What is a Bloodhound?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A bloodhound is a dog specifically bred for its extremely keen sense of smell. Bloodhounds have historically been used to track humans, and they are also used in hunting of animals in some parts of the world, as as scent dogs for law enforcement. The bloodhound is one of the oldest dog breeds, with examples dating back to well before the first century CE, and bloodhounds can be found working in most corners of the globe.


In order to be accepted by kennel clubs, a bloodhound must meet a range of requirements collectively referred to as a “breed standard.” The breed standard for bloodhounds includes things like size limitations, with an average height of 26 inches (66 centimeters), and color. Bloodhounds can be red, black and tan, or liver and tan, and they are characterized by having very stocky, muscular bodies.

The bloodhound is a breed which has been refined for incredible stamina. Bloodhounds can track a scent tirelessly for hours, and they can track scents over three days old, in the case of especially talented individuals. As you might imagine, the nasal chambers of the bloodhound are especially large, explaining the very good sense of smell associated with this dog breed. Bloodhounds also tend to be leggy, ensuring that they can clear obstacles in the field, and they are very strong.

Many people are familiar with the folds of thin skin which surround the face, neck, and legs of the bloodhound. These skin folds give bloodhounds a slightly lugubrious look, which is enhanced by their long, drooping ears. The slightly sad expression of the bloodhound belies the temperament of this breed: bloodhounds tend to be very friendly, gentle, and enthusiastic about their jobs, although they are also shy and sensitive. Bloodhounds tend to get along well with other dogs, and they are very loyal to their owners.

Like other animals bred as working animals, not pets, bloodhounds benefit from owners who give them a chance to work. If a bloodhound is kept confined, it may grow restless and depressed, which can lead to behavior problems. Bloodhounds require at least an hour of vigorous exercise every day in adulthood, and they relish a chance to follow a scent. People who don't want to hunt with their bloodhounds might want to consider joining a volunteer search and rescue group, where they can learn to work with their dogs to find missing people who might need help.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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