The bloodhound is a large scent hound originally bred for hunting deer andwild board, but also used from the Middle Ages onwards for tracking human beings, and now most often bred specifically for that purpose. Thought to be descended from hounds once kept at the Abbey of St Hubert in Belgium, it is known to French speakers as the Chien de Saint-Hubert.
This dog is famed for its ability to discern human odors even days later, over great distances, even across water. Its extraordinarily keen sense of smell is combined with a strong and tenacious tracking instinct, producing the ideal scent hound, and it is used by police and law enforcement all over the world to track escaped prisoners, missing people, lost children and lost pets.
According to the AKC standard of the breed, larger dogs are preferred by conformation judges. Bloodhounds possess an unusually large skeletal structure with most of their weight concentrated in their bones, which are very thick for their length. The coat typical for a scenthound is hard and composed of fur alone, with no admixture of hair.
The coat typical for a scenthound is hard and composed of fur alone, with no admixture of hair. The colours are usually listed as black and tan, liver and tan, and red. White is not uncommon on the chest, and sometimes appears on the feet. Genetically, the main types are determined by the action of two genes, found in many species. One produces an alternation between black and brown (liver). If a hound inherits the black allele (variant) from either parent, it has a black nose, eye rims and paw-pads, and if it has a saddle, it is black. The other allele suppresses black pigment and is recessive, so it must be inherited from both parents. It produces liver noses, eye rims, paw-pads, and saddles.
The second gene determines coat pattern. It can produce animals with no saddle (essentially all-tan, but called ‘red’ in bloodhounds); ones with saddle-marking; or ones largely covered with darker (black or liver) pigment, except for tan lips, eyebrows, forechest and lower legs. These last are sometimes referred to as ‘blanket’ or ‘full-coat’ types.
This breed is gentle, but is tireless when following a scent. Because of its strong tracking instinct, it can be willful and somewhat difficult to obedience train and handle on a leash. Bloodhounds have an affectionate and even-tempered nature with humans, making excellent family pets. However, like any pet, they require supervision when around small children.
Bloodhounds are prone to bloat . The breed also suffers from eye, skin, and ear ailments. Thus these areas should be inspected frequently for signs of developing problems. Owners should be especially aware of the signs of bloat. The thick coat gives the breed the tendency to overheat quickly.