Bloodhound Breeders, Breed Clubs and Rescue
There can be few breeds more instantly recognisable than the Bloodhound; famed for his prowess as a tracker he is highly evocative of early detective fiction. There is mention made of a Bloodhound being trained to follow sheep-rustlers in Northampton in 1805. There is a wonderful description in Nancy Mitford’s “Love in a Cold Climate” of the regular child hunts. In these two of the children would set off on a run across fields and once they had a good start the Bloodhounds would be released to track them, and they would be followed on horseback. It’s hard to imagine what would happen today were that to happen. This is known as “clean boot” hunting and there are a number of packs who still hunt in this way.
The Bloodhound is an extremely powerful dog; well balanced, dogs about 70cm and weighing up to 110lbs – the bitches somewhat less. There is nothing exaggerated about them and they have a very free and elastic movement. The coat appears loose and there is a good deal of wrinkle on the head which is especially pronounced when tracking. The combination of pendulous ears and wrinkle is thought to intensify the scent that is being followed.
It is believed that the forerunner of the present Bloodhound arrived with the Normans in 1066 and were bred by the monks of the monastery of St Hubert in Belgium, and he is known as the Chien de St Hubert in Belgium. At the time of the Norman Conquest they were known as Segusius and were used for tracking predators and game. The black and tan hounds developed into what are now Bloodhounds and the white hounds were called Talbots; Talbots are frequently seen represented on Coats of Arms. They made their first appearance in the show ring in the second part of the 19thC and have remained unusually consistent in breed type since that time.
The Bloodhound, in common with all hounds are independent creatures; obeying their instincts is a higher priority than obeying their owners! They are also a highly sensitive breed; a stern tone of voice is quite sufficient a reprimand for a Bloodhound. Co-operation between hound and owner is the aim. A securely fenced garden is essential as once they have a scent they are oblivious to all else. Similarly, areas for exercise should be chosen carefully, away from obvious dangers such as roads.
As adults they need plenty of exercise but great care should be taken with youngsters not to over-exert them. Guidance should be sought from the breeder of your Bloodhound puppy on the question of food and rearing; they grow fast into very substantial animals with plenty of bone. One real danger is damage to the front from jumping out of 4WD (SUV); this kind of repeated concussion on developing joints can be extremely damaging and it would be wise to train them to use a ramp from an early age.
As a family pet the Bloodhound is good-natured and reliable and generally have excellent temperaments; however, they are heavy on their feet and will distress the gardener who is passionate about his lawn. His voice is deep and melodious and will work wonders at deterring unwanted visitors. With such strong working instincts an enormously enjoyable experience for both hound and owner is participating in one of the organisations that trains and works hounds. The Senior Trial requires hounds to follow a trail two hours old and three miles long.
The coat is very easy to keep; a bristle brush to remove the dead coat and dust plus a chamois leather to give him a polish will be quite sufficient. A tablespoon of boiled linseed oil (from a saddler) in his daily feed will really make him gleam. A wonderful hound, not for everyone, but for the right owner a real joy to own.
Rescue and Rehoming
In the unfortunate event you need to re-home your dog, or you are looking to give a home to an older dog, contact Bloodhound Lifeline or the Breed Clubs for their assistance. It is always wise to speak to people who are expert in the breed so you can get the best possible help.