Where It Came From

The Bloodhound, also called the St. Hubert Hound, was found in Belgium in the Middle Ages. Thanks to the breeding done by monks at St. Hubert's monastery, the breed grew and flourished. This dog's exceptional nose made it one of the most known breeds for scent tracking.

The Nose Knows

The Bloodhound, whose sense of smell is the stuff of legend, can fairly be described as "a nose with feet." These dogs have been bred for centuries to track game and humans. Bloodhounds are so good at what they do that their evidence is admissible in court in most jurisdictions. If a bloodhound tracks an escaped criminal to a specific spot, it's proof that he was there.

Many other breeds, especially the Basset and the Beagle, share this ability to detect minute levels of scent and follow a trail. All of them also share certain anatomical characteristics. The immensely long nose provides for colossal numbers of olfactory cells to be spread out along it; the wide nostrils allow air to be taken in and passed over those areas effectively; and the high, domed head makes room for the extremely well-developed olfactory region of the brain. These features not only make Bloodhounds efficient, they make them comical in appearance.

The need to sniff everything is characteristic of dogs in general—dogs live in a world of scents we humans can't begin to appreciate, with our puny and ineffective noses—but the hounds carry it to extremes. A Bloodhound will cross a room by snuffling along the floor, detecting the scent trail only he can detect. His nose tells him the entire history of the floor; that passed by and when, and what brands of wax have been used.