AskDefine | Define bloodhound

Dictionary Definition

bloodhound n : a breed of large powerful hound of European origin having very acute smell and used in tracking [syn: sleuthhound]

User Contributed Dictionary



From blood + hound. The detective sense follows from the dog's ability to follow a trail.


  1. A large dog. It is a scenthound famed for its ability to follow a scent many days old, over vast distances. This dog is often used as a police dog to track missing people, fleeing suspects, or escaped prisoners.
  2. This breed of dog.
  3. A detective or other skilled at finding people or clues.


Extensive Definition

A bloodhound (also known as the St. Hubert Hound) is a large breed of dog bred for the specific purpose of tracking human beings. Consequently, it is often used by authorities to track escaped prisoners or missing persons. It is a scenthound, famed for its ability to follow a scent hours or even days old, over long distances. Combining a keen sense of smell with a tenaciously strong tracking instinct, bloodhounds have proven their worth as the archetypal trailing dog.


Morbidity (Illness)

Compared to other purebred dogs, bloodhounds have an unusually high rate of gastrointestinal ailments, with gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV, or "bloat") being the most common type of gastrointestinal problem. They also have an unusually high incidence of eye, skin, and ear ailments. The oldest of the 82 deceased dogs in the UK survey died at 12.1 years. The leading cause of death was gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV = "bloat" or "torsion"), which killed 34% of dogs. This percentage of dogs dying of bloat is among the highest of all dog breeds and far higher than for dogs in general. The second leading cause of death in bloodhounds was cancer, at 27%. The percentage of cancer deaths is similar to other breeds but, in bloodhounds, cancer kills at an unusually young age (median of about 8 years).

Scenting ability

The bloodhound's physical characteristics account for its superlative ability to follow a scent trail left several days in the past. Humans constantly shed skin cells, as newer cells replace older ones. Under optimal conditions, a bloodhound can detect as few as one or two skin cells. Odors are identified by scent receptors in a dog's nasal chambers; the larger the chambers, the greater the dog's ability to detect skin cells. The bloodhound's nasal chambers are larger than those of most other breeds. The large, long pendent ears serve to prevent wind from scattering nearby skin cells while the dog's nose is on the ground; the folds of wrinkled flesh under the lips and neck--called the shawl--serve to catch stray scent particles in the air or on a nearby branch as the bloodhound is scenting, reinforcing the scent in the dog's memory and nose.
The misconception persists that bloodhounds are employed in packs. While this is sometimes the case in England, in North America, bloodhounds are used as solitary trackers. Bloodhounds on a trail are usually silent, and do not give voice as other scent hounds.


Noteworthy Bloodhounds

A bloodhound named "Nick Carter" is frequently cited as the archetype of the trailing bloodhound. The extensive publicity this dog received may be the source of much bloodhound-related folklore. Born in 1900, "Nick Carter" was owned and handled by Captain G.V. Mullikin of Lexington, Kentucky. He is credited with more than 650 finds, including one that required him to follow a trail 105 hours old. .
Ch. Heathers Knock on Wood, known as "Knotty," is one of the most awarded bloodhounds of all time. He has received more Best-in-Shows than any other bloodhound, and is the first liver-and-tan bloodhound ever to win a Best in Show. Knotty was awarded the Best-in-Show at the Eukanuba Tournament in 2005, and won the Hound Group in the Westminster Kennel Club Show in that same year. Knotty's offspring have also proven to be able showdogs and as a result of a very high amount of his puppies being awarded the title of "Champion" by the AKC, Knotty was inducted into the AKC's Stud Dog Hall of Fame shortly before his death in the Spring of 2008.

Fictional Bloodhounds


Additional Reading

  • The New Encyclopedia of the Dog
  • The New Complete Bloodhound
bloodhound in Danish: Blodhund
bloodhound in German: Bloodhound (Hunderasse)
bloodhound in Spanish: Perro de San Huberto
bloodhound in French: Chien de Saint-Hubert
bloodhound in Icelandic: Blóðhundur
bloodhound in Lithuanian: Bladhaundas
bloodhound in Malayalam: ബ്ലഡ്‌ഹൗണ്ട്
bloodhound in Dutch: Bloedhond
bloodhound in Norwegian: Blodhund
bloodhound in Polish: Bloodhound
bloodhound in Slovak: Bloodhound
bloodhound in Serbian: Гонич Светог Хуберта
bloodhound in Finnish: Vihikoira
bloodhound in Swedish: Blodhund
bloodhound in Turkish: Bloodhound
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