The Bloodhound is a hunting dog registered by the International Cynological Federation as a Belgian breed, but the modern bloodhound has emerged thanks to the art of English cynologists.
- Breed name: Bloodhound
- Country of origin: Belgium
- Time of birth of the breed: XIII century
- Weight: males 46 – 54 kg, females 40 – 48 kg
- Height (height at the withers): males 64 – 72 cm, females 58 – 66 cm
- Life span: 10 – 12 years
- Literally, Bloodhound translates as “blood hound”. It is believed that the original duty of the breed was blood-hunting, which is reflected in its name. There is also an alternative version, according to which the morpheme blood does not denote the hunting qualifications of a dog, but indicates its purebred.
- Despite their formidable appearance, Bloodhounds are not involved in the security service. Due to the docile, good-natured nature, these “brutal” are simply not suitable for her.
- The ancestors of the Bloodhounds were famous for their almost donkey stubbornness and unwillingness to learn. In modern dogs, these qualities are less developed, although it will take a lot of work to train them.
- Bloodhounds are excellent swimmers and, quite unexpectedly, are great divers.
- The breed works masterly even on the old trail with a prescription of 300 or more hours.
- Like all fleecy dogs, Bloodhounds are outstanding “slobber”, but before the Bulldogs and St. Bernards, they still grow and grow in this regard.
- Adults have phenomenal vocal abilities. It’s not even barking, but rather a powerful bass roar that can be heard at a distance of several kilometers.
- Having attacked the trail, the bloodhound falls out of reality and, as if hypnotized, moves after an interesting smell, which is why the dog has to be controlled every minute while walking.
- Raising a Bloodhound puppy requires serious investment and effort: the breed slowly matures, fully completing its physical and mental development only by 2.5-3 years.
Characteristics of the Breed
Bloodhounds are imperturbable kind-hearted and first-class detectives who will get out of the ground any prey that has the slightest perceptible smell. At the same time, the breed is not tied to its historical craft (hunting) and, if necessary, can easily be converted into a service bloodhound or companion. But what a bloodhound will definitely not become is a sofa dog, so before you take a hound puppy, do jogging, or race walking in advance – you will have to walk with your pet for a long time and intensively.
History of the Breed
Bloodhounds are dogs so ancient that it is almost impossible to trace their origin and distant ancestors. For example, for a long time the hounds from the Ardennes Monastery (Belgium), later called the dogs of Saint Hubert, were considered the ancestors of the breed, after the second name of the monastery. The monks of the abbey already in the 9th century discovered interbreeding for themselves and practiced it diligently, using as breeding material Molossians, Belga bloodhounds, and North African hounds.
Monastic dogs, or Saint-Huers, as they were christened in Europe, had a textured appearance. Gigantic physique, with massive heads, weighed down with multiple wrinkles and giant flews, they perfectly chased the big game, for which they were loved by the Belgian nobility. Since the Ardennes carefully guarded the secret of the origin of their wards, hounds like them were never bred anywhere else. However, the forced isolation did not prevent the breed’s popularity and spread, since the Belgian clergy shared their pets with the French royal family, who used animals for hunting deer.
In the 19th century, the Russian zoologist L.P.Sabaneev proposed his own version of the origin of the bloodhounds. In his opinion, the ancestors of the breed were not the Ardennes dogs at all, but the Norman hounds – a breed bred in the 11th century by crossing Saint-Huers with French hounds. This variety was especially cultivated by the Normans, who at that time overwhelmed the English territories and brought their four-legged favorites to them. Subsequently, the Norman hounds were crossed with English mastiff dogs, in particular with mastiffs, which gave the world bloodhounds. This version is also supported by the fact that today’s representatives of the breed have a tubular “design” of ears, not typical for Saint-Huers, but typical for French (Norman) hounds.
By the beginning of the 17th century, bloodhounds had become super popular, and some of the individuals even managed to cross the Atlantic and consolidate their positions in the New World. True, in contrast to Europe, obsessed with hunting, in America, a different mission awaited hounds. They began to be used to search for people, or rather, to catch slaves fleeing from ferocious masters, and then to pursue fugitive convicts. It was thanks to this imposed specialization that the animals gained a reputation as ruthless detectives, because of which the breed was almost completely exterminated during the civil war. By the way, modern researchers believe that slaves in the USA were “hunted” not with purebred bloodhounds, but with their mestizos.
In Europe, hounds were also used as bloodhounds. For example, in 1616 in Great Britain there was a law that ordered to keep the Bloodhound on guard duty every sixth parish. Around this time, another decree relates, according to which the bloodhound had the right to take a trace in the houses of residents, who were obliged to provide him with all possible assistance and open the doors of the house in front of the animal’s nose. Particularly brave, who refused to cooperate with the “brute investigator” and locked themselves in their homes, faced a sad outcome – the death penalty.
The descendants of Saint-Hubert have a bright, memorable exterior and strong physique. A massive skeleton, a voluminous, well-developed muscle mass, a rectangular body – all this gives the animal’s appearance brutal solidity and stylish imposingness. At the same time, excessively exaggerated (upward) dimensions are considered as a defect that can affect the dog’s show career.
The most expressive part of the bloodhound’s body is, of course, the head: framed by soft long ears, reminiscent of the wig of an English lord, with spectacular flews and noble folds on the forehead. Also, the breed has a very special expression of the muzzle: no matter what mood the dog is in, its appearance will amaze with majesty and nobility. The smart, slightly detached look of the bloodhound, which creates the impression that the animal has comprehended all the secrets of the universe and now sees through every person, including the owner, cannot but sink into the soul.
The breed standard provides for a height at the withers of 64-72 cm for males and 58-66 cm for bitches.
The head of the dog is massive, with a deep, laterally flattened skull and a relatively narrow profile. The supraorbital ridges are inexpressive, as are the feet, but the occipital protuberance is prominent, well-defined. The bloodhound’s muzzle is thickened in the area of the nostrils, voluminous along the entire length, with a flat, slightly convex upper line.
Soft, stretched, forming an almost square profile, with the upper lip covering the lower jaw, drooping 5 cm down. In the area of the corners, the lips are transformed into plump flews, and these, in turn, turn into a heavy dewlap (in “girls” the fleecy is less pronounced).
Bloodhounds have strong white teeth that meet in a classic scissor (preferred) or pincer bite.
Nose. The developed wide lobe is black in black and tan Bloodhounds and brown or black in other colors.
The bloodhound has medium-sized eyes with no tendency to bulge. The standard shades of the iris are dark and light brown, and for individuals without a black cloak/saddle on the coat, lighter options, for example, amber, is acceptable. The look of the dog is intelligent, a little indifferent, very similar to the look of a basset hound.
The auricle is long, flexible, curled inward or backward. In standard specimens, the ears are set in line with the eyes or below and have a velvety short coat.
Neck. Sufficient length to allow the attacking dog to keep its nose close to the ground. The skin on the throat is loosely hanging, passing to the middle of the throat into a thick double dewlap (less noticeable in bitches).
The muscular, developed body of the Bloodhound is distinguished by a stretched-rectangular format. The lines of the back and abdomen are straight, parallel to each other. The loin of the dog is massive, short. The croup is fleshy, without a pronounced bevel, almost horizontal. The rib cage is wide, long, strongly drooping downward, with a pronounced keel.
Extremities. For instance, the bloodhound’s strong, muscular legs look straight and parallel to each other. Long, sloping shoulder blades in conjunction with the elongated shoulder form free angles. The elbows are set straight, without eversion, the pasterns give the impression of being strong, fixed at a slight slope.
The thighs and legs of the dog are voluminous, with clearly visible muscles. The hock joint is low, “flowing” into the strong short metatarsus. When hunting, the Bloodhound moves at a beautiful free trot, without arching its back.
Leather. Elastic, well stretched, forming large folds on the forehead and sides of the muzzle. Wrinkles on the body and other parts of the body are discouraged.
Tail. The fat saber tail of the Bloodhound is a logical continuation of its spine. The tail is set low and has a good length. In motion, it rises above the line of the spine, without twisting into a corkscrew and falling on its side.
Wool. The Bloodhound coat is not uniform. On the ears, the hair is soft, silky, but ultra-short. The rest of the body is covered with a longer, denser, and coarser dog that protects the skin well from external influences.
Color. A typical bloodhound comes in one or two colors. The coat of monochromatic individuals is all shades of red, ranging from light red to dark red suit. Bicolor dogs are either black or liver-tan.
The amount of black tone can be different, in connection with which hounds are divided into animals with a saddle-cloth and a cloak. In caped Bloodhounds, tan patches prevail over the black tone concentrated in the back. Dogs with a coat have tan markings on the limbs, cheekbones, brows, chest, muzzle, and under the tail, while the black color occupies most of the body.
Not considered a vice, but also not welcome: tiny white marks on the tip of the tail, fingers, sternum; faded markings and pale red color in monochromatic hounds.
The descendants of the Norman hounds are even phlegmatic and rather good-natured dogs. True, one should not confuse the calm temperament of the breed with weakness. Bloodhounds are infinitely far from soft “felt boots”, and they will not allow anyone but children to twist ropes from themselves. Hounds, of course, are happy to be friends with a person, but as a comrade and certainly not as a powerless pet, for which all decisions are made by the owner. By the way, speaking of children: Bloodhound really enjoys playing with babies and will never offend a child on purpose. And yet, it is better not to forget about the dimensions of an animal capable of knocking a one-year-old toddler off his feet with one wave of its tail.
Fans of the breed assure that the Bloodhound can safely lead the top of the most family and human-oriented pets. He is smart, has a conflict-free, easygoing character, and is utterly devoted to the person who brought him up. The Bloodhound is also quite loyal to people who are not part of his circle of acquaintances, so feel free to invite noisy companies into the house – the Belgian hounds are glad to guests quite sincerely and they certainly will not be spying on them. Bloodhounds are especially fond of traditional celebrations that are repeated from year to year. In their personal calendar, dogs put a mental note in front of each such event and willingly take part in the reception and entertainment of guests.
Sometimes among the “Belgians”, there are overly timid and shy natures who prefer silence and solitude to collective entertainment. But in general, the Bloodhound is a sociable and sociable breed. For example, its representatives easily join the crowd of other four-legged pets, do not scoff at cats, and rarely sort things out with each other (no one canceled the skirmishes between two males or bitches).
Bloodhound barks rarely, but accurately: a low “trumpet voice” emanating from the dog is clearly audible at a distance of several kilometers. On the hunt, such a quality, of course, does not hurt, but at home … However, no panic. The animal will arrange vocal exercises only in exceptional cases so that such concerts are experienced easily and painlessly.
Education and Training
Bloodhounds are dogs that think a lot and are slow in everything related to study. Besides, unquestioning obedience is not their strong point. And yet, the “Belgian” has the basic prerequisites for becoming a well-mannered, controlled friend, given that he is smart, quick-witted, and retains new commands and skills for a long time.
The main problems facing the trainer of the breed are the natural stubbornness of its representatives and a lack of interest in classes. And if you have to fight the first with perseverance, then in the second case it is better to rely on goodies. Bloodhounds work more actively and with more interest in treats than just praise. Lessons are wiser not to delay. The maximum that the breed can withstand is 15-20 minutes, after which concentration is replaced by boredom, and attention switches to other external stimuli. It interferes with the diligence of long-eared investigators and a phenomenal instinct: a bloodhound is able to distract any, even the most elusive smell, which he will follow like a lunatic.
Maintenance and Care
The Bloodhound is a breed that is poorly adapted to apartment living, although among breeders it is customary to state the opposite. Representatives of this family are large-sized creatures that do not possess outstanding grace, so even in the most spacious apartment, they will be cramped. Do not discount the dog’s long, strong tail, with which it will touch the furniture, and at the same time sweep small objects from horizontal surfaces. In addition, it is worth saving the nerves of the neighbors in the house, who are unlikely to appreciate the rare, but such “inspiring” bark of your ward.
Hounds dogs, forced to while away the days in the apartment, sin with destructive behavior and often make adjustments to the interior of the house. And they are also partial to floor coverings and willingly chew on linoleum and laminate. Accordingly, starting a bloodhound without having a private house with at least a small courtyard is a quest for especially stubborn and imperturbable owners. Moreover, the breed does not require a luxurious country mansion with a fenced hectare of land. A small house in the countryside or the suburbs is enough, given that the Bloodhound easily gets used to the bustling city rhythm if they walk a lot with it, and in the season they take it out to work in the forest.
The Bloodhound is a short, seasonally shedding dog that requires minimal grooming. Usually “Belgians” are not combed, but once a week they are passed over their bodies with a rubber mitten, collecting dead hairs and massaging the skin. It is better to wash the Bloodhound, if it is not a show animal, as it gets dirty, with shampoo for short-haired breeds.
The most problematic parts of the body in terms of grooming are the head and ears of the dog. In particular, to keep the hound looking neat, it will have to regularly wipe its face throughout the day. Bloodhounds are very slobbering, and if you don’t watch their mouths, the furniture in the house will be hung with slippery “fringes”, and puddles will grow on the floor, on which the master’s slippers glide so “cheerfully”. Folds and wrinkles on the head of an animal are not only part of the breed’s image, but also a serious problem, as the skin in them often melts, which leads to pyoderma (dermatitis). So from time to time wrinkles on the face should be wiped with drying lotions based on chlorhexidine.
Bloodhound ears also need care. Not only do they catch a lot of dirt and dust after each walk and require thorough washing, but they also need ventilation. To do this, you need to lift the earflap up and shake it vigorously to ensure air circulation in the ear canal. You cannot neglect the daily inspection of the ear funnel in order to promptly remove the secretion and dirt accumulated in it.
Hygiene of bloodhound eyes is to prevent souring, so wipe them with strong tea infusion every 7 days. The teeth can be brushed once a week, but the dog’s mouth should be checked daily. After walks, bloodhounds often bring bones and carrion into the house, but because of the massive wings, it is not always possible to see the “prey” in the pet’s mouth. After the walk, have the hound inspect the mouth for foreign objects.
Walking with a Bloodhound is both fitness and training of the owner’s attention at the same time. Half-hour trips to the store and back are not an option in a particular case. In order for a dog to spend at least 70% of its internal battery charge, you need one and a half, and preferably two hours of jogging, active games, and training, and there should be at least two such classes per day. Up to 8 months, puppies are not overloaded with excessive physical activity, do not allow them to go down and upstairs, so as not to deform the position of the legs.
It is necessary to take the Bloodhound out into the street in the conditions of any settlement strictly on a leash. If the animal attacks an interesting trail, you will have to catch up with it long and hard. In addition, due to the peculiarities of the anatomy and genetic predisposition to diseases of the digestive system, bloodhounds are not walked immediately after or before meals. At least 1.5-2 hours should pass between eating and going out.
How to Choose a Puppy
- There can be from 7 to 10 puppies in litters, although cases when more or fewer babies are born, are also not uncommon.
- The best age to buy a Bloodhound puppy is 2-3 months. It is also possible to take older individuals, but it will be more difficult to educate and train them.
- Bloodhound babies require a lot of free space for normal development, so choose breeders who prefer country cultivation. Keeping an adult bitch and her restless cubs in an apartment is a sheer mockery of the breed.
- It is normal for a Bloodhound puppy to be overweight in the first months of life. The main thing is that it does not survive until 8 months of age: the breed is prone to obesity, which entails a number of ailments no less dangerous to health.
- Check with your dealer if bloodhounds have been tested for hereditary dysplasia. Breeders who have nothing to hide are willing to share X-rays and examinations with customers.
- Check what kind of litter this bitch has. It is worth finding out not only the total number of births but also to find out at what intervals the litters were born. If less than a year has passed between the last two matings, it is logical to assume that the breeder is simply making money off the animals, disregarding their health.
- When choosing a future hunter, find out if his closest ancestors have working diplomas. A Bloodhound puppy usually inherits parental talents from first-class trackers.