Bloodhound History
 

 

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The Bloodhound is an ancient breed documented as early as the third century A.D. Their

precise origin is unknown, but they are thought to have descended from dogs in the

ancient Mediterranean, having been bred selectively over many centuries. Bloodhounds

appeared in Europe long before the Crusades. Two particular strains developed: the black

type called the famed “St. Hubert’s Hound“ of the seventh and eighth century, and the

whites later known simply as the “Southern Hounds.” Dogs from the St. Hubert’s line

apparently were exported to Great Britain in the eleventh century to become what we

know as the Bloodhounds of today; the white Southern Hounds are thought to have

eventually become predecessors of today’s Talbot Hound, although this not certain. In the

twelfth century, church dignitaries and royalty fostered development of the breed. High

ecclesiastics maintained packs of Bloodhounds, and the kennel seemed to be an

essential part of almost every English monastery. Great care was taken to preserve the

purity of the Bloodhound, whose original function was to follow the scent of wounded

wolves, deer and other large game. As the deer population dwindled over the ensuing

centuries, English sportsmen became more interested in hunting the fox, which required

a much faster scent-tracking hound. The Foxhound eventually replaced the Bloodhound

as the preferred tracking companion in Britain, while Bloodhounds evolved to become

trackers of poachers and other people.

The original St. Hubert’s Hound became extinct during the French Revolution. In the late

eighteenth century, only the British black-and-tan Bloodhound remained. Throughout the

nineteenth century, the British Bloodhound was widely exported to other countries, which

helped preserve the breed that almost disappeared from England by the end of World

War II.

In the New World, Bloodhounds initially were bred as scent hounds specifically to track

humans, particularly Native American Indians, runaway slaves and escaped criminals. In

1977, a pack of Bloodhounds was responsible for successfully tracking James Earl Ray,

the murderer of Martin Luther King, Jr., after he escaped from prison and fled to the

Tennessee hills. Today, Bloodhounds continue to work in tracking missing people but also

are extensively used as police dogs and in search-and-rescue efforts. Their tracking

capabilities are unmatched by any other animal, be it canine or human. They have been

selectively bred as “finders,” not as “killers” or “hunters.” They are excellent companion

and competition dogs and are almost overpoweringly friendly, although they can have a

stubborn streak and probably are not the best choice for first-time dog owners. If left

unattended or not safely confined, a Bloodhound’s nose can get him into trouble.

Bloodhounds were accepted into the American Kennel Club’s Hound Group in 1885. The

American Bloodhound Club was formed in 1952 to encourage and promote quality in the

breeding of purebred Bloodhounds and to protect and advance the best interests of the

breed.

 

 

 

 

                              

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