If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you may have heard of the Hound of the Baskervilles, a fearsome beast that haunted the moors of Devonshire and terrorized the Baskerville family. But did you know that the hound was actually a Bloodhound, a dog breed famous for its incredible sense of smell and ability to track people and animals for miles?
The Bloodhound is not only a master detective but also a gentle and loyal companion who can be a great family dog if it gets enough exercise and mental stimulation. The Bloodhound has a long and fascinating history that dates back to medieval times when it was used for hunting and law enforcement. The Bloodhound is also a dog with a lot of personality, charm, and humor, as it can produce a variety of sounds that include baying, howling, whining, grunting, snorting, snoring, groaning, barking, etc.
This article will explore the Bloodhound breed’s origins, characteristics, personality, health, grooming, training, and care. We will also provide some tips on how to find a reputable breeder and what to expect from owning a Bloodhound. Whether you are looking for a dog that can solve mysteries with its nose, or just a dog that can be your best friend and protector, the Bloodhound may be the perfect dog for you!
Origins of the Bloodhound
The Bloodhound is one of the oldest breeds of dogs that hunt by scent. It is believed to have descended from hounds kept at the Abbey of Saint-Hubert in Belgium in the 8th century. These hounds were known as “Segusii” or “St. Hubert Hounds” and were bred by monks to hunt deer and wild boar. The church and nobility also used them for tracking criminals and fugitives.
The St. Hubert Hounds were exported to England and France in the 11th and 12th centuries, where they were further developed and refined. In England, they were called “Bloodhounds” because they were used to follow the blood trail of wounded game or humans. They were also used by royalty for hunting and by law enforcement for tracking. One of the most famous Bloodhounds was named “Sleuth”, who belonged to King Henry VII and was reputed to have tracked down two murderers in 1484.
The Bloodhound was also popular in France, where it was known as “Chien de Saint-Hubert” or “Chien du Sang.” Nobles used it for hunting, and by revolutionaries for tracking down aristocrats during the French Revolution. One of the most influential breeders of Bloodhounds in France was Baron Le Couteulx de Canteleu, who wrote a book on the breed in 1890. He classified the Bloodhounds into three color types: black and tan, liver and tan, and red.
Colonists and explorers brought The Bloodhound to America in the 17th century. It was used for hunting, tracking escaped slaves, and finding missing persons. The American Kennel Club (AKC) registered the first specimens of the breed in 1885. The Bloodhound is currently ranked as the 50th most popular dog breed by the AKC.
Characteristics of the Bloodhound
The Bloodhound is a large and impressive dog that stands between 23 and 27 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 80 and 110 pounds. It has a long, wrinkled face with loose skin, huge drooping ears, and warm, deep-set eyes that give it a dignified and mournful expression. The coat is short, dense, and hard to the touch. The coat colors can be black and tan, liver and tan, or red.
The most distinctive feature of the Bloodhound is its nose, which is unparalleled in its ability to detect and follow scents. The Bloodhound has about 300 million scent receptors in its nose, compared to about 5 million in humans. The Bloodhound can track days or even weeks-old scents over long distances and across different terrains. The Bloodhound can also discriminate between individual human scents, making it an invaluable tool for law enforcement and search-and-rescue operations.
The Bloodhound has a long neck that helps it keep its nose close to the ground. It also has loose skin around its neck and head that forms folds or wrinkles. These wrinkles help trap and retain scents around the nose and mouth. The ears are also long and pendulous, reaching below the chin. They help funnel scents toward the nose.
The Bloodhound has a strong, muscular body, deep chest, and a level back. The tail is long and carried high with a slight curve. The legs are straight and sturdy, with large feet that have thick pads.
The personality of the Bloodhound
The Bloodhound is a gentle, patient, noble, and mild-mannered dog that is especially good with children. It is also generally friendly with other dogs and animals. The Bloodhound is loyal and affectionate with its family members and can be a great companion.
However, the Bloodhound also has a strong sense of independence and determination that can make it stubborn and difficult to train. The Bloodhound tends to make its own decisions rather than obey its owner’s commands, especially if it has detected an interesting scent. The Bloodhound will follow its nose wherever it leads, regardless of dangers or distractions. This can make it prone to wandering off or getting into trouble.
The Bloodhound needs early socialization and consistent training from an experienced owner who can provide firm but gentle guidance. The Bloodhound responds best to positive reinforcement methods that reward its good behavior with praise, treats, or toys. Harsh or punitive methods will only make the Bloodhound resentful or fearful.
The Bloodhound is not a suitable dog for apartment living or for people away from home for long periods. The Bloodhound needs a lot of space to roam and explore, preferably in a large fenced yard or rural area where it can safely indulge its natural instincts. The Bloodhound also needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to keep it healthy and happy. A bored or lonely Bloodhound can become destructive or vocal.
The Bloodhound is one of the most vocal members of the canine kingdom. It can produce a variety of sounds that include baying, howling, whining, grunting, snorting, snoring, groaning, barking, etc. These sounds can express emotions such as excitement, frustration, boredom, sadness, happiness, etc. Some owners find these sounds endearing or amusing, while others may find them annoying or disturbing.
Common Health Issues Affecting Bloodhounds
The average lifespan of the Bloodhound is between 10 and 12 years. Like any large breed dog, the Bloodhound is prone to some health issues that owners should be aware of.
Some of these issues include:
- Hip dysplasia: A condition where the hip joint is malformed or deteriorates over time, causing pain, lameness, and arthritis.
- Elbow dysplasia: A condition where the elbow joint is malformed or deteriorates over time, causing pain, lameness, and arthritis.
- Bloat: A life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself, cutting off blood flow and causing shock.
- Ectropion: A condition where the lower eyelid droops outward, exposing the eye to irritation and infection.
- Entropion: A condition where the upper eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes to rub against the eye and cause irritation and ulceration.
- Ear infections: A common problem due to the long, floppy ears that trap moisture and dirt, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast.
- Skin infections: A common problem due to the loose skin that folds over itself, creating moisture and friction, leading to irritation, inflammation, and infection.
- Thrombopathia: A rare blood disorder where the platelets are defective, causing excessive bleeding and bruising.
Grooming of the Bloodhound
The Bloodhound has a short coat that sheds moderately throughout the year. It requires minimal grooming but regular brushing will help remove dead hair and distribute natural oils.
- Brush their dogs’ coats once or twice weekly with a soft-bristle brush or a hound glove.
- Bathe their dogs as needed with a mild shampoo designed for dogs.
- Dry their dogs thoroughly after bathing, especially under the folds of the skin.
- Clean their dogs’ ears weekly with a cotton ball moistened with an ear cleaner recommended by their veterinarian.
- Trim their dogs’ nails every few weeks with a nail clipper or grinder designed for dogs.
- Check their dogs’ eyes daily for signs of irritation or infection, and wipe them gently with a damp cloth if needed.
Training a Bloodhound
The Bloodhound is not easy to train due to its independent nature and strong scent drive. It requires patience, consistency, and creativity from its owner.
A few tips are:
- Start training their dogs from an early age using positive reinforcement methods that reward good behavior with praise, treats, or toys. Avoid harsh or punitive methods that only make the Bloodhound resentful or fearful.
- Teach their dogs basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “leave it,” etc., using short and consistent sessions that are fun and rewarding for both the dog and the owner.
- Socialize their dogs from an early age with different people, animals, places, and situations to prevent them from becoming shy or aggressive.
- Enroll their dogs in obedience classes or dog sports such as agility, tracking, or rallies to provide them with mental and physical challenges and opportunities to bond with their owners.
- Train their dogs to walk on a leash without pulling or chasing after scents. Use a harness or a head collar to prevent the dog from straining its neck or escaping.
- Train their dogs to recall reliably even when distracted by scents. Use a long line or a fenced area to practice this skill and reward the dog generously for coming back when called.
- Train their dogs to be comfortable with being left alone for short periods of time to prevent separation anxiety. Provide them with safe and stimulating toys such as puzzle feeders, chew toys, or scent games to keep them occupied when alone.
Caring for a Bloodhound
Bloodhounds are high-maintenance dogs that require a lot of attention and care from their owner.
Some basic care tips are:
- Provide their dogs with a spacious and secure living environment that allows them to roam and explore safely. The Bloodhound is not suited for apartment living or for being confined in a small space. The Bloodhound needs a large fenced yard or a rural area where it can indulge its natural instincts without getting into trouble.
- Provide their dogs with at least an hour of exercise every day that suits their age and energy level. The Bloodhound is an active and athletic dog that needs a lot of physical activity to stay healthy and happy. The Bloodhound enjoys long walks, hikes, jogs, bike rides with its owner, and playing fetch, tug-of-war, or hide-and-seek. The Bloodhound also loves to participate in activities that involve its nose, such as tracking, trailing, or nose work.
- Provide their dogs with plenty of fresh water and a high-quality diet that meets their nutritional needs and prevents obesity. The Bloodhound is prone to bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself. To prevent this, owners should feed their dogs two or three small meals a day instead of one large one, avoid feeding them right before or after exercise, and avoid giving them foods that cause gas, such as beans, dairy products, or spicy foods.
- Provide their dogs with regular veterinary care and preventive measures such as vaccinations, parasite control, spaying or neutering, dental care, etc. The Bloodhound is prone to some health issues that owners should be aware of and monitor for signs and symptoms. Owners should also consult their veterinarian before giving their dogs any medications or supplements, as some may be harmful or ineffective for this breed.
- Provide their dogs with love, affection, and companionship. The Bloodhound is a loyal and devoted dog that thrives on human interaction and attention. The Bloodhound needs a lot of socialization and stimulation to prevent boredom or loneliness. The Bloodhound also needs a lot of praise and encouragement to boost its confidence and motivation. The Bloodhound is not a dog that can be left alone for long periods of time or ignored by its owner.
Bloodhounds in Pop Culture
The Bloodhound is a famous and iconic dog breed that has appeared in more books, movies, TV shows, and other forms of media than almost every other breed.
Just to name a few, they have appeared in:
- Historia Animalium: A book written by Aristotle in the 4th century BC that mentions the Bloodhound as one of the best hunting dogs.
- The Earliest Known Picture of a Bloodhound: A painting by Gaston III, Count of Foix, in the 14th century that depicts him hunting with his pack of Bloodhounds.
- Le Couteulx’ Book: A book written by Baron Le Couteulx de Canteleu in 1890 that describes the history, characteristics, and standards of the Bloodhound breed.
- The Hound of the Baskervilles: A novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1902 features a fearsome Bloodhound-like dog that terrorizes the Baskerville family.
- Lady and the Tramp: A Disney animated movie released in 1955 that features “Trusty,” a friendly and elderly Bloodhound who helps Lady and Tramp escape from the dog catcher.
- The Beverly Hillbillies: A TV sitcom aired from 1962 to 1971 that features “Duke,” a lazy and lovable Bloodhound who belongs to Jed Clampett, an Ozark hillbilly who strikes oil and moves to Beverly Hills.
- Where the Red Fern Grows: A novel written by Wilson Rawls in 1961 and adapted into a movie in 1974 and 2003 that tells the story of Billy Colman, a young boy who raises two coonhounds named Old Dan and Little Ann and goes on many hunting adventures with them.
- Turner & Hooch: A movie released in 1989 that stars Tom Hanks as Scott Turner, a police detective who inherits Hooch, a slobbering and destructive Bloodhound who helps him solve a murder case.
- Best in Show: A mockumentary film released in 2000 that parodies dog shows and features “Hubert,” a champion Bloodhound who competes in the prestigious Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show.
What to Expect from Owning a Bloodhound
Owning a Bloodhound can be a rewarding but challenging experience that requires commitment, patience, and responsibility.
Some pros and cons of owning a Bloodhound are:
- The Bloodhound is an affectionate, loyal, and gentle dog that can be a great family companion.
- The Bloodhound is an intelligent, curious, and adventurous dog that can provide you with entertainment and fun.
- The Bloodhound is an amazing scent hound that can excel at tracking, trailing, or nose work activities.
- The Bloodhound is a stubborn, independent, and strong-willed dog that can be difficult to train and control.
- The Bloodhound is an active, athletic, and energetic dog that needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom or frustration.
- The Bloodhound is a vocal, drooling, and shedding dog that requires regular grooming and care.
Activities to Enjoy with Your Bloodhound
The Bloodhound is a dog that loves to use its nose and explore new scents and trails. There are many activities that owners can enjoy with their Bloodhounds that will provide them with mental and physical stimulation and fun.
Some examples include:
- Tracking: This is a sport that involves following a human scent trail that a tracklayer has laid out. The Bloodhound has to find the start of the track, follow it to the end, and indicate the location of an article that the tracklayer has dropped. Tracking is a natural activity for Bloodhounds and can be done for fun or for competition.
- Trailing: This is similar to tracking, but the scent trail is fresher and more realistic, as it simulates a real-life situation where a person is missing or hiding. The Bloodhound has to find the person’s scent from a starting point, such as a piece of clothing or a car seat, and follow it to the person’s location. Trailing can be done for fun or for professional purposes, such as search-and-rescue or law enforcement.
- Nose Work: This is a sport that involves finding hidden scents in different environments, such as indoors, outdoors, containers, vehicles, etc. The Bloodhound has to use its nose to locate the source of the scent and alert its handler. Nose work is a fun and challenging activity that can be done for fun or for competition.
- Long Walks: This simple but enjoyable activity allows the Bloodhound to exercise its body and mind. The Bloodhound can walk or jog for miles with its owner if kept on a leash or within a securely fenced area. The Bloodhound can also sniff around and explore new places and scents along the way.
- Hiking: This is an activity that involves walking on natural trails in different terrains, such as forests, mountains, fields, etc. The Bloodhound can hike with its owner if kept on a leash or securely fenced. The Bloodhound can also enjoy nature’s sights, sounds, and smells along the way.
- Running: This is an activity that involves running at a moderate to fast pace with its owner. The Bloodhound can run with its owner if kept on a leash or within a securely fenced area. The Bloodhound can also burn off some excess energy and stay fit along the way.
- Playing: This is an activity that involves having fun with toys, games, or other dogs. The Bloodhound can play with its owner if supervised and provided with safe and stimulating toys such as puzzle feeders, chew toys, or scent games. The Bloodhound can also play with other dogs as long as they are well-socialized and friendly.
Where to Buy a Bloodhound
If you have decided that a Bloodhound is the right dog for you, you may be wondering where to buy one and how much it will cost. The answer depends on several factors, such as the source, the quality, the location, and the availability of the dog.
The Bloodhound is not a very common or popular dog breed in the United States. According to the AKC breed popularity ranking, it is ranked as the 50th most popular dog breed out of 197. This means that finding a Bloodhound puppy may not be very easy or cheap.
The average price of a Bloodhound puppy from a reputable breeder ranges from $1,400 to over $5,000, depending on the dog’s pedigree, lineage, and show quality. The higher prices are usually reserved for Bloodhounds with outstanding or proven bloodlines that are suitable for showing or working purposes.
Another option to buy a Bloodhound is to adopt one from a shelter or a rescue group. This can be a great way to save a life and give a second chance to a dog in need. The adoption fee for a Bloodhound can vary from $35 to over $200, depending on the dog’s age, condition, and location. However, this fee usually covers basic veterinary care, such as vaccinations, deworming, spaying or neutering, etc.
It may not be very easy to find a purebred Bloodhound at a shelter or a rescue group since they are not very common or popular dogs. However, you may be able to find one that is mixed with another breed or has an unknown background. You will likely have to compromise on some aspects of the dog’s age, appearance, or temperament.
The Bloodhound is a remarkable dog breed that has a noble history and an amazing sense of smell. It is also a gentle and loyal companion that can be a great family dog as long as it gets enough exercise and mental stimulation. The Bloodhound needs early socialization and consistent training from an experienced owner who can provide firm but gentle guidance. The Bloodhound also needs regular grooming and veterinary care to prevent health issues. The Bloodhound can enjoy many activities with its owner, providing them with fun and challenges.
If you are looking for a dog that can track anything and anyone with its nose, be your best friend and protector, and make you laugh with its vocalizations and expressions, then the Bloodhound may be the perfect dog for you!