Clean Boot

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Hunting the Clean Boot

Hunting the Clean Boot, is the term that has traditionally been used in Britain to refer to the use of bloodhounds to follow natural human scent.
"Clean Boot" refers to the fact that there is no artificial scent such as anicede or the fox scent used in drag-hunting
In the United States, and hence in the rest of the English speaking world, the term has been superseded by "trailing", which leaves the impression of a dog working on a harness and lead, which restricts hunting.
In practice, for police and SAR work this remains the practical way of handling.   Hence, with a bloodhound, it is the handler who is doing the trailing, while the hound is trying to hunt!
In Britain, other breeds have superseded the Bloodhound as a "sniffer"-dog.   This term generally refers to a dog of the Kennel Club (KC) Working Group, which tends to be more responsive to what a dominant caucasian male homo sapien expects of a dog.   Hence, when a bloodhound is taken on by a police officer, in Britain, it is thought to be newsworthy.   In fact over the years "amateur" bloodhound handlers have been making a silent, but significant contribution to police work.
In Britain, the bloodhound is more renowned for the sport it provides.   Originally, bloodhound packs were followed mounted, and there are over a dozen packs in Britain which hunt the clean boot, financed by this equestrian sport.
Around the turn of the century, the sport was extended to commoners, who followed on foot.   This was given respectability through the Kennel Club, who first through the Association of Bloodhound Breeders (ABB) and the Bloodhound Hunt Club (BHC) licensed field trials for the sport.
The sport has always been enjoyed by only a small minority, and only the ABB survived the war years.   However, since the 1960s, another breed society recognised by the KC, which until then had only held shows, the Bloodhound Club (BC), also started Spring and Autumn Trials, licensed by the KC.
The BC had come into being as a result of differences in opinion of those within the breed in Britain. After the second world war, faced with a dwindling population of bloodhounds, there was a need for new blood to revive the health and vigour of the breed.
The "purists" in the breed sought to recover the vigour from bloodhounds breed from British KC-registered stock that had been exported to the USA and Canada before the war.
At the same time, there were huntsmen who thought that the breed should be preserved through stock that had retained the ability to hunt rather than the exagerated looks associated with the KC bloodhound.
Thus was born, the Dumfriesshire Outcross
There remained a section of bloodhound breeders in Britain who steadfastly refused to have this "outcross" in their lines, thus establishing the Bloodhound Club.
The KC played a neutral role, and once the outcross had gone through several generations of inbreeding, lines containing the Dumfriesshire Outcross were accepted into the pool of KC-registered bloodhounds.
Although there was great controversy through the sixties, by the nineties, only four kennels in Britain did not have the outcross in their lines.
Meanwhile the Masters of Bloodhounds Association had started their own register of packs.   Although they could draw on the pool of KC-registered hounds, which they politely refer to as "pure" bloodhounds, blood from other hunting breeds has been introduced to improve the health, vigour and hunting ability of the MDBA-registered bloodhound.

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