by Doris Donnerman
(last updated April 3, 2009)
Subject of fantastic tales and legends, credited with almost supernatural powers by the un-informed, possessor of a name which automatically brings fear to the ears of the criminally bent, the Bloodhound is one of the most misunderstood of all breeds. Many of the tales were really not as fantastic as they sounded and have been born of more truth than fiction, but some have been pure fabrications. Bloodhounds have been known to follow a trail more than a hundred hours old, so to some they might well seem to be endowed with supernatural sense in addition to powerful scenting ability. It is easy to understand why their sensational contributions to crime detection, coupled with the word "blood," would cause the criminal to cringe with apprehension whenever the name "Bloodhound" is mentioned. Yet in reality the Bloodhound is one of the most gentle of all dogs. His formidable appearance and deep, roaring bay cause miscreants to shy away from his neighborhood, but by nature this stately hound is placid and even affectionate.
It is assumed Bloodhound descendents came into England at the time of the Norman Conquest. The tri-colors or white hounds were later known as Talbots and the blacks and black-and-tans were given the name Bloodhound. Early English laws recognized the ability of Sleuth-hounds and made search of homes to which such hounds trailed a legal action. The Bloodhound is the only four-footed animal whose mute testimony is accepted in American courts today.
One could easily assume that the name "Bloodhound" may have been given these dogs because they were adept at following the line of wounded animals. Several authorities do not accept this concept of the origin of the term, suggesting that the word "Bloodhound" was used in the same sense as blood horse, meaning thoroughbred. Bloodhound may imply the desire for blood or ferocity, but if so the term is indeed a misnomer, for this is a well-mannered breed, most welcoming friendly overtures and taking correction in training without resentment.
The sport of tracking has long been sponsored by the Association of Bloodhound Breeders in England, which held its first meet in 1898 on the moors a few miles north of Scars borough. The tests were made more difficult as time went on.
The Bloodhound has been described in three types. These are: (a) the show type, (b) the man-trailers used on a leash, and (c) the penitentiary type. By some opinion, there is little brief for the show type, which are called the English type, maintaining these are fragile dogs of low vitality.
Dogs of the man-trailer type may be somewhat of a departure from the show type but they are workmen all the way. These might be termed the medium type and are not the heavy, ponderous loose-skin dogs usually found at bench shows.
Bloodhounds have long been used in many sections of this country as trailers of lost persons and criminals. Innumerable lives have been saved through the sagacity of these dogs and a recounting of the crimes solved through their trailing would fill many volumes.
Living conditions have changed greatly since the Bloodhound was first introduced into this country. Present conditions would seem to render the great dog practically worthless as a crime detector or finder of missing persons. Yet Bloodhound breeders contend that the very opposite holds true and back their statements that practically every trained Bloodhound in the country finds little time for loafing. If one lost child is found by a Bloodhound that dog has saved the community much expense and inconvenience to say nothing of averting a painful death to an innocent youngster. Law officers know that the moral effect the presence of Bloodhounds has on a community is decidedly worth while.
The Bloodhound possesses, in a most marked degree, every point and characteristic of those dogs which hunt together by scent. He is very powerful, and stands over more ground than is usual with hounds of other breeds. The skin is thin to the touch and extremely loose, this being more especially noticeable about the head and neck, where it hangs in deep folds.
They have a noble and dignified expression. This is usually characterized by solemnity, wisdom and power. The temperament is extremely affectionate. They are neither quarrelsome with their companions nor with other dogs. His nature is somewhat shy, and equally sensitive to kindness or correction by his master.
The average height of a male adult is twenty-six inches and weighing about 110 pounds. The female adult average height is twenty-four inches with the average weight of a hundred pounds.
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