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The Pet Gazette

The Pet Gazette

The Pet Gazette is
published by
Pet Media, Inc.
11 Market Street, #549
P.O. Box 549
Mashpee, MA 02649

Telephone: 508-419-6356
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By the Breed: Meet Duke, the Bloodhound

I have the most famous nose in the dog world; my breed is instantly recognized by our wrinkly, sad looking faces.  I am Duke the Bloodhound.  Our sad faces are covered with folds of wrinkles all about our face and neck- and they serve an important purpose which makes us the most famous of man trailing dogs.  Our history is very long, as we are the oldest example of scent hounds today. 

 Our breeders took specific measures to preserve our lines for many generations.  It is said this is where we get our name- due to our pure breeding we were considered a “blooded hound” therefore aristocratic from our beginnings.  Another theory where we get our name is for our ability to track an animal or person by blood.

Our origins date back to before the Crusades in France, where we were a favorite at monasteries.  We were originally bred to cold track large game such as deer and wild boar.  We would track the animal, but not participate in the kill.  When man discovered that we had a special talent to discern singular scents after a long period of time and over great distances, we were put to work as search and rescue and law enforcement dogs.  We were first reported to search for poachers and thieves in England and were relied on to follow the trail through all different terrains, including marshes and water.   As fox hunting became more popular and big game hunting less popular, our numbers began to dwindle.  World War II saw a decline in our European numbers until the revival of our breed in America.  The breeders in America that have developed our breed for over 100 years have honed our skills as determined, invaluable scent trailing hounds.  In America we were put on the trail of the bad guys as a singular dog.   We worked in silence and focused on our quarry on a leash to lead the FBI or other law to the bad guys.  This technique dates back to our days of hunting big game, as we had to work silently so we did not spook the prey.  We are not like our fellow police dogs that are trained to attack or hold a quarry.  We are mainly used to follow a scent and lead the way until the trail ends.   We have such an impeccable record of accurately tracking people, pets and evidence, that our findings are generally accepted in a court of law as proof.  We are sometimes used in England as pack hunters, in which case we can become quite vocal using our distinctive bay that can be heard from miles away.

So how did we become the law’s right hand man (dog)? My physiology is designed with one purpose- to follow a scent.  I have an extra large muzzle that lets me vacuum in all the scents on the trail.  My large nostrils let in many scents all at once and I have the uncanny ability to separate each individual scent and focus on just one.  My long droopy ears, all the wrinkles in my face and neck, even my eyelids play a role in sweeping up all the scent cells.  As I lower my head to the trail, all my wrinkles fall forward catching any cells, my ears fall forward preventing any cells to be scattered away by the wind and my eyelids droop down, causing blinders giving me complete focus on my task at hand.  Our keen sense of smell has led some of us on trails that are over 300 hours old and over hundreds of miles.  Our nose can detect scents down to 1 or 2 cells.  Our olfactory sensor is said to be the size of a handkerchief, compared to that of humans which is the size of a postage stamp.  We have 4 billion receptor cells compared to 5 million in humans.  Our thick coat of fur helps protect us in all kinds of weather, but can also cause us to overheat easily.

One very serious condition that Bloodhounds are susceptible to is bloat.  This is a gastrointestinal problem that is the most common illness and leading cause of death in Bloodhounds.  We are more prone to bloat due to the large amounts of food we require and because of the increased amount of foreign objects we tend to ingest.  To minimize the risk of bloat, we should have raised bowls for our food and water and all owners of the breed should be aware of the signs that lead to bloat.

With over 1.3 million dogs registered annually with the AKC, only 1500 are Bloodhounds, so it is up to our owners to do research to ensure our health from puppy to adult, as we are not a common breed that vets see in their offices daily.

Because of our love for being on the trail, once we catch a whiff of something interesting, we will be off!  That is why it is recommended that we are always on a leash or in a fenced in area, we are so determined to find the end of the trail- we will shut off the rest of the world.   I am only 5 months old and weigh 40 pounds right now, but I will grow to be about 90-110 pounds.  Most of my weight will be concentrated in my big bones.  I can be stubborn in my training, but I am sensitive and need a kind hand to guide me.  I live with my mom and my best friend Patrick who is wheelchair dependent.  Patrick was looking for the perfect best friend and chose me.   He did lots of research on my breed and discovered we are a noble, affectionate, wise dog.  I am learning to walk next to his wheelchair and take cues to stay with him and comfort him when needed.  I am a very good snuggler.  Because I am growing so fast, I eat a lot of food and take good naps!  I have a silly sense of humor, and am a bit clumsy sometimes being a big puppy and growing so fast into my body.  It took me a little while to master stairs- but I finally did it!   I need more grooming than you would think for a short haired dog, as all those wrinkles catch all kinds of things other than invisible scents.  My ears are so long that they fall into my food and water bowls and of course drag on the ground when I am sniffing around.  My ears need cleaning every day and I should have a weekly bath to make me look, feel and smell good.  I am a little drooler now, but I will be a big drooler as I grow.  At first glance, my face looks sad and droopy, but when you really look at me, you can tell I am just completely relaxed and satisfied being a big cuddler!