Living With Bloodhounds
Why a Bloodhound?
This is the very first question we ask anyone who is considering one as their new family member.
The classic answer is "they are loving, quiet, and loyal dogs, good family pets."
I'm never quite sure where this idea started, and would suggest that people look at getting a labrador if that is their expectation of life with a bloodhound.
Bloodhounds are one of the oldest established breeds, and can trace their ancestry back to the Norman Conquest, although they were of a rather different type and temperament in those days. The modern bloodhound however, is still a very primitive breed, and therefore often not suited to many domestic situations.
Life with a Bloodhound
They are HOUNDS!
The most important factor to consider at all times is the fact that they are a HOUND. This means that they have been bred for centuries, solely for the purpose of hunting, and this is still true today. Being a scent hound, they will lower their heads the moment they step outside, and more often than not, take off at a speed that is deceptive to their size and build. they are a dog attached to a nose, and the nose rules the brain. if you are looking for a nice calm dog to live in town, and go for walks in the parks with, chase a ball and maybe weekend hikes in the country off lead, then this really isn't the breed for you.
People presume they are not very bright. Far from it, they are extremely intelligent; they just don’t see good reason for doing as they are told!
They are not like some breeds , eg gundogs, that work in conjunction with their humans. Bloodhounds are independent workers so you'd better be prepared to learn to appreciate and harness their natural abilities.
They are not couch potatoes
Bloodhounds are active and they are not just a large basset! As you might have guessed, a bored Bloodhound can be a destructive Bloodhound. If you aren't prepared to challenge your young Bloodhound both mentally and physically, they are probably not the best breed for you.
These are not push button dogs. They can be stubborn and smart enough to decide if they really want to do what you just asked of them. They are thinkers and sometimes schemers! They love to dig holes, they love to chew anything they can pick up, and they drool ALOT. If you cannot tolerate the drool then a bloodhound is not for you.
They generate a huge amount of dust and mess indoors, more than any other breed I've known. If you are very house-proud then they are probably not the right breed for you. They like nothing more than sitting on sofas. You soon learn to own a whole range of suitable sofa covers!
A Bloodhound may dig or it may become a great tree pruner! You need fencing. GOOD fencing. Most of mine are well able to scale 5 feet fencing and you'd be astounded the tiny holes they can get through. Your fencing needs to be the best.
You start to consider different things in life. Not what is always your taste but what is Bloodhound proof. You will never want carpet in your home again and if you like your nice sports car? You'll be dreaming of an estate or a 4x4 soon!
Your washing line will get higher and higher!
Children & Bloodhounds
Bloodhounds can be great with children, provided they are properly exposed to them and learn to be calm around them.
The trouble is they are a clumsy breed, and an excited Bloodhound will often accidentally knock over a child by running into them or with a swing of the head, or injure them unintentionally with their powerful tail.
Like having family and visitors to the home? Well lets hope they liked to be slobbered and jumped on by your 9 stone Bloodhound! You will soon categorise your friends as 'before bloodhound' and 'after bloodhound' and you may find a reluctance to visit you from many!
We also own and work a gundog. He shadows us, listens to every word, and rarely puts a foot out of place. He goes in the boat, he helps out on the farm, he goes on bike rides off lead, and you never have to worry where he is as invariably he's next to you waiting for instruction.
If you have had a dog that did whatever you asked, then be prepared for a shock! Be prepared that if you get a Bloodhound it will be very different.
With consistency and lots of training, some individuals become "well trained" in the conventional dog sense, but in my experience its a rare thing!
They really do change your life , and you will find that YOUR life has to change to accommodate their characteristics. If you can learn to change your lifestyle to living with a scent hound, and if you are willing to try and work WITH their instincts and not against them, then they can be a wonderful breed, but it needs to be said that not everyone is prepared to do so, nor will they suit many lifestyles.
Their Artistic Side
Adolescent bloodhounds can be very destructive. I know people who have returned home to find a puppy has eaten a huge hole in a door.
chewed a leg off a table and totally destroyed a fitted kitchen. Their sheer size, combined with basic hound-like tendencies, mean that most bloodhound owners need to be prepared for a lot of chewed furniture.
Bloodhound puppies have to be one of the most endearing of all breeds, and this can be their downfall, as people sometimes do not realise that the cute wrinkly bundle will soon be eight stone of hound, dribbling in your face as it stands with its front feet on your shoulders. Its usually when a hound reaches hooligan adolescent that people realise they just cannot cope with a large active hound that is eating them out of house and home, destroying their home and demanding attention. You cannot ignore a bloodhound!
And finally......Choose Your Breeder Wisely
If you are contemplating a bloodhound to share your life, then it is important that you meet some adult hounds and learn a bit about hound idiosyncrasies.
Once you have satisfied your self that it’s the breed for you, then you need to research breeders.
Do you want a healthy well bred puppy from a responsible breeder?
No-one ever says no to this question but why do so many not research before they buy? There is no magical wand or guarantee to ensure a long healthy life of any dog..
Genetics and environment play a role in predictability of this outcome. However RESPONSIBLE breeders go further for the breed and it takes a lot more than simply knowing both the sire and dam to predict the outcome of a breeding.
You may not be aware of the Kennel Club recommended health testing for Bloodhounds in the UK.
They are Hips, Elbows, Eye Certificate.
Furthermore responsible Breeders will also have a Cardiology exam/certificate and do DNA test for DM
All breeding dogs should be tested!
There are only three reasons why a breeder does not do health clearances:
They don’t care to know what they have/they think they can tell by looking at the dog
They don’t want to spend the money
But the biggest reason is because potential buyers don’t ask or demand them when searching for a puppy
The bond between man and dog is like no other. This potential puppy will be a family member that will hopefully live a long and wonderful life and even decades after they are gone, they will be fondly remembered and missed. So why do so many buyers not research properly?
If someone has no documented knowledge of past ancestors, how can they know what genetic issue may arise in their puppies?
Questions to Ask Yourself
My last thought for you is this, what kind of breeder do you want to support? What kind of breeder do you want lifetime support from?
Someone knowledgeable? Someone that utilises the tools available to make every effort at producing healthy dogs?
Someone that is involved in the breed and gives back to the breed by supporting health research, health testing, working trials, and is who taking the time and money to show their dogs to ensure their dogs meet the breed standard?
So now all you have to do is satisfy the breeder that you are the right person for a bloodhound!
Fortunately the majority of bloodhound breeders are very responsible and will be checking out the prospective new owners very carefully. Our puppies are very precious to us, for the whole of their lives, so please don’t be offended if you are asked lots of questions & subjected to a home check.
Breeders who have the best interest of the breed and its future at heart, will vet you carefully to see that you are the right person for their puppies. Breeders who do not care a jot about the breeds’ future, welfare, health and happiness will readily sell a puppy to anyone who rings up! Choose your breeder carefully & you will get a lifetime of support, help and experience from people who know the breed inside-out.
So, you will have ascertained that bloodhounds are not the average obedient, walk in the park type dog. Instead, they are an active giant hound, with very special requirements, but in return they are loving companions, who will give much pleasure and fun to their owners, if they are prepared to live with the bloodhound character and adjust their lives accordingly.