The Bloodhound is considered by the Kennel Club a vulnerable native breed, defined as a breed with fewer than 300 new registrations a year. The number of  Bloodhounds registered is  usually under a 100 a year , but has remained relatively stable for the past  decade or 2 . 

The Bloodhound is  very much " fit for purpose " with many  of the top winning show dogs also competing and winning at the Bloodhound trials.

 

The UK gene pool has increased in recent years due to many Breeders and owners importing hounds and the use of AI from overseas.

The Association of Bloodhound Breeders and the Bloodhound Club formed a joint Health committee some years ago  and  produced  health assessment forms. 

The health assessment form requires a veterinary surgeon to perform visual assessments of the skin, of movement, noting in particular presence and severity of, weak hocks and weak hindquarters , Visual assessment of the eyes, body condition and a basic assessment of temperament . These can be helpful in demonstrating  any breed features are not exaggerated  and eyes and skin have greatly  improved in recent years.

The Current Joint Committee members are Chairman Keith Long , Elin Richards , Sam Clark from the Bloodhound Club with Fiona Mckenzie and Gillian Lamb representing the ABB.

The main cause of death in the Bloodhound is cancers and bloat / torsion (GDV)
The Kennel Club  have indicated they will explore research possibilities into GDV which would be welcomed.

ABB Health Initiatives

 

Identifying genetic diversity and degree of inbreeding

 

 

To understand the degree of inbreeding and genetic diversity within the current UK bloodhound population, the help of The Animal Health Trust was enlisted. Their report, following the analysis of ‘the complete pedigree records for the current UK Bloodhound population’ was published in 2009 and concluded the following:

 

  • Bloodhound breeders have within the last decade largely avoided high levels of in-breeding by making use of a number of imported hounds in breeding programmes (The Kennel Club’s Mate Select programme states that the average in-breeding co-efficient for the breed is 5.7%, which is respectably low).

 

  • There is some evidence of the over-use of popular sires i.e. certain stud dogs used on several bitches and having rather a large effect on the overall genetic variation of the population

 

2. Health Surveys

 

  • The Bloodhound Club had previously conducted a series of health surveys in the 1970s. It was felt essential to gain up to date information on health issues afflicting our hounds and useful to compare this with the 1970s surveys.

 

  • A health questionnaire was distributed to UK based ABB members with the Christmas 2010 magazine with the intention of identifying the health status of the breed, the chief causes of death and the extent to which members are carrying out health screens. The intention is to gather data every two years for the foreseeable future to ascertain trends over a period of time, and to gather data that may be useful in constructing a Breed Specific Breeding Strategy                                                                   Summary

  • A total of 124 hounds (44% dogs, 56% bitches) were included in the survey which is thought to represent approximately 20% of the current UK population of KC registered  Bloodhounds. This can be regarded as a representative sample.

  • The chief causes of death were bloat/torsion and cancer, a situation that has not altered since the 1970’s.

  • The principle reasons for non-routine vet visits were accidents and injuries, and ear infections. The incidence of treatment for skin issues and eye issues was much reduced since the 1970’s surveys were carried out.

  • Relatively low numbers of hounds are currently hip scored, and whilst the scores do not cause concern, the results are inconclusive due to the low numbers involved.

  • Owners seem more concerned about elbow scoring and a representative number of elbow scores were submitted. The average score is not a concern but some fairly high scores were recorded suggesting this is an area that needs attention.

 

3. Breed Specific Breeding Strategy for the Bloodhound in the UK

 

  • The Association of Bloodhound Breeders felt it would be beneficial to the Bloodhound breed to set out breeding goals that should be considered when planning a litter, with the intention of maintaining breed characteristics and improving breed health. In addition the Bloodhound has recently been placed by the Kennel Club on the list of ‘High Profile Breeds’ – we hope this document will be instrumental in removing our breed from this list.

 

The principle aims are:

 

  • The maintenance of genetic variation

  • The ongoing improvement of breed health and longevity

  • The maintenance of the functionality of the breed to perform the job for which it was developed. 

  • The selection for mental (temperament) qualities required by modern society

  • The maintenance of the natural reproductive abilities of the breed

 

  • The intention of the Breed Specific Breeding Strategy is not to tell breeders what to do, but is to provide useful data and information to help breeders make informed choices in their breeding plans. The document is aimed primarily at new breeders, as much of this information may be common knowledge to experienced breeders.

The death of a hound is a very sad occasion, whether it is a gradual decline or a sudden death. The health group records the cause of death of Bloodhounds as part of the monitoring process. They would be grateful, when you are ready, if you could let Fiona McKenzie know . They would like the age, sex and cause of death. Thank you