The world famous “Sleuth Hound” does one thing better than any creature on earth: find people who are lost or hiding. An off-duty Bloodhound is among the canine kingdom’s most docile citizens, but he’s relentless and stubborn on scent.
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 52 of 192
- Height: 25-27 inches (male), 23-25 inches (female)
- Weight: 90-110 pounds (male), 80-100 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
- Group: Hound Group
About the Bloodhound
Bloodhounds are large, substantial dogs standing 23 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 110 pounds. Their most famous features are a long, wrinkled face with loose skin; huge, drooping ears; and warm, deep-set eyes that complete an expression of solemn dignity. Coat colors can be black and tan, liver and tan, or red. Powerful legs allow Bloodhounds to scent over miles of punishing terrain.
As pack dogs, Bloodhounds enjoy company, including other dogs and kids. They are easygoing, but their nose can sometimes lead them into trouble. A strong leash and long walks in places where they can enjoy sniffing around are recommended. Bloodhounds are droolers, and obedience training these sensitive sleuths can be a challenge.
There is little known about Bloodhound origins, but some authorities say the breed was known around the ancient Mediterranean. In his “Historia Animalium,” the third-century scholar Aelian mentions a hound of unrivaled scenting powers, so intensely devoted to his work that he could not be pulled off the trail until his quarry was found. The Bloodhound, then, appears to be oldest extant hound that hunts by scent and is a contributor to the development of subsequent hound breeds, such as the Black and Tan Coonhound and the other coonhound varieties.
Bloodhounds as we know them were perfected in Western Europe about a thousand years ago. Credit for the careful development of the breed goes to high-ranking members of the pre-Reformation church. In medieval times, when even bishops rode to hounds, many prominent princes of the church maintained packs of hounds on the grounds of the well-funded monasteries of England and France. So careful were the monks charged with executing the bishop’s breeding program that their hounds came to be known as “blooded hounds” —“blooded” meaning “of aristocratic blood.”
During the centuries since, the noble Bloodhound has earned a reputation as a man-trailer without equal. Police departments around the world have relied on these muscular, single-minded hounds to follow the scent of humans—maybe a criminal, or a lost child, or a confused senior. An assignment might last all day and night, over hills and through swamps, but Bloodhounds won’t give up until they follow the trail to the end. Even in these days of high-technology, no scenting device yet invented is as accurate as the Bloodhound nose.
The Bloodhound should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
The Bloodhound has a short, dense coat that is shed once or twice a year. Weekly brushing with a medium-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove will remove the dead hair before it can fall onto the furniture. Brushing also promotes new hair growth and distributes skin oils throughout the coat to keep it healthy. Bloodhounds should be bathed regularly to keep them from developing a doggy odor. As with all breeds, the Bloodhound’s nails should be trimmed regularly.
The popular misconception is that Bloodhounds spend their days lazing on the front porch. The truth is that the Bloodhound, who was bred to follow a scent for hours on end, is an active dog who requires daily exercise. He will benefit from long daily walks—always on a leash, as he may not respond to commands if he has found a scent to follow. Additional exercise time can come in the backyard, which must be securely fenced because Bloodhounds are great diggers and escape artists.
As with all breeds, early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. With a Bloodhound, it’s best to start obedience classes early; they tend to become set in their ways, and it’s better if the behaviors they hold onto for a lifetime are the behaviors the owner wants. Bloodhounds like to take charge, so an owner needs to be firm but kind. Training that involves positive rewards, such as treats and praise, is usually effective. The Bloodhound is affectionate and devoted and also stubborn and independent, so his training requires patience, consistency, and skill.
Like other large, deep-chested dogs, Bloodhounds can experience bloat. Bloodhound owners should educate themselves to recognize the symptoms of this life-threatening condition, and know what to do should it happen. Bloodhounds are notorious for eating anything and everything, which can often lead to vet visits. The Bloodhound’s low-hanging ears should be checked daily for any sign of infection. In addition, check the Bloodhound’s skin wrinkles daily for odor or irritation, and if needed wipe with a warm, wet cloth and then dry thoroughly. As with all breeds, a Bloodhound’s teethshould be brushed regularly.