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  • Temperament: Friendly, Independent, Inquisitive
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 52 of 194
  • Height: 25-27 inches (male), 23-25 inches (female)
  • Weight: 90-110 pounds (male), 80-100 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
  • Group: Hound Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Bloodhound standing in three-quarter view facing forward
Bloodhound head facing left
Bloodhound sitting in three-quarter view
Bloodhound coat detail

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Bloodhound possesses, in a most marked degree, every point and characteristic of those dogs which hunt together by scent (Sagaces). He is very powerful, and stands over more ground than is usual with hounds of other breeds. The skin is thin to the touch and extremely loose, this being especially noticeable about the head and neck, where it hangs in deep folds.

HEAD

The head is narrow in proportion to its length, and long in proportion to the body, tapering but slightly from the temples to the end of the muzzle, thus (when viewed from above and in front) having the appearance of being flattened at the sides and of being nearly equal in width throughout its entire length. In profile the upper outline of the skull is nearly in the same plane as that of the foreface. The length from end of nose to stop (midway between the eyes) should be not less than that from stop to back of occipital protuberance (peak). The entire length of head from the posterior part of the occipital protuberance to the end of the muzzle should be 12 inches, or more, in dogs, and 11 inches, or more, in bitches.

BODY

The neck is long, the shoulders muscular and well sloped backwards; the ribs are well sprung; and the chest well let down between the forelegs, forming a deep keel.

LEGS

The forelegs are straight and large in bone, with elbows squarely set; the feet strong and well knuckled up; the thighs and second thighs (gaskins) are very muscular; the hocks well bent and let down and squarely set.

WRINKLE

The head is furnished with an amount of loose skin, which in nearly every position appears superabundant, but more particularly so when the head is carried low; the skin then falls into loose, pendulous ridges and folds, especially over the forehead and sides of the face. Nostrils-The nostrils are large and open. Lips, Flews, and Dewlap-In front the lips fall squarely, making a right angle with the upper line of the foreface; whilst behind they form deep, hanging flews, and, being continued into the pendant folds of loose skin about the neck, constitute the dewlap, which is very pronounced. These characteristics are found, though in a lesser degree, in the bitch.

FACE

Foreface – The foreface is long, deep, and of even width throughout, with square outline when seen in profile. Eyes -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 tone of 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 hounds. Ears – The ears are thin and soft to the touch, extremely long, set very low, and fall in graceful folds, the lower parts curling inward and backward. Mouth-A scissors bite is preferred, level bite accepted.

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bloodhound illustration

About the Bloodhound

Bloodhounds are large, substantial dogs standing 23 to 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 110 pounds. Their most famous features are a long, wrinkled face with loose skin; huge, drooping ears; and warm, deep-set eyes that complete an expression of solemn dignity. Coat colors can be black and tan, liver and tan, or red. Powerful legs allow Bloodhounds to scent over miles of punishing terrain.

As pack dogs, Bloodhounds enjoy company, including other dogs and kids. They are easygoing, but their nose can sometimes lead them into trouble. A strong leash and long walks in places where they can enjoy sniffing around are recommended. Bloodhounds are droolers, and obedience training these sensitive sleuths can be a challenge.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Bloodhound

Find a Puppy: Bloodhound

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Care

NUTRITION

The Bloodhound should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The Bloodhound has a short, dense coat that is shed once or twice a year. Weekly brushing with a medium-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove will remove the dead hair before it can fall onto the furniture. Brushing also promotes new hair growth and distributes skin oils throughout the coat to keep it healthy. Bloodhounds should be bathed regularly to keep them from developing a doggy odor. As with all breeds, the Bloodhound’s nails should be trimmed regularly.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

The popular misconception is that Bloodhounds spend their days lazing on the front porch. The truth is that the Bloodhound, who was bred to follow a scent for hours on end, is an active dog who requires daily exercise. He will benefit from long daily walks—always on a leash, as he may not respond to commands if he has found a scent to follow. Additional exercise time can come in the backyard, which must be securely fenced because Bloodhounds are great diggers and escape artists.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

As with all breeds, early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. With a Bloodhound, it’s best to start  obedience classes early; they tend to become set in their ways, and it’s better if the behaviors they hold onto for a lifetime are the behaviors the owner wants. Bloodhounds like to take charge, so an owner needs to be firm but kind. Training that involves positive rewards, such as treats and praise, is usually effective. The Bloodhound is affectionate and devoted and also stubborn and independent, so his training requires patience, consistency, and skill.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

Like other large, deep-chested dogs, Bloodhounds can experience bloat. Bloodhound owners should educate themselves to recognize the symptoms of this life-threatening condition, and know what to do should it happen. Bloodhounds are notorious for eating anything and everything, which can often lead to vet visits. The Bloodhound’s low-hanging ears should be checked daily for any sign of infection. In addition, check the Bloodhound’s skin wrinkles daily for odor or irritation, and if needed wipe with a warm, wet cloth and then dry thoroughly. As with all breeds, a Bloodhound’s teeth should be brushed regularly.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

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History

There is little known about Bloodhound origins, but some authorities say the breed was known around the ancient Mediterranean. In his “Historia Animalium,” the third-century scholar Aelian mentions a hound of unrivaled scenting powers, so intensely devoted to his work that he could not be pulled off the trail until his quarry was found. The Bloodhound, then, appears to be oldest extant hound that hunts by scent and is a contributor to the development of subsequent hound breeds, such as the Black and Tan Coonhound and the other coonhound varieties.

Bloodhounds as we know them were perfected in Western Europe about a thousand years ago. Credit for the careful development of the breed goes to high-ranking members of the pre-Reformation church. In medieval times, when even bishops rode to hounds, many prominent princes of the church maintained packs of hounds on the grounds of the well-funded monasteries of England and France. So careful were the monks charged with executing the bishop’s breeding program that their hounds came to be known as “blooded hounds” —“blooded” meaning “of aristocratic blood.”

During the centuries since, the noble Bloodhound has earned a reputation as a man-trailer without equal. Police departments around the world have relied on these muscular, single-minded hounds to follow the scent of humans—maybe a criminal, or a lost child, or a confused senior. An assignment might last all day and night, over hills and through swamps, but Bloodhounds won’t give up until they follow the trail to the end. Even in these days of high-technology, no scenting device yet invented is as accurate as the Bloodhound nose.

Did You Know?

The Bloodhound made its appearance in Europe long before the Crusades, the first specimens being brought from Constantinople in two strains, black and white.
Testimony of a Bloodhound's mantrailing results is acceptable in almost any court.
The 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…
The first recorded use of Bloodhounds by organized law enforcement was in England in 1805 when the Thrapston Association for the Prevention of Felons acquired a Bloodhound to search for poachers and…
The Bloodhound is called the modern representative of the oldest race of hounds that hunt by scent.
In the 12th century, when even bishops rode to the hounds, dignitaries of the church were among the foremost in fostering the development of the Bloodhound.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Bloodhound possesses, in a most marked degree, every point and characteristic of those dogs which hunt together by scent (Sagaces). He is very powerful, and stands over more ground than is usual with hounds of other breeds. The skin is thin to the touch and extremely loose, this being especially noticeable about the head and neck, where it hangs in deep folds.

HEAD

The head is narrow in proportion to its length, and long in proportion to the body, tapering but slightly from the temples to the end of the muzzle, thus (when viewed from above and in front) having the appearance of being flattened at the sides and of being nearly equal in width throughout its entire length. In profile the upper outline of the skull is nearly in the same plane as that of the foreface. The length from end of nose to stop (midway between the eyes) should be not less than that from stop to back of occipital protuberance (peak). The entire length of head from the posterior part of the occipital protuberance to the end of the muzzle should be 12 inches, or more, in dogs, and 11 inches, or more, in bitches.

BODY

The neck is long, the shoulders muscular and well sloped backwards; the ribs are well sprung; and the chest well let down between the forelegs, forming a deep keel.

LEGS

The forelegs are straight and large in bone, with elbows squarely set; the feet strong and well knuckled up; the thighs and second thighs (gaskins) are very muscular; the hocks well bent and let down and squarely set.

WRINKLE

The head is furnished with an amount of loose skin, which in nearly every position appears superabundant, but more particularly so when the head is carried low; the skin then falls into loose, pendulous ridges and folds, especially over the forehead and sides of the face. Nostrils-The nostrils are large and open. Lips, Flews, and Dewlap-In front the lips fall squarely, making a right angle with the upper line of the foreface; whilst behind they form deep, hanging flews, and, being continued into the pendant folds of loose skin about the neck, constitute the dewlap, which is very pronounced. These characteristics are found, though in a lesser degree, in the bitch.

FACE

Foreface – The foreface is long, deep, and of even width throughout, with square outline when seen in profile. Eyes -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 tone of 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 hounds. Ears – The ears are thin and soft to the touch, extremely long, set very low, and fall in graceful folds, the lower parts curling inward and backward. Mouth-A scissors bite is preferred, level bite accepted.

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bloodhound illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 018
LIVER & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 124
RED Check Mark For Standard Color 140