American Foxhound – General Description
The American Foxhound is a breed of dog that is cousin to the English Foxhound. They are scent hounds, bred to hunt foxes by scent.
Classification and Standards
- FCI Group 6, Section 1, #303
- AKC Hounds
- CKC Group 2 – Hounds
- UKC Scenthounds
Character & Temperament
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 including toilet paper, being very rambunctious 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 American 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. The American Foxhound is rarely street savvy and will follow a scent trail into the street where they could get hit by a car.
The American Foxhound is 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.
The American Foxhound does not make good a watchdog; while more skittish hounds may howl when they see a newcomer, more often than 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 bared its teeth at its master would not be bred, or in some cases would be killed.
Most scent hounds are bred to give “voice”. The American Foxhound is not a nuisance barker 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. They have a special bark: a normal bark followed by a high-pitched howl.
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 an American foxhound can be a trying experience, training a retired foxhound that grew up in a Fox Hunt can be even worse, as they can be stubborn.
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, Grand Bleu de Gascogne, (which look much like an American Bluetick hound) as a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette. 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 rumor 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 a bunch of different strains of American Foxhound, including Walker, Goodman, 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.
Size & Appearance
While standards call for the American Foxhound to be about 21-25 inches (530–640 mm) tall to the withers, and weigh anywhere between 65-75 pounds (29–34 kg), many of them are larger in structure (especially the show strains), with males standing 26-29 inches (660–740 mm) and females 25-28 inches (640–710 mm) and smaller in weight, typically between 40-65 pounds (20–29 kg). 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 dog is a Virginia Common pet.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. Overall, they are very similar to the Beagle, only standing higher and being larger. Their coats come in four colors: red, tri, black and tan, and blue.
Health & Maintenance
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 American Foxhound has a lifespan of generally 10–12 years.
The American Foxhound is an energetic breed. According to some veterinarians and trainers, it needs plenty of exercise, for example, a fairly long walk followed by a game of fetch.
- Jonathan Schlegel (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Peepe Peepe releases image into the [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- Jilly2 at en.wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons
- Jack Kennard from Atlanta, USA (Running of the hounds at the Atlanta Steeplechase) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- http://www.profi1a.de/dogwiki/index.php/Bild:Amfox.jpg [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
- W. E. Mason – “Dogs of all Nations” released into the [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- Peter Wadsworth (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
FCI-Standard N° 303 / 05. 03. 1998 / GB
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE ORIGINAL VALID STANDARD : 02.11.1979.
F.C.I. CLASSIFICATION :
- Group 6 Scenthounds and related breeds.
- Section 1.1 Large-sized hounds.
With working trial.
Should be fairly long, slightly domed at occiput.
CRANIAL REGION :
Skull : Broad and full.
Stop : Moderately defined.
FACIAL REGION :
Muzzle : Of fair length, straight and square-cut.
Eyes : Large, set well apart, soft and hound-like; expression gentle and pleading. Color brown or hazel.
Ears : Set on moderately low, long, reaching when drawn out nearly, if not quite, to the tip of the nose; fine in texture; fairly broad, with almost entire absence of erectile power; setting close to the head with the forward edge slightly in-turning to the cheek; round at tip.
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.
Back : Moderately long, muscular and strong.
Loins : Broad and slightly arched.
Chest : Should be deep for lung space, narrower in proportion to depth than the English Hound, 28 inches girth (71 cm) in a 23-inch (58 cm) hound being good.
Ribs : Well sprung; back ribs should extend well back.
Flank : A three-inch (7,6 cm) flank allowing springiness.
Set moderately high; carried gaily, but not turned forward over the back; with slight curve; with very slight brush.
Forelegs straight, with fair amount of bone.
Shoulders : Sloping, clean, muscular, not heavy or loaded, conveying the idea of freedom of action with activity and strength.
Pasterns : Short and straight.
Forefeet : Fox-like. Well arched toes, strong nails, pads full and hard.
Hips and thighs : Strong and muscled, giving abundance of propelling power.
Stifles : Strong and well let down.
Hocks : Firm, symmetrical and moderately bent.
Hind-feet : Close and firm.
Close, hard hound coat of medium length.
Dogs should not be under 22 or over 25 inches (56-63,5 cm).
Bitches should not be under 21 or over 24 inches (53-61 cm), measured across the back at the point of the withers, the hound standing in a natural position with his feet well under him.
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
- Skull very flat, narrow across the top; excess of dome.
- Roman-nosed, or upturned, giving a dish-face expression.
- Muzzle long and snipey, cut away decidedly below the eyes, or very short.
- Eyes small, sharp and terrier-like, or prominent and protruding.
- Ears short, set-on high, or with a tendency to rise above the point of origin.
- Neck thick, short, cloddy, carried on a line with the top of the shoulders. Throat showing dewlap and folds of skin to a degree termed throatiness.
- Back very long, swayed or roached back.
- Loins flat, narrow.
- Chest disproportionately wide or with lack of depth.
- Ribs flat.
- Tail long. Teapot curve or inclining forward from the root. Rat tail. Entire absence of brush.
- Forelegs crooked.
- Shoulders straight, upright.
- Out at elbow.
- Carpus knuckled over forward or bent backward.
- Cowhocks or straight hocks.
- Feet long, open or spreading.
- Lack of muscle and propelling power.
- Coat short, thin, or of a soft quality.
Scale of points
Ears 5 20
Chest and shoulders 15
Back, loin and ribs 15 35
Hips, thighs, hind legs 10
Feet 15 35
Coat and tail
Tail 5 10
Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioral abnormalities shall be disqualified.
N.B. : Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
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