The American Foxhound is a scent hound closely related to the England Foxhound. As the name suggests, these dogs were mainly used for hunting fox. Their ability to follow scents and track the prey, running it down with fast chase, is legendary. In spite of their hunting background, these dogs are extremely well mannered indoors. They make ideal family pets as they are very friendly, not only to the family members, but with other animals and even strangers.
The American Foxhound dog breed is one of the first to be registered by the American Kennel Club. They were first brought in from England in the mid 17th century, and became instantly popular as fox hunters. In fact, watching this dog chase foxes and overrun them had become an entrainment of the upper class in the 18th century. The high demand resulted in subsequent imports from not only England but from Ireland and France too, which led to changes in the breed over the years.
Breeding of this dog for the best characteristics gained the attention of the breeders of the 19th century because of the popularity of fox chasing, particularly in the Southern states. The highlands of Kentucky and Tennessee were popular settings for this sport. The pedigrees of the Foxhounds used in the chase were carefully documented to keep the superior bloodlines intact.
Several popular strains developed due to controlled breeding, and this led to the streamlining of the American breed compared to its English counterpart. George Washington Mauphin is generally considered the Father of the American Foxhound dog breed because many of his dogs gave rise to several of the most popular bloodlines. Walker Brothers also created some famous bloodlines. One such popular strain, referred to as the “Walker,” traces its lineage to dog called Tennessee Lead. Trigg, Calhoun, Goodman, July etc., are the names of a few popular strains.
Even though American Foxhounds are still used by hunters in large numbers, the number of registrations by AKC remains low. But it does not give the real picture, as the hunters who keep large numbers of these dogs do not bother with such formalities.
Taller and more athletic than their English counterparts, the American Foxhound dog breed typically stands at 24 to 25 inches at the withers, weighing about 70 to 75 pounds, but the show strains could be even taller. It has a long muzzle, narrow chest, and long, straight legs with fox-like feet. The low-set ears are folded, and the tail is curved. The coat is short and dense with copious shedding. It is usually bi-colored with brown or black in combination with white, or tricolored with black, white, and different shades of tan or brown.
The gentle and docile nature of the breed may come as a surprise since these dogs are well known as excellent hunters. But at home, they are easygoing, getting along very well with children as well as other household pets. However, they are independent, and may choose to disobey commands, especially when they’re chasing after a scent. Early and consistent training is necessary to keep the dog obedient.
The American Foxhound dog breed is blessed with the speed and agility required for hunting fox. They are particularly popular with hunters because these dogs could not only chase the prey and catch up with them, but also kill them, if required. These dogs have a natural affinity for wide open spaces, and suburban settings are the most ideal for them. However, leaving the dog off leash is not advisable in natural settings.
Grooming and exercise
The thin coat of the American Foxhound dog breed requires minimal grooming. An occasional light brushing to get rid of dead hair should suffice.
Being dogs of hunting origin, they do require their daily quota of exercise to be both healthy and happy. Long walks or jogs with the dog on the leash may provide sufficient exercise though.
Social interaction is very important with this breed; they do not take lightly to being left alone. Even though they are capable of outdoor living, it is ideal to have them indoors with the family, especially during the night.
Common health issues of Foxhound (American) dog breed
Foxhounds in general have excellent health, and are free of breed related disorders, as well as common canine health problems. In fact, they are not known to have any major problem other than a clotting disorder, or thrombopathy, but that too, very occasionally. The average life expectancy is 12 years, but with good care, individual dogs may live for about 15 years.