Bloodhound

Just how reliable is a Bloodhound? So much, that courts allow evidence from their scent tracking techniques to be admissible in court. In fact, the breed is the first animal ever to have that ability.

That’s quite the accomplishment. Yet, the breed has a long history of using their scenting talents in different times and places. But that shouldn’t define the total legacy of the Bloodhound. 

Bloodhounds are wonderful companions. They are so easy going, that it’s common to see one slouching about the couch.

So what is that makes this breed such a great pet?

Here is what you need to know about the Bloodhound.

History

There are several accounts that lead us to believe this breed has been around at least since the 1300’s. Although evidence is lacking, there are references to the breed in 14th century English literature.

Most scholars do believe that the breed descends from hounds bred by a French Monk during the 7th century. These hounds were originally bred to hunt deer and wild boar. St Hubert’s Abbey, which is now Belgium, would put hounds on a leash to find and track down animals on the hunting trail.

In addition to the use of Bloodhounds on a leash, many speculate that the Normans brought them over to England during the post conquest. This would make sense if the French monks were sending hounds to the King of France around 1200. However, there isn’t much concrete proof that those hounds are the Bloodhound we know today. 

There are stories out of Medieval Scotland that indicate Bloodhounds were tracking down people in the 14th and 15th century. In the 16th century, a man  by the name of John Caius notes and describes a breed similar to the Bloodhound. Caius, a famous English physician, describes the long hanging ears and trademark lips. Equally important, he goes on to detail that the hounds could track the foot scent of thieves. Of course, Caius is describing the English version of the breed, “Sleuth Hounds.” 

To further illustrate the importance of the sleuth hound at the end of the 16th century, it is said that anyone who wouldn’t allow the entry of the sleuth hound in pursuit of a thief, subsequently became an accomplice in the crime.

Returning to Caius in the mid 1500’s, it appears that the English physician sent drawings of British dogs to European readers, and one of those dog was the “Englischen Bluthund.” These drawings may be the first illustration of the breed.

Historians do know that the famous chemist, Robert Boyle, was the first to describe an official trial of the Bloodhound. In fact, Boyle details how the breed could track a man or fugitive for several miles effectively. The particular story Boyle is referring to was a Bloodhound tracking one man along a busy route resulting in the discovery of the fugitive or man in an upstairs house.

Bloodhounds were on the decline during the 18th century due to a shift in hunting. Most breeders had different needs for hunting fox and deer. In fact, the extinction of boar hunting left the Bloodhound without much purpose, aside from a few deer parks and aristocrat owners.

The 19th century was a mix of good and bad for the Bloodhound. Exports to America would prove to save the breed in the long run, as well as exports to European countries like France. France was looking to re-establish their St. Hubert hound population using the breed. Today, the French regard the Bloodhound as the Chiens de S. Hubert. 

Meanwhile, in the U.S.  during the 1800’s, the breed did quite well for itself. In 1885, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed. In 1962, thanks to the successful use of the breed finding lost people and trailing criminals, the National Police Bloodhound Association established itself.

Today, the Bloodhound is one of the most famous faces of the canine community. One of the most resourceful breeds that law enforcement has the pleasure in working. According to the American Kennel Club, Bloodhounds are the 52nd most popular breed.

Size

The American Kennel Club states different standards for male and female Bloodhounds. As a large breed, males can stand anywhere from 25-27 inches. Females can range from 23 to 25 inches.

Males should weigh between 90 to 110 pounds, as females can weigh 80 to 100 pounds.

Personality/Temperament

As a medium energy breed, the Bloodhound will do better in bigger spaces. This isn’t the best breed for an apartment. They do like getting outdoors and using their magical nose to roam about. Bloodhounds are an inquisitive breed that needs access to the outside.

If you know someone who owns this breed, they can probably tell you numerous stories on their dog eating and chewing odd foreign objects. This is where they may get into trouble. Of course, you can hinder that by keeping certain items like the remote out of reach.

As a loving and affectionate breed, the Bloodhound is very good with children. Probably more patient and tolerant of a smaller child’s behavior than most smaller breeds. They also appear to be tolerant of other pets namely dogs. Perhaps it’s best to get an opposite sex canine companion. With early socialization, the Bloodhound should do just fine with cats.

Sometimes they can be shy with strangers, and they do make infamously terrible watchdogs. Why? Well, that’s because the giant is a gentle beast, that is more of a lover than a fighter. Although they may scare people away, they don’t make the best guard dogs. Most Bloodhounds seem to be friendly and adapting to strangers. 

They will protect their master and family. Don’t let the shy or reserve nature with strangers fool you. This is a breed that is in love with their family. Bloodhounds will shower you with love and non-stop affection. Once they open up, that’s it and watch out.

Finally, with regards to their temperament, if you give this dog a job expect an effort of 100 percent. Many breeders will tell you that the Bloodhound takes their mission, task or job intensely and seriously. Slouches inside the home, once the Bloodhound gets outside, they become a whole new breed.

Health

Sadly, the life of a Bloodhound is a rather short one. A 2004 UK Kennel Club survey lists the average life span to be 6.75 years. Moreover, a 2013 survey found the average death of 14 Bloodhounds to be 8.25 years. Regardless, the AKC list the breed’s life expectancy from 7 to 9 years.

One of the leading killers a Bloodhound most likely battles is Bloat. According to a Purdue University report, the Bloodhound is the third most likely breed to suffer from Gastric Torsion behind the Akita and Great Dane. In particular, Bloat took 34% of 82 Bloodhounds, according to that 2004 study.

Cancer was another leading candidate of death for the breed at 27 percent, according to the same study.

Another common issue with the Bloodhound is Hip Dysplasia. In fact, the breed has a very high occurrence rate of 26 percent. This disorder is one of the most common genetic disorder found in Bloodhounds. The disorder is a malformation of the hip joint which causes pain and discomfort At times, if the condition worsens, it can lead to arthritis.

Most hounds seem to suffer from Hypothyroidism, and the Bloodhound is no exception. Moreover, 15 percent of Bloodhounds have low thyroid levels, which results in a slower metabolism, according to the numbers from Michigan State University.

Allergies, ear infections and abnormalities with the eyes are all areas of concern with the Bloodhound. 

When you buy from a breeder make sure they are reputable and can provide you with the proper documentation and health clearances. Also, routine visits with the veterinarian will help maintain your dog’s health for the longer run with coordinating a plan.

Care

The Bloodhound comes with some maintenance. For example, the wrinkles on their face need cleaning on a daily basis, especially if you have a working dog. Infections and bacterial build up can fester in those infamous wrinkles, so it’s best to keep an eye out for that. The same can be said for their ears, which are long and soft to the touch. Inspect routinely to make sure everything is on the up.

A Bloodhound needs someone who is firm and consistent. They need a positive hand and early socialization. Positive reinforcement techniques work the best in training your dog to be a social pet. This will help the breed grow into a friendly companion towards fellow pets and family members.

They do need interaction and attention. The Bloodhound thrives on communication with their pack leader. Children are great fits for the breed but you must keep an eye out on your kiddos due to the dog’s imposing structure. Accidentally, the Bloodhound can cause damage.

There may be some room for prey drive, although it’s not common. You may want to stay alert for your smaller pets around the Bloodhound.

Bloodhounds should have ample amount of space to exercise. They do enjoy walks and sniffing out during their excursions. This breed should live indoors but have easy access to the outside world.

Ultimately, this is a breed that loves to have a purpose. You give them a job or a role, then you have yourself a happy Bloodhound.

Feeding

Feeding your Bloodhound takes discipline and careful focus. Due to their inclination towards Bloat, you will want to make sure you are spacing out your meals. Most breeds are fine with two meals broken up per day. You may want to consider the practice of three meals per day. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to start as a puppy.

Most recommend feeding your Bloodhound anywhere between 4 to 8 cups of high quality dry kibble per day. Meat should be their first ingredient and a protein intake of 28-32 percent should suffice.

Omega fatty acids are great for their coat and skin. Taurine enhances their heart health. 

As always, you should leave your Bloodhound fresh drinking water.

Coat

The Bloodhound has a distinct coat odor, which some can handle and others resent. If you resent the odor, then consider bathing when necessary. 

The coat of this breed is easy to care for, that is loose and thin but hard to the touch.

Weekly brushing helps reduce the amount of dead hair from getting all over. It also helps keep your dog’s coat look at its best.

There are no markings but the coat can come in three colors. According to the American Kennel Club, black and tan, red, liver and tan are suitable for this breed.

Fun Bloodhound Facts

  • The Bloodhound is responsible for the birth of the Black and Tan Coonhound.
  • Perhaps the most famous of this breed, a hound by the name of, Nick Carter, famously would assist finding over 650 people.
  • A Bloodhound, Duke, was one of the biggest stars on the show, Beverely Hillbillies.
  • Bloodhounds were favorites for famous artist drawings in the 19th century including the works of Edwin Landseer and Briton Riviere.
  • Most canine historians believe the Bloodhound to be one of the most ancient breeds today. 

Closing Words

As one of the oldest breeds that are still around, the Bloodhound has given dog lovers and historians plenty to talk about.

First, as one of the most effective law enforcement dogs, if not, the most effective, Bloodhounds have been responsible for helping  and saving so many people’s lives. Talk about an impact.

In addition to being such a great scent hound, Bloodhounds make for a great friend, that is loyal and a trustworthy companion for the entire family.

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