Bloodhound dogs are musty, drool a lot, and can be very stubborn at times, but they are a very affectionate and proud breed. Famed for their keen sense of smell, their noses can often lead them into trouble, so be sure to always keep your eye on them.
Don't let their droopy faces fool you into thinking they are lazy because they will get into constant mischief. However, their loving and friendly personality makes this gentle giant great for families, as long as they don't mind a dog that needs plenty of attention.
Bloodhound Dog Breed Characteristics (Physical)
Bloodhounds are one of the most recognizable breeds in the world, with their long, drooping face and big, dark eyes that portray a sense of wisdom and maturity. Their large faces are set with loose skin, wrinkles and framed with enormous, floppy ears. Bloodhounds have an unusually large skull for their size, as well as a very thick bone structure.
Built to be an endurance hunting dog that can follow a scent for days on end, they are equipped with large hind legs capable of walking dozens of miles without stopping. Their large, broad noses are perfect for sniffing around and tracking scents.
Bloodhounds have a relatively shorter lifespan than most dogs, at around 8-10 years. In 2004, the UK Kennel Club reported that Bloodhounds had a median lifespan of 6.75 years, which would make them one of the shortest-lived of all the breeds.
Lastly, Bloodhound owners should prepare for considerable amounts of drool. They can fling saliva over 20 feet with just a shake of their head. Be prepared for loads of slobbery, wet kisses with your Bloodhounds.
Bloodhound Dog Breed Size
Bloodhounds are a larger breed of dog, and males can grow up to 25 to 27 inches tall and weigh approximately 90 to 110 pounds. Female Bloodhounds are slightly smaller, standing 23 to 25 inches tall and weighing 80 to 100 pounds.
While most dogs fully mature around 12 to 15 months old, Bloodhounds develop a bit slower. They hit adolescence around 12 months of age and are fully mature around the 2-year mark.
Bloodhound Dog Breed Personality
The best way to describe a Bloodhound is easy-going but proud and independent. They would rather do things their way and can be very stubborn. New owners might find them hard to train or deal with.
If they catch a scent that interests them, Bloodhounds can get tunnel vision and attempt to track the smell to its origin. While very useful for hunting or law enforcement, their determination can sometimes lead to trouble if not monitored closely. Bloodhounds are most compatible with owners that understand their need to sniff.
However, with the proper training, the Bloodhound's affectionate personality truly shines through. They are a very gentle and calm breed, and they love to be around people.
Bloodhound Dog Exercise
Bloodhounds may be calm, but they are far from lazy. This dog has a high energy level that needs to be burned off with long periods of physical activity. Bloodhound owners should provide them with a large open space to explore and sniff around.
If you don't want to hang up missing dog posters, ensure the yard you keep your hound in is properly fenced. Bloodhounds tend to disregard their surroundings if they lock onto a scent. They are master escape artists and will follow a scent into oncoming traffic if they are not careful.
Ensure that your Bloodhound gets at least 1.5-2 hours of exercise daily. You can take them on walks (a leash is a requirement!) or try a game of tug-of-war in a secured area. This breed can get destructive if their physical needs aren't met, so make time in your schedule for some quality exercise for you and your dog.
Bloodhound Dog Breed Training
The first 2-3 years of the Bloodhound's life are the most critical to their growth and maturation. Puppy training and obedience classes are HIGHLY recommended for Bloodhounds as they can get set in their habits very early on. They are competent learners, even at eight weeks old, and will absorb everything you teach them.
Owners must be firm and consistent with their training but not overly strict. Otherwise, your Bloodhound will refuse to listen. Remember that they might have short attention spans as a puppy, so stay patient with them and keep training sessions short.
When taking your Bloodhound out for walks, put them on a leash, or else they might run away. They should be leash trained early on so they can get accustomed to the harness. Plenty of positive reinforcement is necessary for full cooperation.
Bloodhounds are prone to chew on everything they see in their sight, including furniture. Remember to give them a couple of chew toys to curb that instinct and discourage early on what is not okay to chew.
Channeling their amazing ability to smell can be excellent training for a Bloodhound. Allowing them to track a scent (while on a leash!) helps fulfill their need to explore. It is even possible to teach them to mantrail or track a person through an article of their scent.
Bloodhounds have a natural curiosity that comes with their strong need to sniff things. If anything, try to play hide-and-seek with them. Bloodhounds love to be challenged by sniffing you out. They may even help you find a lost item one day.
Like with all dogs, try to socialize your Bloodhound pup with other pets and people as soon as possible. Early socialization is important for building that loving, social personality they are capable of. You can even sign your Bloodhound up for puppy kindergarten classes as early as ten weeks old.
Bloodhound Dog Breed History
The Bloodhound is one of the oldest purebred dog breeds that exist today. Their origins date back thousands of years, with some texts even mentioning them as far back as 100 A.D., with scholars referring to a "hound with unrivaled scenting powers." However, the Bloodhound we know and love today became popular in Western Europe about a thousand years ago during the Medieval period.
The earliest Bloodhounds were called St. Hubert Hounds, named after Francois Hubert (656-727), who made it his life's work to breed a dog capable of tracking cold scents. Hubert is credited as the first breeder who truly let the Bloodhound flourish and grow into the amazing trackers they are today.
The first mentions of the name "Bloodhound" are in a poem written by Sir Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford. It comes from the phrase "blooded hound" in reference to the dog's noble status when mostly aristocrats of "noble blood" owned Bloodhounds.
Bloodhounds were extremely popular among the nobles of the time, sought after for their tracking ability. They utilized the dog's ability to not only hunt but also to track criminals or thieves.
It wasn't until the 1800s that the Bloodhound was truly perfected during the Victorian Era in England. The rise of dog shows led to many seeking higher breeding standards and bloodline tracking. This trend led to a giant surge in popularity for higher-quality, purebred dog breeding. Even Queen Victoria herself owned a Bloodhound and entered him in a dog show in 1869.
Around the same time, Bloodhounds came to America and became trackers for runaway slaves. When slavery was abolished in 1865, people began to use Bloodhounds for mantrailing as a leisure activity. Eventually, people realized the potential for Bloodhounds in search-and-rescue operations. Law enforcement agencies started to train Bloodhounds for that purpose.
Bloodhound Dog Breed Health Problems
Bloodhounds are prone to similar health conditions that many other large breed dogs may 2have. Many of these health problems are genetic and hereditary, so always ensure the breeder or previous owner has proper documentation. The documents should show that the dog has been tested for any conditions or diseases.
Hip dysplasia is a common skeletal condition among larger breeds, although it can exist in any dog. It occurs when any joint does not fit into the bone socket properly, resulting in the bones grinding against each other. This misalignment can cause significant pain for your dog and potentially lameness as well.
There are a few factors that can complicate hip dysplasia further if your dog has inherited the condition. For overweight dogs, especially larger dogs, the extra weight on the joints can make the condition worse. Make sure your Bloodhound is getting enough daily exercise to keep them in good shape.
Some symptoms of hip dysplasia are:
- Decreased activity or movement
- Difficulty walking
- Awkward gait due to lameness
- Loss of muscle mass in legs
- Pain and stiffness
Take your dog to the veterinarian if any of these signs are noticeable. They will be able to test the joint's flexibility and provide x-rays to diagnose the condition's severity.
If diagnosed with hip or joint dysplasia, there are a few treatment options. In most cases, physical therapy or taking joint supplements is sufficient. If your dog is the right candidate, some vets will recommend surgery to improve the rotation.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) is a great place to get pets screened for hereditary health issues. Many breeders will bring their dogs to get tested so that any with pre-existing conditions will not be bred.
Gastric Torsion/Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)
Gastric torsion, also known as bloating, is one of the more severe conditions prevalent in larger dogs. Bloating is when gas or air builds up in the stomach, causing the stomach to twist on itself and trapping all the gas in.
If the dog cannot burp or vomit the trapped gas, take them to the vet immediately for emergency surgery to release the gas.
Some immediate symptoms of bloating include:
- Enlarged chest area (due to gas buildup)
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive pacing
- Failed attempts to burp or vomit
- Stiffness (due to lack of air from difficulty breathing)
Always divide your dog's food into multiple meals instead of one large meal. Also, use a smaller bowl for water so the dog does not drink too much at one time. A great tip is to elevate their food and water bowls to reduce air intake.
Allow for at least 2 hours after exercise before feeding your dog to allow them to calm down first. Waiting can prevent rapid eating, which is a risk for gas buildup. Also, try not to give your dog water 1 hour before or after a meal.
Fold dermatitis is a condition specific to dogs and cats that get infections in their skin folds. Infections can occur when moisture gets trapped inside the folds, fostering bacteria growth and resulting in skin inflammation or dermatitis.
Naturally, "wrinkly" dogs such as the Bloodhound are at a higher risk than other dogs. They may be predisposed to skin fold dermatitis.
The best prevention for dermatitis is to clean your dog and wash in between the folds frequently. Be sure to dry the folds completely! Obesity can also exacerbate the condition, so it's best to manage their weight to limit the folds on the dog's body.
If you discover an infection, topical creams are available through prescription to clean and treat the infected areas. For dogs who suffer severe recurring cases of fold dermatitis, surgery to remove the folds is an available option, but it can be costly.
How to Care for a Bloodhound Dog Breed
Bloodhounds can be indoor or outdoor dogs, but they require large open spaces to roam around in each case. Their curiosity can often get the better of them, so make sure fences are at least six feet high to prevent them from jumping over. They also love to dig holes to escape, so ensure that fences are deeply rooted into the ground as well.
Bloodhounds have long, floppy ears that are giant dirt traps and must be cleaned frequently to prevent infections. Use a vet-approved ear cleaner and pour it into their ear canal. Use a cotton ball (not a cotton swab to avoid damaging the ear canal) to wipe away the excess dirt.
Some other important basic care is brushing their teeth multiple times a week. For best results, brush daily to remove tartar and bacteria buildup.
Trim your Bloodhound's nails monthly if necessary. Daily exercise and walking should naturally wear them down. If you can hear a clicking sound when they walk, it is a sign their nails are too long.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, consult your local vet.
Nutrition & Feeding for a Bloodhound Dog Breed
Bloodhounds are large dogs that require plenty of nutrition and food to stay healthy and full. They can eat 8-12 cups of dry dog food per day, but the amount can vary depending on your dog's size. Always try to give your dog the highest-quality dog food to provide them with the best nourishment possible.
Bloodhounds are messy eaters, so owners may want to feed them outside. Sometimes their ears can drag in their food or water, so tying their ears up can avoid having to clean them up after each meal.
As they are big, slobbery dogs, remember to wipe them up after each meal, or they could fling their drool and leftover food bits everywhere.
Coat Color And Grooming
Bloodhounds have short, thick coats that are black and tan, liver and tan, or red. They should be brushed with a rubber hound glove or medium-bristled brush weekly at minimum to remove all dead hair. They also shed twice a year during fall and spring, at which point it may be better to use a shedding blade to groom them properly.
Bloodhounds have many folds on their faces and bodies, so make sure these folds are cleaned daily to avoid infections. Cleaning is especially important if they are outside dogs. Wipe away the dirt and buildup with a clean, damp cloth or baby wipe, and then dry thoroughly after.
All Bloodhounds have a distinct musty smell due to their slick, oily coats and the sweat or dirt that gets stuck in their folds. No matter how much you wipe them down or wash them, they will always have that natural musk.
Children And Other Pets
Bloodhounds are great family pets and get along great with children and other pets. They are large dogs, so owners will want to be careful with letting small children or babies unsupervised with Bloodhounds if an accidental bump knocks them over.
Part of the Bloodhound's early socialization should be around kids and other pets so they can get used to their environment. Socialization goes both ways for the other pets to accept a new family member. However, Bloodhounds are generally very friendly to everyone, and most owners will not encounter any problems.
Many people often purchase dogs without being prepared to take care of them. As a result, overwhelmed owners put many dogs up for adoption. Rescue groups help take care of these dogs until they can find new owners. They can help you locate shelters to adopt certain breeds, both regionally and locally.
The Rescue Shelter Network is a great place to start to find local rescue groups across the country. They have a full directory of every registered group in each state and international rescue groups in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and a few other European countries.
The American Bloodhound Club Rescue is also partnered with regional rescues around the country. They can connect you with the directors of each region with any Bloodhound-related issues.
The American Bloodhound Club is a nationally recognized organization established in 1952 dedicated to the advancement of Bloodhounds. They have plenty of resources regarding Bloodhound show events, health and breed information, and even a how-to guide for mantrailing. Follow their blog for a great introduction on how to care for a Bloodhound.
Another great organization is the Association of Bloodhound Breeders, which is based in the United Kingdom. While they have a stronger focus on shows and competitions, they are also an excellent site for detailed information on Bloodhounds.
A Bloodhound puppy can cost anywhere from $500 to 1500. This price is for a puppy that is not show-quality or does not have breeding rights. For a Bloodhound with a superior lineage or strong breeding ability, expect to pay up to $5500.
More About This Dog Breed
Always buy from reputable breeders that can provide papers documenting a healthy puppy tested for hereditary conditions and their pedigrees. The American Kennel Club Marketplace is perfect for finding reliable breeders for Bloodhounds and many other breeds.
Whether you want a hunting companion or a family dog, Bloodhounds can make great additions to your family. Their easy-going, warm-hearted personality lets them get along with anyone. Despite their stubborn nature and extreme curiosity, they will show you that love right back if given the right amount of attention and care.