The Bloodhound is one of the oldest as well as one of the least understood of all breeds of dogs. The most extravagant tales are related and stories written about them. The name suggests a ferocious animal, whereas they are of the most kindly nature, entirely lacking in all of the qualities which their name implies. They are the gentlest of companions, and if of pure breeding far less dangerous than any of the other big breeds. In the days of the bow and arrow the Bloodhound was trained to hunt the stag, and was expected to track the wounded deer by the blood that dropped from the wounds of the arrow, all of which has been done away with for many years.
A great deal has been written about hunting slaves in southern States in pre-war times. As a matter of fact the dogs that were used to trail the runaways were small foxhounds and not bloodhounds. The stories told of Bloodhounds following the scent of a man through crowded streets are also gross exaggerations. It is impossible for them to do so. Therefore they are of little or no use to the police authorities in detecting criminals in crowded cities. In the country, however, Bloodhounds can be used to capture criminals. They will make out a scent that is several hours old and follow it accurately. Repeated trials, however, indicate that it is impossible for them to carry these trails where they have been crossed by “cattle, sheep, or horses.
The Bloodhound has been crossed on nearly all of the sporting breeds, and doing so improves their voices as well as their power of scent.
The chief points to look for in the selection of Bloodhound puppies at from two to four months old, and even afterward, are: Great length of head, narrowness of skull, great depth and squareness of foreface, big nostrils, long ears set low, great bone, and short back.
The following description of the Bloodhound has been adopted by the Association of Bloodhound Breeders:
GENERAL CHARACTER.–The Bloodhound possesses in a most marked degree every point and characteristic of those dogs which hunt together by scent (Sagaces). He is very powerful, and stands over more ground than is usual with hounds of other breeds. The skin is thin to the touch and extremely loose, this being more especially noticeable about the head and neck, where it hangs in deep folds.
HEIGHT.-The mean average height of adult dogs is 26 inches, and of adult bitches 24 inches. Dogs usually vary from 25 inches to 27 inches, and bitches from 23 inches to 25 inches; but in either case the greater height is to be preferred, provided that character and quality are also combined.
WEIGHT.-The mean average weight of aduit dogs in fair condition is 90 pounds, and of adult bitches 80 pounds. Dogs attain the weight of 110 pounds, bitches 100 pounds. The greater weights are to be preferred, provided (as in the case of height) that quality and proportions are also combined.
ExPRESSioN.-The expression is noble and dignified, and characterized by solemnity, wisdom, and power.
TEMPERAMENT.-In temperament he is extremely affectionate, neither quarrelsome with companions nor with other dogs. His nature is somewhat shy and equally sensitive to kindness or correction by his master.
HEAD.-The head is narrow in proportion to its length, and long in proportion to the body, tapering but slightly from the temples to the end of the muzzle, thus (when viewed from above and in front) having the appearance of being flattened at the sides, and of being nearly equal in width throughout its entire length. In profile the upper outline of the skull is nearly in the same plane as that of the fore face. The length from end of nose to stop (midway between the eyes) should be not less than that from stop to back of occipital protuberance (peak). The entire length of head from the posterior part of the occipital protuberance to the end of muzzle should be 12 inches or more in dogs, and 11 inches or more in bitches.
SKULL.-The skull is long and narrow, with the occipital peak very pronounced. The brows are not prominent, although, owing to the deep-set eyes, they may have that appearance.
FOREFACE.-The foreface is long, deep, and of even width throughout, with square outline when seen in profile.
EYES.-The eyes are deeply sunk in the orbits, the lids assuming a lozenge or diamond shape in consequence of the lower lids being dragged down and everted by the heavy flews. The eyes correspond with the general tone of color of the animal, varying from deep hazel to yellow. The hazel color is, however, to be preferred, although very seldom seen in red-and-tan hounds.
EARS.-The ears are thin and soft to the touch, extremely long, set very low, and fall in graceful folds, the lower parts curling inward and backward.
WRINKLE.-The head is furnished with an amount of loose skin, which in nearly every position appears superabundant, but more particularly so when the head is carried low; the skin then falls into loose, pendulous ridges and folds, especially over the forehead and sides of the face.
NOSTRILS.-The nostrils are large and open.
Lips, FLEWS, AND DEWLAP.-In front the lips fall squarely, making a right angle with the upper line of the foreface; while behind they form deep, hanging flews and, being continued into the pendant folds of loose skin about the neck, constitute the dewlap, which is very pronounced. These characters are found, though in a less degree, in the bitch.
NECK, SHOULDERS, AND CHEST.-The neck is long, the shoulders muscular, and well sloped backward; the ribs are well sprung, and the chest well let down between the forelegs, forming a deep keel.
LEGS AND FEET.-The forelegs are straight and large in bone, with elbows squarely set; the feet strong and well knuckled up; the thighs and second thighs (gaskins) are very muscular; the hocks well bent and let down and squarely set.
BACK AND LOIN.-The back and loins are strong, the latter deep and slightly arched.
STERN.-The stern is long and tapering, and set on rather high, with a moderate amount of hair underneath.
GAIT.-The gait is elastic, swinging, and free, the stern being carried high, but not too much curled over the back.
COLOR.-The colors are black-and-tan, red-andtan, and tawny; the darker colors being sometimes interspersed with lighter or badger-colored hair, and sometimes flecked with white. A small amount of white is permissible on chest, feet, and tip of stern.