One of the greatest trackers in history, the affable, good-natured Bloodhound can trace its origin all the way back to the middle ages when it was used to hunt deer and wild boar.
A dignified and quiet tracker that can raise the roof of any building with its distinctive bay, howl, and bark when it’s found what it has been looking for, the Bloodhound is just at home on a large couch as it is following a scent in the wild.
As single-minded and stubborn as they are devoted to their owners, Bloodhounds have become a dog of legend with police forces and law enforcement all over the world thanks to their ability to pick up and track a human scent days after whoever it is they’re chasing fled from custody.
But as these larger-than-life dogs are still something of a mystery outside of their family circles, and trying to discover what makes them tick can be a little tricky.
Fear not, faithful hound fans, as we’ve put together this one-stop comprehensive guide to the four-legged Belgian sleuth that’ll tell you everything you need to know about the breed. The game, as Sherlock Holmes was so fond of saying, is well and truly afoot…
Bloodhound Key Facts
Before we submerge ourselves, and you, in a plethora of Bloodhound information, you’ll need to know some essential facts about this scent-driven wunderhund.
Like all dogs, looking after and caring for them is a life-long commitment and while they don’t live as long as their human companions do, they will take up a lot of your time for more than a decade.
You’ll also need to commit to exercising them, which isn’t a task that anyone should take lightly, and then there’s the economic as well as emotional investment that you’ll need to pledge your pocketbook to fulfill.
Caring for a Bloodhound is a full-time job, but it’ll be one of the most rewarding “career” choices that you’ll ever make.
They’re surprisingly long-lived for such large dogs and most Bloodhounds live between eleven and fifteen years.
Minimum Exercise (per day)
A Bloodhound needs at least two hours of exercise a day, one hour in the morning and maybe more in the evening. They also, ideally, need to be walked somewhere that’s going to be filled with all sorts of interesting smells and sniffs for them to follow.
Bloodhounds are short-haired dogs, and their coats are thin and loose to the touch, even in the numerous folds that adorn their faces, muzzles, and bodies.
Minimum Cost Per Month
As well as the food bill, you’ll also have to factor in the cost of insurance (which will bring your vet bills right down) and any casual trips to the veterinarian’s office that you might be forced to take, which means that on average, a Bloodhound will leave a one hundred and ten to one hundred and thirty dollar sized hole in your bank balance every month.
Bloodhounds are unique in the canine world and are blessed with an unusually large and dense skeletal structure, partially responsible for how their skin appears to hang off their frame.
They have multiple facial, muzzle, and bodily folds, long, floppy ears, and are either brown, black, tan, a deep reddish color, or a combination of any of the aforementioned colors.
Bloodhounds are large, heavy dogs, but surprisingly, they are also remarkably agile.
Males are usually larger than females, and can be anything from twenty-five to twenty-seven inches tall at the shoulder, while females are usually between twenty-three and twenty-five inches tall at the shoulder.
The Bloodhounds’ dense, and oddly large skeletal structure makes up a lot of their body mass which is why they can weigh anywhere between eighty and one hundred and sixty pounds.
Famously gentle and affectionate with their families and the people they know, Bloodhounds are also strong, stubborn, and know their own minds. They’re tenacious trackers with a high prey drive and an enthusiastic can-do spirit.
Contrary to popular belief, and as much as enjoy curling up on a couch, Bloodhounds aren’t lazy and will happily spend days at a time chasing down an extremely interesting and odd scent.
Bloodhounds and apartments don’t mix at all. They need space to roam and do what they like to do best, discover interesting sniffs and scents to track which is why they’re really only suited to a family with a large, enclosed garden that the hound can lose himself in.
Good For Novice Owners
Despite their affable, easy-going, and friendly nature, Bloodhounds aren’t suitable dogs for first-time owners as they’re strong, stubborn, and single-minded and are far more suited to owners who have hound, or even breed-specific, experience.
Bloodhounds are incredibly sensitive dogs, with a wilful, stubborn streak a mile wide, and respond well to positive reinforcement. They can sulk and hide when told off and sometimes need to be treated with kid gloves if you want them to do as they’re told.
Tolerates Being Alone
As they’re pack animals, Bloodhounds thrive in a family environment, but that also means they don’t like being left alone and can get lonely. The Breed is prone to separation anxiety, which you’ll need to consider before adopting or shopping for a Bloodhound.
Tolerates Cold Weather
Their coats might be thin, but their skin is thick, and as such, Bloodhounds have an extra layer of protection from the cold. They tend to fare better in the cold than many other dogs do, but when it gets really cold, they’ll need to become indoor dogs until it starts to warm up again.
Tolerates Hot Weather
While they’re not averse to a little warm weather, Bloodhounds don’t cope well when it gets too hot, so when the temperatures begin to soar, it’s time to bring your Bloodhound inside and turn the AC on and twist the dial to maximum.
Affectionate With Family
Bloodhounds form a tight, incredibly affectionate bond with their family, one of the many reasons they make such great family pets.
They’re placid, good-natured, easy-going dogs, making them an ideal pet for children. However, as they’re large, heavy dogs, they might not be the best choice around toddlers, as they could easily knock them over by brushing past them.
As long as they’re properly socialized with other dogs while they’re young, there’s no reason why Bloodhounds shouldn’t and wouldn’t get along with any other dogs they bump into. They tend to be far less aggressive than a lot of other dogs, and their more docile personality makes them far less likely to be confrontational.
Friendly Toward Strangers
They’re generally friendly with everyone, but if Bloodhounds aren’t socialized properly when they’re young, they can become aggressive with people that they don’t know or aren’t familiar with. An aggressive Bloodhound tends to be the exception to the rule, though, and the breed as a whole is friendly to everyone it meets.
Health & Grooming
Bloodhounds tend to be one of the breeds that’s more susceptible to a lot of general and more specific health issues, and they need a lot more looking after, and taking care of than their other hound brothers and sisters do. So you’ll need to be prepared to invest the time, effort and energy into taking care of a Bloodhound that he both needs and deserves.
Bloodhounds tend to shed their short coats once or twice a year, and a good ten-minute brush once a week should ensure that your floors stay fur free.
Their low-slung jowls and saggy lips (also known as “flews”) aren’t great at keeping their saliva and spittle in their mouths, so Bloodhounds tend to drool a lot. And that drool will get everywhere, and you’ll probably find yourself having to clean it off the most unexpected places at least once a day. If you don’t like, or can’t abide drool, then you’ll need to look elsewhere for your perfect canine companion.
Bloodhounds are a little more labor-intensive when it comes to grooming than other short-haired dogs are. That’s because you’ll also need to clean inside the folds of the skin in their faces and bodies to ensure that they stay clean and infection-free. And you’ll also need to spend the same amount of time, roughly thirty minutes a week, cleaning inside their ears for the same reason. A clean Bloodhound is a happy, healthy Bloodhound.
The breed is vulnerable to skin and ear infections (thanks to the folds in their drooping skin, and their long floppy ears which can sometimes drag along the ground while they’re chasing, and tracking a scent), which is why you’ll need to incorporate cleaning both into your regular grooming sessions.
Common Health Problems
- Bloodhounds are particularly susceptible to a number of health issues, the worst of which is Gastric Dilation- Volvulus, or as it’s more commonly known, Bloat.
- It occurs when the stomach becomes distended and twisted, meaning the dog can’t belch, which in turn leads to a build-up of air and reduces the blood flow to the heart and the blood pressure, sending the dog into systemic shock. Bloat is the single biggest killer of Bloodhounds under the age of ten and accounts for nearly a third of early and unexpected deaths in the breed.
- Other health issues that plague Bloodhounds include hip dysplasia (a malformation of the hip joint which can lead to arthritis), ectropion, and entropion (rolling in and out of the eyelids which can be addressed surgically), and epilepsy.
- While they’re all serious health issues that can affect Bloodhounds, it doesn’t mean that your Bloodhound will suffer from any of them, but they are the main reason why it’s so important to ensure that your dog is insured.
Potential For Weight Gain
Bloodhounds like most dogs love to eat, and while they’re not as prone to obesity as some other breeds are, if they do pile on the pounds it can exacerbate existing problems and lead to other potential health issues like bloat and joint inflammation. So keep a careful eye on your dog’s weight and diet, and try to help them stay on the ideal body mass path.
Bloodhounds may be easy going, but they were bred to do one thing, and that’s track a scent to its source regardless of how long it takes or how far it takes them. And they’re very, very good at it, but it also means that they’re stubborn, single-minded, and determined, which is why it’s so important to train them and get them enrolled in obedience and socialization classes as soon as you can.
Easy To Train
That stubborn, single-minded side of the personalities? It makes them difficult, but not impossible to train. It might take slightly longer to train a Bloodhound, but with positive reinforcement and patience, you, and he, will get there eventually.
Bloodhounds are smart, and can learn and adapt to new situations with the right motivation. But the thing they were bred to do can often override everything else, leading some trainers to think that they’re not bright enough to be trained. It’s not true, they are whip-smart dogs, you just need to find a way to help your boy see beyond his genetic programming.
Potential To Bite
When they’re young, some Bloodhounds nip and bite while they’re playing and it’s important to drill this behavior out of them by training them not to do it so that it doesn’t become a problem when they grow into adulthood. As a general rule of thumb though, Bloodhounds are lovers, not fighters, and won’t bite unless they feel they absolutely have to.
Tendency To Bark Or Howl
They’re hounds, which means that they’re noisy dogs. They’ll bay (a cross between barking and howling), bark, and howl the house down at the smallest provocation. And being pack animals, they love to “talk”, so if you are looking for a quiet life, you’ll want to avoid inviting a Bloodhound to join your pack.
The earliest documented evidence of Bloodhounds, was the St Hubert’s Hound, the first recognized scenthound which was thought to have first been bred around the tail end of the seventh century by the dedicated hunter, Francois Hubert.
The first time that a Bloodhound was mentioned was in a poem by Sir Humphrey de Bohun during the fourteenth century. Bloodhounds first made their way to England with William the Conqueror in 1066 and flourished in their new home.
Even though they were nearly wiped out in France during the Revolution, thanks to their growing popularity in England and America, where they first made their presence felt during the Colonial era.
The modern Bloodhound, following a period of ignominy in the US after the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, finally established itself in the US at the tail end of the nineteenth century. They may have been born in Belgium and bred in England, but the Bloodhound has become a singularly American dog.
Like every pedigree puppy for sale, bloodhounds aren’t cheap. Depending on the bloodline and the reputation of the breeder, the price of a Bloodhound puppy can be anywhere from four hundred and fifty dollars to twelve hundred dollars, and that’s before they’re registered, inoculated and you’ve bought everything else that your puppy will need to start its brand new life with you.
Even though they’re not as common as other dogs, Bloodhounds end up in shelters and specialist rescues, so it’s worth giving them a call to find out if your new best friend is waiting for you to claim him and give him a home. And best of all? Adopting a Bloodhound will cost you a fraction of what it would have done if you’d bought your boy from a breeder.
Bloodhound Fun Facts
- Bloodhounds have three hundred million scent receptors in their noses and can track a person by the trail they left seventy-two hours after they left it.
- We call them Bloodhounds, but in France, they’re known as le chien de Saint-Hubert, which has a more romantic ring to it and somehow seems like a far more appropriate name for the large, lolloping dog.
- McGruff, the famous Crime Fighting Dog is… That’s right, you guessed it, a Bloodhound. And given the way that the breed is used to track escaped criminals and felons, it seems fitting that McGruff is one of them.
- The US Army 615th Military Police Company’s mascot is a Bloodhound named Andy, who was named to honor, and after the Bloodhound who completed his tours of duty with the company during the war in Vietnam.
- Their reputation for tracking is well-founded, as they can follow a trail for up to one hundred and thirty miles.