Bloodhound Care

The Bloodhound, known for its droopy skin, long ears, and fantastic sense of smell, is a large-sized, athletic hunting dog that's a favorite among owners around the world. While affectionate and laid-back, these dogs will require a good bit of care and maintenance.

Below you'll find plenty of details on raising a Bloodhound: puppy development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more are all explained here. For answers to all your questions about Bloodhound care, keep reading!

Bloodhound Breed Development

As a large-sized breed, Bloodhound puppy development typically spans 18-20 months from birth to full maturity.

Physical Development: Bloodhound puppies grow rapidly in height and length for the first 7-8 months, then those growth rates slow somewhat while the adolescent "fills out" by gaining muscle mass and fat. A Bloodhound normally reaches its full adult size (an average of 25 inches at the shoulders in height and 100 pounds in weight) at about 12 months of age.

Social Development: These pups develop steadily: they reach adolescence at about seven months, sexual maturity at 10-11 months, and full mental maturity by about 20 months.

For specific milestones in Bloodhound development, see the chart below.

(NOTE: Leash training for these dogs should begin as early as possible. Because of their incredibly strong sense of smell, Bloodhounds will instinctively follow any interesting scent, whether leashed or not--and this instinct begins in puppyhood. When walking their leashed puppies, owners are strongly urged to make sure the pups walk either beside or behind them instead of being allowed to lead; when a puppy begins "jerking" on the leash to follow a scent, the owner should give a loud "STOP!" command. If this proper behavior is learned in puppyhood, it will normally continue once the Bloodhound matures.)

Bloodhound Exercise Needs

Bloodhounds are athletic hunting dogs, so their exercise requirements are pretty extensive. Contrary to common belief, dogs of this breed are not lazy animals that lie on the porch all day! They'll need daily activities that stretch their considerable legs and stimulate them mentally as well as physically. They also make excellent jogging/bicycling companions.

The typical adult Bloodhound, depending on its age and overall activity level, will need 60-90 minutes of exercise per day; you can accomplish this with a couple of long walks and an extended play period. You can start exercising a Bloodhound puppy at three months old by taking it on short (10-minute) leashed walks, then increasing the walks' length and frequency as the puppy grows.

A few things to consider when exercising your Bloodhound: first, puppies younger than nine months old shouldn't be allowed to participate in activities that include a lot of jumping, running, and navigating of stairs, as doing so can injure their still-developing bones and joints. And regardless of age, using a leash is a must when you and your Bloodhound are out and about. These dogs have very high prey drives and superb senses of smell, so they will instinctively follow any scent they find interesting; a leash will help you control your Bloodhound when it tries to track a scent. (See the Breed Development section for more info on leash training.) Even when exercising your Bloodhound in your own yard, the area will need to be securely fenced to keep the dog from running off after a scent--and Bloodhounds are excellent escape artists, so they'll need to be closely supervised so they don't simply jump over (or dig under!) the fence to follow an interesting-smelling animal.

Precautions aside, it's vital that owners exercise their Bloodhounds every single day. While not at all aggressive, if bored and restless these dogs will become frustrated, disobedient and destructive. Consistent exercise will be great for your Bloodhound's peace of mind--and your own sanity as well! Here are a few exercise ideas:

  • Walking/Jogging/Bicycling: Two 30-minute walks (or 20-minute jogs or bike rides) per day is a good target
  • Fetch: These dogs will chase a ball or stick for hours
  • Hunting: Puts a Bloodhound in its natural element
  • Tug-of-War: Great indoor, rainy-day activity; use a rope or old towel
  • Canine Sports: Bloodhounds excel at obedience and agility trials, flyball, and other competitions
  • Hiking: Great bonding activity; bonus if you can find a remote area where the dog can be off-leash

When indoors, it's a good idea to give your Bloodhound access to one or more balls or chew-toys that will allow the dog to burn excess energy. It's also recommended that you establish a regular exercise schedule for the dog, such as walks, jogs, or bike rides after breakfast and dinner and a play period in the afternoon.

Bloodhound Maintenance

In terms of shedding and drooling, these dogs need a good bit of care. Bloodhound shedding is moderate for most of the year, but heavy during the spring and fall shedding seasons. Bloodhounds tend to drool pretty regularly as well.

This breed has a short-haired, thick coat that sheds some all year long--but during the 2- to 3-week shedding periods in the spring and fall, the coat sheds heavily. Weekly brushing and use of an undercoat rake, owners say, will minimize the shedding somewhat, and brushing and raking will need to be done daily during shedding season. Even so, owners will need to vacuum the floors and use lint rollers on clothes and furniture regularly to pick up stray hairs.

And mainly due to its hanging lips, a Bloodhound will drool in anticipation of food, after drinking water, or when especially excited or nervous. Owners are advised to keep old rags or towels in rooms where the Bloodhound spends time, to clean up excess slobber. And if the drooling becomes excessive, owners can tie an old bandanna or towel around the dog's neck to keep its chest and neck from getting dirty or stinky from the drool.

Bloodhound Diet

With this big, athletic breed comes the need for a large, varied diet. Like other active breeds, Bloodhound food will need to have plenty of animal-based proteins/fats and carbohydrates for energy; vitamins, minerals, and fiber for digestive and immune health; and omega fatty acids for coat and skin wellness. This means the best Bloodhound diet will consist of both premium dry food and fresh/raw ingredients. The high-quality commercial food will provide balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients, all of which a Bloodhound needs to sustain its health in the long term. Owners are also urged to add some lean meat and fresh fruit or vegetables to at least one meal a day for their Bloodhounds. Cheap, generic food is not recommended for these dogs, because it contains mostly empty "filler" ingredients that simply have no nutritional value. Premium food, while more expensive and difficult to obtain, is much better.

In regards to portion sizes: the typical adult Bloodhound, depending on its age, size, and activity level, will need about five cups of dry food per day, divided into two meals. Bloodhound puppies, again depending on age, will need a bit less: about 3½ cups per day, divided into three meals (not two) until six months of age. For further details on feeding a Bloodhound from puppyhood through maturity, refer to this chart:

*--Around this time, transition to adult food by first mixing in a bit of adult formula with the puppy formula. Over the course of a week, with each meal add a bit more adult food to the mixture, until the dog is eating it entirely.

If possible, try to stick to the above-listed portions. These dogs can have huge appetites, and will easily become overweight if overfed and under-exercised--and a fat Bloodhound will have joint, breathing, and digestive problems, not to mention a shortened lifespan. You can help control your Bloodhound's weight by establishing consistent feeding and exercise schedules, by not feeding the dog table scraps, and by not leaving food in the dog's bowl all the time, thereby allowing it to eat anytime it wants. It's better to put your Bloodhound's bowl down only at mealtimes, then pick it up 20-30 minutes after the dog begins eating.

If you're worried your Bloodhound is overweight, give the dog this simple test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time. Decrease the dog's daily food consumption by one-fourth, and add an extra walk, jog, bike ride, or play period to its daily exercise schedule.