The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Bloodhounds" by Kevin Stueber. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.
Author Credit: Kevin Stueber
Determining What You Want Your Bloodhound to Do (Tracking, Hunting, or Chilling)
Now that you’ve mentally prepared yourself for the trials and tribulations that are to come when raising a Bloodhound, it’s time to figure out where you are going to get your pet. There are many options out there and choosing the one that best fits your expectations is important. There are many rescues that specialize in hounds and many breeders as well. Doing your research and finding a sensible and responsible place or person to get your dog is just as important as which dog you choose.
The first thing you’ll have to consider is at what age you want to get your dog. A lot of people are going to want a puppy, and there are a lot of benefits to getting a dog so young. One of the main benefits, beyond how darn adorable puppies are, is that you will be able to control the environment the pup grows up in and start with training young. Maybe you want to get an older dog so you can skip the puppy phase and the housetraining and all the chewing and headaches that come with having a pup. There are a lot of good Bloodhounds in the world that need forever homes. A lot of hounds are surrendered or rehomed because owners didn’t research the breed and are at their wits’ end, or the hound didn’t mesh well with their family. One of the biggest reasons hounds get surrendered is because the owner did not fully anticipate the time and energy and dedication it would take to raise a Bloodhound. Whether you want a pup or want to adopt an older dog, there are plenty of them out there just waiting to be the amazing companion they are destined to be.
Buying, Rescuing or Adopting
Determining what you want your dog to do is a big consideration when deciding what age of pup you want to get. If you are looking for a family pet that is a little bit mellower and laid back, you may want to consider getting an older dog. Rescuing a dog that’s four or five years old can help you get past the puppy years and get a dog that has burned some of that young energy and wants to live the rest of their life out in relative peace. Just keep in mind, the idea of a Bloodhound that just lies around all day is a bit of an exaggeration as they do have lots of energy throughout life. But older dogs do in fact take more time to enjoy the good things in life like naps and cuddles. Remember that if you go this route, you may still have to spend significant time training as you don’t know what their previous environment or level of training is. You may be starting from square one in achieving behaviors you want in an older hound. The saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” while being mostly false, will prove to have kernels of truth when it comes to a stubborn breed like Bloodhounds. They will require just as much attention and consistent training as a pup, but maybe in different areas.
If you want a Bloodhound that is going to do what they are designed to do by having them hunt, track, or assist in search and rescue, you will probably want to get a puppy from a reputable breeder. By getting a pup, you will be able to start training them at a young age and start encouraging good behaviors, while discouraging the bad. Basically, you will be able to groom that dog to suit your specific needs. Bloodhounds love to cuddle and be family dogs, but they also love to work. They say that a tired hound is a happy hound, so putting them to work will increase the satisfaction in their own lives and in their owner’s lives.
By selecting a breeder with championship bloodlines, you can see what previous generations of Bloodhounds have done. You will be able to talk to the breeder about certain behaviors or health ailments that exist in that bloodline and can curtail your puppy selection to those that best suit your needs. If you want to show your dog at dog shows, then it’s probably best to pick a breeder who has bred their dogs to be of a high show quality. If you want a working dog, you want to choose a breeder who has experience in breeding working dogs and tracking dogs. These are, of course, just recommendations. My dog came from a breeder who supplies dogs to primarily law enforcement in my state. His sense of smell is acute, and he is built for endurance, but I got him to be a house dog. That has come with its own set of challenges as I had to learn to harness some of the energy he wants to put into tracking and redirect it so he can fulfill his needs and fit into my lifestyle as well.
Once you’ve decided what you want your dog to do and whether you want a pup or an older dog, it’s time for the last step before bringing a slobber monster home. It’s time to figure out where you’re going to get them from. If, like most people, you’re going to start off with a brand new puppy, it’s time to start looking for breeders. Finding the right breeder can be a test within itself as some puppy mills and irresponsible people who are just looking for a profit can disguise themselves as reputable breeders. Unethical breeding practices exist in the world and it’s important to stay diligent so that you get what you pay for. Bloodhounds are expensive, with champion bloodlines costing well in excess of $2,000. So be patient and do your research. Make sure when you find breeders in your area that they show a true respect and reverence for the breed. Ensure they are professionals and that the dogs they have look good. Ask to see their AKC or registration papers. A lot of backyard breeders will not be able to provide documentation or will give you the run-around. Ask to come to see their dogs and puppies in their environment. This will allow you to see the temperament of the parents and other pups and will also allow you to see the conditions the pups are being raised in. Most reputable breeders take pride in their bloodlines and will gladly show off all the hard work and dedication they have put into creating their line.
Depending on which state you are in, finding a breeder locally may prove difficult. Connecting with breeders on Facebook can be beneficial as you can see past generations and will many times be able to see recommendations and reviews from other people who have adopted from them. Many breeders will offer to ship pups for a fee. My recommendation would be to avoid this if at all possible as it can cause some undue stress on the young pup and your goal should be to make the pup’s transition into your family as seamless and stress free as possible. After all, you’re starting your relationship with this pup as its owner and leader, and you want your pup to trust that you are going to take care of them from the start.
Many people decide to forgo the breeder route and look for dogs at a rescue. Rescues could range from local humane societies to groups that rescue certain breeds like Bloodhounds. Many of the same factors go into choosing a good rescue as with picking a breeder. You want to make sure you are picking a responsible group that has the animal’s well-being and health as its utmost priority. Some rescues will specialize in at-risk dogs, which are dogs that may have had incidents in the past that have labeled them as aggressive or unfriendly.
The good part is a lot of rescues take in dogs out of compassion and not for monetary purposes. This means they have the expertise and dedication to seeing the good in dogs that may have had a different future had they not stepped in to rescue them. A lot of rescues can assess a dog’s temperament and identify the type of owner and environment that dog will need to be successful. A lot of rescues for Bloodhounds require an in-depth interview process. So if you go this route, be prepared to show that your home and lifestyle are suitable for having a Bloodhound. Home visits and reference interviews are commonplace through a lot of rescues to ensure the dog will have support and access to any special needs.
Rescues are usually more cost effective than buying from a breeder as you will be starting with a dog that has already had other experiences in life that you may need to overcome. Also, rescues have a goal of giving dogs a forever home after a life of uncertainty and sometimes abuse. It’s said that there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. So if you decide to get a dog from a rescue, leave your judgments at the door because many of the dogs you will see have the potential to be great pets, but had a tough shot at life before they met you.
Health Tests and Bloodline Certifications
If you go the route of getting a dog from a rescue or humane society, you may not have access to its health records or genetic predispositions. Bloodhounds have some common health ailments that they are susceptible to no matter what, but if you go through a breeder, you can usually get an idea of what particular ailments affect that bloodline. Some lines are more susceptible to bloat, which is a gastrointestinal ailment that can be life-threatening to dogs. Certain kinds of cancers can also be more prevalent in some bloodlines. Ask your breeder for information on any health concerns that exist with the pup’s parents or littermates. Most the time, these health certifications won’t be a deciding factor in whether to get a dog from that breeder, but will serve as a way for you to know what to expect and allow you to begin planning on preventative care for your hound.
When you get your pup, most breeders will also provide documentation from the AKC, or American Kennel Club. These documents will allow you to know that your dog was given the utmost care from gestation to birth to rearing. Those documents will also allow access to health certifications where the bloodline has been checked for certain common conditions associated with the breed. With Bloodhounds, the AKC does a hip examination, elbow evaluation, and cardiac exam. These certificates will give you a heads-up on the propensity your dog has to some of these conditions. Most the time, your dog’s papers will come with thirty-day pet insurance and the ability to register your dog with the AKC to gain access to full bloodlines and other important information. In all, the AKC paperwork you receive with your pup will allow you to learn everything you can about their familial history and how to provide them with the best life possible.
Things to Consider if Rescuing/Adopting
Whether you decide to adopt or rescue a Bloodhound, it is the first step in joining the family of other Bloodhound owners. If you decide to rescue, you can be assured that you are providing a good life to a dog that may not have had the best upbringing. You are its savior, and are showing how truly compassionate you are by giving the dog a second chance at life. If you buy or adopt a puppy, you have the responsibility of continuing the long tradition of raising one of the most useful dogs in the animal world. Puppies come with their own struggles, but they are well worth it. Watching your pup grow from a little baby that can fit into your arms to a big, strong, determined dog that can track a week-old scent is truly rewarding. Either way, welcome to the family. We have plenty of support groups and you’ll probably need them.
To read more from "The Complete Guide to Bloodhounds" by Kevin Stueber, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below: