- Chien de Saint-Hubert
- St. Hubert Hound
- Sleuth Hound
Country of Origin
- Belgium / France
- England / Scotland
Weight – 33 to 50 kg (80 to 110 lbs), even as large as 72 kg (160 lb)
Height – 58 to 69 cm (23 to 27 inches)
Coat – Hard and Composed
Life Span – 9–11 years (average)
Described as a “unique looking dog in a baggy suit,” the Bloodhound is one of the oldest breeds of dogs that hunt by scent. Although affectionate, they can posess shy natures, sensitive to kindness or correction by their master. Colors of the Bloodhound include black and tan, liver and tan, and red, sometimes flecked with white. The actual term “Bloodhound” refers not to what the Bloodhound trails but instead refers to its status as the “blooded hound,” meaning aristocratic, since such great lengths were taken early on to keep the strain clean.
The Bloodhound made its appearance in Europe long before the Crusades, when the first specimens were brought from Constantinople in two strains, black and white. Established in America for over a century, it proved early on to be a tireless worker for law enforcement, being so accurate that evidence trailed by a Bloodhound has been accepted in a court of law.
Right Breed for You?
While Bloodhounds are extremely affectionate, they are take-charge dogs, so it is important to be kind, but be the undisputed boss in your household. Bloodhounds should be groomed weekly to eliminate dead hair and facilitate a routine that will help them look, feel, and smell better.
Learn more about purchasing a Bloodhound puppy, by contacting Dayton Dog Trainer.
- Hound Group; AKC recognized in 1885
- Ranging in size from 23 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder
- Scent tracker
The Bloodhound is a large scent hound originally bred for hunting deer and wild boar, 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.
Bloodhounds weigh from 33 to 50 kg (80 to 110 lbs), though some individuals weigh as much as 72 kg (160 lb). They stand 58 to 69 cm (23 to 27 inches) high at the withers. Bloodhounds have a typical lifespan of about 9 to 11 years. According to the AKC standard of the breed, larger dogs are preferred by conformation judges. Acceptable colors for bloodhounds are black, liver, tan, or red. 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 scent hound is hard and composed of fur alone, with no admixture of hair.
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. 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.
Compared to other purebred dogs, Bloodhounds suffer an unusually high rate of gastrointestinal ailments, with bloat being the most common type of gastrointestinal problem. The breed also suffers an unusually high incidence of 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, which is both the most common illness and the leading cause of death of Bloodhounds. The thick coat gives the breed the tendency to overheat quickly.
Lifespan and Mortality
Bloodhounds in a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey had a median longevity of 6.75 years, which makes them one of the shortest-lived of dog breeds. The oldest of the 82 deceased dogs in the survey died at the age of 12.1 years. Bloat took 34% of the animals, making it the most common cause of death in Bloodhounds. The second leading cause of death in the study was cancer, at 27%; this percentage is similar to other breeds, but the median age of death was unusually young (median of about 8 years).
Chien de Saint-Hubert
The St Hubert was, according to legend, first bred ca. 1000 AD by monks at the Saint-Hubert Monastery in Belgium; its likely origins are in France, home of many of modern hounds. It is held to be the ancestor of several other breeds, like the extinct Norman hound, and Santongeois, and the modern Bleu de Gascogne, Gascon Santongeois, Ariegeois and Artois Normande, as well as the bloodhound. It has been suggested that it was a mixed breed, not at all uniform in type.
Whether they originated there, or what their ancestry was, is uncertain, but from ca. 1200, the monks of the Abbey of St Hubert annually sent several pairs of black hounds as a gift to the King of France. They were not always highly thought of in the royal pack. Charles IX 1550-74, preferred his white hounds and the larger Chiens-gris, and wrote that the St Huberts were suitable for people with gout to follow, but not for those who wished to shorten the life of the hunted animal. He described them as pack-hounds of medium stature, long in the body, not well sprung in the rib, and of no great strength. Writing in 1561 Jaques du Fouilloux describes them as strong of body, but with low, short legs.
He says they have become mixed in breeding, so that they are now of all colors and widely distributed. Charles described the ‘true race’ of the St Hubert as black, with red/tawny marks above the eyes and legs usually of the same colour, suggesting a ‘blanket’ black and tan (see Section on Color types below). To De Fouilloux the ‘pure black’ were the best of this mixed breed. Both writers thought them only useful as leash hounds. They both refer to a white hound, also a St Hubert, which by their time had disappeared, having been interbred with another white hound, the greffier, to produce the king’s preferred pack hound, sometimes called the chien blanc du roi.
They appear to have been more highly thought of during the reign of Henry IV (1553–1610), who presented a pack to James I of England. By the end of the reign of Louis XIV (1715), they were already rare. In 1788, D’Yauville, who was master of the Royal hounds, says those sent by the St Hubert monks, once much prized, had degenerated, and scarcely one of the annual gift of six or eight was kept.
Upon the French Revolution of 1789, the gifts ceased, and hunting in France went into a decline until the end of the Napoleonic wars. When it recovered during the 19th Century, huntsmen, with many breeds to choose from, seem to have had little interest in the St Hubert. An exception was Baron Le Couteulx de Canteleu, who tried to find them. He reported that there were hardly any in France, and those in the Ardennes were so cross-bred that they had lost the characteristics of the breed.
Writers on the bloodhound in the last two centuries generally agreed that the original St Hubert strain died out in the nineteenth century, and that the European St Hubert owes its present existence to the development of the Bloodhound.
References to bloodhounds first appear in English writing in the early to mid 14th century, in contexts that suggest the breed was well established by then. It is often claimed that its ancestors were brought over from Normandy by William the Conqueror, but there is no actual evidence for this. That the Normans brought hounds from Europe during the post-Conquest period is virtually certain, but whether they included the Bloodhound itself, rather than merely its ancestors, is a matter of dispute that probably cannot be resolved on the basis of surviving evidence.
In Medieval hunting the typical use of the Bloodhound was as a ‘limer’, or ‘lyam-hound’, that is a dog handled on a leash or ‘lyam’, to find the hart or boar before it was hunted by the pack hounds (raches). It was prized for its ability to hunt the cold scent of an individual animal, and, though it did not usually take part in the kill, it was given a special reward from the carcass.
It also seems that from the earliest times the Bloodhound was used to track people. There are stories written in Medieval Scotland of Robert the Bruce (in 1307), and William Wallace (1270–1305) being followed by ‘sleuth hounds’. Whether true or not, these stories show that the sleuth hound was already known as a man-trailer, and it later becomes clear that the sleuth hound and the Bloodhound were the same animal.
In the 16th century, John Caius, in unquestionably the most important single source in the history of the Bloodhound, describes its hanging ears and lips, its use in game parks to follow the scent of blood, which gives it its name, its ability to track thieves and poachers by their foot scent, how it casts if it has lost the scent when thieves cross water, and its use on the Scottish borders to track cross-border raiders, known as Border Reivers. This links it to the sleuth hound, and from Caius also comes the information that the English Bloodhound and the sleuth hound were essentially the same, though the Bloodhound was slightly bigger, with more variation in coat colour.
The picture on the right was published in Zurich in 1563, in Conrad Gesner’s Thierbuch (a compendium of animals) with the captions: ‘Englischen Blüthund’ and ‘Canis Sagax Sanguinarius apud Anglos’ (English scent hound with associations of blood). It was drawn by, or under the supervision of, John Caius, and sent to Gesner with other drawings to illustrate his descriptions of British dogs for European readers. It is thus the earliest known picture published specifically to demonstrate the appearance of the Bloodhound. We are told it was done from life, and detail such as the soft hang of the ear indicates it was carefully observed. Fully accurate or not, it suggests changes between the Bloodhound of then and today. The collar and long coiled rope reflect the Bloodhound’s typical functions as a limer or leashed man-trailer in that period.
The earliest known report of a trial of the Bloodhound’s trailing abilities comes from the scientist Robert Boyle, who described how a Bloodhound tracked a man seven miles along a route frequented by people, and found him in an upstairs room of a house.
With the rise of fox-hunting, the decline of deer-hunting, and the extinction of the wild boar, as well as a more settled state of society, the use of the Bloodhound diminished. It was kept by the aristocratic owners of a few deer-parks and by a few enthusiasts, with some variation in type, until its popularity began to increase again with the rise of dog-showing in the 19th Century. Numbers, however, have remained low in Britain. Very few survived the Second World War, but the gene-pool has gradually been replenished with imports from America. Nevertheless, because of UK quarantine restrictions, importing was expensive and difficult, throughout the 20th century, and in the post-war period exports to the USA, and to Europe where the population had also been affected by the war, considerably exceeded imports.
During the later 19th century numbers of Bloodhounds were imported from Britain by French enthusiasts, who regretted the extinction of the ancient St Hubert. They wished to re-establish it, using the Bloodhound, which, despite its developments in Britain, they regarded as the St Hubert preserved unchanged. Many of the finest specimens were bought and exhibited and bred in France as Chiens de S. Hubert, especially by Le Couteulx de Canteleu, who himself bred over 300.
Whatever few original St Huberts remained either died out or were absorbed into the new population. As a result, the Bloodhound became known on parts of the Continent as the Chien de Saint-Hubert. In the mid 20th century the Brussels-based FCI accepted the claim of Belgium to be the country of origin. There are now annual celebrations in the town of Saint-Hubert, in which handlers in period dress parade their hounds. In Britain the bloodhound has continued to be seen as a native breed, with European St Huberts being accepted by the UK KC as bloodhounds.
In Le Couteulx’ book of 1890 we read that ‘Le Chien de St Hubert actuel’ is very big, from 0m,69 to 0m,80 (27½-31½in) high. This does not accord with the 16th century descriptions of the St Hubert given above, nor with the FCI standard, but the idea that the St Hubert is much bigger (up to 0.915m, 36 in) than the Bloodhound persisted well into the 20th century, among some St Hubert enthusiasts.
When the first Bloodhounds were exported to the USA is not known. Bloodhounds were used to track runaway slaves before the American Civil War, but it has been questioned whether the dogs used were genuine Bloodhounds. However, in the later part of the 19th century, and in the next, more pure Bloodhounds were introduced from Britain, and bred in America, especially after 1888, when the English breeder, Edwin Brough, brought three of his hounds to exhibit at the Westminster KC show in New York City. He went into partnership with Mr J L Winchell, who with other Americans, imported more stock from Britain.
Bloodhounds in America have been more widely used in tracking lost people and criminals – often with brilliant success – than in Britain, and the history of the Bloodhound in America is full of the man-trailing exploits of outstanding Bloodhounds and their expert handlers, the most famous hound being Nick Carter. Law enforcement agencies have been much involved in the use of Bloodhounds, and there is a National Police Bloodhound Association, originating in 1962.
In Britain there have been instances from time to time of the successful use of the Bloodhound to track criminals or missing people. However man-trailing is enjoyed as a sport by British Bloodhound owners, through national working trials, and this enthusiasm has spread to Europe. In addition, while the pure Bloodhound is used to hunt singly, bloodhound packs use bloodhounds crossed with foxhounds to hunt the human scent.
Meanwhile, the Bloodhound has become widely distributed internationally, though numbers are small in most countries, with more in the USA than anywhere else. Following the spread of the Bloodhound from Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, imports and exports and, increasingly, artificial insemination, are maintaining the world population as a common breeding stock, without a great deal of divergence in type in different countries.
Bloodhounds are now colored red, black and tan or liver and tan; however, until Elizabethan times they also occurred in other solid colors, including white, and all other hound colors. It is possible that the Talbot, now extinct, was a white Bloodhound, but this is uncertain.
During the late 19th century, Bloodhounds were frequent subjects for artists such as Edwin Landseer and Briton Riviere; the dogs depicted are close in appearance to modern Bloodhounds, indicating that the essential character of the Bloodhound predates modern dog breeding. However, the dogs depicted by Landseer show less wrinkle and haw than modern dogs.
Throughout most of its history the bloodhound was seen as a dog of English or Anglo-Scottish origin, either of unknown ancestry, or, more recently, as developed in part from the St Hubert. It was only in the 19th century that it was claimed, primarily by Le Couteulx, to be the St Hubert itself. Medieval hunting pictures show raches and limers, of the general sagax type, with hanging ears and lips, but not having the specific characteristics of the bloodhound. 16th century descriptions of the St Hubert as short-legged, and only medium sized have led to speculation that the main European antecedent of the bloodhound was rather the Norman hound, which was very large, than the St Hubert.
Others such as the sleuth-hound, the Talbot, the dun-hound and the southern hound, as well as pack hounds, have also been supposed to have contributed to its make-up. Some writers doubt whether anything certain can be said about specific breed ancestry beyond the last few centuries. The picture given by Le Couteulx and D’Yauville of the St Hubert was that it changed considerably through mixed breeding, and perhaps degenerated, before its disappearance, while the bloodhound which replaced it, preserved its original character. However, it is apparent from 16th century pictures that the bloodhound itself has changed considerably. The modern St Hubert is the English bloodhound, in descent and type.
Generally, national and regional variants of hounds, terriers, spaniels etc. have been recognized as separate breeds, France in particular having many regional breeds of hound; the bloodhound’s identification as the St Hubert makes it an anomaly in this respect. Whether the bloodhound is British or Belgian in origin is ultimately not something one can prove historically, depending as it does on whether one chooses to regard two related animals differing in tradition, and history, and somewhat in type, as separate breeds, or variants of the same one.
Descriptions of the desirable physical qualities of a hunting hound go back to Medieval books on hunting. All dogs used in the hunting field were ‘gentle’, that is of good breeding (not necessarily pure breeding), and parents were carefully chosen to maintain and improve conformation. In 1896, making some use of wording found in earlier descriptions, Edwin Brough and Dr J Sidney Turner published Points and Characteristics of the Bloodhound or Sleuth-Hound. This was adopted by the newly formed Association of Bloodhound Breeders, and ultimately became, with very little change, the ‘official’ breed standard of the KC and the AKC.
Meanwhile, the Belgian or Dutch Comte Henri de Bylandt, or H A graaf van Bylandt, published Races des Chiens in 1897, a huge and very important illustrated compilation of breed descriptions, or standards. In this French edition the Bloodhound appears as the Chien de St Hubert, although the pictures illustrating the standard are all of British Bloodhounds, many of them those of Edwin Brough.
The book was revised and reprinted in four languages in 1904, and in this edition the English text of the standard is that of the Association of Bloodhound Breeders, while the French text is closely based on it. However, the present FCI standard uses a quite different layout and wording. The AKC standard has hardly been altered from the original of 1896, the principal change being that the colours, ‘black and tan’, ‘red and tan’, and ‘tawny’, have been renamed as ‘black and tan’, ‘liver and tan’, and ‘red’, but the British KC has made considerable changes.
Some of these were simply matters of presentation and did not affect content. However, responding to the view that the requirements of some breed standards were potentially detrimental to the health or well-being of the animal, changes have been made affecting the required eye-shape and the loose skin, the most recent revision being 2008-9.
Derivation of Name
The word ‘bloodhound’ is recorded from c1330. Most recent accounts say that its etymological meaning is ‘hound of pure or noble blood’. This derives from an original suggestion of Le Couteulx de Canteleu in the nineteenth century, which has been enthusiastically and uncritically espoused by later writers, perhaps because it absolved this undoubtedly good-natured dog from suggestions of bloodthirstiness. Neither Le Couteulx nor anyone since has offered any historical evidence to support this view.
The suggestion sometimes seen that the word derives from ‘blooded hound’ is without basis, as the expression does not appear in early English, and ‘blooded’ in this meaning is not found before the late eighteenth century. Before then ‘bloodhound’ had been taken to mean, ‘hound for blood’, or ‘blood-seeking hound’. This was the explanation put forward by John Caius, who was one of the most learned men of his time, and had an interest in etymology, in the sixteenth century.
It is supported by considerable historical linguistic evidence, which can be gleaned from such sources as the Oxford English Dictionary (OED): the fact that first uses of the word ‘blood’ to refer to good breeding in an animal post date the first use of ‘bloodhound’; that other comparable uses, as in ‘blood-horse’ and ‘blood-stock’ appear many centuries later; and that derogatory uses of the word ‘bloodhound’, which any suggestion of noble breeding would sadly weaken, appear from as early as c1400. Other early sources tell us that hounds were supposed to have an interest in blood, and that the bloodhound was used to follow the trail of a wounded animal.
In the absence of anything in early usage, or any historical evidence whatsoever, to support the modern explanation, the older must be regarded as correct. In the 2012 on-line edition of the OED the entry for ‘bloodhound’ has been brought up to date, for the first time pronouncing specifically on the etymological meaning. Clearly the editors have found no historical plausibility in the idea that the name refers to good breeding, which they do not even mention.
Up to at least the seventeenth century bloodhounds were of all colors, but in modern times the color range has become more restricted. The colors 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, fore chest and lower legs. These last are sometimes referred to as ‘blanket’ or ‘full-coat’ types. In a pioneering study in 1969 Dennis Piper suggested 5 alleles in the pattern-marking gene, producing variants from the red or saddle-less hound through three different types of progressively greater saddle marking to the ‘blanket’ type.
However, more modern study attributes the variation to 3 different alleles of the Agouti gene. Ay produces the non saddle-marked “red” hound, As produces saddle-marking, and at produces the blanket or full-coat hound. Of these Ay is dominant, and at is recessive to the others. The interaction of these variants of the two genes produces the six basic types shown below.
The Bloodhound’s physical characteristics account for its ability to follow a scent trail left several days in the past. Under optimal conditions, a Bloodhound can detect as few as one or two cells. The Bloodhound’s nasal chambers (where scents are identified) are larger than those of most other breeds. The number of olfactory receptor cells are 4 billion in a bloodhound, compared to just 5 million in a human and 100 million in a rabbit.
The surface area of bloodhound olfactory epithelium is 59 sq.in. compared to human’s 1.55 sq.in. (10 sq.cm.) The large, long pendent ears serve to prevent wind from scattering nearby skin cells while the dog’s nose is on the ground; the folds of wrinkled flesh under the lips and neck—called the shawl—serve to catch stray scent particles in the air or on a nearby branch as the Bloodhound is scenting, reinforcing the scent in the dog’s memory and nose. However, not all agree that the long ears and loose skin are functional, some regarding them as a handicap.
There are many accounts of bloodhounds successfully following trails many hours, and even several days, old, the record being of a family found dead in Oregon, in 1954, over 330 hours after they had gone missing. The bloodhound is generally used to follow the individual scent of a fugitive or lost person, taking the scent from a ‘scent article’ – something the quarry is known to have touched, which could be an item of clothing, a car seat, an identified footprint etc.
Many bloodhounds will follow the drift of scent a good distance away from the actual footsteps of the quarry, which can enable them to cut corners and reach the end of the trail more quickly. In America, sticking close to the footsteps is called ‘tracking’, while the freer method is known as ‘trailing’ (in the UK, ‘hunting’), and is held to reflect the bloodhound’s concentration on the individual human scent, rather than that of, say, vegetation crushed by the feet of the quarry.
Having lost a scent, a good bloodhound will stubbornly cast about for long periods, if necessary, in order to recover it. The bloodhound is handled on a tracking harness, which has a metal ring above the shoulders, to which a leash is attached, so that the hound’s neck is not jerked up when the leash becomes taut, as it would with a collar. The leash is at least long enough to allow the hound to cross freely in front of the handler, some handlers preferring quite a short leash, giving better communication with the hound, others liking something longer, maybe twenty or thirty feet.
It is generally agreed that the basis of initial training is to make the experience enjoyable for the puppy or young hound, to keep its enthusiasm high. Whitney preferred waiting till the hound is 18 months old, to start training, but others start as young as possible, say three months. Training can be started by running short trails on a family member whom the puppy sees walk away, at first remaining visible, and later going out of sight. Even though familiar with the scent of the ‘runner’, it can be given a scent-article to sniff, and given the command to follow. It can also be introduced to the tracking harness, which is put on just before the trail starts, and removed as soon as it is finished.
On reaching the runner the puppy is given lavish praise and perhaps a reward. Generally in training the handler must know exactly where the runner went, so that he does not encourage the hound when it is wrong, or ‘correct’ it when it is on the scent, but he should not be too ready with his corrections if the hound goes astray, or it may come to rely on him. He should give the hound time to realise its mistake and put itself right, if possible. As training progresses the handler learns to ‘read’ his hound’s behaviour. The hound must trust its nose and the handler must trust the hound. From early hot trails on a familiar person, the young hound progresses to colder trails on the scents of strangers.
Later training can be designed to teach particular lessons: crossing trails with false scents, having the runner start out with a companion, who leaves him somewhere along the trail, laying a trail on ground frequented by wild animals. This will teach the hound not to change on to other humans, or riot on animal scents (known as ‘staying clean’ [US], or ‘freedom from change’ [UK]). It also needs to work over a variety of ground and learn to cope with distractions of many kinds, as well as being introduced to ‘negative trails’: given a scent article which has not been handled by anyone in the area, so that it will learn to indicate to a handler that the required scent is not there. If it is becoming discouraged it can revert to simpler tasks to recover enthusiasm.
Canine identification of a suspect can help police with their inquiries, and evidence of identification is accepted in some courts. The most approved method of identification is for the hound to jump up, and place its paws on the subject’s chest. In the case of a lost person or a known fugitive identification will not be significant, and in the case of a potentially violent, possibly armed, fugitive a bloodhound handler will not want his dog to approach the quarry for fear of injury to the bloodhound.
Many bloodhounds reaching the end of a trail will show no interest in the person they have been trailing, and are difficult to train to identify. Leon Whitney recommended a method of initial training in which identification was the first thing learned, based on giving the young hound a scent-article from someone who walks a very short distance out of sight into a barn, where he stands with a piece of liver, while another person, also smelling of liver, stands nearby. The hound is led along the ‘trail’, and if it shows an inclination to go to the wrong person it is chastised, but gets the liver if it goes to the right one. When the hound goes to the right person almost infallibly, the number of people is increased, making the choice more difficult, and eventually the brief walks are extended into full trails.
A common misconception is that Bloodhounds are employed in packs; while this is sometimes the case in Britain, in North America, Bloodhounds are used as solitary trackers. When they are on a trail, they are usually silent and do not give voice as other scent hounds. The original use of the Bloodhound as a leash-hound, to find but not disturb animals, would require silent trailing.
Nevertheless, the Bloodhound bay is among the most impressive of hound voices. When hunting in a pack they are expected to be in full cry. They are more likely to ‘give tongue,’ ‘throw their tongue,’ or ‘speak’ when hunting in a pack than when hunting singly, and more when hunting free than when on the leash. The quality of ‘speaking to the line’, that is giving tongue when on the correct scent while remaining silent when off it, is valued in British Bloodhound circles, on aesthetic grounds and because it makes it very easy to ‘read’ the hound’s tracking behaviour. As a result special trophies for speaking to the correct line are on offer at British working trials (where hounds hunt singly), although rarely awarded.
Trials in Britain
Bloodhound Working Trials, first held in 1898, take place in Britain four times a year, under Kennel Club rules, organized by either the Association of Bloodhound Breeders, or The Bloodhound Club. They are run over farm land by permission of the landowners. A line-walker (runner) is given a map, and sets off to follow a course marked on it, leaving a scent-article (‘smeller’) attached to a flag marking the beginning of the trail. A hound and its handler start a set time later, and try to follow his trail, while the judge, equipped with a copy of the map, follows behind assessing their performance.
When each of the entered hounds has completed a trail, he picks a winner. There are a series of ‘stakes’ of increasing difficulty, the simplest being 1 mile long, ½ an hour cold, and the hardest 3 miles long, 2 hours cold. On winning a stake, a hound moves up to the next one. Hounds may work unleashed if they have passed a test showing they will not bother farm stock, especially sheep. Special prizes are on offer for identification and voice (‘speaking to the line’). The best hounds may be invited to take part in special stakes, the most difficult being 3 miles long, 24 hours cold.
The Medieval Bloodhound was not primarily a pack hound, but a leash hound, though there may have been packs in different places or at different times. Up to the 19th century, a single hound or a brace was used on deer-parks, to find deer for the gun. However, mid century two packs appeared, that of Thomas Neville, who hunted in the New Forest area, and who preferred very black hounds, and that of Lord Wolverton. Both these hunted semi-domesticated deer (‘carted deer’), which were recaptured on being brought to bay, and returned home. It was said of Lord Wolverton’s hounds that he found it difficult to get them to hunt as a pack, because each liked to follow the scent on his own.
Eventually, many were sold to Le Couteulx de Canteleu and taken to France. Around the start of the 20th century, several packs existed briefly, following either deer, or the ‘clean boot’ – individual human scent without any enhancement such as animal blood or aniseed. Since the second world war there have been several packs, perhaps most notably that of Eric Furness, who introduced a cross to a Dumfriesshire foxhound into his Peak Bloodhounds. Generally, masters of bloodhounds since then maintain a level of outcross breeding in their packs to improve speed and agility, while retaining bloodhound type. These packs hunt the clean boot and are followed by a field on horseback.
Grafton was the bloodhound in Landseer’s famous painting Dignity and Impudence (1839). Both dogs in the picture belonged to Jacob Bell.
Mr T A Jennings’ Ch Druid, known as ‘Old Druid’ was the first bloodhound champion. Born in 1857, he was later bought by Emperor Napoleon III for his son, Prince Eugene Louis Jean Joseph, and taken to France. Photographs of him, of another famous hound, Cowen’s Druid, and a bitch named Countess, appear in a rare book from 1865 in the British Library, and may be the oldest photographs of bloodhounds to have survived.
A bloodhound named Nick Carter is frequently cited as the archetype of the trailing bloodhound and the extensive publicity this dog received may be the source of much bloodhound-related folklore. Born in 1900, Nick Carter was owned and handled by Captain G.V. Mullikin of Lexington, Kentucky; he is credited with more than 650 finds, including one that required him to follow a trail 300 hours old, that is 12 days.
Ch. Heathers Knock on Wood, known as Knotty, was one of the most awarded bloodhounds of all time.He received more Best-in-Shows than any other bloodhound, and is the first liver-and-tan bloodhound ever to win a Best-in-Show. Knotty was awarded Best-in-Show at the Eukanuba Tournament in 2005 and won the Hound Group in the Westminster Kennel Club Show the same year. Knotty’s offspring have also been showdogs, and as a result many of his puppies receiving the title of “Champion” by the AKC, Knotty was inducted into the AKC’s Stud Dog Hall of Fame. He died in the Spring of 2008, from a rattlesnake bite, which he suffered while trying to protect his owner from the snake.
On the popular 1960s sitcom Beverly Hillbillies, veteran canine actor Stretch portrayed Jed’s bloodhound Duke.
The US Army 615th Military Police Company, mascot is a bloodhound named for the Company’s pet and mascot during Vietnam named Andy.