Teresa Kho-Pelfrey, DVM
By Teresa Kho-Pelfrey, DVM on Jan. 23, 2023
bloodhound dog sitting in the sun

In This Article

General Care

A Bloodhound’s nose has a big reputation, and for good reason. Bloodhounds have a long history of assisting medieval nobles in tracking game, according to the American Bloodhound Club. Today, they are often employed as sleuths and are highly skilled search and rescue dogs—a Bloodhound’s trail can even be used as evidence in court. But those tracking abilities can get them into trouble at home. These fearless hounds will follow their noses after an interesting smell, which can lead them astray or into dangerous situations.

The Bloodhound is a large dog, weighing 80-110 pounds and standing 23-27 inches tall. They are known for their long, droopy ears and skin folds, especially around the face, giving them a solemn expression. Bloodhounds are pack dogs and enjoy the company of others, including other pets and children, especially when introduced at a young age. With the right family, they can be a great family dog.

Caring for a Bloodhound

For centuries, Bloodhounds have been bred for their endurance, allowing them to track a scent for hours. This means they need to keep their brains and paws busy with long walks and outside playtime. And because of their tendency to wander off after a scent, Bloodhounds always need to be leashed or in a fenced-in yard.

Although they’re large dogs, well-socialized Bloodhounds are generally very gentle and patient, especially when it comes to young, boisterous children. But they can be stubborn and are one of the most vocal breeds, using their deep howl to communicate with their family.

Their grooming requirements are minimal due to their short, average-shedding coat. However, they do require routine care to keep their characteristically droopy ears healthy.

Bloodhound Health Issues

The average Bloodhound lifespan is 10-12 years. These dogs tend to be healthy, but responsible Bloodhound breeders should screen for health conditions that commonly affect the breed. Along with some potential health issues, Bloodhounds are notorious for eating things they should not. For this reason, pet insurance is a good option for Bloodhound pet parents to help with costly vet bills.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia are conditions where the bones of the elbow or hip joints do not align appropriately. This causes the bones to rub and grind, which over time results in deterioration of the joint and loss of function.

Elbow and hip dysplasia are hereditary conditions that affect Bloodhounds, but that dysplasia can also be exacerbated by other contributing factors such as exercise habits, weight, and nutrition. These conditions can be screened for with x-rays, and treatment will vary depending on severity.

Ear Infections

Otitis, or inflammation of the ear, can affect any part of the dog’s ear, including the outer ear (otitis externa), the middle ear (otitis media), or the inner ear (otitis interna). These ear infections are typically associated with yeast, bacteria, or both, and they occur secondarily to a predisposing factor or disease.

The floppy shape of a Bloodhound’s ears predisposes them to ear infections because moisture can easily become trapped in the ear canals, allowing bacteria and yeast to thrive. Otitis can often be prevented with regular ear cleaning, especially after a bath or a swim.

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus

Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) is a severe form of bloat in dogs. It can affect any deep-chested breed, including the Bloodhound.

Gastric dilatation or bloat typically happens when a large amount of food and gas in the stomach, such as after a big meal, prevents the normal outflow of the stomach. The increase in pressure from the gas builds up, causing the stomach to expand and putting pressure on the diaphragm. This prevents normal breathing and hinders blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow causes a loss of blood to the stomach and can lead to rupture.

Many deep-chested dogs will undergo a prophylactic stomach tacking (gastropexy) surgery to help prevent GDV. Along with surgery, feeding your Bloodhound two to three smaller meals throughout the day (instead of one big meal) can also help prevent this condition.

It’s important to spot signs of GDV in your Bloodhound, as this is a life-threatening condition. Seek immediate veterinary care if you notice any of the following:

  • Distended abdomen

  • Retching without producing any vomit

  • General signs of abdominal pain, such as standing and stretching or drooling

What To Feed a Bloodhound

Selecting the best diet for a Bloodhound dog comes down to the needs of the individual dog. While it’s always important to select a diet with high-quality ingredients, it’s best to discuss this with your veterinarian. They can make recommendations based on your pup’s specific medical history.

In general, Bloodhounds do well on a large-breed diet that is appropriate for their current life stage.

How To Feed a Bloodhound

Bloodhounds are considered deep-chested dogs, which means that they can be susceptible to GDV or bloat. To help prevent this from happening, feed your Bloodhound multiple smaller meals (such as two or three times a day), avoid elevated food bowls, and avoid vigorous exercise around mealtimes.

How Much Should You Feed a Bloodhound?

Adult Bloodhounds can range from 80-110 pounds, which means that the amount of daily food they require varies. Depending on their weight and level of daily activity, you can expect your Bloodhound to eat anywhere from 4-8 cups of dry food per day. Always discuss how much you should feed your dog with your veterinarian.

Nutritional Tips for Bloodhounds

For Bloodhounds that have growth disorders affecting their joints, such as hip or elbow dysplasia, it may be beneficial to give them nutritional supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin to help keep their joints healthy. Omega-3 supplements also aid in protecting joint health as well as keeping their skin and coat healthy.

Behavior and Training Tips for Bloodhounds

Bloodhound Personality and Temperament

Bloodhounds are noted tracking dogs due to their keen sense of smell and endurance. At home, this means that they require moderate amounts of daily exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Long walks and outdoor playtime are great activities for Bloodhounds, but they must be kept leashed or within a securely fenced yard to prevent them from wandering or escaping.

Bloodhounds love to be part of a pack and do well with other pets when properly socialized. They’re also known for their gentle and tolerant nature, making them suitable for a house with children. Though, interactions between dogs and kids should always be supervised.

Bloodhound Behavior

The Bloodhound dog’s howling, or “baying,” is a useful tool for communicating with their pack when they have been separated or are feeling lonely, but this behavior can be a nuisance in urban living, as they are known for being one of the most vocal breeds. This behavior runs deep in Bloodhounds and typically can’t be trained out of them.

They are also known to be escape artists, digging and jumping fences in pursuit of a scent. A sturdy, 6-foot fence is recommended, though some Bloodhounds might always need to be supervised outside to prevent a Houdini-like escape.

Bloodhound Training

A Bloodhound’s independent work ethic can also be troublesome during training, as these dogs tend to be independent thinkers and indifferent to training methods. Pet parents need to have patience and persistence when dealing with Bloodhound puppies and always use positive reinforcement training methods.

Fun Activities for Bloodhounds

  • Long walks

  • Running

  • Hiking

  • Tracking

Bloodhound Grooming Guide

Though Bloodhounds require patience and consistency during training, grooming is a relatively low-maintenance part of their care.

Skin Care

The Bloodhound’s adorable facial folds and jowls can be prone to developing dermatitis (inflammation or infection of the skin) if not kept clean and dry. Pet parents need to wipe their Bloodhound’s folds daily with a pet-safe facial wipe or damp paper towel, which can help to prevent a buildup of moisture and debris that can cause irritation and lead to dermatitis.

Coat Care

Bloodhounds have a short, dense coat and are moderate shedders. Weekly brushing reduces their shedding, and bathing is only necessary every few months (or more frequently, if they’re especially smelly). Bloodhounds shed more heavily twice a year, and at that time may require more frequent brushing.

Ear Care

The Bloodhound’s long, droopy ears are prone to ear infections, so routine cleaning with a veterinary-approved ear cleanser is important in maintaining healthy ear canals. This should also be done any time a Bloodhound is in water, such as after swimming or bathing.

Considerations for Pet Parents

While their gentle and patient nature can make the Bloodhound an excellent family dog, pet parents must be prepared to meet the energy requirements and environmental demands they’ve been bred for over the centuries. Their vocal nature, paired with their independence and determination to track any scent that piques their interest, can make this breed a challenge for the unknowing pet parent. However, with early positive training methods, socialization, and consistency, the Bloodhound can learn to participate and enjoy various family activities.

Bloodhound FAQs

How long do Bloodhounds live?

The average Bloodhound lifespan is 10-12 years.

Are Bloodhound good pets?

Bloodhounds can make excellent pets for a family that has the patience and time to devote themselves to keeping them mentally and physically stimulated.

Are Bloodhounds cuddly?

Bloodhounds tend to be very affectionate with their family members. When their physical and mental needs have been met, they love nothing more than to cuddle up on the couch.

Featured Image: iStock/Elena Yurchenko

Teresa Kho-Pelfrey, DVM


Teresa Kho-Pelfrey, DVM


Dr. Teresa Kho-Pelfrey graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2015 and completed her clinical year at Purdue...

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health