Breed Standard

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.