Movies and television shows have rarely portrayed the bloodhound accurately. These dogs are not slow-minded or lazy; they are a breed with tons of stamina, a powerful build, and a long, respected service history. Not only will they follow a scent for miles, but they are also intelligent, alert, and dignified. Best of all, bloodhounds have a distinct, loveable personality and a gentle, steady nature. Households seeking an affectionate, larger dog who tends to be a bit of a clown will find the bloodhound to be an excellent addition to the family.
Most people know a bloodhound when they see one. Standing between 23 and 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing from 80 to 110 pounds, these are big, substantial dogs. But it’s their unique, long, wrinkled faces and floppy ears that are their most noticeable physical features. Their skin is loose, hanging in deep folds around the head and neck. The coats may be black and tan, liver and tan, or red.
Like other members of the hound group, bloodhounds have a unique odor. Their coats secrete oils that protect and repel dirt and water. The oils are beneficial, keeping the coat dry during treks through the woods, fields, or other challenging landscapes. Some people find the oil's odor musty and unpleasant, but others accept that it’s just part of bloodhound ownership. The loose skin and folds also contribute to their unique aroma. Bacteria and dirt combine with body warmth and moisture, contributing to the smell.
If you share space with a bloodhound, be prepared for lots of drooling. Bloodhounds have deep jowls and loose lips, which lead to drooling. This excessive saliva production is messy and may be gross to some. Bloodhounds fling long strings of slobber across the walls, floors, furniture, or their family members. Experienced owners always carry a drool towel and keep unscented baby wipes handy at all times.
Bloodhounds shed year-round, but it’s usually heaviest in fall and spring. People who choose a bloodhound companion should be aware that grooming duties are a preventative measure, not just for cosmetic reasons:
For most owners, when a dog smells bad, it’s time for a bath. But avoid bathing your bloodhound unless they really need it. Overbathing strips the dog of its natural oils and disrupts their protective abilities. If a bloodhound’s distinctive odor is strong, no amount of bathing will get rid of it. It’s inherent to the breed. Excessive bathing allows moisture to build up in the dog’s skin folds, leading to irritation and skin conditions.
Daily exercise is not only essential for this breed’s physical health but their mental health as well. Long daily walks or runs are an excellent way to spend time together. Breed experts recommend owners keep bloodhounds leashed whenever they are outside of their home or fenced yard. If a bloodhound catches the scent of something, they’ll stay on it for miles, oblivious to cars or other dangers. A fenced backyard is an ideal spot to allow bloodhounds to practice their high-level scent abilities. This breed isn’t a great choice for apartment dwellers.
Training a bloodhound requires loads of patience and soft-spoken firmness. They don’t reach full maturity until they’re two years old. Before that, they are messy, clumsy, curious, and fearless. An untrained bloodhound can control and wreak havoc on a household, so training should start in puppyhood. These dogs love to eat and chew, which makes keeping dangerous objects out of their reach a fulltime job. Bloodhounds are also notorious kitchen counter scavengers. Obedience and socialization training is necessary for the breed.
Children and bloodhounds tend to build close connections. While these canines are excellent watchdogs, they also have a compassionate, kind spirit and an innate sense that children are more fragile than adults. These large dogs can knock down a small child unintentionally during playtimes, so owners should supervise accordingly. Bloodhounds are pack dogs and get along great with other pets, including cats, when owners properly introduce and socialize them.
Just because bloodhounds will eat anything doesn’t mean they should. A high-quality dog food appropriate for their age level provides the nutrients they need. Because bloodhounds tend to be big eaters, obesity can be a problem. Treats are fine and make excellent rewards during training sessions, but don’t overdo it. Like humans, daily exercise helps them burn off excess calories.
The most common causes of death for bloodhounds are gastric torsion or bloat. These canines may develop one or both of these conditions and require immediate veterinary care. Researchers have not yet discovered a cause. Smaller, multiple meals help prevent it, as does avoiding exercise for an hour before or after mealtimes. Some owners soak dry dog food in water before feeding it to their pet. Observing them during and after meals for signs of distress is part of daily care requirements.
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