This chapter is a reference of proven pure breeds for tracking wounded big game animals.
But... the best choice you may make for a blood tracking dog is the dog that is already at your house as a family pet, no matter what the breed or mix breed. I will talk about this relationship factor more in another chapter. But for now, here are a few of the purebreeds.
The breeds listed are each unique in many ways. I want to encourage you to think long and hard about getting a working dog to track blood because deer season is a short time frame and the dogs listed are working dogs, they will need a job and a place in your family 24/7/365. I don't who the moron is that came up with this concept that a working or hunting dog cannot be a family pet, but I would like to tie him up behind the barn at my house for a few months and see how well he does without any kind of socialization and human contact except to be fed oncee a day.
Although pure breeds can be wonderful when they are well bred, well raised, socialized and trained properly, please bear in mind registration papers on a pedigree is not a guarantee of good breeding or working ability. That being said, unless you know a lot about the breeders, and most people new to a breed actually don't have a clue what they are getting into, you may be buying an expensive show dog. Registration papers on a dog is not in no way shape or form, any kind of gaurantee that you are getting a good working dog. Too many people today are buying dogs and breeding and selling puppies and are only in for the money. The result of this kind of breeding for the money is producing good looking show dogs and pets that sell easily to the public at large, and thus make money for the breeder. That leads to problems for shoppers and buyers of working dogs because if you are new at this and you think a registry of working dogs maintains control of who breeds and for what, I am sorry to say that too many registries are only in it for the money like the breeders themselves.
As a Catahoula breeder, I am getting a lot of people who call me to get a new breed because the breed they have always had are now being bred for show and pets and are overall losing the elite, high performance, working abilities of a few decades ago.
I am a breeder of the Louisiana Catahoula, and I am not prejudiced to that breed when it comes to selecting a blood tracking dog for someone, because Catahoulas are not for everyone, and I will do a chapter on the breed in time. Right now my goal of publishing this book is to help you the deer hunter get to a point where you have a blood tracking dog working for you either this or next deer hunting season.
If you decide not to own a dog for tracking, because you do not have the lifestyle, facilities, and time for a pet/blood tracker, I want to encourage you to look into organizations which offer tracking services, such as Deer Search Inc. in the northeast, or Southern Blood Trackers Association here in Louisiana and keep their numbers in your cell phone in case you need a tracker on short notice. I advise you to call ahead and establish rapport with a tracker, so when you need him you already know who you are calling. If you hunt deer, you need a dog or a professional tracker with a dog on call.
No matter what breed you chose, plan on getting to know the dog, not just the breed, because even litter mates can be extremely varied and each dog has a unique personality.
In my opinion the best all around pure bred dog for blood tracking is hands down a Wirehaired Dachshund. I am reprinting a description of that breed written by John Jeanneney because he not only understands the breed, he and his wife have high standards for the dogs they breed, raise and train in New York.
This man has my highest respect for his contribution to the industry of blood tracking. He has tracked hundreds of deer on a voluntary basis. His book is well written and extensive in detail. If you want to understand how a tracking dog thinks, and get into it's mind and mental development, Johns work is well worth investing in and studying at length.
John is a scientist and well educated. He is also an excellent teacher. I hope to meet him someday. His book about finding wounded deer with tracking dogs has been very helpful to me, but is in a language that may be difficult for most common people to relate to. I am sharing this not to attack or critise him but, based upon what people have told me in our discussions of their problems with training and finding blood dogs. This is where I come in and speak a common language, that common folks with common sense can understand.
John has worked on over 900 tracks with his Dachshunds and learned a great deal about deer behavior after being shot, and has just published a new book last year about deer anatomy and the importance of hunters understanding deer anatomy and accurate shot placement.
Out of respect for John, I will not attempt to write my own version and I have copied his description of the Dachshund word for word below. He knows the breed better than anyone I have found offering insight as to exactly why and how this breed functions. Just my opinion, but the Dachshund is possibly your best choice for a pure bred blood tracking dog, because of their high performance, and ease of handling on leash(how most people must track). Note: John states upfront: not all Dachshunds qualify as blood dogs, because some have been bred to be pets, not working dogs.
THE TRACKING DACHSHUND
Written by: John Jeanneney
The tracking dachshund has nothing in common with the fat couch potato of the cartoonists.
First, he differs physically from the general conception of the breed. His legs are a bit longer, and his back is a bit shorter, which gives him greater agility. Dachshunds of the wirehaired coat variety are the most commonly used for tracking wounded deer. Many of them trace their ancestry directly back to Germany where they are bred for tracking wounded game, as well as for underground work.
More important than coat and appearance is the inner dachshund. A good tracking dachshund checks things out first with his nose. He has a scent hound’s line sense; he knows instinctively that a scent line leads somewhere and he wants to follow. He has a very good nose, and most important, he has the intelligence to use that nose well. With some experience, a good tracking dachshund learns to stay on the scent line of a deer, wounded the day before. He ignores the hot scent lines of deer that have just crossed ahead of him. A tracking dachshund has stubborn patience and at the same time a readiness to cooperate with his handler to find that wounded deer.
The tracking dachshund offers several special advantages. He loves human contact and is ideal as a family dog. On the other hand, he is not the dog to leave isolated in a kennel. A 20 to 25 pound dachshund is a handy dog, equally at home on a Four-Wheeler or on the seat of a car or pickup. Keep in mind that this small size can sometimes be a disadvantage. A dachshund is less likely to survive a rattlesnake bite than a long-legged, eighty pound dog.
Here is a link to John's site if you interested in buying his books.
Hanovarian Scent Hound is a new breed to me, but several people have them here in south Louisiana where I live and I hope to have a description written by someone who works one very soon. Drawback to this breed is, it is very rare, and thus hard to find one for sale.
Meanwhile, here is the best I can come up with for now:
The Hanover Hound is a breed of dog sometimes referred to as a Hanoverian Hound. It is a hunting and tracking dog descended from bloodhounds of medieval times. It was first introduced into France in the 1980s and is still a very rare breed. It was cross-bred with the Bavarian Hound, and given rise to the Bavarian Mountain Hound.
Appearance: These short-haired dogs range in colour from light to dark reddish fawn with a brindled appearance. They may also have a mask. Overall, the Hanoverian Hound is sturdily built with a large head, strong jaws and a deep chest. Their weight ranges from 36–45 kg (80-99 lbs). Males range in size from 50–55 cm (19-22 inches) while females are slightly smaller, about 48–53 cm (18-21 inches).
Temperament: Like any working dog, the Hanover Hound fares best living in an area where he can get lots of exercise and would not be ideal for city living. They are calm and loyal, but described as persistent and single-minded when tracking.
I have had the benefit of many people calling me with their problems and the one biggest disappointments, breed wise has been the Bloodhound. Short lifespan, excessive health issues, and for most people too much dog in size and hunt. They were breed to chase deer, and trailing blood is boring for this breed. If you use a Bloodhound to track blood keep them on a leash, because if they cross a hot deer trail they are gone. In my opinion not a good breed choice for too many reasons. For some reason a lot of people get this dog without researching first, I guess they think the name says it all. Wrong! It does however make a good family pet if you want a dog that may grow to over 100 pounds! Personally, I don't recommend this breed.
The Bloodhound (also known as the St. Hubert hound and Sleuth Hound) is a large breed of dog that was bred originally to hunt deer and wild boar, later specifically to track human beings by scent. It is famed for its ability to follow scents hours or even days old over great distances. Its extraordinarily keen nose is combined with a strong and tenacious tracking instinct, producing the ideal scenthound, and it is used by police and law enforcement the world over to track escaped prisoners, missing persons, and even missing pets.
Appearance: Bloodhounds weigh from 33 to 50 kg (80 to 110 lb), although some individuals can weigh as much as 72 kg (160 lb). They stand 58 to 69 cm (23 to 27 inches) high at the withers. According to the AKC standard of the breed, larger dogs are to be preferred by conformation judges. The acceptable colors for Bloodhounds are black and tan, liver and tan, or red. Bloodhounds possess an unusually large skeletal structure with most of their weight concentrated in their bones, which are very thick for their length. The coat is typical for a scenthound: hard and composed of fur alone, with no admixture of hair.
Temperament: This breed is a gentle dog which is nonetheless tireless in following a scent. Because of its strong tracking instinct, it can be willful and somewhat difficult to obedience train. Bloodhounds have an affectionate, gentle, and even-tempered nature, so they make excellent family pets. However, like any large breed, they require supervision when around small children.
Health and Illnesses
Compared to other purebred dogs, Bloodhounds have an unusually high rate of gastrointestinal ailments, with bloat being the most common type of gastrointestinal problem. The breed also suffers an unusually high incidence of eye, skin, and ear ailments; thus these areas should be inspected frequently for signs of developing problems. Owners should be especially aware of the signs of bloat, which is both the most common illness and the leading cause of death of Bloodhounds. The thick coat gives the breed the tendency to overheat quickly.
Lifespan and mortality of Bloodhounds in a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey had a median longevity of 6.75 years, which makes them one of the shortest-lived of dog breeds. The oldest of the 82 deceased dogs in the survey died at the age of 12.1 years. Bloat took 34% of the animals, making it the most common cause of death and the Bloodhound the breed to lose the most to the condition. The second leading cause of death in the study was cancer, at 27%; this percentage is similar to other breeds, but the median age of death was unusually young, about 8 years.
Quite possibly the best all around choice in a hound is the Beagle.
Beagle in my opinion is an excelent breed for blood tracking because of their size, hunt and ease of maintenace year round.
The Beagle is a breed of small to medium-sized dog. A member of the Hound Group, it is similar in appearance to the Foxhound but smaller, with shorter legs and longer, softer ears. Beagles are scent hounds, developed primarily for tracking hare, rabbit, and other game. They have a keen sense of smell and tracking instinct that finds them employed as blood tracking and detection dogs around the world. Beagles are intelligent, and are popular as pets because of their size, even temper, and lack of inherited health problems.
The Cur Dogs
Cur dogs are a southern tradition and we don't care what anybody thinks or says about them. Just don't say it to my face if my dog is turned loose. He may punish you and good!
Catahoulas are highly intelligent and energetic. They are assertive but not aggressive by nature. They have a need to take charge of their pack whether other dogs or humans. Catahoulas in general are very even tempered. Males tend to be more obnoxious than females, but Catahoulas are very serious about their job if they are working dogs.
They make a good family dog but will not tolerate being isolated, so some form of personal or family interaction with the dog is a daily requirement. When a Catahoula is raised with children, the dog believes that it is his or her responsibility to look after and protect those children. Many owners will say that the Catahoula owns them and they can be insistent when its time to eat or do other activities. Catahoulas are protective and a natural alarm dog. They will alert you to anything out of the ordinary. Every time I have over rode my dogs judgement of someone, I have lived to regret it. They read people like a book.
Hunting: The Catahoula is a very versatile and common working dog of the southern region of the United States and is seen on farms and cattle ranches across North America. These dogs are outstanding tracking and hunting dogs, commonly used for penning wild cattle and hunting feral pigs, squirrel, deer, raccoon, mountain lion and black bear. They almost always track silent and only begin to make their distinctive baying bark, eye to eye with the prey, once it is stopped. As a blood tracking dog, they will attempt to catch and kill a wounded deer that tries to get up and run, if they can't back it up and keep it at bay.
Because a Catahoula is a short range dog that checks back with the hunter repeatedly, they are excellent choices for a dog you plan to work off leash as a blood tracker. Many people who do not understands how this dog functions, do not like it when the dog comes back to check in. They will be even more frequent in the checks if it is a new dog at a new location. When they check in, praise them, and send them back out. Given time, and experience they develop more range, and adapt to your style of hunting, but I like a dog that is constantly checking back with me to make sure I am on track, because I like to work the dog off leash if possible.
For this reason, if you want a Catahoula as a blood tracker, get a puppy, make it your family pet, bring it to your hunting grounds as much as possible, and by all means consult someone like me who is available for you to call anytime if you have any issues. I am a breeder and a trainer and all most always have puppies on order and started dogs for sale. If you do not live near me, I may be able to refer some one in your locale.
Catahoulas do not tolerate being neglected and isolated in a kennel for long periods of time, and they will never work for you if you are mean to them and ruff them up or as we say "beat them" for disiplinary purposes. You must be the boss with a Catahoula, but they will never respect your authority if you are an angry abusive tyrant. This is an issue that I think applies to all dogs but Catahoulas are especially sensitive and unforgiving in this area, and more so, if you did not raise them up as a puppy.
Yellow Black Mouth Cur, Moutain Cur, Red Southern Black Mouth Cur, American Cur, etc, etc. are all so much like the Catahoula, I will not attempt to elaborate the slight differences here. I will say this being that I am a breeder of Catahoulas I am frustrated that there is so much myth and misinformation regarding the Cur breeds on the Internet. And on that note I plan to publish a book about Catahoulas as soon as this blood dog project is complete. In the mean time if you are interested in purchasing a puppy or started dog, I will be glad to refer you to reputable breeders in your area if you will call me at 337 298 2630 and we talk about your particular needs. I learn a great deal from my conversations with deer hunters and I do always appreciate your calls.
THE BLOOD-TRAILING JAGDTERRIER
Written by: Dennis Luton
The Jagdterrier (also known as the German Hunt Terrier) is a versatile hunting breed that was developed in the Bavarian region of Germany in the 1800's. The Dog Breed Information Center describes them:
Bred to be hunting and sporting dogs, German Hunt Terriers possess a spirit of liveliness and speed at work, yet are regal at rest. Alert, athletic, and active well describe the ambience of the German Hunt Terrier. A bit of fire is always evident in its expression.
There is indeed an element of regal dignity within the character and disposition of Jagdterriers. Their confident demeanor carries over into an outward almost-cocky appearance---clearly indicating that this is a dog that is not intimidated by anything. They are athletic and agile, and tough enough to slow down the nastiest bear or wild boar! They can be trained at an exceptionally early age which really cuts down on the time that it takes to produce a proven blood trailer. As a matter of fact, training for a Jagdterrier usually begins at about 10 weeks. So as soon as a pup is able to get out and run around the yard, it is time to put it to work on some blood.
Jagdterriers are a people friendly and become loyal companions for life. But with a very strong hunting drive they demand regular exercise and plenty of outdoor activity, so they should not be purchased simply as pets. The Jagdterrier has the nose, the savvy, the desire and the grit to trail any species of wounded game animal regardless of whether it is a deer, a feral hog, a bobcat or an African Kudu. They are remarkable hunting dogs that are an absolute pleasure to own!
Jack Russel Terrier is an excellent choice for blood trailing. They are well known and I don't think I need to elaborate on this breed. I highly recommend them for their working ability and ease of handling.
The Bird Dogs
Labrador Retriever is a great choice if you can handle the size and drive of the dog. Very smart and eager to please. Makes a great duck and blood dog all in one. The is a big myth that a dog should only be used for one service, and I couldn't disagree more. Also makes a great family pet when it is not hunting season.
English Pointer is a great working dog. But like many of the elite, high performance working breeds, you better be ready for them. If you are not, they will drive you nuts, due to intelligence, and the need to work.
This list is by far incomplete and I would appreciate any contributions you can make to add to the list of breeds that are proven trackers. If you would like to write up a description of a breed or mixed breed you use, I would be glad to publish it here. This chapter is easily edited electronically.
Once again, I want to advise you to consider the best dog for blood tracking may be the dog you already have at home as your family pet, no matter what the breed or mix breed it is. That dog may be just waiting for you to ask more of him and be more than happy to learn new tricks with you in the woods as a blood scent tracker.
If you have any questions I am Marcus de la Houssaye
and my cell phone number is: 337 298 2630