American FoxhoundAmerican Foxhound

American Foxhound

The American Foxhound is a medium-sized breed of looking dog known for its slim and athletic construct, long legs, floppy ears, and a quick, clean coat that usually is available in a combination of white, black, and tan. Primarily bred for hunting, the Foxhound has a keen feel of scent and boundless electricity, making them first rate hunters and tracking partners.

This prominent breed has a rich history and a lot of heart. While it looks like one of America’s most famous dogs, the hunting hound is much more than just a large Beagle. Despite its British and European heritage, the hardworking Foxhound is all-American and is best known for its melodic baying.

History of American Foxhound

Arrival in Colonial America

The story of the American Foxhound’s origin begins across the pond. In 1650, English Foxhounds were brought from Britain to colonial America by a man named Robert Brooke. 

However, the brand new frontier presented its personal topography and challenges, and it was quickly recognized that this breed wanted longer legs to cover a greater floor and pursue prey. English Foxhounds were bred with other European hunters in America, resulting in a hunting companion known as the American Foxhound.

George Washington’s Contribution

Perhaps the most famous breeder of the American Foxhound was George Washington. As it turns out, America’s founding father was also instrumental in developing the American Foxhound as we know it today. According to popular history, in 1785, Washington bred English Foxhounds with French hounds given to him as a gift by Marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman and American military commander. 

Later, the dogs were crossed with Irish hunters to create a faster animal that could better keep pace with American foxes. Washington kept careful records of his pack’s breeding and lineage, significantly contributing to the breed’s development and establishment.

Recognition and Legacy

The American Foxhound was first bred in Virginia and Maryland and gained AKC recognition in 1886. In 1966, Virginia recognized it as the state dog, acknowledging the breed’s rich history in the region. Although not commonly known as a household pet, the American Foxhound is bred and prized for its sporting capabilities and seemingly endless endurance. The sport of fox hunting has greatly contributed to the breed’s longevity. 

In fact, early American history shows that by the Civil War era, fox hunting was one of the most popular sports for Americans. Even today, this sport remains popular in equestrian societies, relying on the participation of pack hounds, many of which are classic American Foxhounds.

American Foxhound Health Problems

The American Foxhound is generally a healthy breed with a lifespan of 11-13 years. However, similar to all breeds, they are susceptible to certain health conditions.

1. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to loose joints and degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis). Mild cases can be treated with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications, but severe cases might require surgery.

Common signs of hip dysplasia include:

1. Limping, 2. Hesitation to rise or jump, 3. Shifting weight to the front legs, 4. Muscle loss in the hind legs, 5. Hip pain, 6. Bunny hopping gait

2. Thrombocytopathy

Thrombocytopathy is a clotting disorder where the dog’s platelets (cell fragments that help form clots) are not healthy enough to function properly. There is no treatment for this disease, so affected dogs should only undergo surgery if absolutely necessary.

Symptoms of thrombocytopathy in dogs include:

1. Nosebleeds, 2. Bleeding from the gums, 3. Small bruises under the skin, 4. Blood in urine or stool, 5. Excessive bleeding from cuts or wounds

3. Ear Infections

The American Foxhound’s long ears are prone to infections. Ask your veterinarian how and how often to clean your dog’s ears — clean and dry ears can prevent infections. You should also clean your dog’s ears with a vet-approved ear cleaner whenever they get wet, such as after bathing or swimming.

Characteristics of American Foxhound

The American Foxhound is a delightful dog breed, celebrated for its friendly and gentle nature. Here are some key characteristics that make this breed stand out:

Appearance: American Foxhounds are medium to large dogs, known for their athletic and well-balanced build. They have a sleek, muscular body, with long legs that give them a graceful, almost elegant look. Their coat is short and dense, coming in a variety of colors, often a mix of white, black, and tan.

Temperament: These dogs are known for their sweet and gentle temperament. They are friendly with people and other dogs, making them excellent family pets. However, they are also quite independent and may not always be the most obedient, preferring to follow their own nose rather than strict commands.

Energy Level: As a breed developed for hunting, American Foxhounds have a high energy level and require plenty of exercise. They love to run and explore, so they do best in homes with large yards or owners who can take them on long, daily walks or runs.

Sociability: These dogs are very social and thrive on companionship. They tend to get along well with children and other pets, making them a great addition to a family. Their friendly nature also makes them less suitable as guard dogs, as they are more likely to greet strangers with a wagging tail than a growl.

Vocalization: American Foxhounds are known for their melodious baying. This trait can be charming in the right setting, but it’s something potential owners should be aware of, as they can be quite vocal, especially if they catch a scent or get excited.

Training: Training an American Foxhound can be a bit of a challenge due to their independent streak. They are intelligent dogs, but their strong sense of smell and hunting instincts can sometimes lead them to be distracted. Regular positive reinforcement techniques are the most effective with this breed.

Care for American Foxhound

Bred for their speed and endurance in hunting, the American Foxhound requires a significant amount of exercise. If not used for hunting, daily runs or other types of vigorous activity are essential to help burn off their abundant energy. They are best suited for homes with yards, preferably an acre or more, as they can be too loud for condo or apartment living.

Typically accustomed to living in outdoor kennels with other dogs, the American Foxhound is resilient and can thrive outside with proper shelter and the company of other social dogs. However, if they are the only dog, they should live indoors with their human family to prevent loneliness. 

Obedience training is crucial to establish yourself as the leader, but punishment-based methods do not work well with this independent breed. Instead, use treats and praise to motivate and reward them for following commands, as they respond better to kindness and respect. Remember the old Southern saying: “When training an American Foxhound, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

Conclusion

The American Foxhound is a remarkable breed with a rich history and distinctive characteristics. Known for their athletic build, boundless energy, and melodic baying, these dogs have a storied legacy that dates back to colonial America and involves notable figures like George Washington. While they require substantial exercise and can be a bit independent, their friendly and gentle nature makes them excellent companions for families, especially those with large yards or active lifestyles. 

Despite their health predispositions, with proper care, American Foxhounds can lead healthy lives, bringing joy and companionship to their owners. Their historical significance and unique traits continue to make them a valued and beloved breed in both hunting and domestic settings.