. They are so patient and even tempered that they will lie there and put up with almost anything, so it is up to you to make sure that children learn how to treat your dog with respect.
This is a very social breed and they thrive on attention. No outdoor kennels for them – they want to be inside the house, and a part of the family. They do not adapt to the solitary life well at all! The Bloodhound is easy to live with, as long as the rules have been established early and reinforced frequently.
Although the Bloodhound is easy to train, they can be very distractable. If they catch a scent, it may be almost impossible to get their attention back on you. This means that a Bloodhound should never be let off leash unless they are in a safe enclosed area – they could follow their nose into danger.
Bloodhounds can make great watchdogs, and will bark to let you know that something is not right. Often, their size and deep bark are enough to deter any would-be intruders.
This breed is at great risk of bloat, a potentially fatal swelling of the stomach which often follows a big meal. Ideally, feed your Bloodhound several small meals a day instead of one large meal. Don’t let them take a big drink of water after your walk; encourage them to have a small drink, then go back for more. Most importantly, restrict exercise for at least an hour after meals.
Hip and elbow dysplasia also occur in the Bloodhound. Responsible breeders will test their breeding dogs before they are mated, and only breed those dogs with good hip and elbow scores.
Loose skin around the face can predispose to eye problems, and they are also prone to ear disease.
Bloodhounds require a good size yard that is fully fenced, and fenced well! They enjoy a long daily walk, and will hike with you for hours. Make sure you limit their exercise until they are 12 months of age; this will help to prevent any problems with their growing bones.
Obedience training is a must. These clever dogs need something to do with their mind. They can be stubborn and independent, so start training them from a young age and they will be much easier to live with. They respond best to gentle handling and positive training methods, so avoid yelling at your Bloodhound, or handling them harshly.
Ideally, give your suburban Bloodhound the opportunity to do what they were bred to do. Many dog clubs or trainers will teach tracking, and your Bloodhound will thoroughly enjoy using their nose to follow a scent trail. This type of work will not only tire him out physically, it will also leave him mentally weary as his mind has been working overtime to keep on the trail.
A daily brush will keep your Bloodhound’s short coat gleaming. They don’t need frequent baths at all. However, their ears need to be cleaned regularly because they can get covered in drool, and they are often inadvertently dipped in the dinner bowl. This also applies to the folds in their facial skin which can accumulate dirt, food scraps and drool.
The Bloodhound is not the right breed for everyone. They require consistent training, and daily exercise. You will never be able to let your dog off leash for a run, unless you are in a safe, fenced area.
Bloodhounds are low maintenance, but they need their face wiped on a daily basis. If you don’t like to deal with drool, this is not your breed.
Apartment living doesn’t suit these dogs, they prefer a back yard to explore. They are the perfect family pet and like nothing more than being surrounded by the people they love.
If you would enjoy a loving, loyal, albeit stubborn companion, and you have the time to put into training and grooming them, the Bloodhound might be your perfect match. Unfortunately, these dogs don’t live long at all. A 2004 survey in the UK found that the Bloodhound lived on average under 7 years. That is just too short for such an enjoyable companion.