What Kind of Dog is Clifford the Big Red Dog?

We all have seen Clifford the Big Red Dog. From his hit kids television programs to his little books that are engineered to help children read, we all are pretty familiar with the firetruck colored puppy. With such familiarity it is possible for us to look at him and wonder… is there a real world dog breed that matches Clifford? Just what kind of dog is Clifford the big red dog?

What kind of dog is Clifford the big red dog?

Well the answer may not be so clear cut, as it seems that according to Norman Bridwell, creator of Clifford, he is a bit of a mix breed. Nowadays he is described as a Vizsla, but back when the Clifford books originally came out, he was described to be a Bloodhound. So let’s talk about those two breeds and draw our own conclusions instead.

Characteristics of these breeds of dogs


To start, let’s talk about the modern day description for Clifford, the Vizsla. This dog breed, while not extremely popular, has been around since as early as 1357 and originates from Hungary. The name of the Vizsla roughly translates into “searcher” in Hungarian. They are known to be sporting dogs and companion dogs, being an excellent hunter of fowl and small game. Since its recognition as a breed, the Vizsla has remained top dog (get it?) among its fellow sporting hounds. They have also been adopted into families as a simple, everyday companion dog. With its love of hunting being taken into account, you can expect that they are endowed with an incredible sense of smell and an easy to train demeanor. They have been described, in terms of temperament, to be patient, lively, gentle, affectionate, sensitive, and courageous. They are known to be good with children especially. But this is not so, however, with small animals.


Now let’s talk about the Bloodhound. This breed of dog is notorious to be rather large, unlike the Vizsla, which is a medium height. They were originally bred for hunting big game, like deer and boar, and have been doing so since the first record of them emerged in the mid 14th century, making it one of the oldest known dog breeds. It is believed that this species of dog may have its origins a bit earlier, however, as it is thought that they are descended from hounds once kept in the Abbey of Saint-Hubert in Belgium (chien de Saint-Hubert in French). This puts their true origin story to be as early as 1000 AD, or the 2nd century.

This breed is famous for its uncanny ability to track humans over large distances, even a few days later. The excellent sense of smell that it possesses, compounded with its strong tracking instinct, makes it the perfect scent hound. Because of this, law enforcement tend to use blood hounds all over the world to locate missing people, lost pets, escaped prisoners, and even in tracking down evidence in criminal investigations. They even have been depicted numerous times in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous book series, Sherlock Holmes. And true to form, they have made an appearance in BBC’s hit television show Sherlock.

In terms of temperament, the Bloodhound is known to be gentle, kind, sensitive, and tireless when following a scent. Because of their sense of smell, they can become a bit hard to train when on a leash. Despite this, they are known to be excellent family pets.

Which type of dog fits Clifford better?

So what kind of dog is Clifford? While it is possible that the big red dog is a mix of both breeds, I personally believe that Clifford is more of a Bloodhound. With Clifford being a bit rowdy and disobedient at times, albeit affectionate and loving to his human companion, one can see the similarities. Not only that but Clifford even looks somewhat like a bloodhound, save for the red fur and massive size. Thankfully, the Bloodhound and the Vizsla both wont grow up to dwarf your house anytime soon, no matter how much love you give them.