The Bloodhound dog breed is large in size with a large head and a facial expression of perpetual laziness. They have been used for centuries as scent hounds for tracking big game. The dog we see now is thought to have its origins in Belgium, or the Abbey of St. Hubert in particular, which has earned it the name Chien de Saint-Hubert in French.
The dog’s ability to detect scents over several days, and across water, has come in handy in many search and rescue operations and police work.
It is not clear exactly how long back this breed evolved, but Bloodhounds were mentioned in 14th century literature. They were used by hunters to track wounded animals over great distances. These dogs were bred in the Abbey of St. Hubert and presented to the king every year and they used to take part in organized hunts in packs. There were times when their popularity declined to such an extent that they became nearly extinct as a breed.
The British used them for man-trailing which was a great sport at one time. It is not clear when they first appeared in the United States, but there’s evidence that they were used for tracking runaway slaves. Even today they are used for tracking criminals, lost pets and children.
Bloodhounds measure 23-27 inches or more at the withers and over 100 pounds in weight. Most of their weight comes from their skeletal mass. The typical colors of this breed are tan and liver mixed with black. Their tan color is referred to as red. There are Bloodhounds with predominantly black or liver colored coats or black saddled ones. The coat is short and hard.
The dog has long ears hanging on either side of the face and its tail is thin and long. The wrinkles or skin folds on the face give the dog a ‘wizened old man’ look.
Bloodhounds are independent dogs with a very stubborn nature. They are not the easiest dogs to train. But their gentleness and affectionate nature make them an ideal family pet in spite of their large size. They love spending time with the family even if it is spent mainly on the couch. Their love for soft surfaces is legendary. But this dog is not as lazy as it looks, and can draw from its energy reserves when it is tracking a scent. Since these dogs are good with children, they are often kept as housedogs.
Grooming and exercise
Having been developed as a hunting breed, Bloodhounds need their daily quota of exercise and activities. Even though they may seem to be more interested in lazing around in the house and sleeping the day away, they can perk up when it comes to a hike or a free run. Their high reserves of energy come into play once they take off, so it is extremely important that they are let loose only in safe areas. These dogs are known to wander off unexpectedly when they happen to be interested in something they encountered during a hike.
Bloodhounds have a short coat which makes its grooming easy and casual. A light brushing once every week or two should keep it fine. But extra care should be given to the long, dangling ears and the flaps of skin on the face and neck. It is essential to keep the skin folds clean and dry as these dogs are prone to developing dermatitis in the skin folds. The inner side of the ears has to be cleaned regularly as well.
Bloodhound dog breed may be an outdoor breed, but they rather prefer the indoors. Bloodhounds are known to be messy as housedogs, and may not get on well with those who are fastidious about the neatness of their home. These dogs can live outside too, but they generally do well in mild climates. They can stay outside in summer as long as good protection from the sun is provided.
Common health issues of Bloodhound dog breed
Bloodhounds are large-sized dogs and, like the other dog breeds of similar size, they have a shorter lifespan compared to smaller breeds. But this breed is particularly known for its very low life expectancy which is just 7 to 10 years. They are plagued by many major and minor health issues including hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. They may have eye problems such as ectropion and ear problems too. They are prone to dermatitis and hypothyroidism. Gastric torsion or bloating is a major cause of death in this breed. It is important for the owners of these dogs to be able to recognize the early symptoms of bloating so that the dogs can get prompt medical intervention.