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    History & Overview

    This ancient breed takes its name not from the blood of its victims, but from its own. The name Bloodhound means a dog of the royal blood, a pedigree hound. In its native Ardennes, in Belgium, and also in France, it retains the name of its early ancestor, the Chien de St. Hubert. Bloodhound dogs, with their trademark droopy face, are natural-born hunters. Despite their saggy, soft skin, these dogs are a strong and muscular breed.


    This “magic sniffer” of the dog world has a phenomenal ability as a scent hound, superior to other hounds, which made them legendary in police investigations as well as in search and rescue operations. The scenting ability of the breed is almost beyond belief.

    It is so specialized as a tracker that, once it locates its quarry, it is more likely to lick it than bite it. The Bloodhound prefers the hunt rather than the kill. They are known for their ability to follow a scent for long distances. He is well known for his ability to find missing persons and trail criminals.


    These dogs are very affectionate and friendly toward people as well as other dogs. However, Bloodhounds aren’t necessarily good family pets. They probably are not appropriate for families with small children and certainly not appropriate for first-time dog owners. They do better in homes with multiple dogs with plenty of space.

    It is also important for them to have a companion to be around a significant part of the time. As they are more independent than many other breeds of dog, making discipline issues more likely. The breed certainly has more health issues than many. They need stimulation to keep them from finding a way to get into trouble. Bloodhounds shed a lot, drool, slob a lot and have a distinctive hound odor.

    They can be destructive when bored or not exercised enough, which they usually express in chewing and baying. Most do best as indoor/outdoor dogs; note, however, that this is not the breed for people obsessed with cleanliness in the house.

    Puppy Information

    Bloodhounds aren’t necessarily good family pets

    They probably are not appropriate for families with small children. Bloodhounds certainly not appropriate for first time dog owners. They do better in homes with multiple dogs. They do better the more space they have. Bloodhounds do better when someone is home a significant part of the time. The Bloodhound is more independent than many other breeds of dog, making discipline issues more likely. The Bloodhound certainly has more health issues than many.

    If people would look at why the Bloodhound was developed, they would understand that this is an intelligent, THINKING dog of tremendous strength, tenacity, stubbornness and activity. They were bred to trail. And they need those qualities to perform. The Bloodhound must have an owner who is willing to provide the physical and mental stimulus the dog needs, and not frustrate the natural tendencies by over-crating and over-disciplining. Discipline has to be reasonable, and believe me, they know the difference. It helps if you’re a bit smarter than the dog too. They can try the soul of a Saint!

    The bloodhound is a scent hound of great size and strength with a noble, dignified expression. He has superabundant loose skin which falls into loose, pendulous folds especially noticeable around the head and neck. Although his beginnings are left to speculation we owe his development to St. Hubert, the patron saint of the hunter. It was believed he originally obtained his stock from southern France. This breeding was carried on after his death by the abbots, who succeeded him.

    Not everyone should own a Bloodhound. The swing of a Bloodhound’s head can spread saliva across a 20 foot room and years of antiques can be destroyed by his stroll through your living room. His enormous size, food requirements, vet bills and short life span make him a questionable companion for the average person.


    If you have decided that the Bloodhound is the breed for you, it is imperative that you invest the time and effort to find out the characteristics, requirements, advantages and drawbacks of owning this noble hound. Attend dog shows in your area and study the bloodhounds as they are judged; talk to exhibitors and breeders. Visit as many kennels as possible and compare the puppies they have available.

    Ask to see the parents of the puppies. Puppies of this breed change continually from infancy to adulthood, but should resemble their parents whenmature. If you don’t see a dog you like at a particular kennel try another. No breeder has a corner on the market. Be honest with the breeders you visit. Tell them what you want in a Bloodhound; companion, show dog or working dog. As a novice, you will be in a better position to finally select and purchase a puppy that will fit into your home as a friend and companion if you are well informed about the breed you have chosen.

    The ethical, concerned breeder will ask you many personal questions because he cares about the welfare of each of his puppies. The unethical breeder and pet shop is only concerned with your checkbook. If, for some reason, you are unable to keep your dog, contact the breeder. The reputable breeder will take the dog back willingly. Few pet stores can make the same claim.


    1. Location – If you live in an apartment, look into something smaller than a bloodhound. An 8 week old, 20 pound puppy will fit in a condo when it’s purchased, but a Bloodhound puppy grows 4 – 7 pounds per week and 1/2 to 1 inch in height per week. He will very shortly outgrow your lovely little condo. A Bloodhound requires a fenced yard and room to grow.
    2. Family Decision – If you want a Bloodhound for the family but your wife wants something smaller, think twice. Statistics prove that the wife does most of the feeding, training, cleaning and grooming. As your hound grows in size, your wife’s enthusiasm will fade in relation to the increased needs of this giant. Never purchase a puppy to grow up with the baby unless you are prepared to cope with the extra work load.
    3. Responsibility – Once you have acquired a Bloodhound, you have also acquired a whole new set of responsibilities and are no longer the carefree souls you were. You cannot run off for the weekend and leave him to the tender care of your neighbors. He is a dog that requires a lot of personal attention and supervision through his first year. He is not one that thrives on a bowl of food and a bed in the garage. If your life style is unsettled, you are inclined to move frequently, travel or are contemplating the service as a career or are on a limited budget, the possession of a Bloodhound can pose some real problems. An adult hound is not easy to place in another home especially if he has acquired bad habits; getting back your original purchase price through resale is next to impossible and in your desperation to unload an unwanted hound, you might accidentally let him fall into the hands of an uneducated and/or irresponsible breeder or owner.
    4. Breeding– Breeding any purebred stock is an art and a science requiring an in-depth knowledge of genetics, bloodlines and breed characteristics. To insure future breed strengths and type it is essential that only the most superior hounds are bred. Many inexperienced new owners try to recover their original purchase cost by breeding a litter or two. They inadvertently breed mediocre quality dogs and increase the number of inferior hounds. A few have the sale of the week with hopes of unloading older puppies. If you have the desire to breed for income or to supplement your income, choose a breed that is less costly to raise and has a more extensive market.
    5. Showing – If you want a show dog, it is essential that you make this fact clear to the breeder. No breeder can guarantee you a Ch., but he can select a puppy that in his opinion, is of superior quality and free of visible faults that would eliminate the puppy from show competition.
    6. Tracking or Trailing – This is the breed’s main purpose and intent. Bloodhounds are the only ones with a nose that has eyes. Field work can be most fulfilling and exciting as you and your dog work together. But field work requires a lot of dedication, time and patience. However, it’s worth every minute when your dog has a CD, CDX, UD, TD, TDX, or mantrailing title. This work is not for every person or for every dog.
    7. Protection – Is he a watchdog? YES! Is he a guard dog? NO! NO! NO! Guard dogs and watch dogs are not synonymous. The outcome of trying to turn this watch dog into a guard dog is that you end up with a vicious, unpredictable and potentially four-legged lawsuit in your back yard. The Bloodhound is a very sensitive breed. He is extremely intelligent and quick to learn if the owner is patient and capable of communicating his desires to the hound.


    1. Know the breeder. Visit him, talk to him. Get acquainted with his stock and his breeding record.
    2. Check his kennel for cleanliness, odor, clean drinking and eating utensils and the care and housing he gives his hounds.
    3. Puppies should be healthy, clean and happy with clear eyes and noses. A puppy should stand with all four feet pointing forward. He should have big tight feet, heavy bone, ears that reach past the tip of the nose, square lip, an overall narrow appearing head and noticeably loose skin around the head and neck.
    4. Puppies should be outgoing and curious with a happy, tailwagging disposition, rather than cowed or shrinking from visitors.
    5. Age is important. Beware of the breeder who tries to sell you a puppy less than 8 weeks old. Most conscientious breeders do not let a puppy go to a new home before it is 10 to 12 weeks or older.
    6. There is no preference given to color in the breed standard or in the show ring. The colors are black and tan, liver and tan, and red.
    7. Some faults can be observed in a puppy of 10 weeks. You can see a truly bad bite, feet excessively turned in or out, shy or fearful temperament, entropion and screw tails, to name a few. It is your responsibility as a buyer to discuss faults you don’t understand with the breeder and vice versa.
    8. Puppies should have their first set of vaccinations before they go to their new homes and a complete set of instructions for follow-up vaccinations, nail trimming, and general care.
    9. It is the breeder’s responsibility to supply the purchaser with full feeding instructions, complete medical records, a three to four generation pedigree and AKC registration papers. YOU SHOULD ASK FOR A WRITTEN CONTRACT.
    10. BEWARE OF PUPPY MILLS AND PET SHOPS. These puppies are shipped, sometimes as early as 3 or 4 weeks, from dams that are improperly fed and cared for during pregnancy and without the socialization and nutritional care so necessary for healthy development. There are no BARGAIN Bloodhounds.

    Recommended Reading

    1. Catherine F. Brey and Lena F. Reed – The New Complete Bloodhound
    2. Hylda F. Owen – How To Raise And Train A Bloodhound
    3. Bill Tolhurst and Lena Reed – Manhunters, Hounds Of The Big T

    At A Glance:

    Other Names:

    Chien de Saint-Hubert

    Country of Origin:



    Scent hound for large game, service dog, tracking dog and family dog. It was and it must always remain a hound which due to its remarkable sense of smell. They are foremost a leash hound, often used not only to follow the trail of wounded games as in the blood scenting trials, but also to seek out missing people in police operations.


    FCI Classification: Group 6 – Scent hounds and related breeds; Large-sized hounds
    AKC Classification: Hound


    Large (23 – 27 inches at shoulders)


    There are three distinct coat colors: black and tan, liver and tan and red unicolor.

    Litter Size:


    Life Span:

    9 – 11 years

    Grooming Requirements:

    Bloodhounds need quick weekly brushing and regular ear cleaning and nail trimming. They are naturally looking dogs and do not need trimming.


    Heavy seasonal or year round


    Gentle, placid, kind and sociable with people. Particularly attached to its owner. Tolerant of kennel companions and other domestic animals. Somewhat reserved and stubborn. Just as sensitive to compliments as to corrections. Never aggressive. Its voice is deep, but it rarely barks.

    Social skills:

    Bloodhounds usually get along with other animals if socialized from puppyhood.

    Suitability for Children:

    Patient with children of all ages. However, because of their giant size, toddlers should not be left unsupervised to play with these dogs.

    Exercise Needs:

    Bloodhounds require up to 90 minutes of vigorous daily exercise to maintain fitness.

    Train Ability:

    Slow to house train, slow to learn new things, stubborn.

    Health & Behavioral Issues:

    Video Credits: Animal Planet, Discovery Channel
    Image Credits: Orvis


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