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 olfaction 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.
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; 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).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 of France 1550-74, preferred his white hounds and the larger Chien-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 colours 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 Bloodhound#Colour 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 of France (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.
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#Hound the Dog type of the Bloodhound was as a ‘limer’ or ‘lyam-hound’, that is a dog handled on a leash or ‘lyam’, to find the hart (deer) or Wild 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,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 Medieval deer parkDuring 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.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.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 Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City. He went into partnership with Mr J L Winchell, who with other Americans, imported more stock from Britain. Law enforcement agencies have been much involved in the use of Bloodhounds, and there is a 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#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 coloured red, black and tan or liver and tan; however, until Elizabethan times they also occurred in other solid colours, including white, and all other hound colours. 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 Nictitating membrane than modern dogs. 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. 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. 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, 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 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 2012 on-line edition of the OED 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 The surface area of bloodhound olfactory epithelium is 59 sq.in. compared to human's 1.55 sq.in. (10 sq.cm.) However, not all agree that the long ears and loose skin are functional, some regarding them as a handicap. 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. Whitney preferred waiting till the hound is 18 months old, to start training, 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. Since the second world war there have been several packs, perhaps most notably that of Eric Furness, who introduced a cross to a Dumfriesshire Hound into his Peak Bloodhounds.
* Doug Heffernan briefly adopts a bloodhound in the King of Queens episode Ruff Goin.
* Hubert is the name of Harlan Pepper's (Christopher Guest) bloodhound in the cult comedy Best in Show (film)
* In the animated show King of the Hill, Hank Hill's beloved dog Ladybird is a bloodhound
*The abilities of bloodhounds were put to the test in two episodes of Mythbusters.
* A bloodhound is seen in the film 102 Dalmatians at Cruella de Vil's dog party.