Breeds 101: Meet the Bloodhound

Willow, a 10-month-old bloodhound, is the newest addition to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit and will be trained as a search and rescue dog. Willow will be replacing Dixie, a 12-year-old dog, who will soon retire.K9 Officer
Willow, a 10-month-old bloodhound, is the newest addition to the Indian River County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit and will be trained as a search and rescue dog. Willow will be replacing Dixie, a 12-year-old dog, who will soon retire.K9 Officer /

Today’s feature for the “Breeds 101” series is the powerful, scent sleuth, the Bloodhound. These dogs are renowned for their amazing and relentless ability to follow a scent to the end.

The exact origin of the Bloodhound is unknown, it is believed to come somewhere from the ancient Mediterranean. While not certain, they appear to be the oldest extant (living) scent hound which has contributed to other subsequent hound breeds. The origin of the name comes from very specific breeding by high-ranking members of the pre-Reformation church where the breed was perfected to what we know today. These dogs became known as “blooded hounds” —“blooded” meaning “of aristocratic blood,” which lead to today’s name of Bloodhound.

Detectives and police forces have relied on the noses of these hounds to follow the track of people for centuries. Bloodhounds will follow the trail of a scent until the end, regardless of how journey required to arrive there. Even with continuing technology evolutions, nothing has been able to match the ability of the Bloodhound. Because of this, the testimony of the Bloodhound’s mantrailing results is acceptable in almost any court.

According to the American Kennel Club breed standard, the Bloodhound has “in a most marked degree, every point and characteristic of those dogs which hunt together by scent (Sagaces). He is very powerful, and stands over more ground than is usual with hounds of other breeds. The skin is thin to the touch and extremely loose, this being especially noticeable about the head and neck, where it hangs in deep folds.”

The Bloodhound is praised for its phenomenal sense of smell and devotion to follow through on a trail, off a scent they are a friendly and docile breed.

Coming in only three standard color variations, the Bloodhound can be seen in: black & tan, liver & tan, red. Standing at 25-27 inches (male) or 23-25 inches (female) and weighing 90-110 pounds (male) or 80-100 pounds (female), these members of the hound group are hardy. They have an average life expectancy of 10-12 years.

Grooming requirements are not extensive with the Bloodhound. They are seasonal shedders, regular brushing can help remove loose hair and keep their short, yet dense coat healthy. Regular baths are important for them though, it can help reduce any odors that build up in their skin wrinkles. Their ears should also be frequently checked and cleaned, this helps prevent infections.

While not actually the couch potato they are often portrayed to be, Bloodhounds do require regular exercise to keep them happy. Since they were bred to go hours on end tracking scents, they can benefit from longer daily walks. Special attention should be payed to backyards that they may spend a long time in though because these dogs are notorious escape artists. After they have had a good stent of activity, the Bloodhound is happy to lounge on the porch with their family.

These sleuthing dogs are are in the top 50 according to the most popular breeds list put out by the American Kennel Club. The Bloodhound sits at number 46 out of 195 recognized dog breeds.

Since these hounds were bred to keep focused on a scent, this had led to a very independent yet devoted breed. Because they like to take charge, a firm training approach with lots of positive reinforcement is an excellent strategy with this breed. Consistency and starting early is key with the Bloodhound in making sure they learn correct obedience and continue to follow it. Breaking bad habits can be much harder with older Bloodhounds.

Known for hunting in packs, Bloodhounds enjoy being with others. They often do well in families with children or with multiple dogs. Future owners should be prepared for a lot of slobber though.

Overall a healthy breed by nature the Bloodhound can land themselves in the vet’s office frequently due to their notoriety for eating anything and everything. Specific health issues recommended to be screened for include: hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and cardiac examination. During the dogs lifetime, bloat which is a life-threatening torsion of the stomach, can affect them.

Related Story. Breeds 101: Meet the Basset Hound. light

Bloodhounds have been seen in a variety of media platforms. In the Disney multiverse a few very famous Bloodhounds include: Pluto, Bruno from Cinderella, Trusty from Lady and the Tramp, and Copper from Fox and the Hound. The mascot of the US National Crime Prevention Council is a Bloodhound named McGruff the Crime Dog, whose catch phrase was “take a bite out of crime.”