The quintessential scenthound, the bloodhound traces its roots to ancient times. Its earliest ancestor may have been the black St. Hubert hound documented in Europe by the eighth century. William the Conqueror is credited with bringing these hounds to England in 1066. In the 12th century, many church dignitaries were interested in hunting with these dogs, and most monasteries kept carefully bred packs. So highly bred were these dogs that they came to be known as "blooded hounds," referring to their pure blood and noble breeding.
AKC Ranking: 49
Area of Origin: Belgium, England
Date of Origin: Middle Ages
Original Function: trailing
Today's Function: trailing humans, search and rescue
Avg Size of male: Height: 25-27 Weight: 90-110
Avg Size of Female: Height: 23-25Weight: 80-100
Other Name: St. Hubert hound, chien St. Hubert
The quintessential scenthound, the bloodhound traces its roots to ancient times. Its earliest ancestor may have been the black St. Hubert hound documented in Europe by the eighth century. William the Conqueror is credited with bringing these hounds to England in 1066. In the 12th century, many church dignitaries were interested in hunting with these dogs, and most monasteries kept carefully bred packs. So highly bred were these dogs that they came to be known as "blooded hounds," referring to their pure blood and noble breeding. Bloodhounds have been known in America since the mid-1800s. Even though they gained a reputation as slave trailers, many of those dogs were mixed scenthounds. The bloodhound has since proved itself to be one of the most useful breeds, using its unrivaled sense of smell to trail lost persons and criminals alike. After the person is located, the bloodhound's job is over because it is never inclined to attack. The bloodhound holds many trailing records (for both length and age of trail), and at one time it was the only breed of dog whose identifications were accepted in a court of law. Ironically, the bloodhound's name and bad press scared many people away from the breed because they believed stories that claimed the dogs trailed people out of a lust for blood. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. The breed is well-known to all but not particularly popular as a pet; it is a competitive show dog and unsurpassed working trailer, however.
For all its calm manners at home, the bloodhound is a tireless trailer once on the track. It is tough, stubborn and independent, yet it is so gentle and placid that it is extremely trustworthy around children — although it may not be playful enough for some children's needs. Nonetheless, it is not the lazy ol' hound dog portrayed in folklore but instead an active, playful companion. Although not the easiest breed to train for traditional obedience, it is exceptionally easy to train in tasks involving trailing. The bloodhound is reserved with strangers.
As a hunting hound, the bloodhound needs a good deal of daily exercise. It was bred to trail through any hardship, and once on a trail it cannot be called off. It thus must be exercised in a safe area. The bloodhound drools a lot, so its facial wrinkles require daily cleaning; the ear tips drag in food and must also be kept clean. The ear canals also need regular cleaning for good health. Coat care is minimal, requiring only occasional brushing or wiping. Bloodhounds can live outside in temperate climates if they are given plenty of shelter and soft, warm bedding. Most do best as indoor/outdoor dogs; note, however, that this is not the breed for people obsessed with cleanliness in the house!
• Major concerns: ectropion, entropion, gastric torsion, otitis
externa, skin-fold dermatitis, CHD, elbow dysplasia
• Minor concerns: none
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: hip, elbow, eye
• Life span: 7 – 10 years
Form and Function
The bloodhound is a steadfast trailer, built for endurance rather than speed. Its skin is thin and loose, falling in wrinkles around its head and throat. Its long ears are supposed to stir up scents as the ears rake along the ground, and its profuse wrinkles are said to trap the odors around the face, although neither of these assertions has ever been scientifically verified. Its dense short coat protects it from being caught in brambles. Its docile temperament makes it nonthreatening to the humans it is sometimes now called upon to trail. Its gait is elastic and free, with tail held high. Its expression is noble and dignified.