I have always felt the various books and articles written on the bloodhound breed capture the nobility and trailing prowess of these hounds well, but perhaps portray sharing your home with one through rose tinted glasses. Within these lines I hope to redress the balance a little to help and inform prospective owners, hopefully without doing the breed a disservice.
Bloodhound owners appreciate the affectionate nature of this breed, their amusing, playful but slightly reserved character, whilst acknowledging that affection is on the hound’s terms until something more interesting comes along! Owners also learn to live with the breed’s strong wilfulness, and realise this is not a breed for the faint hearted. They are a true hunting hound in every sense of the word. Responsible breeders are very careful with whom they place their puppies.
A prospective new puppy owner would be strongly advised to meet some adult Bloodhounds in the flesh. These big hounds’ needs put considerable demand on their owners who need to adapt their lifestyles accordingly. Exercising the hound mentally is as important as the considerable requirement for physical exercise, and if this is not achieved their destructive tendencies may become more extreme, particularly in younger animals.
Although they do vary in temperament, most bloodhounds are very switched on hunters governed by their powerful noses. The draw of an enticing scent and the need to follow it (‘fair game’ includes other dog walkers, occasional joggers, deer or other wildlife if you take your eye off them) is usually far higher in the hound’s list of priorities than any desire to please their owner. The bloodhound’s deafness whilst on the trail is legendary and secure areas for off-lead exercise are essential.
Bloodhounds will accept some training but do not expect them to respond like a typical Labrador or other breeds who take instruction more readily. Bloodhounds have been bred for a job – trailing the natural scent of their human quarry. We mere humans cannot tell them their job, we don’t have the olfactory powers, and therefore they have never in their history taken much in the way of instruction from their kennel master or handler. Therefore it is unreasonable to expect a highly obedient animal in a modern day domestic setting. That doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try and implement basic manners around the house but success rates vary.
Bloodhounds are messy creatures and are renowned for their slobber which projects surprisingly long distances. A beautiful designer home with a busy family is probably not the right place for a Bloodhound - a house-proud bloodhound owner will probably end up a very frustrated person!
Having given a rather negative view of these noble hounds, they do in fact make jolly good family pets for the right person who has the time and patience to meet the hound’s needs. They are good with children and surprisingly gentle with young children, but toys may disappear and be found later sodden, muddy and chewed!