Good-natured, easy-going, athletic, and independent, the American Foxhound make excellent companions but only with some caveats: it’ll need lots of exercise and training. If an owner has these covered, this dog will be a loyal and sweet companion even for families with kids. Here’s what you need to know about this rare and precious breed.
The American Foxhound originated in the Mid-Atlantic states of Maryland and Virginia. European settlers arrived in the colonies in the 1700s and brought their hounds with them. A product of several generations of crossbreeding English, Irish, and French hounds, this foxhound has all the traits of its cousins except that it’s taller, lighter, faster, and with a keener sense of smell—just the perfect companion for life in a hunt country.
George Washington was one of the avid breeders of this hound. His estate in Mount Vernon were the homes of English Foxhounds and the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, which Marquis de Lafayette gave to him. With the help of his pack of hounds, George Washington became one of the key people in the breed’s development.
In 1966, the state of Virginia has designated the American Foxhound as its state dog. Today, the breed exists in four different types: field trial hounds, which are known for their speed and competitive nature; pack hounds, which hunters on horsebacks use in packs of 15 or more; trail hounds, which are bred specifically for performance and are used in dog racing; and fox-hunting hounds, which are trained to track and chase foxes.
Although generally sweet-natured, this hound isn’t your average family dog. American Foxhounds can have a stubborn streak that makes training very challenging. Because of their keen sense of smell, they can get engrossed when following a scent that everything else will take a backseat, including their favorite human. Always bursting with energy, they like to roam and are pretty adept at navigating different terrains including water.
Just like any typical hound, they have musical voices. They’ll bay and howl well into the night so listening regularly to a dog concert is just part of the deal when getting this pet. Training and socializing this dog should start while they’re still puppies. Exposing them to various situations, experiences, people, environments, and scents ensure that they’ll less likely to exhibit any behavioral problems when they grow.
Taller and leggier than its French and English cousins, the American Foxhound sports a medium-length coat that comes in a combination of shades like black, brown, red, tan, and white. They have a broad and full head, large and wide-set hazel or brown eyes, as well as long floppy ears. They can grow to about 21-25 inches tall to the withers and weigh about 55-71 lbs. The males are typically larger than females.
Common Health Problems
The American Foxhound is a very healthy breed with very low risk for hereditary diseases. They have a life expectancy of 11-13 years. On the rare occasion that it gets sick, common health problems it could encounter are:
Thrombocytopathy is characterized by a disorder and abnormal functioning of the platelet. When a dog has this condition, its blood will not clot properly and this will lead to excessive bleeding. Even minor cuts and bruises will become a major problem. Some cases may be hereditary in nature, while others are acquired as a response to some medications and underlying health conditions like cancer, kidney disease, parasitic disease, and pancreatitis.
Treatment is dependent on the cause of the illness and can range from simply withdrawing them from causative drugs or giving the dog platelet or whole blood transfusion. Aside from medical intervention, owners will have to make some living adjustments at home to ensure they don’t get injured.
Hounds love food and would likely gobble up loads of it whenever it has the opportunity. Thus, obesity can be a problem if you don’t measure its food and it’s not exercised as much as it needs to. In the long term, obesity could lead to health problems like hypertension, heat intolerance, diabetes, osteoarthritis, tumor, difficulty in breathing, and lowered immune function. Thus, before any lasting health damage occurs, it’s best to put the dog on a strict diet and encourage physical activities.
Tips for Taking Care of an American Foxhound
Think this laid-back pooch is the right companion for you? Here are tips to help you care for this pet.
When choosing a puppy
Make sure that you go with reputable breeders who can provide health clearances. Those who’ll take the initiative to ask you questions to see if this breed is a good fit for you is a telling sign that you’re dealing with a responsible breeder. It is also ideal if you can check the living condition of the parents and check out their behaviors. If you plan to raise the pooch inside the house, make sure you choose a puppy that’s already accustomed to being indoors. It’ll take a while for puppies to get used to behaving inside the house when the outdoors is all they’ve ever known.
Generally, an American Foxhound should consume 2-3 cups of high-quality food every day. It is important to note though that this amount of food can vary depending on the activity level, age, build, and metabolism. During training, you also need to keep an eye on treats consumed. This pooch can have an insatiable appetite and if you don’t watch it, you can be raising an obedient but obese dog.
With its medium-length that doesn’t shed much, these hounds are very low maintenance when it comes to grooming. A weekly session using a firm bristle brush should be enough to remove dirt and spread the natural oil on its coat. Bathing is also on an as-needed basis.
While you’re grooming your dog, make it a point to check the ears and remove any gunk or excess earwax inside. Additionally, check different parts of its body for signs of sores, redness, or tenderness as they could be early signs of a medical issue. If the nails don’t wear down naturally, you also need to trim it regularly to protect yourself from scratches and to keep their paws in excellent condition.
Although easy-going and friendly, American Foxhounds are scent hounds. Which mean, all obedience training can go out the window when it sniffs out an interesting scent. Thus, your dog should always be on a leash when you’re out walking with it.
It’s best to train them while they’re still puppies. And it’ll take lots of patience and persistence as they can be stubborn and independent. For this reason, this dog is not suitable for novice owners.
Ideal living condition
Because they’re bred to chase preys for hours on end, the American Foxhound will thrive in the countryside where it can have a spacious fenced yard as its playground. You can train it to behave well indoors but apartment living is not the best environment for it. You’ll have to deal with annoyed neighbors because of your pet’s constant baying and the limited space can bore your dog. It’s certainly not the best scenario for everyone.
The American Foxhound is a rare breed that will take lots of effort to train and housebreak. But if you can afford the patience needed to train this pooch, you’ll have a clever and sweet-tempered companion who’s friendly with children and other pets.