Family-Disaster-Dogs: Mantrailing Bloodhound History

Bloodhound History

My Sammy 1 yr old Bloodhound Mantrailer
all rights reserved Amber Higgins

Not long ago, the bloodhound was the only breed in the USA that was a Mantrailing dog. Which is a trailing type of hunting dog that is used for find living human beings who are on the move and not animals.

A Mantrailing dog follows the person’s scent as the person moves and leaves a trail of scent. The dogs will go anywhere the person or scent has gone until the end of the trail or they find the person. Many times the person may no longer be living but the bloodhound will find the body because of the scent trail the person created. If a recently deceased body is moved the bloodhound will continue to follow the scent.

Other breeds are and were known as tracking dogs. And, the bloodhound was the only breed of dog that was allowed to be used to prove a person’s identity in a court of law.

Photo by A. Higgins all rights reserved

The phrase Mantrailing was first used by bloodhound handlers because the breed was used to trail people. Over time training standards and methods developed to be used to train newcomers how-to handle the breed. In the past, the breed was rarely only a pet and not long ago there were not many breeders across the USA, we as breeders either worked to find missing persons or to preserve the breed in the show ring. The breed was then considered a rare breed.

Here in America, the breed was first used to find runaway criminals and yes, runaway slaves back when the breed came with our founding fathers to build the USA. When Search and Rescue became an organized volunteer effort, the bloodhound and other breeds were used as search dogs.

Today in the USA, the incredible nose and stamina of the bloodhound continues to be used for “Mantrailing” with police and trained volunteer Search and Rescue teams.

In the last decade the breed has become more popular as a pet, although they are difficult to train in obedience and manners, and often are called stubborn because of the determination that has been bred into the breed to continue on a trail to find a missing person.

They really are not stubborn but very willing to please when they are not following their nose which they often do constantly because a good mantrailing dog is bred to do just that.

Photo A. Higgins-all rights reserved
Pictured above is my bloodhound Gus who I rescued last year after him and brother Sam were abandoned during very cold weather. They are young and still growing in these pictures

The bloodhound will follow a scent off a high mountain rock wall, up a train track even with a train coming at them because they are so focused on the scent its as if they are wearing blinders blocking out the surroundings.

The breed gets lost easily which is rather ironic because they find person but will get lost themselves. For this reason it’s always recommended to keep them leashed because once they find a scent they like to follow, away they go and many do not back track and find their way home. They will run for miles and finally when they stop they do not know where they are.

The name bloodhound is often thought to be given to the breed because they track or follow a blood trail. This is not true. The dogs are actually named a bloodhound because they were one of the first breeds of dogs that had a pedigree, Therefore it was a blue blooded hound or purebred.

The bloodhound was originally bred in a monastery in Belgium for over 700 years and the monks kept a pedigree of the dogs they bred, those dogs were called Saint Herbert Hounds. Back then the dogs were solid white. 

When explorers and travelers found the monastery, the monks would often give a pair of hounds to the travelers to take back to their own countries.

Consequently, the white hounds were considered quite sacred coming from the monks. When the dogs arrived in the other countries they were bred with local hounds and they lost their white coats. Slowly over time the breed became black and tans, liver and red in color. They also became known as the Bloodhound because they were a pure blooded hound.

If you would like to learn more about mantrailing, have a look at my books on the book page, I hope you enjoyed this post.

Happy trails to you in the new year, 

Amber Higgins

Founder and author of Family Disaster Dogs

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