PURE, DROOPY, TRACKER
History & Origin
The Bloodhound is a large dog originally bred for trailing and tracking human beings. Easily recognized by its long droopy ears and wrinkled face, bloodhounds are “scent dogs” whose acute sense of smell gives them the extraordinary ability to follow scents (even if they are a few days old!). Therefore, this dog breed makes an important part of search and rescue efforts today.
The bloodhound can be traced back as far as the 3rd century A.D. While their precise origin still remains unknown, they are believed to be descendants of dogs from the ancient Mediterranean world who were bred selectively over several centuries. According to legend, two particular strains of the bloodhound were developed: black and white.
The blacks were perfected by monks at the St. Hubert Monastery in the 7th and 8th century, and appeared in Europe way before the crusades. They came to be known as the famed “St. Hubert’s Hound”. The white variety, on the other hand, was called the “Southern Hound” or “Talbot Hound” and it became extinct in the 17th century.
Dogs from the St. Hubert’s line continued to flourish for several centuries after Hubert’s death. Several bloodhounds were taken to England by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, where they were considered prized gifts among nobles and monarchs. It is believed that the modern bloodhounds are the descendants of these dogs.
In the 12th century, royalty and church dignitaries fostered the development of bloodhounds. Packs of the breed were maintained by high ecclesiastics, and soon the kennel became an essential part of English monasteries. As the deer population declined over the centuries, the bloodhound became the tracking companion of English hunters as it was a fast scent-tracking hound.
The St. Hubert’s Hound faced extinction during the era of the French Revolution, and only the British Bloodhound remained in the late 18th century. Even today, these dogs are called St. Hubert’s Hounds in the French-speaking parts of Europe. Throughout the 19th century, the British black-and-tan Bloodhound was widely exported to many other countries, which in turn helped preserve the breed that was on the verge of extinction by the end of the World War II.
Initially, the bloodhound was mainly used to track deer, wolves and other large game. In the New World, these hounds were also used to track people, particularly escaped criminals, runaway slaves and Native American Indians. And today, bloodhounds have become an essential part of law enforcement as well as search and rescue teams. Their abilities are regarded to such an extent that trails performed by a proven trailing bloodhound are acceptable as evidence in court.
PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER
The dignified bloodhound is a patient, noble, gentle, playful and well-mannered animal. They are not usually harmful towards strangers and get well along with other animals. They also remain calm at home and are especially good with children. Bloodhounds are known to be extremely tolerant of toddlers clambering over them. Therefore, they make for a great family pet.
Bloodhounds are determined yet not quarrelsome, docile yet a bit stubborn and affectionate but somewhat shy around people they don’t know. As far as training is concerned, they are sensitive to correction and kindness, but still like to get things done their own way. Hence, it might prove difficult to train them at first due to their independence, toughness, stubbornness and playfulness. These characteristics, however, are exactly what make the bloodhound a loyal companion and tireless trailer.
The temperament of this dog breed is affected by a number of factors, such as socialization, heredity and training. Bloodhound puppies with nice temperaments are playful and curious, keen to approach people and be held by them. If you find it hard to resolve dog behavioral issues, always consider going for a middle-of-the-road puppy. Also, meet at least one of the parents to ascertain they have a temperament you are comfortable with.
While bloodhounds are happy to nap the entire afternoon away, their reputation for relaxation can often be misleading. Like other dogs, they need plenty of activity and early socialization. By exposing the puppy to several different experiences, sights, sounds and people, you can ensure they grow up to be a well-rounded hound. Taking your Bloodhound along with you to all dog-friendly places, like parks, and inviting visitors over regularly can further polish their social skills.
NUTRITION AND FEEDING
The recommended daily amount for bloodhounds is about 4 to 8 cups of dry food a day, split into two meals. However, how much your dog eats will primarily depend on their metabolism, age, build, and size as well as activity level. After all, just like human beings, the amount of food a dog eats will vary from dog to dog.
It is understood that the quality of the dog food you buy will also make a huge difference when it comes to feeding and nourishing your bloodhound. The higher the quality of dog food, the better it will nourish your dog.
To keep your bloodhound healthy and in good shape, it’s recommended you avoid leaving food out for them all the time. Instead, it’s better to measure their food and feed it to them twice a day.
Moreover, since the bloodhound is a messy eater, you should tuck their ears into a snood before feeding them. This breed of dogs is prone to bloat, also commonly referred to as gastric torsion. The most common factors that contribute towards bloat include stress, heavy exercise before or after a meal, eating a large meal and then drinking large amounts of water, among others. Always remember to keep these things in mind when feeding your bloodhound.
COAT AND GROOMING
The bloodhound is a large, powerful dog with large drooping ears, long muzzles and large heads. They stand between 23 and 27 inches at shoulder and weigh between 80 and 110 pounds. Males, at maturity, are slighter larger than their female counterparts. Their loose, thin coat hangs distinctively in folds around the neck and head. This wrinkled, loose coat coupled with their drooping jaws and deep set eyes, gives bloodhounds a sad appearance which can melt even the strongest of hearts. Their eyes come in shades from yellow to brown, complimenting the color of the coat.
Bloodhounds come in liver and tan, black and tan, and red. Their dark colors are often mixed with badger or lighter colored hair. You might also see a small amount of white appearing on the tail tip, chest and feet.
Brush your dog on a weekly basis (or more if required) with a rubber hound mitt. As bloodhounds shed hair seasonally, you should use a shedding blade during that time to remove any excess hair. Keep in mind that their skin is thin and sensitive, so it’s important to be gentle. Since they are prone to bacterial infections, clean their wrinkles daily with a damp washcloth and make sure to dry thoroughly. You should do the same for the hanging part of their upper lip, known as flews, after each meal.
Moreover, a bloodhound’s ears can trap bacteria, breeding yeast and dirt, making them susceptible to infection. This is why it’s important to clean the inside of their ears weekly using a solution approved by your veterinarian. All you have to do is hold up the ear until you are able to see the ear canal, squeeze in the liquid into the ear, and gently massage it.
Then, wipe the debris outward from the outer ear canal by using a cotton ball. Allow your dog to shake his head (as it pulls out more debris within the ear canal) and repeat the wipe down until the cotton ball is no longer dirty. Always remember never to dig in around the ears because you could end up damaging them.
Nail care and dental hygiene are the only other grooming your bloodhound will require. You should brush the dog’s teeth at least thrice a week in order to prevent the buildup of bacteria and tartar inside it. However, brushing their teeth on a daily basis is even better as it eradicates bad breath and averts the risk of gum disease.
As far as their nails are concerned, trim them once or twice every month. If you are able to hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor, they are probably too long and need to be cut right away. Remember, as with other dogs, bloodhound’s nails have blood vessels, so make sure you don’t cut too far as it could lead to bleeding.
EXERCISE AND TRAINING
As with other breeds, you shouldn’t overdo the exercise of a bloodhound puppy. Their exercise must be limited until they reach physical maturity.
Ideally, the puppy must have 5 minutes of exercise for each month of age. This means that a 2-month old puppy must exercise for no more than 10 minutes a day, a 3-month old for 15 minutes, and so on. It is also extremely important to be aware of the signs of fatigue in your dog.
When it comes to training, a bloodhound is not only intelligent and responsive, but also quite independent. Therefore, you need to be consistent in what’s permitted and what’s not. If you are not, your dog will constantly put you at the test to ascertain whether or not you actually mean what you say. Above all, it’s important to remain patient and calm, using positive reinforcement techniques like food rewards and praise can help significantly in training your dog.
Their exercise and activity needs can easily be met with playtime and walks in the park. You can also leave them in the open space of your backyard and allow them to run around for a while. Always praise your bloodhound when they do something right, and make sure they get ample sleep and rest as it can have a huge effect on the bloodhound’s temperament.
A bloodhound has a lifespan of between 10 to 12 years on an average. Although they are generally healthy, the breed is susceptible to a number of health conditions. This doesn’t necessarily mean bloodhounds will get any or all of these diseases, but if you are considering a hound as an addition to your family, you are better off knowing about these health complications.
Bloat is a common condition among large, deep-chested dogs like the bloodhound, especially if they eat rapidly, exercise vigorously after eating or drink large amounts of water in one go. It happens when the dog’s stomach is distended with air or gas and then twists. As a result, they are unable to vomit or belch to remove the excess air in their stomach, which impedes the blood flow to the heart. In such cases, immediate medical attention is necessary to save the dog’s life.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition, where an abnormal formation prevents the thighbone from fitting securely into the hip joint. While some dogs may show signs of lameness and pain on one or both rear legs, it is usually difficult to notice any indications of discomfort in a dog suffering from hip dysplasia, which can cause arthritis as they age. X-ray screenings are used to determine whether or not your bloodhound needs to be treated for the condition.
Of course, if anything seems out of the ordinary, take your dog to the vet to ensure their health is in order.
Bloodhounds love children, prefers living indoors, have a good temperament, and are tolerant towards other animals, making them the perfect family pet. Since many of them are escape artists, they are ideally suited to homes with large fenced yards, preferably six feet high.
This breed of dogs needs long walks on a daily basis and is capable of going for miles. Therefore, if you enjoy hiking or live in the countryside, bloodhound is the right breed for you as they make perfect jogging buddies.
So, are you interested in getting an intelligent canine that loves being around people? Then a bloodhound is undoubtedly your best choice!
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