ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Bloodhound

Bloodhound dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Bloodhound is perhaps most famous for the breed’s excellent sense of smell, with many successful search and rescue missions under their belt. The breed was historically prized for their ability to track game, escaped criminals and missing people. Even today, the Bloodhound is used extensively in the police and law enforcement for search and rescue purposes.

The Bloodhounds are not only career minded dogs; many of them are part of loving families. Sometimes portrayed in the media as a lazy breed, the Bloodhounds are anything but. They have high energy and stamina levels due to their history as trackers — they were known to track a scent for miles on end.

Even as a pet, the Bloodhounds need plenty of exercise in the form of very long daily walks and runs. The breed requires a fenced yard, since their sense of smell is so strong they’ve been known to follow the trail with no regard for their own safety. Intent on their mission, they could possibly put themselves in harm’s way.

Bloodhounds are extremely intelligent and equipped with a stubborn streak. They could be challenging to train, as they don’t like to be bossed around and often believe they know better. However, they make an amazing family pet. They are very loving and affectionate towards their family members, and especially gentle and adoring with children. They also get along with cats and other dogs. Some individuals might show dominance towards smaller dogs.

In fact, the Bloodhound has many talents but they make a terrible watchdog or a guard dog. They love everybody and consider everybody as their pals. Thus, intruders might become their best friends and get away with your TV and other belongings.

The breed is a quite popular as a pet, ranking 45th most popular dog breed in the world.

Breed characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityHigh
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog breed group:Working Hound dogs
Height:23-27 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:80-160 lb.
Life span:10-12 years
Main Highlights
  • Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria were known to have and love the breed, helping the Bloodhound’s popularity.
  • The breed is believed to be at least 1000 years old, dating back to William The Conqueror.
  • Although most Bloodhounds cap out at 100 lb., some individuals were known to weight a staggering 160 lb.
  • Bloodhounds are more prone to skin conditions and ear infections due to their wrinkles and the shape of the ear. They require regular maintenance and care.
  • They have an extraordinary sense of smell, and are well-known for it, serving in military, police, and search and rescue organizations.
  • The Bloodhounds were known to track scents for 100 miles for days on end.
  • Their nose is so reliable, some courts will accept their testimony as evidence.
  • The Bloodhounds don’t fully mature until 1-2 years and can be quite a handful while they are puppies.
  • Despite their elegant stance, they are known to drool, slobber and snore.
Breed History

The breed’s past has a rich history as it is believed they are close to 1000 years old. Their ancestors originated at the Abbey of Saint Hubert in Belgium and were called Saint Huberts. The ancestors had similar affinity for tracking wild game and missing people, and were highly prized for it. It is thought that the Saint Huberts were brought from Normandy by William the Conqueror in 1066.

The Bloodhounds got their name from being able to follow the scent of blood so closely and also for being kept by society’s nobles and aristocrats. Therefore, they were known as pure blooded and the finest bred dogs.

Their popularity fluctuated over the years due to wars and changes in society. However, at periods when hunting was the thing to do for society’s richest and finest, the Bloodhounds were some of the more prized breeds. Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria were known fans of the Bloodhounds, which helped their popularity, until World War II which wreaked havoc on most breeds, the Bloodhounds included. They were almost extinct at that point.

They were introduced in the United States in mid 1800s and Benjamin Franklin has been known to express interest in them to track rebellious Indians. The Bloodhounds were also thought to be the breed that tracked runaway slaves before and during the Civil War.

To this day, the Bloodhounds serve in active duties in the police and military forces, as well as search and rescue organizations. In fact, as mentioned earlier, some courts will accept their findings as evidence and testimony.

Size

The large breed measures 23-27 inches tall at the shoulders, weighing in at 80-110 lb. with some individuals weighing up to a staggering 160 lb. Females are generally smaller as with most breeds.

Personality and Character

The Bloodhounds are a versatile breed as they serve both as working dogs and are kept as family pets by many loving enthusiasts. The breed definitely has a distinctive personality — they can be single minded when tracking a scent and refuse to acknowledge any of the handler’s commands.

They are a very active breed and they require daily walks and can be excellent jogging partners, as the breed is used to tracking a scent over extended periods of time and many miles. They will make a fine addition to an active family.

The breed needs constant physical and mental stimulation. Without it, they quickly become bored and destructive, chewing everything in sight. Bloodhounds do not make a good apartment dog as they need to stay active and have access to a secured fenced yard. Secured and fenced are the key words for this breed — because of their breeding, they will take off the second they get a whiff of something interesting. They could possibly put themselves in danger, not paying attention to their surroundings.

They absolutely love people which makes them a most desirable family pet, as they are well mannered and friendly towards everyone. For this same reason, they make horrible guard dogs as they may befriend intruders or undesired strangers.

They love children, and get along with other family pets. Some individuals were observed to be rather cross with smaller dog breeds. It is interesting to note, that perhaps the Bloodhounds are extremely friendly due to the fact that they never participated in the kill during the hunt. Their only job was to track.

The Bloodhounds could prove to be a challenge to train as they are highly independent and intelligent. They don’t like to be told what to do, thus they will do well with a consistent and firm handler.

Health and Potential Problems

Generally a healthy breed, they are known to be prone to skin problems, due to their wrinkles. These could be avoidable with a proper upkeep of the coat.

Their distinctive features leave them exposed to irresponsible breeding. This makes them vulnerable to health and behavioural problems. So, before purchasing or adopting a puppy or a dog, please make sure the shelter or the breeder understands the breed’s mentality and cares deeply about the well-being of their dogs or puppies. Never purchase a dog or a puppy from a puppy mill, and make sure they have been checked by a vet.

Most popular health issues are:

  • Fold Dermatitis- A skin infection that can be prevented by proper care and regular maintenance of the coat. The infection is caused by trapped moisture in the wrinkles or friction of the skin folds. Symptoms may be sores, foul odour or redness. Is usually treated with creams or ointments, antibiotics, or in severe cases with surgery.
  • Bloat- a common condition in large dogs, caused when the dog eats or drinks too fast, or is exercised right after a meal. The stomach is filled with gas or air. Due to dog’s inability to dispel the excess air or gas by belching or vomiting, the stomach could possibly twist on itself. Symptoms may include restlessness, weakness, abnormal drooling, and inability to throw up. Without immediate veterinary intervention, the condition may be life threatening.
  • Elbow Dysplasia- A common condition in large breeds, it is caused by multiple different growth rates of the elbow bones, may cause discomfort and pain. The condition is typically treated with pain medication or dietary adjustments for weight management. In severe cases it can be corrected surgically.
  • Hip Dysplasia- A hereditary condition common in large breeds, a condition in which the thigh bone doesn’t fit properly into the hip joint. May cause lameness and pain. In severe cases may be surgically corrected.
  • Hypothyroidism- A condition in which the body is unable to maintain proper thyroid hormone levels. May cause dry skin, baldness, and weight gain. The condition is usually managed with medications.
  • Entropion- An eye condition that may affect one or both eyes, causing the eyelid to roll inward, in some cases injuring or irritating the eyeballs. Severe cases it can be surgically corrected.
  • Ectropion- a condition affecting the eyes, causing the eyelid to sag or roll out. May cause an infection or irritation as the eye is left exposed. In severe cases it may be surgically corrected.

With proper nutrition, regular exercise and regular vet visits, your companion will remain by your side for years to come.

Care Features

The Bloodhounds are a complex and interesting breed to observe. They have many wonderful traits but they also require a lot of work and can be a handful at time.

They are independent and possess high levels of energy and stamina therefore they need to be exercised daily. A secure fence is key as they tend to go off as soon as they get a whiff of an interesting scent, and tend to follow it with disregard for their own safety. Leash training is also very important for the same reason.

Crate training is also highly recommended, as Bloodhounds are avid chewers and will chew on anything and everything. The crate also provides the dog with a safe space they can retire to when tired, and it will save you from replacing most of your possession when you’re away. Crate training also comes in useful when house training the puppy.

As with all other breeds, early socialization is very important to a well-rounded adult. Introduce your puppy to many different environments, places, people, children and other pets. Early socialization will prevent the Bloodhound from becoming a timid adult.

The young Bloodhound puppies could be quite a handful. They are busy, bouncy, always on the move and into everything. The good news is that they are easy to house train and with proper care and guidance will grow up to be a rather mellow companion. The bad news is that they tend to mature slowly and the males don’t hit puberty until they are 1-2 years old.

The Bloodhounds love everybody and everything — the mailman, the garbage guy, stray cats, friends, family and possibly unwelcome visitors to the house. For this reason they don’t make a great watch dog or a guard dog. They do however make excellent family pets. They especially love the attention they get from children.

Obedience might prove a slight challenge as they are very intelligent and don’t particularly like being told what to do. The Bloodhounds do well with a firm, consistent and calm handler that can set clear boundaries and follow them. Any harsh training or handling should be avoided, as the they are very sensitive to it and are known pouters as a result.

One way to occupy this busy body is participating in tracking events. The Bloodhound will feel right at home and will love every minute of it. It could prove quite fascinating to observe this powerful breed at work.

Feeding Schedule

Each dog’s nutritional needs depend on their age, size and activity level. The Bloodhounds being a large active breed, will require 4-8 cups of high quality, no grain fillers, rich in meat protein, dry dog food.

It is important to note that the breed is prone to bloat, a condition which occurs when the dog eats or drinks too fast or is exercised after a meal. The air or gas trapped in the stomach may cause it to twist on itself. It could be a potentially life threatening condition without immediate vet intervention. Special food dishes designed to slow the consumption of food or water for this specific purpose are readily available at any pet store.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The coat is smooth, thin, loose and short so the Bloodhounds are not excessive shedders. Common colours are red, tan, black and liver.

The coat needs to be brushed weekly with regular trips to a grooming facility. It is important to keep their wrinkles clean and moisture free as they are prone to skin conditions more than other breeds. The unique shape of the ear also requires regular maintenance and care to avoid frequent ear infections.

They have a distinct hound odour and are known slobbers, and tend to snore and drool.

Children And Other Pets

The Bloodhounds adore children and they are very gentle and affectionate with them. They are an extremely patient and forgiving breed towards children and will take a lot from them.

It is important to teach children the proper behaviour and respect towards any animal. Play time between animals and children should be supervised at all times, any ear or tail pulling should be discouraged immediately.

Toddlers might find the Bloodhound a little overwhelming strictly due to their large size.

Bloodhounds are generally very well-mannered especially if properly socialized from a young age. They get along well with other dogs and cats.

They are one-of-a-kind breed and can be a handful at times due to their stubbornness and independence, but they are truly a delight to have around. This versatile breed can be found working hard in law enforcement and military, or in search and rescue organizations, where they get to be the star of the show, relentlessly tracking missing people, children, and pets, as well as escaped criminals.

They can also be found in many homes, relaxing by the fire place with their beloved families. They will chew, snore and drool their way into your heart but they also require special care of their wrinkles and ears to avoid infections due to their unique shape.

The Bloodhounds need daily exercise, and make an excellent running or hiking partner. This beautiful breed requires a fenced yard and a good leash so that their noses don’t lead them in harm’s way.

A strong-willed breed, the Bloodhound loves their family unconditionally; as a matter of fact they love everybody. Most of them don’t have an aggressive bone in their body. If you captured the heart of the Bloodhound, consider yourself lucky, as you gained a loyal, intelligent and devoted companion.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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