Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Bloodhound
Average Cost to keep/care for a Bloodhound
Breed Specific Buying Advice
Also known as a "Sleuth Hound", Bloodhounds are very large and highly skilled at tracking down their quarry by smell alone which includes through water and over vast distances. These dignified and noble looking dogs have been highly prized for their tracking skills for decades by search and rescue teams as well as hunters alike.
They are an ancient breed of hound that's thought to have been first developed by Belgium monks, but their true origins remain a bit of a mystery. Today, Bloodhounds are kept as companions as well as working dogs often seen helping the Police in their work when tracking missing persons. They are wonderful family pets although they are better suited to people with large back gardens and who are familiar with the specific needs of Bloodhounds which includes their need for a ton of daily physical exercise.
It is thought that Bloodhounds originate from Western Europe and that they were first developed in France during the 12th century by the monks of Abbey St Hubert. These dogs were highly prized by the monks for their proud appearance, their strength and for their stamina. In the 14th century, the breed was renamed from Chien St Hubert to Bloodhound. They were given this name because of their pure bloodlines and over the centuries, these hounds have worked alongside man tracking both animals and humans in challenging environments the world over.
The first records of Bloodhounds being seen on English shores dates from around the 13th Century, although the breed may have been around even earlier than that. What is known is that the Bloodhounds seen in England are believed to be descendants of those that were bred in France and those bred by the monks of St Huberts in Belgium.
Legend has it that a Bloodhound was used to track Robert the Bruce and William Wallace when they fled from the enemy. They were known as Sleuth Hounds because they were so highly skilled at tracking their prey whether beast or man along the Scottish borders right up to the end of the 16th Century.
By the 17th century, scientist Robert Boyle wrote a credited paper on Bloodhounds traits and their effectiveness in the field because he thought so highly of their skills at tracking down quarry with their acute sense of smell. However, the sport of deer hunting fell into decline when fox hunting with Beagles became popular and as such the popularity of Bloodhounds declined too.
Luckily, with the help of a few enthusiasts, the breed was saved from vanishing altogether although during World War I and World War II, their numbers fell dangerously low once again. Through the efforts and dedication of breed enthusiasts Bloodhounds were bought back from the brink of extinction which was achieved by importing dogs to the UK from France and other European countries. Today, these noble looking dogs are once again highly prized for their tracking abilities and the fact they make such wonderful companions for people who lead active, outdoor lives.
Height at the withers: Males 64 – 72 cm, Females 58 – 66 cm
Average weight: Males 46 – 54 kg, Females 40 – 48 kg
Bloodhounds are large and impressive looking dogs that boast a dignified and noble expression. Often described as "sad looking", they also give the impression of power and wisdom. They are well-muscled, easily recognisable dogs thanks to their large heads and long ears that almost reach the ground. They have loose skin that form creases and folds around their faces and bodies which is what gives the Bloodhound their famous sad and forlorn look.
Their heads are narrow with muzzles that taper slightly and a pronounced occipital peak. Their forefaces are long with a defined stop and as previously mentioned, these dogs have wrinkles and folds on their faces. They have large, open nostrils and black noses. Eyes are medium in size and can be either dark brown or hazel in colour.
Bloodhounds have long, well-muscled necks and their shoulders are muscular and nicely sloped. Dogs have straight front legs with lots of bone. Their chests drop between their front legs and ribs are well sprung. Bloodhounds have strong backs and slightly arched loins. The power comes from their hindquarters which are muscular with thighs and second thighs being well developed and strong looking.
Their feet are strong and extremely well knuckled and a Bloodhound's tail is long and thicker at the base before tapering to the tip. Tails are set high and boast a moderate amount of hair on the underside. Bloodhounds carry their tails high and curved, but never over their backs.
When it comes to their coat, Bloodhounds have short, smooth coats that boast being extremely weather resistant. Dogs come in a variety of acceptable colours with the accepted ones for Kennel Club registration being as follows:
Darker coloured dogs sometimes have lighter or badger-coloured hair interspersed through their coats and sometimes they are flecked with white. Bloodhounds are allowed to have a small amount of white on the chest, feet and tip of tail which is acceptable as a breed standard.
It is worth noting the that acceptable breed colours for registration can differ to the colours as set out in a dog's breed standard.
When a Bloodhound moves, they do so with an elastic, free-moving gait.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
Bloodhounds are renowned for being affectionate dogs by nature, rarely showing any sort of aggression towards other dogs or people. They are also known to be sensitive and quite reserved, gentle and placid characters which means they are a good choice of family pet.
Because they are sensitive by nature, Bloodhounds do not respond well to any sort of harsh handling or training. However, they are very good at turning a deaf ear when it suits them and are known to have a bit of a stubborn streak in them which is especially true if they pick up the scent of something interesting and decide to wander off after it.
They are lovely gentle giants, but there are a few downsides to sharing a home with a Bloodhound which includes the fact they have a tendency to slobber and they are renowned for their loud snoring too. Bloodhounds have a particular odour about them which takes a bit of getting used to and their bark is not only very deep, but extremely loud too.
They are definitely not a good choice of dog for first time owners because they can be hard to train. However, for an experienced handler who is familiar with the breed and this type of dog, they make wonderful companions.
Bloodhounds are not the best choice for first time dog owners because they are better suited to people who are familiar with their specific needs which includes the fact that these large dogs need a tremendous amount of daily exercise to be truly happy well-rounded and nicely behaved dogs.
Bloodhounds have a high prey drive which is a trait that is deeply embedded in their pysche having been bred to track animals and men down for centuries. As such, care should always be taken as to where and when they can run off the lead more especially if there is wildlife and livestock around. If a Bloodhound picks up an interesting scent, they are known to follow their noses to whenever it takes them which is why owners must teach a dog the "recall" command as early as possible. Even then, there is often no guarantee that a Bloodhound would listen.
Bloodhounds have a very playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained more especially when they are puppies and young dogs. They tend to become more serious as they age, but this is not to say that a mature Bloodhound won't have a mad moment when the mood takes them.
Bloodhounds being extremely large dogs need to have enough room to express themselves as they should. They benefit from having a large, high fenced secure back garden they can roam in whenever possible so they can really let off steam. They do not as such, adapt well to living in an apartment.
Although Bloodhounds form strong ties with their families and are incredibly loyal by nature, they are also quite independent which means that they are generally not known to suffer from separation anxiety although no dog likes to be left to their own devices for too long which includes Bloodhounds.
Bloodhounds have a lovely, loud and distinctive bark but are not known to be "barkers" and will typically only voice an opinion when they deem it necessary to do so.
Most Bloodhound are not adverse to getting their feet wet which in short means they like swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot or if they have picked up an interesting scent. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Bloodhound off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in or they fall in and then need rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
Bloodhounds are not natural watchdogs because it's something they were never bred to do. With this said, their size and their deep throated barks are enough to put any wrongdoers from coming onto their territory.
Bloodhounds are intelligent, but they are independent thinkers and quite sensitive dogs which can make training them a challenge for people not familiar with the breed or this type of hound. It takes a Bloodhound a lot longer to respond to a command which can be confused for them being stubborn which they are not. Training a Bloodhound takes time and patience, but the end results are very worthwhile. The key is to always be consistent and if possible to enrol into classes where a Bloodhound can do what they do best which is to track a scent.
Bloodhound puppies like all puppies, are incredibly cute with their creased faces and extra-large paws. As such it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in their new homes. However, puppies quickly grow up to be very large, mature adult dogs which means that as soon as a puppy is settled in their new homes, owners must start out as they mean to go on. This means laying down rules and boundaries so that a puppy understands what is expected of them and what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. It also helps establish a "pecking order" and who is the alpha dog in a household. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follow:
Bloodhounds despite their large size are gentle and placid giants which means they generally make good family pets and are good around children. However, because of their size any interaction between a dog and the kids needs to be well supervised by an adult at all times to make sure things don't get too boisterous and younger children are not accidentally knocked over which could end up scaring them.
If well socialised and introduced to a family cat from a young age, Bloodhounds usually get on well with them. However, it would be unwise to trust a Bloodhound around other smaller pets commonly found in the home because the result could be disastrous.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Bloodhound is between 7 to 8 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
However, like so many other breeds, they are known to suffer from a few hereditary health disorders which are worth knowing about if you are planning to share your home with one of these gentle giants. The health issues most commonly seen in the breed includes the following:
It is worth noting that Bloodhounds are deemed a "high profile" breed by the Kennel Club and as such careful monitoring of health and welfare conditions is required and that the COI for the breed is 11.7%.
Bloodhound puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. Wtih this said, many breeds are different and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Like other breeds, some Bloodhounds gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Bloodhounds are prone to suffering from skin allergies and more especially dermatitis thanks to the many folds and creases found in their coats. As such, it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Bloodhound breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions for all Kennel Club recognised breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Bloodhound.
Currently there are no Kennel Club Assured Breeder requirements for the Bloodhound.
As with any other breed, Bloodhounds need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Bloodhound puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Bloodhound puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them timid and shy bearing in mind that Bloodhounds are sensitive to loud sounds by nature.
As previously mentioned, Bloodhound puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Bloodhounds need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a Bloodhound in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include taking a look at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Bloodhounds need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older dogs don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
Bloodhounds boast having short, naturally glossy coats which are low maintenance in the grooming department. Water literally runs off their backs because their coats are so weather-resistant making them the ideal dog to take out for a walk when it is raining. With this said, regularly brushing a dog's coat helps keep it in good condition and the same can be said for their skin.
Because Bloodhounds have such long, pendulous ears, it's important to check them on a regular basis to make sure they are kept dry and free of any foreign objects. If moisture builds up inside a dog's ear canal, it can lead to a yeast infection taking hold which can be notoriously hard to clear up once it flares up.
Bloodhounds need to be given a lot of daily exercise because although they may look a bit cumbersome, they are in fact athletic characters that need a minimum of 2 hours exercise every day to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They also like to be given a lot of mental stimulation or boredom can set in which can lead to a dog developing a few unwanted behaviours and this includes being destructive around the house and eating or chewing anything within their reach.
If you get a Bloodhound puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule for your new pet and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding them the same type of puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upset and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and before discussing things with the vet before attempting to change their diet again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature Bloodhound twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories which is important or they might start to gain too much weight.
Because Bloodhounds have a tendency to suffer from bloat (gastric torsion), it’s important not to feed them before they go out for a walk or to do any sort of strenuous exercise. It’s also important not to feed them as soon as they come back from a walk for the same reason.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Bloodhound puppy should be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
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Once a puppy is 24 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Bloodhound should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Bloodhound can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Bloodhound, you would need to pay anything from £800 to over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Bloodhound in northern England would be £71.75 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £130.13 a month (quote as of February 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been spayed or neutered.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £50 - £70 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Bloodhound and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which could quickly add up to over a £1400 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Bloodhound would be between £140 to £220 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Bloodhound puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Bloodhounds have a fanbase in the UK, but not many well-bred puppies are available every year which means that puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with Bloodhounds there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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