Bloodhound

Table of Contents

bloodhound portrait
Unleash your curiosity and meet the Bloodhound, a breed that's as fascinating as it is adorable! With their unparalleled scent-tracking skills, droopy ears that could melt hearts, and a personality that's full of love and loyalty, it's no surprise that Bloodhounds have left a paw print on the hearts of many.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Bloodhound is perfect for active families and individuals who love outdoor adventures! With their exceptional tracking skills, they make great hiking partners. They also thrive in homes that offer plenty of affection, as these lovable hounds are known for their sweet nature and deep devotion to their human companions.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEBloodhound
OTHER NAMESChien de Saint-Hubert, St. Hubert Hound
ORIGINBelgium, France, UK
BREED GROUPHound Group
BREED SIZELarge
HEIGHT23-27 inches
WEIGHT80-110 lbs
LIFESPAN10-12 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSModerate
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYHigh
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK50th
bloodhound walking at a dog show
Photo: Kyle Reynolds/Getty Images

Appearance

In terms of size, Bloodhounds are quite impressive. Males stand between 25 to 27 inches tall, while females tend to be a bit smaller, reaching heights of 23 to 25 inches. When it comes to weight, these dogs are no lightweights, typically tipping the scales at a robust 80 to 110 pounds.

One look and you’ll see that a Bloodhound’s body is a picture of power and endurance. Their broad shoulders and solid, muscular frame speak volumes about their physical prowess. Yet, there’s an undeniable grace to their movements, a testament to their agility.

The tail of a Bloodhound is a sight to behold. It’s long and tapers to a point, held high as if waving a flag of canine nobility.

The head of a Bloodhound is both captivating and endearing. It’s large and narrow in shape, with loose skin that falls in delightful folds and wrinkles. These wrinkles extend down to the neck, adding to their unique charm.

Then, there are those unforgettable ears. Long, thin, and set low, they fall in graceful folds that frame their faces perfectly. Not just a decorative feature, these ears also help channel scent to their powerful nose.

A Bloodhound’s eyes are another standout feature. They’re deep-set and almond-shaped, usually a warm hazel or brown color. They carry a soft, gentle expression that seems to look right into your soul.

Finally, let’s talk about their coat. It’s short, dense, and surprisingly hard to the touch. Their color can range from black and tan, liver and tan, to a beautiful red. This coat doesn’t just add to their good looks, but also provides them with protection from the elements.

In all, the Bloodhound is a splendid blend of strength and gentleness, a truly distinctive breed that leaves a lasting impression. Their physical characteristics are as unique as their personalities, making them one of the most loved and recognized breeds in the world.

two bloodhounds sitting at a park
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Temperament

Prepare to be charmed by the Bloodhound, a breed that’s as loveable as it is unique. Their personality is a delightful mix of affection, determination, and gentleness, making them an incredible companion for those lucky enough to share their lives with them.

Bloodhounds are known for their kind and friendly nature. They are incredibly affectionate and form strong bonds with their human families. They adore spending time with their loved ones, whether that’s lounging on the couch or playing in the yard. A Bloodhound’s idea of a perfect day would definitely include plenty of cuddles and belly rubs.

Despite their size, Bloodhounds have a surprisingly gentle temperament. They are patient and good-natured, making them excellent companions for children. Their calm demeanor also means they typically get along well with other pets. However, don’t be fooled by their laid-back attitude. These dogs are not lazy; they are simply relaxed and easygoing.

One of the most striking aspects of a Bloodhound’s personality is their tenacity. When they catch a scent, their determination is unparalleled. They can follow a trail for miles and hours, oblivious to everything else around them. This single-minded focus is part of what makes them such excellent tracking dogs.

Yet, despite their work ethic, Bloodhounds are also known for their placid and somewhat docile nature at home. They are generally quiet and well-mannered indoors, content to doze or follow their humans around the house. They possess a certain dignified grace that adds to their charm.

Bloodhounds are also incredibly sensitive dogs. They form deep emotional connections with their owners and are very attuned to their mood and feelings. They seem to have an innate ability to provide comfort when their humans are feeling down.

This sensitivity, however, also means they don’t respond well to harsh training methods or raised voices. Gentle, positive reinforcement is the key to winning a Bloodhound’s heart.

Don’t let their serious expression fool you, though. Bloodhounds have a playful side and can be quite the comedians when they want to be. They love to play and can often be found engaging in silly antics that will surely bring a smile to your face.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Bloodhounds are known for their melodious howl. They have a deep, resonant voice that they’re not afraid to use, especially when they’re bored or lonely. This is their way of saying, “Hey, I’m here and I need some attention!”

bloodhound in a car
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Ideal Environment

Bloodhounds are adaptable and can thrive in a variety of environments, but there are certain conditions that suit them best.

Ideal Owner

They are social creatures who love being part of the family action. They’re happiest when they’re with their human pack, so an ideal pet parent would be someone who can spend plenty of time with them. They crave companionship and don’t do well if left alone for long periods. They’re also quite sensitive, so a gentle, patient owner who can provide positive reinforcement is a perfect match.

Kids & Other Pets

These dogs are great with kids, their patient and gentle nature making them excellent family pets. They also typically get along well with other dogs, thanks to their friendly and easygoing temperament. However, their strong tracking instincts mean they might not be the best fit for homes with small pets like hamsters or rabbits, which they could see as prey.

Physical Environment

When it comes to the physical environment, Bloodhounds need space to move and explore. They would love a home with a large, securely fenced yard where they can sniff and roam to their heart’s content. That being said, they’re not outdoor dogs and should live inside the house with their family.

Climate Adaptability

As for the climate, Bloodhounds are fairly adaptable but they do have some specific needs. They don’t do well in extreme temperatures. Their short coat doesn’t provide much protection from the cold, so in winter, they’ll need a warm place to snuggle up.

On the flip side, they can overheat in hot weather due to their large size and dark coat. During summer, they’ll need a cool, shady spot to relax and plenty of fresh water.

bloodhound sniffing grass
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Grooming

When it comes to grooming, the lovable Bloodhound can be a bit of a mixed bag. Their short, dense coat is relatively low-maintenance, but there are still several important aspects to their grooming routine that any prospective Bloodhound owner should be aware of.

Coat Care

Starting with their coat, Bloodhounds are moderate shedders. They don’t require professional grooming, but a good brushing once a week with a hound mitt or a rubber curry brush will help to keep shedding under control and their coat healthy.

This ritual not only keeps their coat looking its best, but it’s also a great opportunity for some bonding time. Plus, most Bloodhounds enjoy the attention and the feeling of the brush on their skin.

Bathing your Bloodhound is a necessity, but thankfully not a frequent one. A bath every three to four months is usually sufficient unless they’ve found something particularly smelly to roll in.

Use a dog-friendly shampoo to keep their skin from drying out. And remember, those distinctive wrinkles need special care. Gently clean them with a soft, damp cloth and make sure they’re thoroughly dry afterward to prevent skin infections.

Ear Care

Now, let’s talk about those long, droopy ears. While adorable, they’re prone to infection due to their shape, which restricts airflow. Regular ear checks and cleaning are essential. Once a week, gently wipe the inside of their ears with a cotton ball dampened with a pH-balanced ear cleaner to prevent any build-up of wax or debris.

Dental Care

Dental care is another vital part of a Bloodhound’s grooming regime. Regular brushing of their teeth, at least two or three times a week, is recommended to prevent tartar build-up and bad breath. Starting this habit when they’re young will make it much easier as they grow older.

Nail Trimming

Don’t forget about their nails! Bloodhounds are active dogs, but if you hear their nails clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim. Generally, monthly nail trims will keep their paws in good shape. It’s advisable to use a grinder or a guillotine-style clipper for this task.

Eye Care

Lastly, a quick word about their eyes. Bloodhounds have beautiful, expressive eyes, but they’re prone to certain issues like entropion or ectropion. Regular checks for redness, irritation, or any signs of discomfort are a must.

bloodhound standing in the sunlight
Photo: Kyle Reynolds/Getty Images

Exercise

When it comes to exercise, the Bloodhound is no couch potato. These dogs are active and energetic, and they need regular exercise to keep them healthy and happy.

Exercise Amount & Types

Bloodhounds love to be on the move. Their history as tracking dogs means they have a lot of stamina and can walk for miles. A daily walk or two, of at least an hour each, is essential for these dogs. But don’t expect a brisk pace – Bloodhounds like to take their time, sniffing out every interesting scent along the way.

But walking isn’t the only exercise these dogs enjoy. Bloodhounds are also great fans of playtime. Games of fetch in the backyard, hide-and-seek with their favorite toys, or simply romping around with their human family members can all help to burn off some of their energy.

Dog Sports

If you’re interested in dog competitions, Bloodhounds are standout performers in scent work and tracking competitions. Their extraordinary sense of smell, combined with their natural determination and tenacity, makes them excellent competitors in these events. Training for and participating in these activities can provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation for your Bloodhound.

Exercise Precautions

It’s important to remember that while Bloodhounds are active dogs, they’re not necessarily high-energy. They enjoy their downtime and will happily snooze away a good portion of the day, especially as they get older.

Also, due to their susceptibility to bloat, it’s a good idea to avoid vigorous exercise right after meals. Give them some time to digest their food before heading out for a romp or a walk.

bloodhound working as police dog
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Training

Training a Bloodhound can be a fascinating journey. These dogs are intelligent and capable learners, but they do come with their unique quirks.

Bloodhounds have a reputation for being somewhat stubborn. This isn’t because they’re not smart – quite the opposite, in fact. Their independent nature and single-minded focus on scent can sometimes make them seem uninterested in training. But with the right approach, they can be taught a wide range of commands and tricks.

Positive reinforcement is key when training a Bloodhound. They respond well to rewards, whether that’s a tasty treat, a favorite toy, or praise and affection from their owner. Harsh methods or punishment will not work with these sensitive dogs and may even cause them to shut down.

Start training your Bloodhound puppy as early as possible. Socialization is particularly important for this breed. Introducing them to a variety of people, places, and experiences when they’re young will help them grow into well-rounded adults.

Basic obedience training is a must for these large dogs. Commands like “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “leave it” are all essential. Bloodhounds can also excel in more advanced training, such as tracking or search and rescue work. Their incredible sense of smell makes them natural-born trackers, and they love having a job to do.

However, remember that Bloodhounds can be easily distracted by exciting scents. If they catch a whiff of something interesting, they might forget everything else around them. This can make off-leash training a challenge. Always ensure you’re in a safe, enclosed area before letting your Bloodhound off-leash.

bloodhound playing in water
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Diet & Nutrition 

Feeding a Bloodhound is not just about filling their bowl and calling it a day. These dogs have specific dietary needs that must be met to ensure they stay healthy and happy.

What to Feed & How Much

When choosing what to feed your Bloodhound, look for high-quality dog food that follows the AAFCO guidelines. This ensures the food contains the right balance of nutrients your dog needs. Whether you choose dry kibble, wet food, or a raw diet, make sure it’s suitable for your dog’s age, size, and activity level.

Puppies, for instance, require a diet rich in protein and fat to support their rapid growth. Adult Bloodhounds, on the other hand, need a balanced diet that provides all the necessary nutrients without too many calories, which could lead to weight gain.

Portion sizes will depend on your Bloodhound’s age, size, and activity level. Typically, an adult Bloodhound requires anywhere from 4 to 8 cups of dry food a day, split into two meals. Puppies need smaller, more frequent meals – usually three to four times a day.

Treats

Treats can be a great training aid, but remember, they should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake to avoid overfeeding. Opt for healthy options like carrot sticks, apple slices, or dog-friendly biscuits.

Water

Hydration is another vital aspect of a Bloodhound’s diet. These dogs can get dehydrated quickly, especially in hot weather or after strenuous exercise. Always ensure your Bloodhound has access to fresh, clean water.

Additional Feeding Tips

Lastly, Bloodhounds are prone to bloat, a serious condition that can occur if the dog eats too quickly or exercises immediately after eating. To help prevent this, consider using a slow feeder bowl and ensure your dog rests after meals.

Remember, every dog is unique, and what works for one Bloodhound may not work for another. It’s always a good idea to consult with your vet to determine the best diet for your individual dog. With the right nutrition, your Bloodhound can enjoy a long, healthy, and happy life.

bloodhound at a park
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Health

While the Bloodhound is a generally hardy breed, like all dogs, they can be prone to certain health issues. Their average life span is between 10 to 12 years, and with proper care, regular veterinary checks, and a healthy diet, they can lead active, healthy lives.

Here are common health issues that can affect Bloodhounds:

Bloat or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV): This is a life-threatening condition that can cause the stomach to twist. It’s important to learn the signs of bloat and seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect your dog is suffering from it.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: These are genetic conditions that affect the joints, causing pain and mobility issues. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage these conditions.

Ear Infections: Due to their long, droopy ears, Bloodhounds are prone to ear infections. Regular cleaning can help prevent this issue.

Eye Conditions: Bloodhounds can suffer from various eye conditions, including ectropion, entropion, and progressive retinal atrophy. Regular eye checks are crucial for early detection and treatment.

Hypothyroidism: This is a condition where the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones, leading to issues like weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems. A vet can diagnose and manage this condition with medication.

A healthy diet plays a vital role in keeping your Bloodhound healthy. High-quality food that meets the AAFCO guidelines will ensure your dog gets all the nutrients they need. Treats should be given sparingly to avoid weight gain, which can exacerbate some health issues.

Regular veterinary check-ups are also essential for catching any potential health problems early. Your vet can provide routine vaccinations and preventative treatments for parasites, as well as advice on general care and nutrition.

bloodhound sitting by the sea
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History

The Bloodhound has a rich and intriguing history that dates back over a thousand years. This breed’s story is one of loyalty, tenacity, and an uncanny sense of smell that’s been celebrated throughout the centuries.

The roots of the Bloodhound can be traced back to medieval Europe, specifically to the monastic hounds kept by the Saint Hubert Monastery in Belgium. These dogs, known as “St. Hubert’s Hounds”, were renowned for their tracking abilities. William the Conqueror is said to have brought these dogs to England in 1066, where they were eventually refined into what we now know as the Bloodhound.

But why “Bloodhound”? The name actually has nothing to do with tracking blood. Instead, it refers to the term “blooded”, meaning of noble or pure lineage. These “blooded hounds” were highly prized for their pure breeding and exceptional tracking skills.

Over the centuries, Bloodhounds have been used in a variety of roles. They’ve tracked lost people and animals, hunted game, and even served in law enforcement. Their extraordinary sense of smell is so accurate that a Bloodhound’s tracking results can be used as evidence in court!

In popular culture, the Bloodhound is often portrayed as the quintessential detective dog. They’ve appeared in countless books, movies, and TV shows, from the bumbling but lovable Trusty in Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp” to the crime-solving dog in the “Bloodhound Gang” segment of the children’s TV show “3-2-1 Contact”.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Bloodhound in 1885, making it one of the earliest breeds registered by the club. Today, they are still revered for their sensitive nose and unwavering loyalty. It’s an iconic breed that continues to captivate hearts around the world.

Parent Club

The official parent club for Bloodhounds in the United States is the American Bloodhound Club (ABC). Founded in 1952, the ABC is dedicated to promoting the health and welfare of the Bloodhound breed.

The club provides a wealth of resources for Bloodhound owners and enthusiasts, including breed information, training tips, and event details. You can visit their website to learn more about the ABC and its work.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check the Bloodhound’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC). 

bloodhound puppy playing on green grass
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Acquiring

Bringing a Bloodhound into your home is a wonderful and rewarding experience, but it does require some preparation. You’ll need to ensure you have enough space for this large breed, and time to devote to their exercise and training needs.

If you choose to buy a Bloodhound, be sure to purchase from a reputable breeder who prioritizes health and temperament. The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the American Bloodhound Club can provide resources to help you find responsible breeders.

But don’t forget about rescue! There are many wonderful Bloodhounds in shelters and rescue groups looking for a second chance at a loving home. The AKC and the ABC can also assist with rescuing a Bloodhound. Whether you choose to buy or rescue, welcoming a Bloodhound into your life will bring endless joy and companionship.

FAQs

Are Bloodhounds good pets?

Yes, Bloodhounds can make exceptional pets for the right family. They are gentle, affectionate, and get along well with children and other pets. However, they do require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation due to their active nature and sharp sense of smell.

Why is it called a Bloodhound?

The term “Bloodhound” refers to the breed’s noble or ‘blooded’ lineage, not its ability to track a scent trail. The name highlights the breed’s pure and aristocratic heritage.

Do Bloodhounds bark a lot?

Bloodhounds are not excessive barkers. They do have a distinctive baying sound which they might use when they’re on a scent trail, excited, or bored. But generally, they are relatively quiet dogs.

How powerful is a Bloodhound’s sense of smell?

A Bloodhound’s sense of smell is incredibly powerful – one of the most acute in the dog world. They can follow a scent trail that’s days old and can even pick up a scent from a great distance.

How much exercise does a Bloodhound need?

Bloodhounds are active and energetic dogs that require at least an hour of daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy. This could include walks, playtime in a secure yard, or scent-tracking activities.

Are Bloodhounds easy to train?

Training a Bloodhound can be a challenge due to their independent nature and tendency to follow their noses. However, with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, they can be successfully trained.

How big do Bloodhounds get?

Bloodhounds are a large breed. Adult males typically weigh between 90 to 110 pounds and stand 25 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller, usually weighing between 80 to 100 pounds and standing 23 to 25 inches tall.

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