The Bloodhound breed has existed many thousands of years. The “blood” aspect of the breed name reportedly comes from the word “blooded”—referring to the hound’s status as a purebred. Bloodhounds have been used for tracking both animals and humans for hundreds of years. In fact, the trailing abilities of the breed are so reliable that evidence found by trained Bloodhounds has been used in court cases. However, even though strong tracking and trailing skills are closely associated with the breed, the Bloodhound’s distinct personality and charm have ultimately made the breed such a popular choice among hunters and families.
Hounds are among the few dog types that have existed since early human history. This particular type of dog flourished because of its incredible desire to track by scent and sight. Though the sighthound moves quickly enough because to keep its prey in sight, scent hounds have the advantage of an acute sense of smell that allows for continuous trailing no matter how quickly the prey may move. In addition, because scent hounds move much slower than sighthounds, they can endure longer trails lasting over days.
The first documentation of the true Bloodhound is found in connection with the French monasteries of the seventh century. Medieval French and Italian nobility, as well as the local bishops, were fond of hunting with hounds. Many of the French monasteries kept kennels of dogs and paid close attention to breeding quality dogs. The most prominent name in connection with these well-bred Bloodhounds is that of the French monk St. Hubert. He remains so connected with the Bloodhound breed that in many parts of the world these dogs are still called the St. Hubert Hound, or Chien de St. Hubert.
Later, Elizabeth I and other English royals kept packs of hounds since the English relished a good hunt. They can be credited with much of the continuation of the breed during the time leading up to the Victorian era when several new breeds were developed using the Bloodhound as part of the breeding stock (including the Beagle and the Foxhound). The English began to realize that these dogs were beyond compare when it came to tracking and trailing men or animal prey.