With their large soft eyes, pleading expression, and goofy personalities, the American Foxhound has to be one of the most easy-going dog breeds in the US today.
With their rich new world history, these hounds, originally bred for hunting, love to be active and on the move all the time.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t make great family pets.
In fact, despite their high energy and competitive spirit, these dogs make great canine companions and generally get along with other household pets.
Now I’ve never owned an American Foxhound, but I have owned a hound breed, a Basset hound.
So when people talk about the baying by their foxhound and neighbors complain about it, I know exactly what they are talking about.
In this article, we take a look at the many facets of the American Foxhound and the traits that have made them the breed of dog they are today.
About the Breed
By nature, American Foxhounds are low-maintenance, easygoing dogs that get on well with kids, other dogs, and pets.
Bred for their agility, speed, endurance, and work ethic, these hounds, although closely related to their cousin, the English Foxhound, have some distinct differences.
As such, the American Foxhound is more finely boned than its English counterpart and longer in the leg with a slightly arched back end.
First recognized by the American Kennel Club back as a breed back in 1886, these days there are many different strains of American Foxhound.
This includes Penn-Marydel, Walker, Trigg, Goodman, and Calhoun. And although each strain looks slightly different, they are all recognized as members of the same breed.
In fact, each strain of American Foxhound has been bred specifically for certain functions.
First, you have slow trailing hounds that sniff out and hunt foxes on foot and are well known for their musical baying.
Another variety of American Foxhounds is pack hounds which are used by hunters on horses in large packs of up to 20 or more.
While field trial hounds have been specifically bred for their competitive spirit and great speed.
And lastly, there are trail hounds that are used for hunting using an artificial lure instead of live prey.
History of the American Foxhound
As a dog breed, the American Foxhound’s lineage is steeped in a rich history of landed gentry and the sport of fox hunting in Britain and Europe.
As one of the first-ever dog breeds to originate in the US back in the 1700s, these scent hounds were bred for speed and stamina and to cope with the terrain in the new country.
But let’s jump back to 1650 when Robert Brooke sailed to Maryland in the American colonies with his pack of hunting dogs which later became known as Brooke Hounds.
Over the ensuing years, these hounds were then crossed with imported English, Irish and French hounds by American breeders in Virginia and Maryland.
In fact, one of the founding fathers of America, George Washington, one of the early breeders at the time, is credited with helping create the modern-day American Foxhound.
At his home in Mount Vernon, George Washington kept a pack of hounds that were descended from the original Brooke Hounds. And it was here he tried to improve on his pack hounds to suit the terrain in the US by breeding them with British Hounds.
But it was only when he received French Foxhounds as a gift from his friend, the Marquis de Lafayette, which, when crossed with his pack, helped create the American Foxhound found in the US today.
American Foxhound Facts
Did you know that despite the American Foxhound being made the state dog of Virginia in 1966, this breed of hound is one of the rarest registered breeds of dogs in the US today?
In fact, there are many more fascinating facts about this breed of hound dog.
Just like any dog breed, American Foxhounds will bark. But it isn’t their bark that’s problematic. Instead, their bays will land you in hot water with neighbors.
For these dogs have been specifically bred to alert the rest of the pack and the hunter to come running when they have located their quarry. And the result is a mournful, long deep howl known as ‘baying’, that can carry for miles.
Which, while helpful to the hunter out in the countryside, will not be appreciated in the close confines of a neighborhood. So city living is not recommended for this breed.
American Foxhounds, despite being domesticated, have not lost their love of the hunt. In fact, they are so single-minded about it that they can become easily distracted by the scent of prey.
So once a scent has caught their fancy, this breed of dog will roam if given a chance and won’t stop until they have located the source, which can take them miles away from home.
Secure fencing is not an option with the American Foxhound; it’s a necessity.
Extremely Active Breed
The American Foxhound was bred to be an energetic breed of working dog with boundless energy for hunting foxes.
These hounds are certainly no couch potatoes and require a significant amount of daily exercise.
As such, Foxhounds love to be on the move, and if left alone for too long, they can become destructive, looking for ways to entertain themselves.
Strong Independent Streak
Now you would think that the American Foxhound, with its ability to track prey by itself over many miles and then return with the prey to the hunter, would be an easy breed of dog to train.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. As one of the breed’s inherent traits is its strong independence streak!
For, after all, they have been bred to hunt with very little oversight from their human hunter. And it is this independent streak that can make training the American Foxhound rather challenging.
American Foxhound Appearance
Identifiable by its long muzzle, doomed skull, floppy ears, and large gentle eyes with an almost pleading expression, the American Foxhound has some other distinguishing characteristics, such as the coloring of their coat, size, and weight.
Here we take a look at the breed’s general overall appearance.
The modern-day American Foxhound is around 20 to 25 inches when fully grown, with female dogs coming in slightly under this size at 24 inches.
With the correct nutrition and plenty of exercise, these dogs should ideally weigh between 40 to 80 pounds as an adult. But as a breed, they are prone to obesity.
Both male and female hound dogs have hard coats of medium length.
The American Foxhound presents with a combination of coat colors such as black brown and white, and brown white, and tan, although the combination of colors black, white, and tan is most prevalent in the breed.
American Foxhound Temperament and Personality
As dog breeds go, the American Foxhound has to be one of the most gentle and tolerant breeds around today.
Seldom prone to aggression, they are easygoing, docile, love children, and enjoy the company of other dogs. They will even get along with other household pets and other animals if they are introduced to them early enough.
Although, they are known for acting shy and reserved around strangers and may even act timid in unfamiliar surroundings.
This breed of dog, however, does not make a good watchdog as they are prone to wander off if given a chance when a new scent catches their attention.
And they are also known to be stubborn and independent, which can make training American Foxhounds challenging.
In fact, Foxhounds love the mental stimulation of the great outdoors and are at their happiest when out exercising off all their pent-up energy.
American Foxhound Health and Care
With proper nutrition, health, and care, the average lifespan of the Foxhound is generally around 10 to 12 years.
But as with all other dog breeds, there are some requirements you need to be aware of.
First off, by and large, American Foxhounds are a healthy breed, although they can be disposed to obesity, which can reduce their quality of life and wreak havoc with their health if their weight is not kept in check.
More serious conditions include Thrombocytopathy caused by poorly functioning blood platelets in the dog, which results in excessive bleeding from minor bumps.
Hip dysplasia, a deformity of the hip, and Pelger-Huet anomaly, a hereditary disorder where white blood cells don’t mature normally, are another two serious conditions that can affect these hound dogs.
While minor ailments such as ear infections are also more common in these long-eared breeds.
Foxhounds are pretty low maintenance when it comes to grooming requirements. The only drawback is that with their short hard texture coats, they tend to shed.
So regular brushing with a hound glove, a rubber grooming mitt, or a bristle brush is required at least once a week.
Also, these dogs should have their ears cleaned out with a damp cloth at least once a week to remove foreign matter and prevent the build-up of wax which can lead to ear infections.
Regular brushing of their teeth is also recommended, as is nail trimming if required.
The American Foxhound was bred to be an active breed despite how laidback it appears. And it is this very trait that will largely determine whether this breed of dog is best suited for you.
For American Foxhounds need space and plenty of it to run around for hours on end. Apartment living will not cut it, as this breed of dog needs to run to release all its pent-up energy.
In fact, Foxhounds are ideally suited to active families who are prepared to take them for a long jog or spend hours with them at the dog park as they run around.
As a result, if the dog doesn’t get enough exercise, it will become more prone to behavioral issues such as depression, being destructive, or given to excessive vocalization.
And as such, the American Foxhound loves to play games that challenge their sense of smell and will tire them out physically and mentally.
Food and Diet
Hound dogs are big eaters, and the American Foxhound is certainly no different.
Unfortunately, this breed can be predisposed to obesity, so a careful eye needs to be kept on their weight.
As an active dog breed, the Foxhound requires a steady diet of high-quality meat and vegetables to meet all their nutritional requirements.
Generally speaking, the amount of dry dog food they consume should be proportionate to their activity level to prevent obesity.
Therefore, an adult foxhound should be fed three to four cups of high-quality dog food daily, divided into three meals. While a foxhound puppy should be fed two cups of food each day, divided into three meals.
In fact, studies have proven that overfeeding a dog is detrimental to both hip and elbow dysplasia, so it is wise to ensure your dog is in good form and not overweight to prevent potential health issues.
American Foxhound Training
While easygoing and gentle, the American Foxhound dog has an independent and stubborn nature, a common trait in hounds.
And it is for this reason, it is recommended that this breed of dog is not suited for novice owners.
Foxhounds require an owner that is consistent, firm, and above all, patient; after all, they have been bred to hunt with minimal direction from humans.
And if the hound has been raised in a pack in the company of other dogs, training will be that much more challenging.
In fact, it is recommended that even if the foxhound has been raised around people, it will benefit from obedience class training.
Additionally, just like every other breed, Foxhounds need early socialization from pups to expose them to sights, sounds, people, and experiences, which will help them grow into friendly, well-rounded dogs.
Relationship with Family
With its easy-going, gentle, laid-back nature, the American Foxhound is a great addition to a human family.
Child friendly, these dogs are not prone to aggression and have even been known to let young toddlers learn how to walk by holding onto their tails.
Foxhounds are an active breed that requires plenty of space to run around, and a secure fenced-in yard. And if you are looking for a watchdog, the American Foxhound is not the breed for the job due to their friendly nature.
They are best suited to active families who will indulge their high energy levels and take them for at least two hours of exercise daily.
And while they enjoy the company of other dogs, in fact, they thrive on their company; it is advisable that you don’t pair them with other breeds, such as Siberian Huskies who like to howl.
Sadly, despite being one of the rarer dog breeds in the US, many American Foxhounds find their way into shelters and are in need of fostering and adoption.
This is in part due to owners having no clear understanding of what owning this breed of dog entails.
But worth repeating again is that this breed of dog is really not suited to confined spaces or with owners that are not prepared to provide the dog with the exercise it requires.
But if you have the space available and the time and energy to keep up with this lovable breed, you will always have a devoted canine companion at your side.
Above all, if the American Foxhound is for you, remember to adopt before you shop!