Bloodhounds are powerful, large scent hounds known for their tracking abilities. The name means aristocratic — because breeders worked hard to preserve the lineage, not because the dog tracked blood. Their long, floppy ears, diamond-shaped eyes and excess wrinkled skin gives them an unmistakable appearance.
The short coat comes in colors of black and tan, liver and tan, and red; some may have flecks of white. Males average a height of 25 to 27 inches, while females are between 23 and 25 inches tall. Weight averages for males are 90 to 110 pounds; females weigh an average of 80 to 100 pounds.
Known as one of the oldest breeds and said to be more than a thousand years old, evidence to prove the exact origin is lacking. Claudius Aelianus wrote about a dog in the third century who tracked better than any other dog and stayed focused until the scent match was found.
The first bloodhounds to enter Europe were reportedly brought in from Constantinople. There were black and white lines of the hounds called the St. Huberts (black) and Southern Hounds (white). The St. Huberts line was the first to be exported to England.
English hunters used the dogs to track while the men were on horseback. Bloodhounds were greatly developed in the United States and assisted law enforcement agencies. According to the American Kennel Club, a bloodhound’s tracking ability is so accurate it is accepted as evidence in legal cases. The AKC added the breed in 1885.
Bloodhounds are companion pets and also participate in tracking, conformation events, obedience, and search and rescue. Obedience training can be challenging because the dog is more interested in tracking scents.
This video shows Ranger, a bloodhound donated to the police department in Bend, Oregon, practicing his tracking:
This large scent hound is affectionate, patient, gentle and devoted to its owners. The dogs are great with children and get along with other pets. Bloodhounds have a tendency to snore, drool and howl.
They are also independent and determined, especially when they focus on a scent. They are known to get distracted by smells, so they must be kept in a fenced yard or on a leash outside the yard. They are able to follow any scent, human scent included. Bloodhounds need firm and consistent training and should be well socialized to prevent shyness.
If you like to walk or jog, a bloodhound would be happy to go along. These dogs have a high need for exercise, and their increased stamina allows them to walk long distances. Care should be taken not to over-exercise them during development since they grow fast. Bloodhounds do well in apartments if their exercise needs are met.
The bloodhound’s coat is short and easy to groom; bathe as necessary. Regular grooming is essential; check and clean those long, floppy ears as well as the skin folds on the coat. The nails may get some wear and tear through daily exercise, but weekly trimming may still be needed. Clean your bloodhound’s teeth as a regular part of the grooming routine.
Common Health Problems
Health problems associated with bloodhounds include:
Is the Bloodhound the Right Dog for You?
Bloodhounds are large dogs with an incredible ability to track any scent. They are so focused on this task that they can get easily distracted and walk off. For this reason they should always be in a fenced area or on a leash. They are affectionate and get along well with children and other pets, making this breed an ideal family companion. Their exercise needs are high and must be satisfied with daily walks or jogs.
Grooming is minimal for the coat, but the ears and skin folds must be cleaned regularly for hygiene and preventing ear infections. The health concerns associated with this breed are minimal. They can do well in apartments if their exercise needs are met. If you are able to commit to the requirements of this breed, consider adding a bloodhound to your family.