Weighing between 80 and 110 pounds, the Bloodhound is a large dog. Males stand between 25 to 27 inches tall at the withers, while females stand 23 to 25 inches tall. They are strong, heavy-boned, powerful dogs with loose skin. This impressive breed, which is the oldest of the scent hounds, comes in three general colors; black and tan, liver and tan, and red. Recognizable by their over-sized, droopy ears and kind eyes, they are the Sherlock Holmes’ of the dog world. Once a Bloodhound has learned a scent, he will never forget it and will follow it over any terrain. He will not allow himself to be distracted by other smells he may come across. As a matter of fact, Dr. Lisa Harvey of the University of Washington and her husband, Jeffrey Harvey, tested eight Bloodhounds to determine their tracking ability in different weather conditions. They gave two different people a map and instructed them to walk together in a zigzag pattern from point A to point B. Once they reached point B they were to split up and each walk to a different point C. They were picked up by a car at point C. Forty-eight hours later, the same two people were returned via a car to their respective point Cs to hide there. The Bloodhounds were taken to point A and given the scent of one of the individuals and they began tracking.
All eight dogs were tested at three-week intervals on five different trails (two in a regional park, one on a college campus and two in a city). They made sure all five areas were contaminated, that is, affected by other scents – for example, it rained, there was a fishing contest with 1,000 people, etc. The dogs were divided into two different groups, veteran and novice, depending on the amount of training they’d had. The veteran group was made up of dogs who’d had 18 months or more of training and had worked with an agency, while the novice group had fewer than 18 months of training. The novice dogs were successful 53.3% of the time and followed the wrong person’s scent once. Not surprisingly, the veteran dogs never tracked the wrong person and were successful 96% of the time. The success rate was not affected by weather conditions. The novice dogs also had the uncanny ability to learn very quickly. On the first set of trials, only one of the dogs tracked successfully, but by the fourth set, all three novice dogs were successful. Furthermore, it only took most of the dogs less than ten minutes to find their target at point C.
Bloodhounds have lovely temperaments and it is easy to fall in love with them. They are extremely affectionate and can make great family pets, but like any dog, they are not the breed for everyone. Their tracking instinct and stubbornness can get them into trouble.
As always, before adding one of these remarkable dogs to your family, it is important to get more information on their health, temperament, training ability, and exercise requirements. Contact the American Bloodhound Club at https://www.americanbloodhoundclub.org