American Foxhound Dog Breed Guide

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Introduction Of American Foxhound Dog

The American Foxhound, also known simply as the Foxhound, is one of the few breeds that truly originated in the United States, and is also one of the most rare. It resembles a taller, somewhat lankier version of its ancestor, the English Foxhound. The American Foxhound is known for its keen scent-tracking ability, its affable personality and its song-like voice. This breed typically is too friendly to make a good watchdog, being more likely to welcome strangers into the home rather than sounding an alarm or providing meaningful protection. The American Foxhound was admitted into the American Kennel Club in 1886, as a member of the Hound Group.

Male American Foxhounds should not be under 22 or over 25 inches at the withers. Bitches should not be under 21 or over 24 inches measured at the same place. The American Foxhound normally weighs between 55 and 75 pounds. The Foxhound’s close, hard coat may be of any color and is easy to care for.

American Foxhound Dog Breed Quick Facts

Adaptability4/5
Affection Level 4/5
Apartment Friendly 3/5
Barking Tendencies 4/5
Cat Friendly 2/5
Child Friendly 4/5
Dog Friendly5/5
Exercise Need 4/5
Grooming Needs 2/5
Health Issues 2/5
Intelligence 4/5
Playfulness 4/5

American Foxhound – Appearance & Grooming

Appearance

A large, handsome hound, The American Foxhound is a bit taller and lighter than his English cousin. The front legs are long and very straight. The ears are broad and pendant, are set close to the head and frame the face. The eyes of the American foxhound are brown or hazel in color, are large, wide set, soft and have the classic gentle, pleading expression of all hound dogs. The short, hard coat may be any color. The head is long with a slightly domed skull. The tail makes an upward curve, like a sickle.

Size and Weight

Males typically stand from 22 to 25 inches at the shoulder, and females stand slightly smaller, from 21 to 24 inches. Males weigh in from 65 to 70 pounds, while females generally weigh 60 to 65 pounds.

Coat and Color

American Foxhounds have a hard-textured, medium length coat that lies close to the body. The coat is designed to protect the dog from briars, burrs and brush that are encountered in the hunting field. “No good hound is a bad color,” is an old saying, and it’s true. Color is of little importance by breed standard and the coat comes in many colors. All colors and markings are acceptable.

Grooming Needs

Grooming the American Foxhound is a breeze. They shed lightly year round, but weekly brushing with a hound mitt is enough to keep loose hair under control. Only bathe as needed, when the dog is dirty or begins to smell. Individual dogs will determine how often bathing is necessary.

Check the ears on a regular basis for signs of wax buildup, irritation or infection. Clean the ears with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved cleanser. Trim nails once per month, if the dog does not wear down the toenails naturally outdoors. Brush teeth weekly (or more) to prevent tartar buildup, promote gum health, and keep bad breath at bay.

American Foxhound – History and Health

History

American Foxhounds developed from a line of hounds that were transported in1650 by Robert Brooke from England to the colonies. Mr. Brooke eventually established a breeding and working pack of black-and-tan foxhounds in America. It is believed that Brooke’s foxhounds of Maryland were used as the foundation for the Black-and-Tan Coonhound, another original American breed. In the early 18th century, additional English Foxhounds were brought to this country – 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, General 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.

The breed was developed specifically to hunt the indigenous American grey and red foxes in open fields, woodlands and river valleys. However, the native grey fox was fairly slow, and the native red fox was uncommon in the eastern United States, where foxhunting was becoming so popular. Accordingly, American hunters imported and released the much fleeter English red fox, giving hunter and hound a much more invigorating and satisfying chase. Eventually, the native and imported foxes interbred, creating an admirable adversary for packs and people. Foxhunting during early American history was primarily a field sport of the wealthy. The sport gradually moved across the mountains as the country also expanded west, and became popular among all classes of regular people.

Today’s American Foxhound is used for at least four separate tasks in this country, requiring slightly different talents in each: 1) in field trial competitions (requires great speed); 2) as scenting “trail” dogs (require great speed); 3) as foxhounds used to hunt at day and night (requires a slower, more focused hound); and 4) as pack dogs carrying upwards of 20 to 25 pounds, used by hunt clubs and farmers (requires great strength and stamina). American Foxhounds are prized for all of these qualities. 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.

Health

The average life span of the American Foxhound is 11 to 13 years. Breed health concerns may include congenital deafness, eye problems, ear infections, hip dysplasia, Pelger-Huet anomoly and thrombocytopathy. Overfeeding can easily lead to obesity.

American Foxhound – Temperament & Personality

Personality

Foxhounds are an excellent dog for active, rural families. They love being outdoors and have the endurance to keep moving all day long – and then move some more. Foxhounds get along great with children and other dogs (cats should be kept away, however), and if possible, should be raised alongside other dogs. Foxhounds are incredibly versatile – after spending all day in the field hunting with the guys, they’ll come home and romp with the kids, then sleep at mom’s feet when it’s time to go to bed.

Activity Requirements

Foxhounds were designed for stamina in the hunting field, and modern Foxhounds still have that never-ending energy reserve. Expect to vigorously exercise this breed at least one hour per day. Those who are not hunters or who do not already jog, hike or bike daily should look to another breed, as should apartment or condo dwellers. If a Foxhound isn’t getting enough exercise he’ll let you know. Destructive behavior, excessive barking and baying and neurotic tendencies are all red flags that a Foxhound needs more activity.

Foxhounds are hard working hunting dogs and can be utilized as trackers in the field. They can move for hours on end without getting tired, and once they catch a scent they become 100% focused on tracking it. This trait can backfire in home life, so when Foxhounds aren’t in the hunting field they should be kept on a leash or in a fenced-in area to keep them safe.

Foxhounds do best in multiple-dog homes. While they enjoy the company of people, they only truly thrive around other dogs, so adopting two at a time would be the most ideal situation for a Foxhound.

Trainability

Foxhounds are moderately easy to train, as are most hound breeds, but the trainability of individual Foxhounds varies. Some are easier to train whereas others are downright difficult. In general, they don’t have the longest attention spans, so training should be conducted in short spurts and should not be overly repetitive. Patience is the key ingredient needed when training any type of hound, and calm-assertiveness is also important. Treating a Foxhound harshly will only lead to avoidance behaviors and flat out stubbornness.

Once leadership is established and basic obedience is mastered, Foxhounds can be graduated to advance obedience, tracking, or agility activities.

Behavioral Traits

Foxhounds will bay and howl, especially at night and when left alone. This is just part of their hound dog nature and can be difficult, if not impossible to train out of them, and suburban neighbors might not be understanding of this behavior.

If a Foxhound is not properly exercised, separation anxiety is almost guaranteed to develop. It is imperative that this breed be properly exercised and left with interesting activities when alone to stave off boredom and anxiousness. Companion dogs can help, but if the Foxhound has pent-up energy to burn off, the companion won’t do a thing to save your furniture.

Photo Library of American Foxhound

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