bloodhound, breed of large hound whose ancestors were known in the Mediterranean region before the Christian era. It stands about 25 in. (63.5 cm) high at the shoulder and weighs between 80 and 110 lb (36.3-49.9 kg). Its short, smooth coat may be black and tan, red and tan, or tawny. The skin is very loose and hangs in deep folds over the forehead and at the sides of the face, giving the dog its characteristically mournful expression. The oldest hound breed and probable progenitor of all the hounds, it was introduced into Europe long before the Crusades and became popular with the aristocracy and clergy. The latter, especially, were responsible for the dog's careful breeding and purity of strain, which led it to be called the "blooded hound," i.e., hound of noble ancestry. It was imported into the United States in the early 19th cent. Its sense of smell is second to no other breed and has earned it a singular reputation as a tracker of criminals and missing persons. Unlike the police dog, it does not attack the man or animal it is tracking. See dog.

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.


Morbidity (Illness)

Compared to other purebred dogs, bloodhounds have an unusually high rate of gastrointestinal ailments, with gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV, or "bloat") being the most common type of gastrointestinal problem. They also have an unusually high incidence of eye, skin, and ear ailments. Eyes, ears, and skin should be inspected frequently for signs of developing problems. Owners should be especially aware of the signs of GDV, which is both the most common illness and the leading cause of death of bloodhounds.

Mortality (Longevity and Causes of Death)

Bloodhounds in a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey had a median longevity of 6.75 years, which makes them one of the shortest-lived of dog breeds. The oldest of the 82 deceased dogs in the UK survey died at 12.1 years. The leading cause of death was gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV = "bloat" or "torsion"), which killed 34% of dogs. This percentage of dogs dying of bloat is among the highest of all dog breeds and far higher than for dogs in general. The second leading cause of death in bloodhounds was cancer, at 27%. The percentage of cancer deaths is similar to other breeds but, in bloodhounds, cancer kills at an unusually young age (median of about 8 years).

Gastric dilatation volvulus

Bloodhound owners should take special note of the extremely high incidence of GDV (Gastric dilatation volvulus) in this breed. Excess gas trapped in the dog's stomach causes "bloat." Twisting of the stomach (volvulus or "torsion") causes, or is caused by, excess gas. Symptoms include restlessness, inability to get comfortable, pacing, or retching without being able to bring up anything. The dog's abdomen may be visibly swollen but dogs can bloat or torsion without visible swelling. GDV is a dire emergency condition. If you suspect a dog is bloating, you should not wait to see if he improves. A dog with GDV requires immediate veterinary care. The dog's survival usually depends on whether the owner can get him to the vet in time. It is a good idea for a bloodhound owner to know the route to the nearest 24 hour emergency clinic in advance, so time is not wasted looking for directions.


The bloodhound was, according to legend, first bred ca. 1000 CE by monks at the St. Hubert Monastery in Belgium. Undoubtedly, its origins do reside in France, home of many of the modern hound breeds. Its excellent tracking skills were drawn on in breeding other scenthounds, such as the English Foxhound, American Foxhound, Coonhound, Swiss Jura Hound, Bavarian Mountain Hound, and many others.

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.

Scenting ability

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.


Noteworthy Bloodhounds

A bloodhound named "Nick Carter" is frequently cited as the archetype of the trailing bloodhound. The extensive publicity this dog received may be the source of much bloodhound-related folklore. Born in 1900, "Nick Carter" was owned and handled by Captain G.V. Mullikin of Lexington, Kentucky. He is credited with more than 650 finds, including one that required him to follow a trail 105 hours old. .

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.

Fictional Bloodhounds


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