Bloodhounds, the most feared dogs on earth?

“Horrible story – three children eaten by bloodhounds.” This is from Frederick Douglass’ Paper. Unfortunately my camera phone didn’t capture the image very clearly so I can’t even read the issue number or date of the paper. Fortunately, I found another text of the article that’s easier to read. (See below)

I was at my alma mater St. John Fisher College yesterday for a day long conference on Frederick Douglass and Ireland. Scattered around the room where actual issues of Douglass’ newspapers. I love history, and am always fascinated by the way the past mirrors the present. I’ll talk more about abolition later this week, but today I just wanted to share an animal-related thought that jumped out at me as I read the stories from the 1850s.

In one of the papers – and my stupid camera phone took such a terrible photo that I can’t even read what the date or issue is – there was a story about bloodhounds eating three children. I found another copy of the story that’s much easier to read:

The text of the article

In the days of slavery, bloodhounds were bred to track (and sometimes kill) runaway slaves . The mere mention of the word “bloodhound” caused panic in the hearts of not only those who might be their prey, but everyone else in the community. Why? Because bloodhounds were dangerous dogs and you didnt want one near you or your family. At all. Ever. The newspapers of the day were full of accounts like this – real and exaggerated – and word of mouth only helped spread the fear.

Sound familiar? Every generation has its most feared breed – over the decades that breed has been Rottweiler, Doberman, Bloodhound, and today, Pit Bull. Is there a legitmate reason to fear a dog bred for nefarious purposes? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean that every dog in the breed is bred and trained to be vicious. And even if they were used for those purposes at one time, it doesn’t mean they are forever destined for evil. Dogs, like humans, are in the end a product of both their genetics and their environments. I’m sure there would be few of us who would be frightened of a bloodhound today.

It’s just a thought I wanted to share, especially on the heels of the story I shared this week about the pit bull mix newborn pups and local organization Pitty Love Rescue. Because of breed myth, some of the rescue’s amazingly wonderful, kind, smart, gentle dogs don’t even get a look when families are looking for a canine companion. People want little dogs (which are notoriously terrible with children, by the way) or Labs or Goldens (great family dogs but so overbred to meet demand that we’re seeing a huge increase in behavior and health problems).

Why not take a minute to educate yourself about Pit Bulls? Here are some of the amazing dogs looking for homes – Indigo pictured below, is the amazing mother dog featured in my other story this week:

Why should you consider an adult dog, you ask? For one thing, these dogs have been living with actual foster families alongside other dogs/cats/kids and so their temperments, likes/dislikes, etc. have been examined, addressed and are relatively predictable. An adult dog has a quicker housetraining adjustment (because it’s important to remember every dog needs a little time to figure out the potty routine). There’s no “puppy adolescence” teething to deal with. And you’ll get lots of love from an adult dog grateful for a loving furever home!


  • Annie McKillop

    Hello Joanne,
    I have been researching pit bulls this week as a result of 3 children being killed by pit bulls in the span of a week last month. I too am an animal person with an open mind.
    My experience with pit bulls dates back to college when a friend of mine mentioned he liked to play wrestle with his pit bull. I looked after his dog for one night and noted that it was using a great deal of force on my body which I had not experienced in dogs before.
    Later, as a young professional, I brought my dachshunds with me to a friend’s house. A girl vet tech in the home had rescued a pit bull that was shot through the head by its owner. She had spent thousands to save the dog’s life. When we arrived, she demanded I leave for fear of my dog being eaten.
    I lived in East Los Angeles in the late 90s. My neighbors belonged to the notorious Ave’s Gang. They bred pit bulls to assure the safety of their home, and to fend off another neighbor’s pit bull that was popping the heads off their mother’s Chihuahuas in her front yard.
    We also walked our dogs at Griffith Park until my dogs and I were attacked three times by pit bulls. In one incident, two dogs ran full speed from their owner’s release to me with the intent of devouring my dachshund. I dropped to the ground kneeling over my dog. As the massive white pit bull approached, I made
    menacing powerful eye contact with the dog and somehow made it fully aware that I would eat my own dog first. Apparently I speak pit bull when necessary because he was instantly afraid. We were later run off the street by two loose pit bulls who regularly leaped 10 feet in the air to escape their pen and prowl our neighborhood. Needless to say, I changed my view about pit bulls.
    In researching the origins of the breed last night, I learned that they may be descended from mastiff / great dane size beasts called Cuban bloodhounds, Siberian bloodhounds, or more commonly bloodhounds “man eaters”. English bloodhounds aka modern bloodhounds were not imported until after 1880. Years ago I researched the history of modern day red nose pit bulls. The gangs in L.A. covet this version of pit bull. Their origins go back to the deep south and slavery
    which ties in to the art and history of the pre-1880 American “blood” hound- a large pit bull bred to kill.
    I am friends with a woman in our area who runs a rescue for pit bulls. I tell her my experiences, but she keeps going with the same commonly accepted claims that pit bulls make great family dogs. In 2012 a rescue employee was eaten by her rescue pit bulls-dead. Last week a child was pulled out the window and devoured in the back yard. I know what happened to him because I know what happened to the neighbor’s Chihuahua when one half of his headless body remained inside the fence to his yard. I don’t care what pit bull advocates say because the father from your referenced article is a timeless example
    of what our natural response will always be. Any person who sees a pit bull,unprovoked, normally loyal, always muscular, doing the job humans bred it to do will steer clear. Sadly, they may become more popular because we are a more violent society. If we love peace, a poodle is a better choice.