With his sunken eyes, deeply furrowed face and loose jowls, the Bloodhound resembles a person in dire need of a facelift. The sad-eyed appearance is misleading, however. This is an affectionate dog with a sense of humor and a strong character, traits balanced by a reserved and sensitive nature. He takes his name from his long lineage as a “blooded” hound, one kept by aristocrats for centuries and prized for his ability to trail game and people. Today he is renowned for his man-trailing ability and under certain circumstances his “testimony” is accepted in court.
Is the Bloodhound the Right Dog for You?
When it comes to living with a Bloodhound, the house-proud need not apply. Noble he may be, but the Bloodhound is also big—weighing from 80 to 115 pounds—and odorous. His capacity for producing drool is matched by few other breeds, and when he shakes his massive head, slobber goes flying: onto walls, furniture and clothing. In accordance with Murphy’s Law, this is most likely to occur just after you have finished cleaning your home or have just gotten dressed for a night on the town. .
Life with a Bloodhound puppy can best be described as bedlam. Bloodhounds are master chewers and can easily destroy walls, doors and furniture if left unchecked. They will also eat anything in the hope that it is food: rocks, socks, toys, plastic wrap, kitchen towels, batteries, cell phones—the list could go on and on. It’s not unusual for this breed to require multiple veterinary visits or even surgeries to deal with intestinal blockages. Constant supervision and a good crate are essential to raising a Bloodhound puppy. .
The Bloodhound is renowned for his gentle nature, but beneath that placid exterior lies a tough, stubborn, independent hound. Training a Bloodhound requires skill, cunning and what some might call bribery. Positive reinforcement, particularly with food rewards, is the way to win a Bloodhound’s heart and mind. Force, on the other hand, will get you nowhere. When it is employed, the Bloodhound will simply don the mantle of passive resistance and refuse to do anything. For best results, begin training when he is young and still somewhat malleable. .
The Bloodhound is calm by nature, but by no means lazy. Forget that image of the sleepy hound on the front porch. This is a working dog capable of trailing a scent for hours or even days. .
A bored Bloodhound with energy to burn will create his own entertainment. He’s a champion hole digger and can remodel your lawn in no time flat. Given the slightest opportunity, he will escape your yard to follow an intriguing scent and wander for miles before realizing that home is nowhere to be found. He’s not able to backtrack, so it’s best to prevent breakouts by enclosing your yard as thoroughly as if it were Alcatraz or Fort Knox. .
To fulfill the Bloodhound’s need to work, channel his amazing scenting ability with long, slow walks or hikes, permitting him to sniff out and explore trails. If possible, teach him to mantrail—he’s born to it, after all—and get involved in your local search and rescue organization. But if nothing else, teach him to play hide and seek around your house. His skills will come in handy when you lose things. .
When you walk your Bloodhound, it must be on leash. Otherwise, he’ll take off when he finds a good scent, going at a pace that you won’t be able to match. Bloodhounds have no street sense and will follow a trail into traffic or onto train tracks. Pulling is second nature to this very strong dog, so good leash manners are essential. Start teaching them as soon as you bring your puppy home, and work with a trainer to ensure that the lessons take. .
While you might think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be farther from the truth. Bloodhounds love their people, especially children, and will pine without human companionship. They should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is home, the Bloodhound should be with them. .
Bloodhounds have short, easy-care coats in black and tan, liver and tan, or red and need only a weekly brushing or wipe down. That’s where the easy part stops. The wrinkles must be cleaned daily and kept dry to prevent infection. Be prepared to wash the face thoroughly after every meal and wipe the mouth after your Bloodhound drinks water—before he shakes his head and slings water and drool everywhere. .
Be aware as well that the Bloodhound has what can best be described as a musty odor. You can’t wash it away or disguise it, so be prepared to live with it and love it.
5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Bloodhound Puppy
- Don’t ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you’ll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
- Find a good breeder who will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing. Start your search for a good breeder with the American Bloodhound Club and choose a breeder who has agreed to be bound by the club's Code of Ethics.
- Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Bloodhounds aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Bloodhound can live to be 10 years of age, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.
- Puppy or adult, take your Bloodhound to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, and in particular to watch out for the early signs of diabetes and skin problems, including ear infections.
- Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Health Issues Common to Bloodhounds
All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines. .
Bloodhounds have some health conditions that can be a concern, and they include hip and elbow dysplasia, heart problems, eye problems such as persistent pupillary membranes and cataracts, as well as patellar luxation. .
At a minimum, ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy’s parents have hip and elbow scores of Excellent, Good or Fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy.
The Bloodhound Club of America participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program. For a Bloodhound to achieve CHIC certification, he must have OFA certification for hips and elbows and an OFA cardiac test. Additional certifications that are recommended but not required are OFA for patellas (knees), a PennHIP score for hips, and Canine Eye Registry Foundation certification for intraocular disorders, including persistent pupillary membranes and cataracts. Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database.
Pet Insurance for Bloodhounds
Pet insurance for Bloodhounds costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Bloodhounds are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace pet insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Bloodhounds are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Bloodhound is when he’s a healthy puppy. You can’t predict what will happen in the future and pet insurance is the one thing you can’t get when you need it the most.