Living With Bloodhounds
Cosby is just a "speed bump" in Megan's path.
I am not entirely sure how to compose this page, but think that it is information that "needs" to be out there. Owning Bloodhounds has certainly been a learning experience for me. Believe it or not, Bloodhounds are NOT the easiest dogs to live with! They are incredibly difficult on many levels and are certainly not meant for everyone. Actually, in my opinion, there are very few people who are meant for Bloodhounds. My disclaimer: The information included in this page is based on my experience with Bloodhounds and homes in which my puppies have been placed. There are always exceptions to the rule and everyday brings about new obstacles!
The biggest fault of the Bloodhound breed is that they are among the most adorable puppies on the planet. Their soft long ears and wrinkles make them irresistible. However, after even just a few weeks, the true hound emerges. They grow exponentially and it has been my experience that without a "job" these dogs are destructive, and even with a job they are very active dogs and need to be kept "busy." A bored Bloodhound is definitely going to do damage. They are very olfactory focused and thus if it smells good (which to them is very different than what smells good to us) it goes into their mouths. They find pleasure in destroying things: tearing, shredding, crunching and more! I can tell you stories about Bloodhounds who have destroyed couches, walls, pool covers, hoses, yard tools, remote controls, grooming tables, vacuum cleaners, and the list goes on and on. Crate training is a must for the safety of your hound, home, and sanity. They are a true danger to themselves, as they will eat things they cannot digest. It is not abnormal for a Bloodhound to have a blockage surgery at some point in their lives. People have removed socks, batteries, panty hose, beer cans, rocks, toys, tennis balls, etc. from the digestive tract of their beloved hound.
Slobber. Once you get beyond the destructive behavior of the Bloodhound, there is the slobber. They slobber constantly-- it will be strung across your walls, floors, ceilings, furniture and in places you never imagined possible. They especially love to put their slobbery faces in your lap when you are wearing shorts. I have seen slobber flung into the face of an innocent bystander more than once. I have gotten hit with slobber in my hair, eyes, and believe it or not, mouth. It is almost as if they plan where that next string of slobber will go. My husband gets rather upset when a string of slobber flies into his dinner and it has happened on more than one occasion!
Cleaning. Along with the slobber, size, and exuberant behavior comes more responsibility for the owner. If you intend on having a clean home AND a Bloodhound, you have a big job ahead of you. The most common phone conversation I have with friends consists of, "Hi, Stacey. What are you doing?" "Iím Cleaning." I clean all the time, and it never seems to be quite enough. I am constantly scrubbing walls, wiping down furniture and I cannot even begin to say how much laundry I do. It is worth it though living in a clean home with my hounds is a must!
Size. These are not small dogs. That tiny 9 week old puppy, all wrinkly and sweet, will grow quickly into a 90-130lb active adolescent with very little idea of right and wrong. It is not abnormal for a 6 month old puppy to weigh 80 or more pounds, truly a giant puppy. They do not fit well into small homes and if they do not have a large fenced yard they need daily walks. They have powerful tails and are the definition of a "bull in a china shop."
Training. Of course training a Bloodhound is no easy feat. They are not the type of dog that says, "What can I do to please you?" On the occasion that you get their nose off the ground, they look up and say, "What are you going to do for me?," or "Why should I?" Working with my hounds through various events I have found that while one technique works for one hound, it may not work at all for another. It is safe to say, however, that they will all challenge your abilities as a trainer, they will force you to think like a hound and convince them that what youíre asking them to do is a good idea. I chose this breed in part because they are such a challenge, they are full of energy, incredibly intelligent, and tend to be more difficult (stubborn) than many breeds. Upon completion of my first CD (Companion Dog) title with a Bloodhound I felt like I had climbed to the top of Mount Everest. Perhaps I am exaggerating a bit, but in all honesty it isnít easy. I left the obedience ring in tears more than once, when my hound said, "Yeah, remind me again, WHY we are doing this?"
Trailing. Many, or dare I say, most Bloodhounds possess the instinct to trail. It is obviously stronger in some than in others. Of the scent hounds, these are the epitome; they are diligent dogs who work their trails to the very end. While trailing is instinctive for them, a true working Bloodhound needs considerable training and support from their owner/handler. It is a companionship understood only by those who have teamed up with a true working dog. The conformation of the Bloodhound should make it a tireless working dog with just the right proportions for that nose to reach the ground. There is no greater joy than learning that a hound we bred has found a child, Alzheimerís patient, or any lost person. For us, this is the definition of pride.
Fences. Fences are an absolute must with this breed. The instinct to trail is very strong and practically impossible to overcome. They put that nose to the ground and almost nothing will stop them until they find what they are looking for. I worked extremely hard to train my first hound to have a perfect recall and it still scares me to let her off leash even inside a fence if I am not positive it is secure. Fencing must be secure. They will test your fences. They will try to go over your fence, under your fence, and they can open gates. If there is a will there is a way and Bloodhounds have an extreme will! Even with all of the precautions we have taken with our fencing, I find myself checking on my hounds constantly for fear they will find something I have overlooked.
Family. These dogs are members of the family. Bloodhounds are most successful if they spend time both outside and inside the house and are included in the daily activities of the family. They are incredibly social and loving dogs, and make wonderful companions. They are also independent enough to happily accept the companionship of pretty much anyone who has an extra hand to pet them. A Bloodhound will not do well in an entirely outdoor home without human contact, this environment will destroy their spirit and they will destroy your yard, fence, house and whatever they can get their paws on. We will not place a puppy into a completely outdoor home. They do well in all regions of the world, though their ears are susceptible to the cold and their heavy body structure is susceptible to heat. Generally speaking our experience has been that Bloodhounds are good with children, but only in very experienced homes. They love children, which often leads to problems as they are large, exuberant dogs who can inadvertently knock over a child with a swipe of the tail or a sideways movement. No matter how wonderful the temperament, a child should never be left alone with their Bloodhound, as you never know what could happen.
Rules. It is incredibly important that you establish rules in your home, or you Bloodhound WILL take over. They need clearly defined constant boundaries. A Bloodhound needs occasional discipline, but, they are much more sensitive than many people think so it is easy to hurt their feelings. You have to learn to read your hound to find the right balance of correction and encouragement. Always remember that these are dogs and certain behaviors that are inconvenient for humans are natural for dogs, we expect a lot from our canine companions.
Health. Unfortunately Bloodhounds are not the healthiest of breeds. Prone to numerous problems, the Bloodhound is not a long lived dog and requires some extra care. It is important to keep the ears and eyes clean as the deep skin folds are a wonderful breeding ground for yeast and bacteria. Bloodhounds are very prone to ear infections and the deeply set eyes need constant care. Bloodhounds are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, heart conditions, allergies, and bloat, among other things. Bloat is an incredibly scary condition that is all too common in this breed. It is often not a question of if, it is a question of when. We recommend that all of our puppies have a preventative surgery that will prolong the ability to save a dog from bloat if it occurs.
Expense. The expense of purchasing a puppy is only a small piece of what it will cost to properly care for your dog. Food, supplies, and constant veterinary care for the life of you puppy will add up quickly. You should feed your puppy high quality food with various vitamins and supplements as recommended by your breeder. For supplies, you will need to purchase a crate, toys, bowls, leashes, collars, and an SUV or vehicle large enough to carry your hound (just a small amount of sarcasm there). Your veterinary costs depend on a lot of factors, but with Bloodhounds, they eventually add up! Whether it is for an emergency blockage surgery, treating an infection, or perhaps an allergy, your Bloodhoundís vet bills will not be inexpensive.
Temperament. Without temperament there is nothing. Our highest priority in our dogs is temperament. Based on the Bloodhound standard, they should be: "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." Based on our experience, a well mannered hound is good with other dogs and very good with adults and children of all ages. Of course, any dog will have their doubts about certain people and situations, but we feel strongly that the Bloodhound should recover once they have realized they are not in danger. They should not be aggressive toward other dogs nor people.
Obviously I have done my best to convince you that you do not want a Bloodhound, and if you had any doubts I hope this information has helped you to make the right decision for your circumstances. If you still think you want a Bloodhound, I can tell you that you will be adored by your hound, they will be a wonderful companion who will bring you immeasurable joy and love throughout their life. I am incomplete without my hounds. I truly believe I was born to love, train, and be a companion to my Bloodhounds, which is exactly what we are looking for in our puppy homes! If you do still want a hound, visit our "Finding A Breeder" page as you dive in to the difficult world of finding just the right breeder and puppy to join your family.