So you think you want a Bloodhound?


Sit back. Let's talk. The Bloodhound is not the dog for everyone. If you're interested in owning one, the first thing I'm going to do is try to talk you out of it.

First - they're big. Roger Caras has referred to them as "the Clydesdales of the hound group". Males can reach 130 pounds, and the females can weigh in at 100. That's a VERY big dog.

If you're expecting a clone of "Duke", the lazy hound that laid around on the set of the Beverly Hillbillies, forget it. I don't know any hounds like that. They are rambunctious clowns, especially as young dogs. They are incredibly strong and one swish of a happy tail can wipe out a coffee table. Many of them also have a tendency to eat everything that isn't nailed down. And sometimes things that are. They will swallow an astonishing array of things - from towels to underwear to socks to rocks. Many a bloodhound owner can tell you stories of emergency surgeries to remove foreign objects.

They drool. Their droopy lips, or "flews" simply do not hold spit very well, and every bloodhound owner has to clean long strands off the stereo, TV, computer monitor or even the ceiling. This spittle also has the tendency to dry to a rock-like hardness that one owner I know has speculated that it might be of interest to NASA for gluing down the tiles of the space shuttle.

When you do fall in love with them you find they don't live very long. A seven year old is considered a veteran for show purposes, and a bloodhound that surpasses a decade is cherished. They are also subject to the life threatening condition known as bloat and gastric torsion. When you own one, any signs of tummy ache, vomiting, restlessness are a nightmare, and a reason to call in sick so you can stay home to watch over your dog. Even more tragically, sometimes you don't even know anything is wrong. A pat on the head, a biscuit, and off to work. Then come home to a dead or dying dog. That's what happened to Annie. It's probably the number one killer of bloodhounds, and the cause is still not well understood. Death at an early age and bloat are common to most of the larger breeds of dogs.

Are you interested in formal obedience training? Good luck. With all due respect to those who do manage to obtain obedience titles on their hounds - I have to say the bloodhound is not exactly a star in the obedience ring. They are not stupid by any means - just wonderfully independent. They are just not terribly motivated to perform the owner pleasing behaviors required for formal obedience.

A bloodhound has no "street sense". They are governed by the world of scent, and intensely curious about new smells. Sometimes it seems that mine are determined to catalog and describe all possible scents in their internal "databases" to reflect on later, perhaps in their old age. When they are on a trail, their heads may drop, folds of skin cover their eyes, their ears sweep the ground - they are functionally blind. When enraptured with following a particularly interesting trail, I have seen them bump into trees, hubcaps of parked cars and even other animals. For this reason you can never let them run off lead. A loose bloodhound is soon a dead bloodhound.

If after this, you're still interested in a bloodhound, please contact a reputable breeder or a breed rescue organization. This is true for any purebred dog. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE never buy any puppy from a pet store. Bloodhounds are sensitive dogs, and the mishandling and lack of early socialization that inevitably results from the "puppy mill" trade can have disasterous consequences for this breed. Or for any breed. Check the links below for a source of a sound, healthy hound. And good luck.

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