History and Development

Bloodhounds are believed to have been brought into England in 1066 by William the Conqueror, and it is doubtful if they existed in Britain before that time. They were used extensively in the Ardennes for deer hunting, and must for ever be associated with the Flemish monastery of St. Hubert, where both the black and the white colored hounds were kept, the latter being the Talbot hounds and a color not in existence today. The name Bloodhound is thought to have originated in the same way as a thoroughbred horse is called a blood horse, thereby a thoroughbred hound, a Bloodhound, not a blood-thirsty hound as might be imagined.

During the Second World War the breed nearly became extinct in Britain audit was only due to Mr. F. Hylden of the Brighton prefix and Mrs. Elms of the Reynalton prefix, who struggled to keep approximately a dozen hounds between them, that the breed managed to survive at all. Before the war Kennel Club registrations were about 140 Bloodhounds yearly; during the war ten a year only were registered, and there were twenty-one in 1945, fourteen in 1946 and twenty-one in 1947. These puppies were very in-bred and delicate, and in 1947 and ’48 there was a great danger of their becoming extinct altogether. However after re-forming the Association of Bloodhound Breeders three members were appointed to decide what could be done, and Sir John Buchanan-Jardine, Master of the Dumfriesshire hounds, provided a cross-bred Foxhound/Bloodhound bitch to help form outcross blood. Then in 1949 the first of the many imports arrived in from Canada, and so started the great come-back of Bloodhounds in England.

The Bloodhound has been developed in America since the mid I800’s and has been represented at dog shows almost from the beginning. During the two world wars, when the severe food rationing in Europe made it difficult to maintain large dogs, they continued to be bred in the U.S. and many were used in the Armed Forces, especially for tracking in densely forested areas. Their use for police work in America has been very widespread and the achievements claimed for individual dogs almost beyond belief, but there can be no doubt that a good Bloodhound can follow the faintest of scent trails, quite undetectable by any other dog.

Bloodhound: Color

The colors are black and tan, liver and tan (i.e. red and tan) and self-colored red. The darker colors sometimes being interspersed with lighter or badger-colored hair and sometimes flecked with white. A small amount of white is permissible on chest, feet and tip of stern, hut white is not permitted on face or head.

Bloodhound: Care

Bloodhounds are a country breed and need plenty of space and a lot of exercise as, contrary to their sedate appearance, they are quite boisterous, and although they can be kept in towns, the wide open spaces are more to their liking. They need generous feeding, and a growing puppy will require up to four lbs. of meat daily and about three pints of milk at approximately five months of age, in order to attain maximum size, bone and body. An adult hound will require about three lbs. when hilly grown, but this can include cooked offal, Two smaller feeds daily are better than one large one for as in several of the big hound breeds, bloat is an ever-present danger. Two important points to remember are never to allow water for two hours after food, and never to exercise immediately after a meal. Their short coats are easy to keep clean, and a good daily grooming with a hound glove and an occasional dry shampoo is all the cleaning required. Ears need regular attention. Nails might need trimming if not regularly exercised on hard surfaces. Most Bloodhounds prefer the cold to extreme heat although extremes of both should be avoided.

Bloodhound: Character

A sensitive breed, harsh treatment or teasing can easily ruin their normally affectionate and delightful temperament. They are easily controlled by voice and quickly learn to differentiate between praise and correction. They are very much one-man dogs and do not take kindly to a change of (tuner after puppyhood.

Despite the tendency to treat the Bloodhound as a show clog, they still have the ability for tracking the cold boot, and if trained for this work can follow a human trail for many miles.


In general appearance it is very powerful and stands over more ground than is usual with a hound of other breeds. The skin must be thin and extremely loose, this being especially noticeable about the head and neck where it hangs in deep folds. The expression is noble and dignified and characterized by solemnity, wisdom and power. The gait is elastic, swinging and free, and the hound should really cover the ground when moving.

The head is narrow in proportion to its length and long in proportion to the body, tapering hut slightly from the temples to the muzzle. The skull is long and narrow with the occipital peak very pronounced. The brows are not prominent although owing to the deepset eyes, they may have that appearance. The head is furnished with an amount of loose skin, which in nearly every position appears super-abundant, but more particularly so whet the head is carried low; the skin then falls into loose, pendulous ridges and folds, especially over the forehead and sides of the face. The nostrils are large and open. In front the lips fall squarely, making a right angle with the upperline of the foreface; while behind they form deep hanging Hews, and, being continued into the pendant folds of loose skin about the neck, constitute the dewlap, which is very pronounced.

The eyes are deeply sunk in the orbits, the lids assuming a lozenge or diamond shape, in consequence of the lower lids being dragged down and everted by the heavy- flews. The eyes correspond with the general color of the animal, varying from deep hazel to yellow. The hazel color is, however, to be preferred, although very seldom seen in liver and tan (i.e. red and tan) hounds.

The cars are thin and soft to the touch, extremely long, set-on very low, and fall in graceful folds, the lower parts curling inwards and backwards. The stern is long and thick, tapering to a point, set-on high with a moderate amount of hair underneath. It should be carried scimitar fashion but not curled over the back or corkscrew at any time. The average height of adult dogs is 26″ and bitches 2-1″. Dogs usually vary from 25″ to 27″ and bitches from 23″ to 25″. The average weight of adult dogs in fair condition is 90 lbs. and of adult bitches 80 lbs. Dogs attain L10 lbs. and bitches 100 lbs.

Hounds of the maximum height and weight are preferred providing always that quality, proportion and balance combine.

Selections from the book: “The World Encyclopedia of Dogs” (1971)