Bloodhound (Chien de Saint-Hubert)
The Bloodhound is an ancient sporting dog whose origin can be traced back to medieval France. This medium-sized smart breed with extremely keen nose is appreciated not only for its supreme hunting skills but also for its good-naturedness and distinctive appearance. But its somewhat stubborn disposition makes this dog a rather unsuitable canine companion for an inexperienced dog owner.
The development of the Bloodhound began more than thousand years ago and it’s believed that its early ancestors came from the Mediterranean region. This dog found its way to Europe long before the Crusades. Gradually breeders in French and other European countries created two separate bloodlines of this breed. The black-coated variety was initially produced in the VII and VIII centuries and became subsequently known as «St. Hubert’s Hound». The white type appeared somewhat later and was called the «Southern Hound». Dogs from the St. Hubert’s strain evidently were brought to Great Britain in the XI century and over time evolved into the present-day version of the Bloodhound.
It’s still debatable as to how the breed received its name. The vast majority of specialists agreed that it describes the extreme diligence with which the breeders strived to keep its blood as pure as possible. Fairly recently a famed English physician and canine fancier advanced another lead about the origin of the breed’s name and suggested that it implies to its talent to follow its prey not only while it was still alive but also after it had already died, once it found a blood trail.
In the XII English church authority and aristocracy greatly promoted the improvement of the breed’s working characteristics. High-ranking clergymen kept large packs of Bloodhounds and the kennel was a common sight in most English monasteries. The breeders gave special consideration to the purity of this dog as well as tried to enhance its scenting abilities. For centuries it was utilised in tracing such large game as wolves, deer and boars. But as the deer number substantially declined, English hunters switched over to foxhunting and started breeding faster and more agile hound that later on became known as the English Foxhound.
The complete disappearance of the original Bloodhound was one of the sad results of the French Revolution. Fortunately the breed flourished in England and during the XIX century lots of its specimens were brought to other countries. By the end of the Second World War the Bloodhound almost went extinct in England as well but it was saved by efforts of European breeders.
In America the Bloodhound also won fame thanks to its unsurpassed scent and was frequently entrusted with tracing humans, specifically indigenous Indians, jail-breakers and escaped slaves. The American Kennel Club (AKC) granted it with its recognition in 1885. Currently the breed is still widely used in tracing missing people in various countries but it’s also valued as a police dog. Mellow and gentle nature of this dog also earned it massive following in the role of a family pet.
Despite the fact that the Bloodhound was perfected as a sporting dog for multiple generations it has an overwhelmingly friendly and sociable temperament. It will become a wonderful canine pet for everyone who will be able to put up with its rather sizeable exercise and grooming requirements. This dog strives for company of its human family and will howl and chew things if left alone for long span of time. It commonly lives in harmony with children of all ages provided they don’t rough-house it too much.
The Bloodhound is notable for all-around amity and usually greets all strangers as potential playmates. Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and efforts to socialisation of this dog otherwise it may develop issues with excessive shyness of fearfulness in unusual situations. The breed is too kind and unsuspecting to make a good guardian. This dog does prone to unmotivated barking but it’s mostly uninterested in alerting its masters about suspicious people in the vicinity and therefore becomes a lousy watcher.
The Bloodhound got used to co-existence with several dozens of other canines in English kennels and will be very grateful to have one or several constant canine companions. Nonetheless it’s still highly advisable to exercise proper caution when introducing two dogs to each other for the first time. Surprisingly enough but this breed suits relatively well for households with pre-existing non-canine pets (including cats). Once correctly socialised, this dog will pester a family cat only in an attempt to play with it.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· gastric dilatation and volvulus (bloat);
· ear infections;
· eye problems;
· canine hip dysplasia;
· congenital aortic stenosis.
The Bloodhound needs a great amount of maintenance to stay healthy. It loses hair lightly all the year around and much more intensely in the spring and fall. As a rule it’s sufficient to groom this dog once a week in order to minimise the damage from shedding for your clothing, furniture and carpets. Be aware that this breed has fairly sensitive skin and use a hound mitt as a brushing tool.
The wrinkles on the Bloodhound’s face require daily cleaning with soft damp tissue in order to stave off nasty bacteria from development. The upper part of the dog’s lips, so-called flews, should be carefully wiped out after each feeding.
This breed frequently suffers from ear infections so the owner should keep the ears of his pet perfectly clean at all times. It’s also predisposed to rotting teeth and bad smell so weekly teeth brushing is a must for the Bloodhound.
The Bloodhound has a sharp mind and would be a very capable learner if its character was less stubborn and independent. On the whole this dog stands out for an average trainability and can master fairly complex tricks if its interest is properly stimulated by praise and tasty treats. The individuality of the handler acquires a great significance for this breed since it will never submit to a soft or indecisive person.
Be mindful though that any kind of maltreatment will cause avoidance behaviour and can even provoke your pet to retaliatory aggression. The Bloodhound more than anything anyone else in the world loves tracking so it will be an excellent idea to regularly enrol this dog in some tracking competition.
Because of its bulky and heavy-boned physique the Bloodhound can sometimes make a false impression of a calm and sedate dog. In actual fact it requires tons of daily vigorous exercise and should get lots of regular opportunities to explore and play in a safely fenced area. Nonetheless once its need for physical activity is properly met it will behave itself calmly and mannerly in any type of housing condition including a city apartment.
Stamina of this dog won’t disappoint the expectations of joggers, bikers or fans of hiking. Remember that without sufficient amount of both physical and mental stimulation the Bloodhound will quickly fall into habits to unreasonable barking and hyper activity indoors.