The world's best tracker, the Bloodhound will track you down and smother you with kisses–and maybe some slobber, too.


Man-trailing hounds were first mentioned in the fourteenth century. By the sixteenth century they were called Bloodhounds, either because they trailed the blood of wounded animals or because they were of "high blood." They were used to track poachers and thieves, and are still used by law enforcement to track escaped prisoners and find lost people.

No other dog, and no man-made scent detector, can approach the Bloodhound's scenting ability. Their long ears stir up scent from the ground, and their wrinkles trap the scent around my nose. The deep muzzle houses a huge area devoted to scent receptors.

Except when on a trail, the Bloodhound is pretty laid back. They enjoy games and toys, but in moderation–which means you have to entice them with the best of toys.


The Bloodhound's large size brings some special concerns, including joint problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Feeding a diet formulated for large breed puppies during the first year of life will help decrease the possibility of hip dysplasia, and probably elbow dysplasia. These diets allow the puppy to grow more slowly, while still achieving the same adult size–just a little later. Joint supplements, such as glucosamine chondroitin supplements, are also vital for protecting joint health throughout life.

Be careful to keep your adult Bloodhound at a lean weight. Too much weight stresses the joints, and can worsen arthritic changes. You may need to feed a low-calorie food. When dieting a dog, you must make sure he gets enough vitamins. We suggest supplementing with a good multi-vitamin, probiotics and, if the coat is dry, a fatty-acid supplement.

One of the Bloodhound's biggest problems is bloat or gastric torsion, a condition in which the gases accumulate in the stomach and can't escape. The stomach may then twist, totally cutting off any ability for anything to leave the stomach. The dog's stomach enlarges as gases continue to accumulate, and the dog is restless and tries unsuccessfully to vomit. This is an extreme emergency that needs immediate veterinary attention to save the dog. Nobody knows exactly how to prevent it, but many veterinarians advocate feeding an anti-gas pill with every meal.

Wrinkles must be kept clean and dry. Otherwise the dark moist warm environment they offer is an ideal place for bacteria and yeast to grow. Use a soft cloth to clean and dry the facial wrinkles daily.

Drool can make your Bloodhound have a stronger doggy odor than you'd prefer. A deodorizing shampoo, applied especially in the face and throat area, can help fix this.

Some Bloodhounds are prone to ear problems. Apply an ear cleanser any time the ears start to accumulate dark secretions. Some ear wax is healthy; a lot is not. If you must apply ear medication, use the ear cleanser first to remove thick secretions that would block the medication from reaching the surface of the canal. If your dog's ears are painful, don't put any cleansers or medications in the ear until first seeing your veterinarian, as the ear drum could be ruptured.

The Bloodhound's drooping eyelids can cause the eyes to dry out. Placing eye drops in them several times a day can soothe and moisturize them.

Bloodhounds have a tendency to form calluses and even bursas on their elbows. Encourage your dog to rest on soft surfaces (even carpeting can be abrasive, but is still better than hard tile). Using a cooling blanket or simply placing a fan so it blows over a soft cushion can help steer him to the better surface. Moisturizers applied to the calloused area can also help, as can wrapping the elbows with padding.

Brush the teeth daily.

Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a heavy-duty dog nail clipper.

Bloodhounds tend to be affected by age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, at an early age. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him on the trail for as long as possible.