The Bloodhound was much used in olden times in hunting and in the pursuit of fugitives; two services for which his remarkable acuteness of smell, his ability to keep to the particular scent on which he is first laid, and the intelligence and pertinacity with which he follows up the trail, admirably fit him. The use and employment of these dogs date back into remote antiquity. We have it on the authority of Strabo that they were used against the Gauls, and we have certain knowledge that they were employed not only in the frequent feuds of the Scottish clans, and in the continuous border forays of those days, but also during the ever-recurring hostilities between England and Scotland.

Indeed, the very name of the dog calls up visions of feudal castles, with their trains of knights and warriors and all the stirring panorama of these brave days of old, when the only tenure of life, property, or goods was by the strong hand.

This feudal dog is frequently pictured by the poet in his ballads and romances, and in “The Lady of the Lake” we find the breed again mentioned as

  ”—dogs of black St. Hubert's breed, 
   Unmatched for courage, breath, and speed.”

These famous black Bloodhounds, called St. Huberts, are supposed to have been brought by pilgrims from the Holy Land. Another larger breed, also known by the same name, were pure white, and another kind were greyish-red. The dogs of the present day are probably a blend of all these varieties.

The Bloodhound, from the nobler pursuit of heroes and knights, came in later years to perform the work of the more modern detective; but in this also his services were in time superseded by the justice's warrant and the police officer. We find it recorded about 1805, however, that “the Thrapston Association for the Prevention of Felons in Northamptonshire have provided and trained a Bloodhound for the detection of sheep-stealers.”

The reputation it obtained for sagacity and fierceness in the capture of runaway slaves, and the cruelties attributed to it in connection with the suppression of the various negro risings, especially that of the Maroons, have given the animal an evil repute, which more probably should attach to those who made the animal's courage and sagacity a means for the gratification of their own revolting cruelty of disposition. It has been justly remarked that if entire credence be given to the description that was transmitted through the country of this extraordinary animal, it might be supposed that the Spaniards had obtained the ancient and genuine breed of Cerberus himself.

Coming again to this country, we find the Bloodhound used from time to time in pursuit of poachers and criminals, and in many instances the game recovered and the man arrested.

There is no doubt that the police in country districts, and at our convict prisons, could use Bloodhounds to advantage; but public sentiment is decidedly against the idea, and although one of His Majesty's prisons has been offered a working hound for nothing, the authorities have refused to consider the question or give the hound a trial.

Half a century ago the Bloodhound was so little esteemed in this country that the breed was confined to the kennels of a very few owners; but the institution of dog shows induced these owners to bring their hounds into public exhibition, when it was seen that, like the Mastiff, the Bloodhound claimed the advantage of having many venerable ancestral trees to branch from. At the first Birmingham show, in 1860, Lord Bagot brought out a team from a strain which had been in his lordship's family for two centuries, and at the same exhibition there was entered probably one of the best Bloodhounds ever seen, in Mr. T. A. Jenning's Druid. Known now as “Old” Druid, this dog was got by Lord Faversham's Raglan out of Baron Rothschild's historic bitch Fury, and his blood goes down in collateral veins through Mr. L. G. Morrel's Margrave, Prince Albert Solm's Druid, and Mr. Edwin Brough's Napier into the pedigrees of many of the celebrated hounds of the present day.

Another famous Druid—grandsire of Colonel Cowen's hound of the name—was owned by the Hon. Grantley Berkeley. This typical dog was unsurpassed in his time, and his talent in following a line of scent was astonishing. His only blemish was one of character; for, although usually as good-tempered as most of the breed are, he was easily aroused to uncontrollable fits of savage anger.

Queen Victoria at various times was the possessor of one or more fine specimens of the Bloodhound, procured for her by Sir Edwin Landseer, and a capital hound from the Home Park Kennels at Windsor was exhibited at the London Show in 1869, the judge on the occasion being the Rev. Thomas Pearce, afterwards known as “Idstone.” Landseer was especially fond of painting the majestic Bloodhound, and he usually selected good models for his studies. The model for the hound in his well-known picture, “Dignity and Impudence,” was Grafton, who was a collateral relative of Captain J. W. Clayton's celebrated Luath XI.

Four superlative Bloodhounds of the past stand out in unmistakable eminence as the founders of recognised strains. They are Mr. Jenning's Old Druid, Colonel Cowen's Druid, Mr. Reynold Ray's Roswell, and Captain Clayton's Luath XI.; and the owner of a Bloodhound which can be traced back in direct line of descent to any one of these four patriarchs may pride himself upon possessing a dog of unimpeachable pedigree.

Among breeders within recent years Mr. Edwin Brough, of Scarborough, is to be regarded as the most experienced and successful. No record of the breed would be complete without some acknowledgment of the great services he has rendered to it. Bloodhounds of the correct type would to-day have been very few and far between if it had not been for his enthusiasm and patient breeding. Mr. Brough bred and produced many hounds, which all bore the stamp of his ideal, and there is no doubt that for all-round quality his kennel stands first in the history of the Bloodhound. His most successful cross was, perhaps, Beckford and Bianca, and one has only to mention such hounds as Burgundy, Babbo, Benedicta, and Bardolph to recall the finest team of Bloodhounds that has ever been benched.

Mrs. G. A. Oliphant, of Shrewton, Wilts, whose kennels include Chatley Blazer and Chatley Beaufort, has of late years been a keen supporter of the breed. Mrs. Oliphant, who is the president of the ladies' branch of the Kennel Club, is a great believer in hounds being workers first and show hounds second, and her large kennels have produced many hounds of a robust type and of good size and quality. There is no doubt that as far as hunting is concerned at the present moment this kennel stands easily first. But admirable Bloodhounds have also given distinction to the kennels of Mr. S. H. Mangin, Dr. Sidney Turner, Mr. Mark Beaufoy, Mr. F. W. Cousens, Mr. A. O. Mudie, Lord Decies, Mr. Hood Wright, Mr. A. Croxton Smith, Dr. C. C. Garfit, Dr. Semmence, and Mrs. C. Ashton Cross, to mention only a few owners and breeders who have given attention to this noble race of dog.

The description of a perfect type of dog, as defined by the Association of Bloodhound breeders, is as follows:—

       * * * * *

GENERAL CHARACTER—The Bloodhound possesses, in a most marked degree, every point and characteristic of those dogs which hunt together by scent (Sagaces). He is very powerful and stands over more ground than is usual with hounds of other breeds. The skin is thin to the touch and extremely loose, this being more especially noticeable about the head and neck, where it hangs in deep folds. HEIGHT—The mean average height of adult dogs is 26 inches and of adult bitches 24 inches. Dogs usually vary from 25 inches to 27 inches and bitches from 23 inches to 25 inches; but in either case the greater height is to be preferred, provided that character and quality are also combined. WEIGHT—The mean average weight of adult dogs in fair condition is 90 pounds and of adult bitches 80 pounds. Dogs attain the weight of 110 pounds, bitches 100 pounds. The greater weights are to be preferred, provided (as in the case of height) that quality and proportion are also combined. EXPRESSION—The expression is noble and dignified and characterised by solemnity, wisdom and power. TEMPERAMENT—In temperament he is extremely affectionate, quarrelsome neither with companions nor with other dogs. His nature is somewhat shy, and equally sensitive to kindness or correction by his master. HEAD—The head is narrow in proportion to its length and long in proportion to the body, tapering but slightly from the temples to the end of the muzzle thus (when viewed from above and in front) having the appearance of being flattened at the sides and of being nearly equal in width throughout its entire length. In profile the upper outline of the skull is nearly in the same plane as that of the foreface. The length from end of nose to stop (midway between the eyes) should be not less than that from stop to back of occipital protuberance (peak). The entire length of head from the posterior part of the occipital protuberance to the end of the muzzle should be 12 inches, or more, in dogs, and 11 inches, or more, in bitches. SKULL—The skull is long and narrow, with the occipital peak very pronounced. The brows are not prominent, although, owing to the deep-set eyes, they may have that appearance. FOREFACE—The foreface is long, deep, and of even width throughout, with square outline when seen in profile. EYES—The eyes are deeply sunk in the orbits, the lids assuming a lozenge or diamond shape, in consequence of the lower lids being dragged down and everted by the heavy flews. The eyes correspond with the general tone of colour of the animal, varying from deep hazel to yellow. The hazel colour is, however, to be preferred, although very seldom seen in red-and-tan hounds. EARS—The ears are thin and soft to the touch, extremely long, set very low, and fall in graceful folds, the lower parts curling inwards and backwards. WRINKLE—The head is furnished with an amount of loose skin which in nearly every position appears super-abundant, but more particularly so when the head is carried low; the skin then falls into loose, pendulous ridges and folds, especially over the forehead and sides of the face. NOSTRILS—The nostrils are large and open. LIPS, FLEWS, AND DEWLAP—In front the lips fall squarely, making a right-angle with the upper line of the foreface, whilst behind they form deep, hanging flews, and, being continued into the pendent folds of loose skin about the neck, constitute the dewlap, which is very pronounced. These characters are found, though in a less degree, in the bitch. NECK, SHOULDERS, AND CHEST—The neck is long, the shoulders muscular and well sloped backwards; the ribs are well sprung, and the chest well let down between the forelegs, forming a deep keel. LEGS AND FEET—The fore-legs are straight and large in bone, with elbows squarely set; the feet strong and well knuckled up; the thighs and second thighs (gaskins) are very muscular; the hocks well bent and let down and squarely set. BACK AND LOINS—The back and loins are strong, the latter deep and slightly arched. STERN—The stern is long and tapering and set on rather high, with a moderate amount of hair underneath. GAIT—The gait is elastic, swinging, and free—the stern being carried high, but not too much curled over the back. COLOUR—The colours are black-and-tan, red-and-tan, and tawny—the darker colours being sometimes interspersed with lighter or badger-coloured hair and sometimes flecked with white. A small amount of white is permissible on chest, feet, and tip of stern.