Bloodhound: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

A Bloodhound puppy outdoors.

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Bloodhounds may bring the lazy family dog from the old-school TV show The Beverly Hillbillies to mind, but these large, powerful dogs are anything but lazy. Bloodhounds are extremely active, working dogs that require extensive, daily exercise and long walks on a leash. Bloodhounds have a tendency to follow their nose and drift away during walks or playtime, so keeping them on a leash or contained in a fenced-in yard is vital. Because Bloodhounds have higher exercise needs and energy levels, they thrive in a large homes with large, fenced-in backyards. Apartment or smaller-space living is not recommended for Bloodhounds.

Despite their massive size—generally ranging from 90 to 110 pounds and 23 to 27 inches at the shoulder—these hounds are extremely affectionate and easygoing with the right family. Because they're true pack dogs, they get along well with other dogs and children. As previously mentioned, Bloodhounds have high exercise needs and energy levels, so being left alone for extended periods of time can be detrimental. If your family has an extremely busy schedule and you're away from home for most of the day, the Bloodhound may not be the right dog for you.

Breed Overview

Group: Hound

Height: Males range from 25 to 27 inches, while females measure 23 to 25 inches

Weight: 90 to 110 pounds

Coat: Short, dense and loose, with many folds around the face, neck and ears

Coat Color: A variety of colors, including tan, black, liver and red; darker coat colors tend to have flecks of white, black, grey or brown

Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

Characteristics of the Bloodhound

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness Moderate
Energy Level High
Trainability Moderate
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Bloodhound

Known as Sagaces, Bloodhounds belong to a group of dogs that hunt by scent and were first used in Medieval Europe to hunt wild boar, deer and other game.

It's believed that the Bloodhound dates back to the first century AD, but the first written reference appeared in a poem by Sir Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford. The poem describes a dog carefully trailing a couple dressed up as bears.

Before they were known as Bloodhounds, these dogs that hunted by scent were called St. Hubert hounds. Francois Hubert made breeding dogs that could follow a cold (or old) trail his life's work and continued to develop the breed after retiring to a French monastery. Following his death, Hubert was canonized as the patron saint of hunters in France, hence the name St. Hubert hounds.

St. Hubert Hounds were popular among royalty, including William the Conqueror (who brought them to England when he invaded in 1066) and Elizabeth I, who liked to hunt and kept packs of dogs. During the French Revolution St. Hubert Hound populations decreased in France, but the breed remained popular in England.

Modern-day Bloodhounds were developed in England and eventually traveled to colonial America. Their popularity dipped during the Civil War—they had been depicted as vicious animals in the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin—but had a resurgence in 1888, when English Bloodhounds competed in the Westminster Kennel Club show. After the show, many Americans brought Bloodhounds home and propagated the breed in North America.

Today, Bloodhounds are ranked 45th among breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. Although some families keep Bloodhounds as companions, they're most often used by police departments and law enforcement agencies.

A pack of Bloodhounds hunting.
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Bloodhound Care

Bloodhounds are hardy working dogs, but do require some daily grooming and cleaning. Because Bloodhounds have long, deep wrinkles around their faces, necks, and ears, owners should expect to clean out wrinkles daily. Wiping them with a damp washcloth and drying them thoroughly can help prevent bacterial infections that form in the folds. Be sure to clean the folds around the mouth after every meal.

Bloodhounds have short, dense coats that should be brushed weekly, using a rubber mit or brush. Bloodhounds shed seasonally and may require additional brushing during this time. Remember: Bloodhounds have very thin, loose skin, so it's important to be extremely careful when brushing and grooming.

Bloodhounds' droopy ears often catch dirt, debris, and bacteria, so weekly ear cleaning is mandatory. Ask your veterinarian about special cleaning ear solution, and administer it to the ear canal once per week. Then, lower your Bloodhound's ear and gently massage the solution into the ear. You can carefully remove any dirt, debris, or wax using a clean cotton pad or cloth. Avoid using cotton swabs, as they can damage the delicate, inner-ear structures.

Like all breeds, you should brush your Bloodhound's teeth several times per week and trim his or her nails as needed.

It's important to note: Grooming and ear cleaning is extremely important to Bloodhound care. If your family can't dedicate the necessary time to caring for a Bloodhound's skin folds and ears, you may want to consider another breed.

Because Bloodhounds are extremely active working dogs with high energy levels and high exercise needs, you can expect to exercise your dog several times per day. Bloodhounds are capable of walking or jogging for miles if you want a new exercise buddy, but are also happy playing in the backyard.

Bloodhounds can be stubborn, which may make training difficult. Obedience classes are recommended beginning in puppyhood. The keys to training a Bloodhound are consistency and patience; be sure to utilize positive reenforcement with special toys or treats.

Prospective owners should know that Bloodhounds of all ages are chewers, so it's important to establish what's ok—and not ok—to chew on early in puppyhood.

BloodhoundResize.jpg
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Bloodhound sitting on lawn with Peper tree in background, California, USA
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Bloodhound walking outside
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Common Health Problems

Bloodhounds are, generally, healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they may be susceptible to certain health conditions. It's important to know the signs and symptoms of these health problems, should they arise in your pet.

Some health conditions that are common in Bloodhounds include:

  • Ear infections: Bloodhounds' long, droopy ears often catch dirt, debris, and bacteria. Examining and cleaning your dogs' ears frequently can help prevent infection.
  • Fold dermatitis: Like their ears, a Bloodhound's facial folds can trap dirt, bacteria, and food. It's important to clean your Bloodhound's folds daily. Signs of fold dermatitis include redness, irritation, sores, and odors, and most commonly occurs around the tail, face, and lips.
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus: Commonly known as bloat, this is a life-threatening condition that affects larger breeds. If a Bloodhound eats or drinks too quickly, the stomach can become distended and twist around itself. This can limit blood flow to the heart and result in a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Without emergency medical attention, a dog with bloat can die. Look for signs like a distended abdomen, retching without producing vomit, or excessive drooling, and call your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has bloat.

Diet and Nutrition

Depending on your Bloodhound's age, size, and activity levels, you can expect to feed him or her between 4- and 8-cups of high quality dog food divided into two meals each day. If you're not sure how much to feed your dog, ask your veterinarian for advice, or consult the feeding chart from your preferred dog food brand.

Canine obesity can affect all breeds, and can result in serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. If you think your Bloodhound is overweight, your veterinarian can provide a feeding plan to help get him or her down to a healthier weight.

Pros
  • Affectionate, loyal, and loving to family members and other pets

  • Perfect for active families that like to walk, hike, and jog

  • Low-maintenance brushing and bathing

Cons
  • Tend to wander when off-leash or in a non-enclosed area

  • High-maintenance fold and ear cleaning

  • High energy and exercise levels

Where to Adopt or Buy a Bloodhound

Unfortunately, many Bloodhounds are purchases from breeders without a clear understanding of the care and time required to raise a happy, healthy dog. For this reason, many Bloodhounds are surrendered to shelters or rescue groups. Contact your local animal shelter or a Bloodhound rescue organization to see if there are any dogs available to you.

If you choose to purchase a Bloodhound from a breeder, be sure to do your research and ensure you're working with an ethical breeder. Be on the lookout for common signs of backyard breeding, like unsanitary conditions at the breeding site, multiple litters available at the same time, or unhealthy dogs. If possible, ask to meet your puppy's parents to ensure they're healthy, too.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Bloodhounds aren't for every family. If you're away from the home often or live in a smaller space, a Bloodhound may not be the right pick for you. If you're willing to dedicate the time and energy to proper care, however, a Bloodhound can be an excellent family pet that's loyal, loving, and friendly to children and other animals.

If you're interested in breeds similar to the Bloodhound, be sure to check out: