The American Foxhound is the first and most noble American hunting dog. Born of the American Revolution and developed by the gentries of both England and France for hunting foxes, the lineage of the State Dog of Virginia dates back 700 years. Englishman Robert Brooke first brought his ancestral hunting dogs to the United States in 1650. But, it would take over a century for the American Foxhound to gain notoriety, thanks in part to George Washington when the Brooke line was bred with the French, Grand Bleu de Gascogne—gifted from the Marquis de LaFayette after the Revolutionary War.
American Foxhound Appearance
Male American Foxhounds are usually between 22-25 inches tall and 40-65 pounds, while females are generally between 21-24 inches tall and 40-65 pounds. The American Foxhound is a tall, straight, and long-boned dog. Their ears are soft and set wide and low. Their eyes are brown or hazel, and also wide-set and low. Their short, full coats can be found in a variety of colors: Black, White and Tan; White, Black and Tan; Black, Brown and White: Blue; Brown, White and Tan; Red; Tan; White; Red and Cream; or, White and Red.
The American Foxhounds have been bred to be tall, fast, and very agile fox hunters, well-suited to the terrain of the Eastern United States and in particular, Virginia and the Southeastern parts of the United States. On a given chase, which could last between 2-3 hours, the American Foxhound ought be adept traversing several miles of coarse land.
TEMPERAMENT AND PERSONALITY
Mild of nature, happy and eager, the American Foxhound is the aggregate of the best of its lineage: English and French Foxhounds, Bloodhounds, other English Hounds, Irish or Scottish hunting dogs, and Native American Domesticated dogs. This lineage has given way to the American Foxhound dog we know today. They are expected to live between 10-13 years.
Also described as sweet and mild-tempered around children as well as other pets, the American Foxhound makes an ideal family pet. However, they may not make the most ideal guard dog as some describe them as really friendly around strangers.
Certainly, early training is always a benefit no matter the breed, but the American Foxhound generally provides a well-rounded package. Training will help with any independent streaks or backyard digging. Socialization is key because the American Foxhound was originally bred to be a pack animal. Some Foxhounds have lived in packs as large as 100 or more dogs, so if you are only going to have only one, be prepared to spend a lot of time with your dog. If not, separation anxiety may make them misbehave, become depressed or even destructive if left alone for too long. That said, a solid, hearty and daily exercise routine should abate many problems.
Though the American Foxhound is an eager and happy dog, the activity they require to maintain that temperament makes them a less than ideal apartment dog—after all, they are hunting dogs that simply require room to run, explore and smell the outdoors.
Caring for American Foxhound
Next we’ll go into what you need to know about caring for the American Foxhound.
Given that the American Foxhound is predisposed to certain forms of joint dysplasia, glucosamine and chondroitin supplements will be beneficial for a longer, more pain-free life. Check with your veterinarian to find out when to begin them. That, and a balanced, high quality and predominantly meat diet which is also high in fats will help your American Foxhound live a healthier and happier life. When reading their food labels, try to check that the meats and fats are listed at the top like: chicken, turkey, duck, salmon or beef. Protein facilitates the best growth for their bones, muscles and skin.
Besides a healthy diet, the American Foxhound also requires at least 90 minutes of exercise per day, so if you are an avid and outdoorsy person who likes hiking, running and camping or other sports, and has ambition to bring your hunting dog(s) along on adventures, then this is a good dog candidate for you. But if you are rather sedentary, then this is likely not the best dog fit for you as the American Foxhound may certainly become quite rebellious. Even so, the American Foxhound is ready to relax as the most quintessential hearth dog given a good, solid day of exercise.
House training or training in general of the American Foxhound is rather easy. They love cozy spaces, so a crate is a great option to utilize. And being assertive doesn’t mean you have to be aggressive, but more a leader. Gain their trust, be assertive and strong. Be the alpha. Certainly, it would behoove you to have an older, well-trained dog in the pack, one that could help you train your younger dog to better understand and appreciate the hierarchies of the pack, but if you start early, using a strong and authoritative voice, they will do what you require/expect.
Not only that, and with good, regular veterinary care, a healthy diet, the proper supplements and solid, daily exercise routine, the life of the American Foxhound may well be improved. So, be on the look out for some breed specific issues such as ear infections or joint problems. Having those big, floppy ears means the American Foxhound needs extra attentiveness to check for cleanliness and infections, so any ear problems can be alleviated with simple, but daily ear care. So, keep cotton balls or cotton pads readily available after those water outings. Also, in order to keep debilitating joint issues in hips or elbows at bay, you might also seek preemptive measures before the symptoms arise by giving daily food supplements as prescribed by your veterinarian.
The American Foxhound’s ancestors were bred for lengthy foxhunts, but on a rolling hill terrain, while this American dog is an agile athlete bred for the mountainous rivers and valleys of the Eastern United States. Certainly this makes for a poor apartment companion as lack of exercise could mean some bad behaviors might follow. But, walking, hiking, biking, running, and retrieving games would be paramount to a successful human-dog relationship regardless.