Breed of dog superior to any other in scenting ability, the foundation breed of most scent-hunting hound breeds. They were known, although not in the present form, in the Mediterranean area in pre-Christian times. Calm and affectionate, they are often used to track animals and trail persons. A large, strong dog, the bloodhound stands 23–27 in. (58–69 cm) and weighs 80–110 lb (35–50 kg). It has short hair and long ears, with loose skin that falls into folds and wrinkles around the head and neck. The coat is black-and-tan, red-brown and tan, or tawny.
Learn more about bloodhound with a free trial on Britannica.com.
A bloodhound (also known as the St. Hubert hound) is a large breed of dog bred for the specific purpose of tracking human beings. Consequently, it is often used by authorities to track escaped prisoners or missing persons. It is a scenthound, famed for its ability to follow a scent hours or even days old, over long distances. Combining a keen sense of smell with a tenaciously strong tracking instinct, bloodhounds have proven their worth as the archetypal trailing dog.
Bloodhounds weigh from 33 to 50 kg (80 to 110 lb, although some individuals can weigh as much as 160lbs) and stand 58 to 69 cm (23 to 27 inches) high at the withers. According to the AKC's standard of the bloodhound breed, larger dogs are to be preferred by AKCconformation judges. The acceptable colors for bloodhounds are black and tan, liver and tan, or red. In the Middle Ages, they also occurred in other solid colors, including white (known as the Talbot hound). The colors appear in other breeds descended from the early bloodhounds, however. Bloodhounds possess an unusually large skeletal structure; most of their weight is concentrated in their bones, which are very thick for their length. The coat is typical for a scenthound: hard, and composed of fur alone, with no admixture of hair.
This breed is a gentle dog who is nonetheless tireless in following a scent. Because of its strong tracking instinct, it can be willful and somewhat difficult to obedience train. However, with the proper amount of time, effort, and how well you treat it, this can be achieved easily.
Affectionate, gentle, and even-tempered describes a blood hound and they make excellent family pets but, like any large breed, require supervision when around small children because they will knock them over with their bulk. Bloodhounds are also characterized by a stubborn "whats-in-it-for-me?" temperament, a likely cause (in conjunction with their size and propensity for excessive drooling) for the high rate of bloodhounds given up for adoption once full-grown in comparison with other breeds.
During the late 19th century, bloodhounds were frequent subjects for artists such as Edwin Landseer and Briton Riviere. The dogs depicted are close in appearance to modern bloodhounds, indicating that the essential character of the bloodhound predates modern dog breeding. However, the dogs depicted by Landseer show less wrinkle and haw than modern dogs.
The bloodhound's physical characteristics account for its superlative ability to follow a scent trail left several days in the past. Humans constantly shed skin cells, as newer cells replace older ones. Under optimal conditions, a bloodhound can detect as few as one or two skin cells.Odors are identified by scent receptors in a dog's nasal chambers; the larger the chambers, the greater the dog's ability to detect skin cells. The bloodhound's nasal chambers are larger than those of most other breeds. The large, long pendent ears serve to prevent wind from scattering nearby skin cells while the dog's nose is on the ground; the folds of wrinkled flesh under the lips and neck--called the shawl--serve to catch stray scent particles in the air or on a nearby branch as the bloodhound is scenting, reinforcing the scent in the dog's memory and nose.
The misconception persists that bloodhounds are employed in packs. While this is sometimes the case in England, in North America, bloodhounds are used as solitary trackers. Bloodhounds on a trail are usually silent, and do not give voice as other scent hounds.
Ch. Heathers Knock on Wood, known as "Knotty," is one of the most awarded bloodhounds of all time. He has received more Best-in-Shows than any other bloodhound, and is the first liver-and-tan bloodhound ever to win a Best in Show. Knotty was awarded the Best-in-Show at the Eukanuba Tournament in 2005, and won the Hound Group in the Westminster Kennel Club Show in that same year. Knotty's offspring have also proven to be able showdogs and as a result of a very high amount of his puppies being awarded the title of "Champion" by the AKC, Knotty was inducted into the AKC's Stud Dog Hall of Fame shortly before his death in the Spring of 2008.