The Bloodhound is one of the largest scent hounds and has been sniffing out deer, wild boar, and people since the Middle Ages. Most likely descended from hounds kept at the Abbey of Saint-Hubert in Belgium, the breed is famed for its keen sense of smell and ability to discern scent trails that are up to several days old. Paired with a tenacious tracking drive, Bloodhounds are the ideal super-sleuths and are utilized by law enforcement agencies all over the world to find missing people and pets.
Originally recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885, today the Bloodhound is ranked number 49 in popularity of the 193 AKC-recognized breeds and categorized in the Hound Group.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BLOODHOUND
What characteristics define the Bloodhound? Read on to discover what physical attributes and personality traits make the Bloodhound such a unique breed.
Bloodhounds are easily identified by their large size, long, wrinkled face, and droopy ears. The short, dense coat can be Black and Tan, Liver and Tan or Red. The skin is loose, hanging in deep folds around the head and neck. Eyes are deeply sunk in the sockets, with drooping lower lids, and should be deep hazel to yellow in color. Ears are extremely long and soft to the touch. The loose skin and long ears work together to funnel scents from the ground up to the Bloodhound’s famous nose. Bloodhounds sport an unusually large skeletal structure, and as a result, most of their weight is concentrated in their bones.
Male bloodhounds should weigh between 90 and 110 lbs, standing approximately 25 to 27 inches high at the withers (top of the shoulder). Females are 80 to 100 lbs and between 23 and 25 inches high.
The Bloodhound is a contradiction of temperament. They are equally capable of hogging the couch all day at home but also running several miles on the trail, determined to follow a scent. Bloodhounds’ mellow, easy-going attitude makes them a great family pet in the home as long as you don’t mind a little drool. Their gentle nature extends to a tolerance of children and their purpose as a dog bred to hunt in packs has rendered them dog-friendly as well. Bloodhounds can get along with other types of pets well if properly introduced at a young age.
Once outside though, hunting instincts take over and this head-strong, intelligent breed can be very difficult to call off of a scent. Bloodhounds should be kept on a leash or in a well-secured backyard, as their tendency to wander off chasing game can lead to getting lost.
Bloodhounds have a life expectancy of 10-12 years.
CARING FOR A BLOODHOUND
Understanding and maintaining a Bloodhound’s particular needs will lead to a longer, healthier life for your dog and a more enjoyable partnership for both dog and owner. Read on to learn more about the nutrition, exercise, training, and health requirements of a thriving Bloodhound to ascertain whether this is the right breed for you.
Bloodhounds thrive on high-quality dog food specially formulated for large breeds with high energy and exercise requirements. Diets should be appropriately tailored to an individual based on age (puppy, senior, etc) and activity level. Many dog foods have serving suggestions on their packaging, but monitoring food intake and body condition, as well as consulting with your veterinarian, are all simple ways to make sure your dog is receiving the nutrition he or she requires.
Bloodhounds require moderate exercise each day to maintain optimum health, such as a long walk or jog with a family member. These hounds were bred to hunt and, as a result, can run several miles without tiring and have a strong instinct to chase prey and follow scent trails. As a result Bloodhounds should always be leashed on walks. Consider a leash that prevents pulling to make walks more enjoyable for both you and your companion. Yards need to have tall, sturdy fencing as Bloodhounds are accomplished diggers and escape artists. Another obvious option for exercise is the kinds of hunting trips for which they have been bred, field competitions, or scent work contests.
The Bloodhound is a working dog. With the high-energy requirements characteristic of the breed as well as their large size, training and socialization during puppyhood are essential. Consistent training and patience are key to successfully raising a well-behaved Bloodhound. Puppy classes are a great way to start training and socializing a new Bloodhound puppy early on. At a minimum, your Bloodhound should learn basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, and come.
Bloodhounds are typically intelligent but have a stubborn streak, so regular training is necessary and owners need to be comfortable taking charge. Training using positive reinforcement techniques works best with Bloodhounds, so be sure to utilize treats and praise often. The affectionate and devoted Bloodhound is also independent and stubborn, so a trainer needs patience, skill, and consistency.
Bloodhounds left alone for long periods of time can resort to undesirable behaviors such as chewing. Some of these behaviors can be mitigated by providing access to puzzles and interactive toys, as well as crate training your Bloodhound when you are away from home.
Although generally healthy, some Bloodhounds suffer from bloat and skin/ear infections.
Bloat is a common though life-threatening occurrence in most large, deep-chested dog breeds and is the number one cause of death in Bloodhounds. Know the symptoms and causes of bloat to identify the problem and quickly seek medical attention.
Checking and cleaning ears and skin folds weekly can prevent many infections stemming from the accumulation of dirt buildup.
The Bloodhound’s short, dense coat only sheds once or twice a year. To keep the coat healthy, they should be brushed once a week with a dog brush to remove dead hair, promote new growth, and evenly distribute skin oils. Bloodhounds should be bathed regularly, but even then will have a distinct “hound odor”.
Other breeds similar to the Bloodhound include:
- Hanoverian Scenthound
- Transylvanian Hound
- Black and Tan Coonhound
- Bavarian Mountain Scent Hound
- Bluetick Coonhound