The Foxhound - gentle but shy
The American Foxhound is a medium-size dog of the Hound Group, hunting by scent. They are related to the English Foxhound, but are significantly taller. American President George Washington played a significant role in developing the breed, using English and French stock to help develop this distinctive American dog.
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At home, the Foxhound is soft, docile and gentle. However, once of the scent of a quarry, they become single-minded and determined, and may be almost impossible to recall if off leash.
This is a good natured breed, and they get on well with everyone including other dogs and most cats. They are generally low-maintenance, sturdy dogs, but they do have a couple of characteristics that may make ownership a challenge.
First, they have an independent nature, and seem to have their own ideas about how things should be done, and when. This can make even basic house training a chore. Getting on to general training is a bigger step. We have a great page on the best dog training books HERE that we recommend you look at.
Second, the American Foxhound needs A LOT of exercise, and will become bored and destructive if left alone without getting out. They were bred to spend hours in pursuit of their prey, and they have energy to burn. They need 1 to 2 hours of exercise every day, which may be a problem for potential owners.
But if they DO get enough exercise, they are contented to spend their remaining time indoors with their family.
Third, they have a strong prey drive. They were bred to hunt and chase prey by scent, and if they pick up an interesting smell when outdoors, they are likely to take off. Walks must be on a leash. When allowed to run around free in the backyard, it must be big and well fenced.
Fourth, they have a loud baying bark. It's a long drawn out howl, and may be annoying to neighbors who are not dog lovers. This is an inherent characteristic of the breed, as they bark and bay on the hunt to let the hunters know where they are.
The roots of the American Foxhound are in England, when a pack of English hunting hounds were taken to America by Robert Brooke in 1650. Descendants of these dogs were owned by George Washington, and when he was given some French Foxhounds he bred them with the English Hounds to develop the the ancestors of the modern day American Foxhound.
They were bred by the wealthy land owners in Virginia and Maryland for fox hunting. Irish Foxhound blood was added to the breeding mix to improve speed and agility. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886.
The American Foxhound is taller than the English Foxhound mainly because it has longer legs, although it is a slightly bigger dog all round.
Height: 22 - 25 inches (male), and 21 to 14 inches (female)
Weight: 65lbs to 70lbs (male) and 60lbs to 65lbs (female)
Life Span: 11 to 13 years.
This is NOT an easy dog breed to train. They are independent, and seem to have a mind of their own. Even basic house training may take a bit longer than expected. It's a good idea to get a professional dog trainer involved early. They will help with the essential early training, and also show YOU how to carry on with further training.
Attending obedience classes when the dog is a little older will mike him (or her) much more pleasant to have around the home. Even with professional help, you can expect to need patience and persistence when training this breed.
It is very unlikely that you will ever be able to train an American Foxhound to return on command, especially if their are any interesting scents around. When you take your Foxhound out for a walk, it must always be on-leash, unless you live in the wilderness.
Although this breed has a loud, baying bark that carries a long way, it does not make a good watchdog because it doesn't feel a need to alert their owners of anything happening in the vicinity. They are just too soft and trusting of people.
Even if an intruder were to get in, this Foxhound would probably welcome him with a tail wag and a face lick, so they don't make good guard dogs either. If you want a dog to give you some protection, look for another breed.
The coat is short, hard and dense, which protects the dog from bushes and undergrowth while hunting. This dense hard coat means that grooming is easy. A weekly brushing with a stiff bristle brush or a rubber grooming mitt is enough.
A bath is only rarely necessary, if the dog gets particularly muddy or dirty, OR starts to develop a 'doggy' smell.
The ears are long, and should be checked regularly for cleanliness, foreign objects, signs of infection or injury.
The American Foxhound is usually healthy and robust, with few health issues. Those that may crop up are;
The National Breed Club does not currently recommend any specific health tests.
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