Bloodhounds, also known as St. Hubert Hounds, are known for their incredible sense of smell that can track runaway prisoners and track children deemed lost.
The Bloodhound can be considered one of the oldest and most famous dog breeds in the world.
However, for all the bloodhound’s glitz and glory, they can also make wonderful family pets. They are loving, kind, and good with children.
They are also active, so you can take them to physical activities you do, like jogging and hiking. Whether you are still planning or already have a bloodhound, there are many things you need to know.
Here is a list of 6 interesting facts to know about bloodhounds:
1. Saint Hubert Monastery
Saint Hubert was said to be a skilled hunter thousands of years ago. He was famous for his remarkable talent for hunting deer using dogs during his time. It cannot be confirmed which breed of dogs Saint Hubert used, but they were most likely ancient breeds that are now extinct.
At some point, he gave up hunting and turned to religious activities. Finally, Saint Hubert was declared a saint for hunting and hounds.
About a hundred years later, at the Saint Hubert Monastery in Belgium, the monks had endeavored to breed dogs. Although the original breed used by the monks cannot be established, it is believed that they used French hounds and occasional foreign hounds to improve quality.
The hounds these monks raised were said to be “blooded” or “pure blood”, hence the name “hound”.
Another nickname for the hound is Saint Hubert hound, obviously named after the Saint of the hunting and hounds.
2. Incredible Sense Of Smell
For around a thousand years, bloodhounds have been bred for their incredible sense of smell. Their anatomy is said to contribute to their keen sense of smell. Their muzzles are long and their noses large and open; this allows them to have a larger space for smell receptors.
Bloodhounds have around four billion smell receptors, the most numerous compared to other dog breeds. They have wrinkled jowls that allow them to trap scent particles; However, this theory is still debated.
Their ears also help prevent skin cells from dispersing into the air while their noses follow the scent trail.
Once bloodhounds are tasked with finding someone, they will smell a particular item considered a “scent item”. They are said to focus on the human scent that they are tasked with finding; With the guide scent that was given to them, they would start to track or trail. When they find the scent safe, they will “speak”; or give their tongue out to indicate that they have found the source of the odor.
They are prized hunting dogs due to their incredible scent tracking and easy-to-read behavior when they find the source of the scent.
3. Bloodhounds In Royal Hunts
Bloodhounds were given as a gift to the King of France every year; a custom that would last a hundred years. During the reign of Henry IV in 1553-1610, dogs became especially popular. Hunting became a famous pastime for royal families and nobles in Europe.
During the hunts, real transactions, trade talks, political negotiations, and international and intra-national agreements took place. Apart from horses, bloodhounds became the most prized in hunting due to their strong sense of smell.
They did not actually participate in the kill but were used as scent-sniffing dogs on a leash, also called ‘limer’.
The bloodhounds as a gift for the nobles were not only for the purpose of hunting. They were also part of the feudal system that would bring feudal lords closer together, form alliances, and establish loyalty.
They are an element that unites the lords; their bonds will be very beneficial to the people of their respective territories.
4. Bloodhounds And People Tracking
While Bloodhounds were gaining popularity in France as hunting dogs, the breed also spread to England. They were raised alongside horses and were used to track people and even animals.
‘Sleuth hounds’ were known to track man’s scent and it was later discovered that these sleuth hounds were the same as bloodhounds.
One of the first records of the hound’s amazing ability to track humans was when Robert Boyle described the bloodhound as a dog that tracked a man several miles away, following a route with so many people.
5. Bloodhounds in America
The exact year the bloodhounds were first exported to the United States cannot be confirmed. However, it is believed that they were brought there in the early 17th century to defend themselves against local tribes. Bloodhounds were particularly respected for their keen sense of smell.
In the United States, hounds were used as dogs to track people only, unlike in Europe. They were used in police investigations. Although they were first used to track down and find runaway slaves, bloodhounds were later used to search for prisoners who escaped from jail. Their roles evolved steadily, but they are still based on police work, search and rescue, and drug detection.
6. The decline and rise of Bloodhounds
As the Renaissance period began to come to an end, deer hunting also began to decline. As trackers of these animals, Bloodhounds also declined in numbers. Few enthusiasts kept bloodhounds, but their number was not as great as in the 16th century.
In the 1900s, dog shows became a fad with breeders bred bloodhounds. Although the numbers began to stabilize, World War II broke down and their numbers decreased. The gene pool was only replenished when bloodhounds were brought from America to England.