Many people mistakenly think that the Bloodhound dog derives its name from an apparent blood lust, but nothing could be further from the truth. This dog breed actually got its name on account of its very specialized breeding and the blood in its name refers to the purity of its bloodlines.
The direct ancestor of the Bloodhound is a now extinct dog breed that once went by the name of the St Hubert Hound or St Hubert’s Hound. As the name suggests this dog was named after the man who developed it, St Hubert, the Bishop of Liege whose passions in life were hunting and the church.
After the death of Bishop St Hubert, every year from then onwards, the abbots of the monastery he founded gifted six dogs of their special breed to the king of France. Eventually the Hubert Hound was introduced to England when William the Conqueror invaded in 1066 and via selective and careful breeding programs subsequently gave rise the Bloodhound dog breed as we know it today and another breed of dog that ultimately became extinct in the 16th century called the Talbot Hound.
To this day, in France and its native homeland of Belgium, the Bloodhound is still known as Le Chien de St Hubert after its predecessor.
Originally bred to track down wolves, deer and other large game, with its unrivaled sniffing ability, the Bloodhound saw to it that virtually every hunt met with success such that in short thrift the game parks were severely deficient in big game! With the disappearance of large game the ever-avid English hunter turned his attention to fox hunting.
Fox hunting as the typical hunter of the day soon found out needed a faster tracking dog than the somewhat cumbersome and plodding Bloodhound. So in what seemed like the blink of an eye the Bloodhound was replaced by the Foxhound as the premier dog of choice for hunting. And thus for the ultimate canine sniffer the glory days of big hunting came to a swift end and the breed’s career was relegated to a backseat of sniffing out the occasional poacher and thief.
The Amazing Scenting Ability of The Bloodhound Dog Breed
In the dog world the Bloodhound reigns supreme as the ultimate sniffing machine. In filed trials a capable Bloodhound can easily track a human scent that is 24 hours old over a distance of 5km (3 miles) even when the person is wearing Wellington boots. So specialized is this dog breed in honing in on a single scent, it will ignore stronger fresher scents that may fall upon its trail of its original scent; this characteristic is known as being “free from change.” Thus it is little wonder that in nature this dog breed is described as somewhat stubborn.
As pointed out earlier on, contrary to what many believe, the Bloodhound is so truly specialized in its single-minded scent tracking; this dog is more likely to lick its quarry in greeting than bite it when it had tracked the quarry down. Put simply the Bloodhound is a tracker not an attacker or killer.
In the lands of the Americas, the Bloodhound dog breed has had what can only simply be described as an illustrious history. When it was introduced to the New World, the Bloodhound was originally designated three tasks which were: 1) pursues Native Americans; 2) hunt down escaped slaves; and 3) aid in the recapture of escaped prisoners.
In fact when James Earl Ray, the supposed sole assassin of Martin Luther King, escaped from prison in 1977 his recapture was on account of a pack of Bloodhounds that tracked him down several days later in the hills of Tennessee.
One of the most accomplished Bloodhounds was a famous Kentucky dog that single-handedly was responsible for the recapture of in excess of 600 fugitives. Apparently it is claimed that one trail was said to be 104 hrs old and another supposedly ran for 222km; yet in both cases the dog successfully tracked its quarry down.
The Bloodhound As A Pet
The Bloodhound actually makes for an excellent pet because it has such a sweet disposition and temperament. Much in keeping with a dog with so affable a temperament it comes as little to no surprise that the Bloodhound gets on famously with kids; though it may not be quite as playful as some kids would desire.
Naturally as a dog bred for hunting, the breed needs ample exercise on a daily basis, but thankfully not as much as the retriever dog breeds (like the Labrador) need. The Bloodhound is not a retrieving dog breed and thus will not readily take to catch-n-fetch games. In fact its single-minded nature of focusing on a single scent makes for an independent to stubborn nature.
This dog breed gets on well with other dogs, as well as pets and strangers.