All About the Bloodhound's Traits, Health and History

Updated January 13, 2022
Bloodhound dog in the garden

Your first impression of Bloodhounds may stem from that lazy beast featured on The Beverly Hillbillies TV sitcom, but don't be misled. This is a hardworking, heroic breed.

History and Origin

You might assume Bloodhounds are a staple of the American South because of their frequent portrayal in films and on television, but this isn't the case. This breed is actually the product of the French nobleman who bred them, along with their dwarf cousins the Basset Hounds, to accompany their masters on the hunt.

A scent hound by nature, Bloodhounds are known for their amazing ability to track their quarry over hundreds of miles, but the breed wasn't used for tracking humans until about the 16th century.

Today, the noble Bloodhound is the breed of choice for law enforcement and search and rescue workers, using their incomparable talents to find fugitives and victims alike.

Breed Characteristics

Bloodhounds, like all dogs, benefit from early socialization, which includes exposure to a variety of people, sights, noises, and activities. Socialization is important for your Bloodhound puppy to develop into a well-rounded dog.

Blood hound dogs hunting

General Appearance

Female Bloodhounds are typically between 23 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 80 to 100 pounds, while male Bloodhounds are 25 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 90 to 110 pounds. They have long ears, droopy eyes and numerous folds of skin. Their lengthy tails are held flagging over their backs.

Colors include:

  • Black and tan
  • Liver and tan
  • Red

A small amount of white fur is permissible on the chest and feet according to the American Kennel Club (AKC) standard.

Temperament

The Bloodhound is one of the best-natured canines you will ever meet, and they become deeply devoted to their human companions.

Although not the most active of dogs as adults, these hounds make up in perseverance what they lack in speed and agility. Once on the tracking trail, it's nearly impossible to persuade a bloodhound to give up the chase. This has given the breed an unfair reputation for being a bit stubborn, but in all fairness, they are really just very determined to do the job they have been bred for over the last 1,000 years.

On the other hand, puppies of this breed can be quite a challenge to raise and train. They tend to follow their noses straight into trouble, and because their large size makes them quite awkward during development, they can cause a lot of destruction no matter how good their original intentions were.

These dogs can make wonderful family pets, but be careful when you take them for walks. One scent of something particularly interesting and you just might find yourself being pulled along the invisible trail.

Training

They're receptive to kindness or redirection when it comes to training, yet they still want to do things their way. Remain patient and utilize positive reinforcement techniques, including praise and rewards, but it's also important to remain firm and consistent with this breed.

Chewers by nature, Bloodhounds of all ages will gnaw on anything that seems intriguing. Make sure your Bloodhound understands what's okay to chew and what's not. They may still chew some inappropriate items from time to time, but will be less inclined to do so if you've provided plenty of chew toys and activity.

Exercise Requirements

A Bloodhound puppy's exercise should be limited until they reach physical maturity, as with other large breeds. The general guideline is to provide five minutes of activity for each month of age. A 4-month-old puppy should only be exercised for 20 minutes per day, for example.

Bloodhound running in a field

Health

Bloodhounds are typically robust, but may face serious health issues:

  • Bloat: Also known as gastric torsion, this is a painful condition that causes the stomach to twist closed upon itself, trapping digestive acids and gasses that make the stomach blow up like a balloon. The condition can be fatal if it's not treated in time, and survivors are likely to suffer recurrences.
  • Canine hip dysplasia: This degenerative joint disease can be crippling, and in some cases results in the need for euthanasia.
  • Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is caused by a deficiency of thyroid hormone.
  • Entropion: This condition causes the eyelid to fold inward, irritating or damaging the eyeball. It is usually noticeable by 6 months of age.
  • Epilepsy: A seizure disorder that is most often genetic.
  • Fold dermatitis: Friction or trapped moisture in the skin creases causes this type of skin infection.

Lifespan

The lifespan of the Bloodhound is 7 to 10 years.

Grooming

With a rubber mitt, brush your Bloodhound once a week, or more frequently if you choose. They shed seasonally, and you may wish to use a shedding blade to remove surplus hair during that time. Keep in mind that their skin is delicate and be gentle.

To avoid bacterial infections, you should clean their folds on a daily basis. Dry them completely after wiping them out with a damp washcloth. After each meal, do the same for the flews (the upper lip's dangling section).

The ears of a Bloodhound are great at catching dirt and hosting yeast and bacteria, rendering them susceptible to infection. They should be cleaned once a week. The most time-consuming aspect of their grooming routine is ear care.

Fun Facts About the Breed

The key to the Bloodhound's superior ability to track by scent lies in their enlarged olfactory system.

Dogs have the ability to recognize scents that humans can't detect. This is due to the large number of receptors located in their nasal passages. The larger the passages, the greater a canine's ability to detect the scent. Bloodhounds have very large noses and muzzles.

The Bloodhound's ears and jowl flaps also play a vital role in scent detection, capturing and collecting scents to be delivered to the nasal chambers for analysis.

Bloodhound digging a hole

Bloodhounds have been known to pick up human scent on trails that are several days old. This is because humans shed dead skin cells on a continuous basis, and even though they are microscopic, this breed only needs to find one or two to pick up the chase.

Purchasing or Adopting a Bloodhound

If you're looking for a Bloodhound puppy, a good place to start is the Bloodhound Club of America. They have a breeder directory available as well as helpful tips on how to find responsible breeders with quality dogs. The AKC Marketplace also has a breeder search. Expect to pay around $700 to $1,200, although higher-end show dogs from champion lines can cost as much as $5,500.

Cute bloodhound puppy standing on logs

Rescue Organizations

If you would prefer a rescued dog, you can begin your search on PetFinder and Save-a-Rescue. You can also contact these breed-specific Bloodhound rescue organizations to search for Bloodhounds and mixes:

The Breed for You?

This is not the breed for apartment life. These hounds need room to roam and high, sturdy fences to keep them contained in the yard. Unless you have a love for the great outdoors and a penchant for hiking, you might just want to admire these dogs from afar. As wonderful as they are, they are not the breed for everyone.

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All About the Bloodhound's Traits, Health and History