Information about the American Foxhound
The American Foxhound is a breed of dog that is cousin to the English Foxhound. They are scent hounds, bred to hunt by scent.
While every standard calls for the American foxhound is about 21-25 inches (530-640 mm) tall to the withers, and weighs anywhere between 65-75 pounds (29-34 kg), many of them (especially the show strains) are larger, with males standing 26-29 inches (660-740 mm) and females 25-28 inches (640-710 mm). Some breeders have theorized that this is due to the considerably improved diet the dogs receive. For years it was traditional to feed Foxhounds on a diet of “dog bread,” a variation on cornbread. The legs of a Foxhound are very long and straight-boned. The foxhound’s chest is rather narrow. It has a long muzzle, and a large, domed skull. The ears are wide and low-set. The eyes are hazel or brown, and are large and wide-set. The coat is short and harsh.
The American Foxhound is sweet, kind, loyal, and very loving at a home. As with all hounds they need careful training, constant socialization, and owners who are willing to give them ample exercise: a bored foxhound will find ways to keep themselves entertained and can be very destructive, some examples of destruction include everything from scratching at doors to tearing apart objects and, being rather long, they have the ability to take things from counter-tops. If routine walks are not an option, access to a secure yard is a good alternative; however the best option would be constant access via a dog door and a secure yard.
Intelligent creatures as they are, many foxhounds quickly learn to open gates or scale small fences to go wandering. While on the hunt the foxhound is a warrior, once a scent is picked up he or she will follow it neglecting any commands. Because their hunting instinct is strong they should never be trusted off-lead. Foxhounds are rarely street savvy and will follow a scent trail into the street where they can be hit by cars.
Foxhounds are easy to live with and thrive as members of a family; however, they are not ideal apartment dogs and shouldn’t be left alone indoors for extended periods of time. They do however, get along very well with children, especially small children; although one must always keep an eye when children and animals are interacting as it is not beyond any animal to bite or claw when they feel they are threatened.
Foxhounds do not make good watch dogs; while more skittish hounds may howl when they see a newcomer, more often then not they will greet the newcomer affectionately hoping for treats or scratches behind the ears. This is due to centuries of breeding; any hound that growled or bore teeth at its master would not be bred or in some cases put down.
Most scent hounds are bred to give “voice”. Foxhounds are not nuisance barkers but they do have loud, deep voices that carry a great distance. Although most people love the sound, many urban or suburban neighbors do not appreciate the deep barks or melodious howling of a foxhound; if an owner lives in such a situation it is advisable to train them with a Shock Collar for their first few months in residence.
They cannot be expected to act like retrievers because, though affectionate, they are independent by nature. Although a few foxhounds have been trained in obedience, most will not follow commands unless it suits them. Training a foxhound can be a trying experience, training a retired foxhound that grew up in a Fox Hunt can be even worse, they can be stubborn and often don’t respond to negative reinforcement well.
This breed is not generally a breed that carries genetic disorders. Overfeeding these dogs can easily cause them to gain weight. A minor health risk in American Foxhounds is thrombocytopathy, or platelet disease. While dysplasia was largely unknown in Foxhounds, it is beginning to crop up occasionally, along with some eye issues. It is not typical or customary for Foxhound breeders to screen for any hereditary disorders at this time.
The breed’s lifespan is generally 10-13 years.
The American Foxhound is an energetic breed. It needs plenty of exercise, for example, a fairly long walk followed by a game of fetch.
In 1650, Robert Brooke sailed to Crown Colony in America with his pack of hunting dogs, which were the root of several strains of American Hounds. These dogs remained in the Brooke family for nearly 300 years.
George Washington received French Foxhounds, Grande Bleu de Gascogne, (which look much like an American Bluetick hound) as a gift from the Marquis deLafayette. Many of the dogs Washington kept were descended from Brooke’s, and when crossed with the French hounds, helped to create the present day American Foxhound.
Though there has long been a rumour that the new breed was originally used for hunting Indigenous peoples of the Americas, this is not true. The breed was developed by landed gentry purely for the sport of hunting foxes. With the importation (or migration) of the red fox, Irish Foxhounds were added to the lines, to increase speed and stamina in the dog, qualities still prevalent in today’s dogs.
Today there are several different strains of American Foxhound, including Walker, Trigg, July and Penn-Marydel. Though the different strains look quite different, they are all recognized as members of the same breed. Most show hounds are Walkers, many of the pack hounds (used with hunting foxes on horseback) are Penn-Marydel and hunters use a variety of strains to suit their hunting style and quarry.