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Bloodhound Dog Breed Information & Characteristics

The Bloodhound, one of the many illustrious Hound dog breeds, dates back to medieval France. Initially bred for trailing deer and boar, they have evolved into a highly active and intelligent breed. Their exceptional sense of smell earns them a vital role in law enforcement and search and rescue operations. Fans of this breed adore their gentle disposition and iconic appearance. With a muscular build, wrinkly skin, extra-long ears, and an incredibly powerful nose, the Bloodhound possesses a distinctive look.

Bloodhounds boast the most powerful sense of smell among all canine breeds. These dogs are extraordinary trackers, particularly adept at locating people. Their scenting abilities are so precise that the evidence they discover is admissible in a court of law. Inside the house, Bloodhounds display a gentle and laid-back nature. However, when on the trail, their tenacity and determination shine through. For experienced dog parents, a more devoted and loving companion would be hard to find. That is, if you don’t mind a bit of drool from time to time. However, novice dog owners thinking of bringing a Bloodhound puppy home should be aware of the breed’s renowned stubbornness and sensitivity.

When considering a Bloodhound, it’s advisable to prioritize adopting from rescue organizations or shelters to provide a loving home to a dog in need. However, if you’re on the search for Bloodhound puppies and decide to purchase, it’s crucial to choose a reputable breeder. Conduct thorough research to ensure that the breeder follows ethical practices and prioritizes the well-being of their dogs. Reputable Bloodhound breeders prioritize the health and temperament of their dogs, conduct necessary health screenings, and provide a nurturing environment for the puppies. This active approach ensures that you bring home a healthy and happy pup while discouraging unethical breeding practices.

Quick Facts

  • Origin: Belgium
  • Size: Male: 23-27 inches (58-69 cm) at the shoulder, Female: 21-25 inches (53-63 cm) at the shoulder
  • Weight: Male: 80-110 pounds (36-50 kg), Female: 70-90 pounds (32-41 kg)
  • Breed group: Hound
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Coat: Short, smooth
  • Temperament: Gentle, affectionate, patient, loyal
  • Exercise needs: 30-60 minutes of exercise per day
  • Training: Can be stubborn, but can be trained with patience and positive reinforcement
  • Grooming: Weekly brushing
  • Health: Some health problems that are common in the bloodhound include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and eye problems.
  • The bloodhound is featured in many other works of pop culture, including the films “The Aristocats” and “The Shawshank Redemption“.
  • They can track a scent that is up to 300 hours old.
  • They have 320 million scent receptors in their noses, compared to about 6 million in human noses.

Bloodhound Pictures

Bloodhound Overview

When we envision the Bloodhound, various images come to mind, from the baying mantrailers in movies like “Cool Hand Luke” to the sight of a relaxed hound basking in the sun on the front porch of a quaint Southern town home. While the mantrailer portrayal is more accurate, it doesn’t capture the breed’s full essence. The Bloodhound is indeed single-minded when on a trail, but what many may not realize is that once they find their target, they display a gentle and affectionate nature. This wrinkled hound is far from lazy, always preferring to follow a scent trail for miles rather than lounging on the sun porch. If you live with a Bloodhound, be prepared to embark on long walks every day to meet their exercise needs.

The Bloodhound belongs to the Sagaces group of dogs, known for their keen discernment and sound judgment, derived from the Latin word “sagacious.” These qualities are particularly evident in the Bloodhound’s incredible scenting abilities. Originally bred to trail boar and deer in medieval Europe, modern-day Bloodhounds have found important roles as mantrailers for police departments and search and rescue organizations. Their remarkable skills have even made their “testimony” admissible in a court of law.

While they can also be family dogs, caring for a Bloodhound demands a high level of commitment. Not everyone can accommodate the needs of a large dog that slobbers, emits a distinctive houndy odor, possesses boundless energy and endurance, and exhibits a stubborn streak. However, for those who can, they will discover a Bloodhound of great character, known for their kindness, sensitivity, and tolerance towards children and other animals. With the right family, these dogs bring immeasurable joy and laughter to their home.

Bloodhound Highlights

The Bloodhound is a highly active breed, far from the lazy portrayal you might have seen on “The Beverly Hillbillies”. As working dogs, they require long daily walks or runs to stay content and fulfilled.

Apartment living is not suitable for Bloodhounds; they thrive best in a home with a spacious, fenced yard. Being pack dogs, they enjoy the company of other dogs and can tolerate living with a cat.

Bloodhounds are known for their slobbering and shedding, so keeping baby wipes or hand towels handy throughout the house is helpful. Regular brushing is also necessary to manage their shedding.

Although Bloodhounds are loving and patient with children, proper education on how to treat them and supervised playtime is essential. They may be too large for toddlers and accidentally knock them down with their wagging tail.

Due to their strong scenting instincts, a fenced yard is a necessity to prevent them from wandering off on interesting trails, oblivious to traffic and other hazards. Walking them on a leash is also crucial for the same reason.

Their stubborn nature requires an owner who is firm, loving, and consistent in training. Positive reinforcement works well with Bloodhounds. It’s essential to routinely check their ears and keep them clean to prevent recurring infections.

Bloodhounds have a tendency to chew and swallow various items, so careful monitoring of their surroundings is essential to prevent ingestion of harmful objects.

When not tracking scents, Bloodhounds prefer to live indoors with their family, as they are affectionate and devoted companions.

To ensure a healthy dog, it is crucial to avoid purchasing puppies from irresponsible breeders, puppy mills, or pet stores. Instead, seek a reputable breeder who tests their breeding dogs for genetic diseases and ensures they have sound temperaments.

Bloodhound History

The history of dogs hunting by scent dates back to ancient times, with reports of dogs tracking animals tracing back to the first century AD. However, it was during medieval Europe that these dogs evolved into the scenthound we now recognize as the Bloodhound. The first known reference to the breed by its name “Bloodhound” was in a poem titled William of Palerne by Sir Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, in 1350. This depiction described a diligent Bloodhound tracking two lovers disguised as bears. The term “Bloodhound” likely originated from the breed’s noble status, as they were kept by noblemen and abbots, earning them the title of a “blooded” hound.

The early scenthounds were referred to as St. Hubert hounds, bred by the monks of St. Hubert’s Abbey, and they served as the ancestors of today’s Bloodhounds. St. Hubert himself, Francois Hubert, was an avid hunter who dedicated his life to breeding dogs capable of following old or cold trails. He was later canonized and became the patron saint of hunters, and in France, Bloodhounds are still sometimes referred to as St. Hubert hounds. Over the centuries, these hounds thrived and found favor among monarchs and nobles, even being brought to England by William the Conqueror after his invasion in 1066. The breed continued to flourish, especially during Elizabeth I’s reign, where she maintained packs of St. Hubert hounds and Shakespeare mentioned a dog likely referencing the Bloodhound in his play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

However, the French Revolution took a toll on the St. Hubert hounds, with the aristocracy gone and the great hunts no longer prominent. Thankfully, their popularity remained in England, where they were valued not only for their hunting skills but also for their ability to track down wrongdoers. Records of Bloodhounds tracking thieves and poachers date back to 1805, and their reputation was further enhanced during the Victorian era with the rise of dog shows and dogs becoming companions to society. Queen Victoria herself showed interest in the breed, entering one of her Bloodhounds in a dog show in 1869.

While the modern Bloodhound was developed in England, the breed had also made its way to America during colonial times, with even Benjamin Franklin expressing interest in acquiring some Bloodhounds for tracking purposes. Unfortunately, during the Civil War, the breed’s reputation suffered due to its portrayal as vicious beasts in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s antislavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. However, interest in Bloodhounds resurged in 1888 when three English Bloodhounds participated in the Westminster Kennel Club show. Wealthy Americans then began breeding them again, leading to the production of exceptional dogs.

Today, Bloodhounds primarily serve as mantrailers and work in search and rescue operations for law enforcement agencies. Though they are an uncommon breed, ranking 45th among the 155 breeds registered by the American Kennel Club, they continue to showcase their extraordinary scenting abilities and make valuable contributions to various fields of work.

Bloodhound Size

Male Bloodhounds typically have a height range of 25 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 90 to 110 pounds. On the other hand, female Bloodhounds typically measure 23 to 25 inches in height and weigh between 80 to 100 pounds.

Bloodhound Personality

Bloodhounds are gentle and affectionate dogs, making them an excellent choice for families and companions. They are known for their calm and patient nature, and they display remarkable loyalty and devotion to their owners. With their exceptional sense of smell, these highly scent-oriented dogs are outstanding trackers and search and rescue dogs. Although they are generally friendly and good-natured, they can be independent thinkers, so they require consistent and patient training. Due to their strong tracking instincts, they may sometimes get distracted by scents during walks, so leash training is essential. Overall, the Bloodhound’s amiable disposition and incredible tracking abilities make it a unique and valuable addition to any household or working environment.

Temperament in Bloodhounds is influenced by various factors, including genetics, training, and socialization. Puppies with pleasant temperaments are curious, playful, and open to interacting with people. When choosing a puppy, opting for one with a balanced disposition, neither too dominant nor too timid, is advisable. Meeting at least one of the parents, usually the mother, allows you to gauge the temperament you’re comfortable with. Observing siblings or other relatives of the parents can also provide insights into how the puppy may mature.

Early socialization is vital for all Bloodhound puppies. Exposing them to diverse people, environments, and experiences during their formative stages helps shape them into well-rounded adult dogs. Enrolling in a puppy kindergarten class, inviting visitors over, and taking leisurely walks to meet neighbors and encounter different stimuli contribute to a well-adjusted and socially adept Bloodhound.

Bloodhound Health

Bloodhounds, like all breeds, can be susceptible to certain health conditions, although not every individual will develop these diseases. If you’re considering this breed, it’s crucial to be aware of these potential issues and choose a responsible breeder who provides health clearances for both the puppy’s parents.

Here are some common health concerns in Bloodhounds:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A hereditary condition where the thighbone doesn’t fit properly into the hip joint, leading to pain and lameness. X-ray screening can detect this condition, and affected dogs should not be used for breeding.
  • Elbow Dysplasia: Common in large-breed dogs, this condition results from irregular growth rates of the bones in the elbow joint, causing painful lameness. Treatment may involve surgery or pain management.
  • Hypothyroidism: Caused by a deficiency of thyroid hormone, leading to various signs such as infertility, obesity, mental dullness, and skin and coat changes. It can be managed with thyroid replacement medication.
  • Ectropion: The outward rolling or sagging of the eyelid, which can cause irritation and infections. Severe cases may require surgical correction.
  • Entropion: An eyelid defect where it rolls inward, irritating or injuring the eyeball. Surgical correction may be necessary in severe cases.
  • Epilepsy: A seizure disorder that can be hereditary or of unknown cause, and it can be managed with medication.
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat): A life-threatening condition that affects large, deep-chested dogs, especially those with certain eating habits. Immediate veterinary attention is required if bloat is suspected.
  • Fold Dermatitis: A skin infection caused by friction or trapped moisture in skin folds. Proper maintenance and care can help prevent this condition.

When acquiring a Bloodhound puppy, ensure the parents have been tested and cleared of these conditions. Early socialization, proper healthcare, and regular veterinary check-ups can contribute to a healthy and happy Bloodhound companion.

Bloodhound Care

Bloodhounds thrive as indoor/outdoor dogs with plenty of interaction with their human family. They are happiest in homes with large fenced yards, as they are known to be escape artists and require fences at least six feet high. Underground electronic fences are not effective for containing them, as their strong desire to follow scents overrides any momentary shocks.

Walking a Bloodhound can be an arm workout, as they tend to pull strongly on the leash while following their noses. Leash training is essential to prevent them from wandering off in pursuit of interesting smells. These dogs need long daily walks and have impressive endurance, making them great companions for outdoor activities like hiking or jogging. Additionally, Bloodhounds can excel in search and rescue work or tracking tests.

Exercise should be limited for Bloodhound puppies until they reach physical maturity, following the rule of 5 minutes of exercise per month of age. Crate training is highly recommended for keeping them out of trouble and aiding in housetraining.

As adults, Bloodhounds are prone to counter-surfing due to their height, and their long tails can easily clear coffee tables, so it’s essential to keep food and breakables out of reach. They are natural chewers, so providing plenty of chew toys and regular exercise will help prevent destructive behavior.

Training a Bloodhound can be a rewarding but challenging task. They are intelligent yet independent, often adopting a “What’s in it for me?” attitude. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise and treats, work best, and training sessions should be kept short and enjoyable.

Remember, with a Bloodhound, it’s best to ask rather than tell. Their cooperation is more likely when approached with patience and gentle guidance rather than harsh punishment.

Bloodhound Feeding

The recommended daily amount of high-quality dry food for a Bloodhound is 4 to 8 cups, divided into two meals. However, it’s important to note that the actual amount your adult dog needs depends on various factors such as size, age, metabolism, and activity level. Just like people, dogs are individuals, and their food requirements can vary significantly. A highly active Bloodhound will need more food than a less active one.

The quality of the dog food also plays a crucial role. Opting for a better-quality dog food means that it will provide more nourishment, requiring less quantity to satisfy your dog’s nutritional needs.

To maintain your Bloodhound’s weight and overall health, measure his food and feed him twice a day instead of leaving food out all the time. If you’re unsure about his weight, you can perform the eye test and hands-on test. Look down at him – there should be a visible waistline. Place your hands on his back with the thumbs along the spine and fingers spread downward – you should be able to feel his ribs without pressing hard. If you can’t, he might need less food and more exercise.

Bloodhounds are known for being messy eaters, especially with their long ears. You may want to use a snood to tuck their ears away before mealtime. It’s also recommended to choose water dishes with a narrow diameter to prevent their ears from dragging in them.

As Bloodhounds are prone to gastric torsion or bloat, be cautious about their feeding routine. Factors like eating a large meal and drinking lots of water immediately after, engaging in heavy exercise before or after meals, using raised feeding dishes, and stress can contribute to bloat. It’s crucial to consider these factors while feeding your Bloodhound.

Bloodhound Coat Color And Grooming

The Bloodhound’s coat is characterized by being loose and thin to the touch. It forms deep folds around the neck and head, especially over the forehead and sides of the face when the head is lowered. These wrinkles, along with the loose, pendulous skin beneath the neck and throat (dewlap) and the long, sweeping ears, serve to funnel scent from the ground up to the Bloodhound’s keen nose and hold it there. The coat colors of Bloodhounds include black and tan, liver and tan, and red. Sometimes, darker colors may be mixed with lighter or badger-colored hair, or flecked with white. Small patches of white may also appear on the chest, feet, and the tail’s tip, known as the stern.

To maintain the Bloodhound’s coat, brushing once a week with a rubber hound mitt is recommended, or more frequently if desired. They shed seasonally, so during that time, a shedding blade can help remove excess hair. It’s important to be gentle as their skin is thin. Regularly cleaning their wrinkles is crucial to prevent bacterial infections. Using a damp washcloth, wipe out the wrinkles and ensure they are thoroughly dried. After meals, the flews (hanging part of the upper lip) should also be cleaned in the same manner.

The Bloodhound’s ears are prone to trapping dirt and breeding yeast and bacteria, making them susceptible to infections. Weekly cleaning with a solution recommended by your veterinarian is essential. Gently massage the liquid into the ear while holding the ear flap up, and then wipe the debris outward from the outer ear canal using a cotton ball. Avoid inserting the cotton ball too far into the ear canal. Repeat the wipedown with a clean cotton ball after letting the dog shake its head. Continue wiping until the cotton ball remains clean. Never use a cotton swab to dig around in the ears, as it can cause damage.

Apart from coat care, Bloodhounds also need dental hygiene and nail care. Brushing their teeth two or three times a week helps prevent tartar buildup and gum disease. Trim their nails once or twice a month to avoid painful tears and other issues. If you’re not experienced in trimming dog nails, seek advice from a vet or groomer.

It’s vital to start grooming your Bloodhound from a young age, handling their paws, mouth, and ears regularly to make it a positive experience. This lays the foundation for easy veterinary exams and other handling as they grow into adults.

Bloodhound Children And Other Pets

Bloodhounds have a natural affinity for children and enjoy their company. However, due to their large size and energetic nature, they can inadvertently knock over a toddler with a swish of their tail. As a result, they are better suited to homes with older children. It is crucial to educate children on how to approach and interact with dogs properly. Always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to avoid any potential incidents, such as biting or pulling on the dog’s ears or tail.

Teaching children not to approach a dog while it’s sleeping or eating and never attempting to take the dog’s food away is essential for safety. It is imperative that no dog is ever left unsupervised with a child.

Generally, Bloodhounds are amiable with other dogs, though some may have reservations around smaller breeds. They usually coexist well with cats, although feline family members may not appreciate the slobbering affections of a Bloodhound.

Bloodhound Rescue Groups

Bloodhounds are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Bloodhounds in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. You can likely find many with a quick internet search. If you don’t see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Bloodhound rescue.

  • American Bloodhound Club Rescue
  • The Canadian Bloodhound Club Rescue
  • Southeast Bloodhound Rescue
  • Southwest Bloodhound Rescue

Bloodhound Breed Organizations

Finding a reputable dog breeder is one of the most important decisions you will make when bringing a new dog into your life. Reputable breeders are committed to breeding healthy, well-socialized puppies that will make great companions. They will screen their breeding stock for health problems, socialize their puppies from a young age, and provide you with lifetime support.

On the other hand, backyard breeders are more interested in making a profit than in producing healthy, well-adjusted dogs. They may not screen their breeding stock for health problems, and they may not socialize their puppies properly. As a result, puppies from backyard breeders are more likely to have health problems and behavioral issues.

More Info For You


  • Dog Names
  • Bringing Home Your Dog
  • Training To Walk On-Leash
  • Housetraining Puppies
  • Feeding A Puppy
  • Indoor Activities For Dogs
  • Teaching Your Dog Tricks
  • How To Take Pictures Of Your Dog
Alva Thomas
Alva Thomas
Alva Thomas expert in training and caring for pet dog breeds. Whether he spending quality time with her own furry companions or contributing to websites such as Dogsbreed.org and Animalpet.com, dedicated to our canine.

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