Lacys were developed to be an all-around working dog. Our new series, Lacys at Work, explores the numerous jobs the breed excels at.

jerry and diggerWhat is blood tracking?
Blood tracking is the art of using a dog to trail and find wounded game. In Texas, blood dogs are mainly used to trail wounded deer. Hunting leases in this part of the world range anywhere from $8 to $20 per acre and trophy deer packages may cost anywhere from $2,500 to $20,000, so any tool that can be utilized to recover a wounded deer is well worth the effort. Blood tracking dogs are trained to follow a scent trail of blood as well as microscopic scent particles eliminated from a deer’s wound. An experienced dog will also track the scent from the inter-digital gland located between the hoofs when a blood trail runs out.

How do blood tracking dogs work?
Tracking dogs utilize any scent particle that is eliminated from a deer’s wound or body to find the animal. These scents are not only limited to blood, they also include stomach material, other tissue and tarsal gland secretions. The dogs must be able to associate the blood track and scent it is following with one particular wounded deer, staying on track even if another deer has walked over the trail. An experienced dog will be able to avoid all distractions and remain focused on its task. When a dog finds a dead deer, they normally stay by their find and begin to eat on it. A live wounded deer is another story. The dog must be able hold the animal in one area by baying, and if the bay breaks, the dog must be able to stop the deer by biting it in the leg and keep baying it until the handler arrives to dispatch the deer.

Why do Lacys make good blood tracking dogs?
Two of the most important factors of a tracking dog are prey drive and the ability to please. The Lacy breed is very strong in these areas and has one more important quality, intelligence. Lacys tend to catch on quickly to any task and they excel at problem solving. This is very important in blood trailing when encountering tracks that have minimal blood, tracks where a wounded deer doubled back or even tracks that have been contaminated by other animals or humans. Lacys also have the ability to ground scent as well as air scent. They are medium nose dogs so they can take up a track that is hours old. Lacys that excel as cow or hog dogs can easily take the step to blood tracking since it utilizes the same basic principles of finding an animal, stopping the animal and baying until help arrives.

Where can I learn more about blood tracking wounded game?
The best book on blood trailing is John Jeanneney’s Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer. Jeanneney also co-founded Deer Search and runs a blog called Born to Track. The National Lacy Dog Association forums has informative discussions on blood trailing with Lacys. Nationally, United Blood Trackers provides numerous resources for its members, while Texans can find extra support at Texas Trackers.

This article was written by Jerry Gonzales, owner of Pedernal Bowhunts in Laredo, TX. He specializes in guiding archery hunts and tracking wounded deer. He also uses his Lacys for hog hunting.