The “Untrainable” Bloodhound

Bloodhounds are famous for their astonishing ability to track a missing person, whether it be a child lost in the woods or an escaped prisoner. Yet these are among the most “untrainable” dogs in the AKC registry.

How do they do their job if they can’t be trained?

The Bloodhound’s ancestry traces back to Belgium and England in the 12th century. Most were bred in monasteries for use in hunting by royalty and nobility. So pure was their breeding that they were called “blooded hounds.” They were introduced in America in the mid-1800’s.

The Bloodhound has an incredible sense of smell; as search and rescue dogs, merely allowing the dog to sniff an article of clothing of the missing person traps the scent in the deep folds of skin on the Bloodhound’s face. He will then take up the trail; once set upon a scent, the Bloodhound will tirelessly follow it and will not respond to being called off.

Is this tenacity the result of meticulous training? No; this is instinctual behavior by a dog bred for centuries for this sole purpose. You won’t need to train your Bloodhound to follow a scent trail; you won’t have to! He’ll do it anyway, rather like a canine form of obsessive-compulsive behavior. Regardless of the weather, dangerous, rough terrain, or the length of time, the Bloodhound simply will not stop. If a search is called off, you will have to physically remove the dog from the search area.

Before the development of modern forensic science, the Bloodhound was the only dog whose identification of criminal suspects was accepted as evidence in a court of law. Today they hold many trailing records and excell in championship field trials. Bloodhounds are tough, sturdy, independant and very stubborn, perfectly suited for their job as trackers.

As companion pets, Bloodhounds are extraordinarily affectionate with their “people” and get along very well with other dogs since their instinct is to work in packs. They’re a little wary of strangers and will howl the distinctive hound “bay” in the presence of someone who’s not supposed to be there.  Bloodhounds are not at all playful and, when not working, prefer to plop in a sunny spot to catch a snooze.

If you choose a Bloodhound as a pet, he’ll need daily long walks and will sniff everything in sight! He goes deaf to the “leave it” command. Bloodhounds drool a lot, so you’ll need to keep his face wrinkles clean. He’ll drag those long hound ears in his food and water; he may or may not let you pin his ears back while he eats.

It’s been said that if you’re lost in the woods, the very best sight you’ll ever have is a tracking Bloodhound headed towards you. Yet, if you’re a fleeing suspect or prisoner, this sight is your worst nightmare!

Source: The Dog Breed Bible by Dr. Caroline Coile

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