Saint Hubert's Gift
I was so excited to create a painting of King, a gorgeous tan Bloodhound with an angel on his chest. His owners asked me to be sure to paint the angel, which I was honored to do. I like to think that the angel on King’s chest was because Bloodhounds are notorious for not being shrinking violets. This is because they have a rather high energy drive, and their companion person needs to have the time and energy for daily exercise. This breed is very smart and inquisitive, and extremely hard working. When left to their own devices, however, they can display a lot of independence and stubbornness. They also have a distinctive call known as a bay.
I love fun facts about any breed of dogs. The Bloodhound is unique in that it can detect as few as one or two molecules from a scent source. They have a high sensitivity to smells, and definitely follow their noses. Their olfactory sense has nearly 300 million receptors. The amazing thing is that their many folds of wrinkled flesh, particularly under the lips and neck, serve to catch stray scent “particles” in the air or on a nearby branch, reinforcing the scent in the dog’s memory and nose. Once they have identified a scent, they can follow that specific smell, despite all the other odors they encounter, for more than 130 miles and over a 300-hour-old scent trail. Obviously, these dogs are amazing tracking dogs for police work. Despite their extraordinary ability to excel at police work and search and rescue missions, they can also get into trouble if they become bored.
Bloodhounds have been around for hundreds of years (re largedogdbreedz.com). The origin and history of the Bloodhound breed is a varied and complex one that spans many thousands of years. Early hounds are known to have been prominent in the Mediterranean countries prior to the Christian era, dating back to 1000 BC. They are typically thought to have a good deal of Mastiff blood. Hunting hounds were transported to the European continent by the Phoenicians and were used during the Roman era to hunt deer and other animals.
The Bloodhound that we know today is thought to have most directly originated in France during the 7th century by a French monk named St. Hubert. It is thought that he crossed a strain of black hound, or the St. Hubert hound, with other varieties of white hounds, one in particular called the Southern Hound. Monks in the 8th century continued to breed these hounds, initially black but evolving into a black and tan breed. The distinction of Bloodhound derives not from following a blood trail, as is commonly depicted, but from the fact that they were carefully bred in Medieval times in monasteries with pure blood stock.
By the 16th century, the Bloodhound dog breed was used more often for man trailing and helped track poachers and eventually other criminals. By the 1800s, many British law enforcement officers used the Bloodhound to help track down fugitives. The bloodhound has the best ability to track of any of the other dog breeds and a Bloodhound’s tracking testimony is actually admissible evidence in a court of law.
All these wonderful “I didn’t know that” facts that I have learned about Bloodhounds makes them all the more endearing to paint. There’s a certain importance to their skin wrinkles and folds that give them character.