One of America’s native breeds, the American Foxhound is also one of our rarest. This tall hound sports a close, hard coat that can be any color. The Foxhound in this country is used for four purposes, thus calling for hounds of different characteristics: competitive field trial hounds and “trail” hounds (speed is most important), fox hunting hounds (slow workers with good voices), and pack hounds (15 to 20 hounds or more, used by hunt clubs and farmers).
- Personality: Sweet-tempered and easygoing, but also stubborn and independent
- Energy Level: Very Active; They could be called “Springsteen hounds” because, baby, they were born to run; lots of exercise required
- Good with Children: Yes
- Good with other Dogs: Yes
- Shedding: Seasonal
- Grooming: Occasional
- Trainability: Responds Well
- Height: 22-25 inches (male), 21-24 inches (female)
- Weight: 65-70 pounds (male), 60-65 pounds (female)
- Life Expectancy: 11-13 years
- Barking Level: Barks When Necessary
American Foxhounds developed from a line of dogs that were transported from England to the American colonies in 1650 by Robert Brooke, according to researchers of the breed. Brooke eventually established a breeding and working pack of black-and-tan foxhounds in America.These hounds were the basis of several strains of American Hounds. Hounds from France and England were brought in to further develop the breed in the middle to late 1700s.
In the early 18th century, additional English Foxhounds were brought into the colonies – this time, to Virginia. George Washington received a pack of foxhounds from his patron, Lord Fairfax, in the mid-1700s.Washington kept, bred and hunted American Foxhounds throughout his life and maintained detailed records and pedigrees that established some of the best early examples of the breed.
In 1785, Washington received several pairs of large French hounds from the Marquis de Lafayette, the most notable of which was a dog named Vulcan. Washington used the French imports to increase the size of his American Foxhounds.In the 1830s, hounds imported from Ireland were crossed with the now larger American Foxhound to increase its speed. Crosses between the three ancestral foxhound types – the English, French and Irish – ultimately led to the American Foxhounds of modern times.
While the American Foxhound was in the developmental stages, there were four basic purposes that the breed was being used for: a field trial hound (for competition where speed and a jealous nature were important), a hound for hunting fox with a hunter (a slow worker with a good voice), trail or drag hounds (speed being the only factor) and pack hounds (numbering fifteen to twenty or more, used by hunt clubs and farmers).
Although still an uncommon breed, the American Foxhound is still a lively but somewhat independent family companion and show ring competitor. Bred to be a pack animal, they do enjoy the company of other dogs.
Neck rising free and light from the shoulders, strong in substance yet not loaded, of medium length. The throat clean and free from folds of skin, a slight wrinkle below the angle of the jaw, however, is allowable. Defects-A thick, short, cloddy neck carried on a line with the top of the shoulders. Throat showing dewlap and folds of skin to a degree termed “throatiness”.Shoulders sloping-clean, muscular, not heavy or loaded-conveying the idea of freedom of action with activity and strength. Chest should be deep for lung space, narrower in proportion to depth than the English hound-28 inches (girth) in a 23-inch hound being good. Well-sprung ribs-back ribs should extend well back-a three-inch flank allowing springiness.
Their easy-to-care-for coats shed very little. Using a soft bristle brush or a hound glove will work well to keep their coats in good condition. Hound nails should be trimmed regularly to avoid overgrowth. Long hanging hound ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris. These types of long ears tend to hold moisture in a dark place, which creates an ideal environment for bacteria to start frequent ear infections. Teeth should be brushed regularly.
These are noble, good-natured, low-maintenance hounds who get on well with children, other dogs, and even cats. So, why don’t you see more of them as house pets? Well, Foxhounds come with special considerations. They need an awful lot of exercise, or they get depressed and destructive. A Foxhound’s single-minded prey drive must be managed. Their loud bawling is melodious to hound lovers but a nuisance to neighbors. And training and housebreaking these independent souls is a steep challenge for novice owners.
Depending on the size of your dog as an adult you are going to want to feed them a formula that will cater to their unique digestive needs through the various phases of their life. Many dog food companies have breed-specific formulas for small, medium, large and giant breeds. The American Foxhound is a large breed and has a lifespan of 10 to 13 years.
What you feed your dog is an individual choice, but working with your veterinarian and/or breeder will be the best way to determine frequency of meals as a puppy and the best adult diet to increase his longevity. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
Some have been know to have hip dysplasia and ear infections but not enough to call it a chronic problem in the breed. While typically a healthy breed, some have occasionally suffered from thrombocytopathy which is caused by poorly functioning platelets and results in abnormal or excessive bleeding from minor scrapes.
Working with a responsible breeder, those wishing to own an American Foxhound can gain the education they need to know about specific health concerns within the breed. Good breeders utilize genetic testing of their breeding stock to reduce the likelihood of disease in their puppies.