Bloodhound Dog History, Health And Care
Introduction Of Bloodhound Dog
The Bloodhound, also known as the Chien de Saint-Hubert and the St. Hubert Hound, is the oldest and largest breed of hounds that hunt entirely by scent. It has also been called the Sleuth Hound, Sleughhound, Sleuth Dog, Slot Hound, Slough Dog, Slughound, Sluithound and Sluth Hound. Whatever it is called, the Bloodhound is one of the most docile and gentle of all canine breeds. It is said that “no nose knows like the Bloodhound’s nose.” His unrivaled ability to follow even the faintest scent always ends when he has followed the trail to its logical termination; unlike a police- or military-trained dog, he will not apprehend or hold his quarry and is more likely to lick it than to bite it. The Bloodhound’s tracking ability is so remarkable and reliable that the end-result of his efforts has been accepted as evidence by many courts of law. According to the American Kennel Club, some of the great Bloodhounds in this country have brought about more convictions for police departments than have the best human detectives. One famous Bloodhound in the late 1890s purportedly picked up a trail that was more than 105 hours old, resulting in a conviction. Bloodhounds reportedly have successfully followed trails that are more than 14 days old. They continue to be used by law enforcement and search-and-rescue organizations in their traditional capacities, but they also compete successfully in obedience and in the conformation show ring.
The source of the name of this breed is controversial. Most experts believe that it stems from the extreme care that was taken to keep this breed pure, going back to the twelfth century and even earlier. They came to be called the “blooded hound,” referring to the purity of their pedigree and their ownership almost exclusively by persons of nobility. “Blooded hound” was meant to mean “aristocratic.” Centuries later, a noted English physician and dog-lover offered another explanation for the name, suggesting that Bloodhounds were well-known to follow their prey not only while it was alive but also after death, once they caught the scent of blood.
The average Bloodhound stands 23 to 27 inches at the withers and weighs between 80 and 120 pounds. The taller and heavier animals are preferred, assuming that both overall quality and proportion are maintained. Bloodhounds have thin skin that hangs loosely in deep folds, particularly around the face and neck, resembling an oversized, ill-fitting suit. They are low maintenance dogs that require minimal brushing to keep their short, smooth, water-resistant coats clean. Their long, soft ears do require regular cleaning. Bloodhounds have a uniquely melodious voice that is difficult to ignore, but despite their reputation they do not typically bay or howl throughout the chase.
Bloodhound Dog Breed Quick Facts
Bloodhound – Appearance & Grooming
Bloodhounds are large, powerful dogs with large heads, long muzzles and large, drooping ears. Their thin, loose coats hang in distinctive folds around the head and neck. This loose, wrinkled coat and their deep set eyes and drooping jowls give them a sad looking face that can melt even the hardest of hearts. Bloodhounds’ eyes compliment the color of the coat and come in shades from brown to yellow. Bloodhounds come in black and tan, liver and tan, or red. There may be a small amount of white that appears at the feet, chest or tail tip.
Size and Weight
Bloodhounds are large dogs, standing between 23 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 80 and 110 pounds. Females, at maturity, are slightly smaller than their male counterparts. Bloodhounds appear to “swing” as they walk, giving them a very distinctive gait.
Coat and Color
The feature that makes the Bloodhound recognizable is his loose, droopy, thin coat that hangs in folds around the neck and head. These wrinkles are actually functional – when the dog drops his face to the ground to catch and track a scent, the folds hang down and help funnel the scent toward the nose.
Bloodhounds come in black and tan, liver and tan, or red. There may be a small amount of white that appears at the feet, chest or tail tip.
Bloodhounds require a lot of grooming to remain healthy. They shed lightly throughout the year, and heavier during the change in season. Weekly brushing can keep shedding under control. A hound mitt is recommended for brushing, as this breed has thin skin and requires a gentle touch.
The folds of the Bloodhound’s skin should be wiped out daily with a damp cloth in order to prevent bacterial infections. Don’t forget to dry afterward. The flews – the part of the upper lip that hangs – also need to be wiped out after mealtime.
Bloodhounds are very prone to ear infections, thanks to their heavy, dropped ears which allow for virtually no air circulation. Use a veterinarian-recommended cleaning solution every week to make sure harmful bacteria does not build up. They are also prone to bad breath and rotting teeth, so daily or weekly brushing of the teeth is required.
Bloodhound – History and Health
The Bloodhound is an ancient breed documented as early as the third century A.D. Their precise origin is unknown, but they are thought to have descended from dogs in the ancient Mediterranean, having been bred selectively over many centuries. Bloodhounds appeared in Europe long before the Crusades. Two particular strains developed: the black type called the famed “St. Hubert’s Hound“ of the seventh and eighth century, and the whites later known simply as the “Southern Hounds.” Dogs from the St. Hubert’s line apparently were exported to Great Britain in the eleventh century to become what we know as the Bloodhounds of today; the white Southern Hounds are thought to have eventually become predecessors of today’s Talbot Hound, although this not certain. In the twelfth century, church dignitaries and royalty fostered development of the breed. High ecclesiastics maintained packs of Bloodhounds, and the kennel seemed to be an essential part of almost every English monastery. Great care was taken to preserve the purity of the Bloodhound, whose original function was to follow the scent of wounded wolves, deer and other large game. As the deer population dwindled over the ensuing centuries, English sportsmen became more interested in hunting the fox, which required a much faster scent-tracking hound. The Foxhound eventually replaced the Bloodhound as the preferred tracking companion in Britain, while Bloodhounds evolved to become trackers of poachers and other people.
The original St. Hubert’s Hound became extinct during the French Revolution. In the late eighteenth century, only the British black-and-tan Bloodhound remained. Throughout the nineteenth century, the British Bloodhound was widely exported to other countries, which helped preserve the breed that almost disappeared from England by the end of World War II.
In the New World, Bloodhounds initially were bred as scent hounds specifically to track humans, particularly Native American Indians, runaway slaves and escaped criminals. In 1977, a pack of Bloodhounds was responsible for successfully tracking James Earl Ray, the murderer of Martin Luther King, Jr., after he escaped from prison and fled to the Tennessee hills. Today, Bloodhounds continue to work in tracking missing people but also are extensively used as police dogs and in search-and-rescue efforts. Their tracking capabilities are unmatched by any other animal, be it canine or human. They have been selectively bred as “finders,” not as “killers” or “hunters.” They are excellent companion and competition dogs and are almost overpoweringly friendly, although they can have a stubborn streak and probably are not the best choice for first-time dog owners. If left unattended or not safely confined, a Bloodhound’s nose can get him into trouble. Bloodhounds were accepted into the American Kennel Club’s Hound Group in 1885. The American Bloodhound Club was formed in 1952 to encourage and promote quality in the breeding of purebred Bloodhounds and to protect and advance the best interests of the breed.
Bloodhounds live on average between 10 and 12 years. Breed health concerns may include gastric dilatation and volvulus (bloat), ear infections, entropion (usually of the upper eyelids), ectropion, keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Dry Eye), prolapse of the gland of the nictitating membrane (“cherry-eye”) and hip dysplasia. They also can be prone to congenital aortic stenosis. Their skin folds must be kept clean to prevent infection, and they tend to slobber.
Bloodhound – Temperament & Personality
Hollywood has given us two images of the droopy-faced Bloodhound. One, a focused detective’s companion, sniffing out the bad guys from wherever they hide. Two, a lazy porch-dweller sitting along side southern gentlemen as they sip their iced tea. Neither of these images is entirely wrong. Bloodhounds are some of the best tracking dogs around, and they do love to relax. A laid back breed that is very good with children and other pets; Bloodhounds make excellent companions for families of any size.
The Bloodhound’s reputation for relaxation can be misleading. While they are happy to nap the afternoon away, they do need lots of activity. They will do ok in an apartment, as long as they get several long walks a day. A house with a fenced in yard where he can run and romp with children or other dogs is the most ideal situation for a Bloodhound. The fence is very important – if a Bloodhound catches a scent and decides to take off, you’ll have a hard time getting him back home.
Those who consider themselves to be “outdoorsy” should consider a Bloodhound. He makes an excellent hiking companion and will happily trot alongside joggers and bikers.
Bloodhounds are intelligent and in addition to physical activity, they need lots of mental activity as well. Problem solving or tracking activities can satisfy their need for mental stimulation.
Bloodhounds are stubborn and intelligent. They can spot a “softy” a mile away and will use his droopy eyes to manipulate a situation. It is important to be consistent and confident when training a Bloodhound – but never be stern or forceful. They are sensitive animals and will not respond well to harsh treatment. Positive reinforcement and lots of treats will help get desired behavior from a Bloodhound.
Bloodhounds are happy when they are able to track. Enrolling a Bloodhound in tracking activities can keep him happy and entertained year-round. Hunters won’t need to put too much work into training a Bloodhound, his talents are inborn. They are such good trackers that Bloodhounds are often used by law enforcement to find missing children and wily criminals.
Bloodhounds take a while to grow up, so owners should be prepared for a prolonged puppyhood that includes chewing, barking and lots of jumping on people and things. Housetraining can also take a long time with this breed.
Bloodhounds are notorious for baying, especially at night or when left alone. They probably shouldn’t be left outside at night – they will wake the entire neighborhood. Separation anxiety can also develop with Bloodhounds. They love spending time with their families and if they aren’t exercised enough, can develop anxiety when left alone that usually manifests itself in chewing behaviors. And finally, Bloodhounds slobber and drool. A lot. Someone who has lots of expensive couches might want to reconsider adopting a bloodhound because he’ll want to be near his people when they relax and there is no stopping the drool.