The American Foxhound dog breed is most probably the oldest breed of American hounds. This breed was developed in the USA and selected for fox hunting. Its ancestors are English, French and Irish hounds.
Its origin dates back to 1650, when hounds were brought to Maryland by an English lord, Robert Brooke. It is thought that these were Irish kerry beagles. Red foxes were also imported to the new world and fox hunting became a popular sport among the aristocracy, hence the need for a dog that would perform well in this type of hunting.
Even George Washington, the first US president, was instrumental in the birth of the American Foxhound. He was a real dog breeder as well as a foxhunting enthusiast. The story goes that in 1785 he received a gift of French hunting dogs from General La Fayette, which he crossed with Brooke’s English Foxhounds and later with other hunting dogs imported from Europe. Around 1830, Irish hunting dogs, famous for their speed, and German tracking dogs were also crossed. From these crosses the American Foxhound as we know it today was born.
Unfortunately, the American Foxhound is a little-known dog, and despite its history and prestige it is not very widespread in Europe, a little more so in its country of origin.
Character of the American Foxhound dog breed
The American Foxhound is a very intelligent dog, but also very self-centred; it likes to be cuddled by everyone and always tries to be the centre of attention. It is very attached to both its owner and its family, but like all hounds it has an independent and autonomous character, so it is best to educate it in the first months of life. It is not difficult to educate as it always tends to try to please its owner in every way. It is not an aggressive dog and likes to play a lot, so it gets along well with children as long as they respect it.
It is also a very lively and tireless dog, very passionate about its work, hunting. You must be very careful with him as he is very intelligent and soon learns to open gates or fences to roam around. If it smells prey, it can wander off.
It is not an indoor dog and needs plenty of fresh air and exercise. If left alone frequently, it can become destructive in the house or garden, as it is very lonely. It gets along well with other dogs, being a pack dog, but not with cats unless it has grown up with them; it tends to see them as prey.
It is a hyperactive dog, therefore not suitable for elderly or sedentary people; it needs constant exercise and to keep busy and be stimulated both physically and mentally. Although he enjoys living outdoors, he also loves being indoors with his family. It is not a good watchdog, as it does not recognise humans, even strangers, as a threat to be reported and dealt with.
Appearance of the American Foxhound dog breed
The American Foxhound is a medium-sized dog, classified as a Braccoid. It is very similar to the English Foxhound, but is taller and more elongated and more slender than its cousin. Its build is powerful, well-proportioned and strong, its body dry and muscular, its gait loose. It can cover many kilometres in a day and in the evening not be tired.
The height at the withers for a male ranges from 56 to 64 centimetres for a weight ranging from 30 to 34 kilograms; the female usually a little less. The legs are in proportion to the rest of the body, very muscular but agile and agile. The tail is attached quite high and generally carried curved, at its base there is a very light tuft of hair.
The head is large and massive with a straight and elongated muzzle, the truffle in proportion to the size of the head is dark in colour as are the eyes which are large, rounded, brown or hazel, with the typical sweet and gentle expression of the hunting dog. The ears, as in all hounds, are drooping, have a low hanging and are long, fine-textured and fairly wide.
The coat is thick, rough to the touch, typical of hunting dogs and of medium length. It can be of any colour: tricolour, white-orange, grey, black-white. The most common are white, light brown and black.
Health and care of the American Foxhound dog breed
The American Foxhound is a dog with no particular health problems, but some dogs are genetically susceptible to thrombocytopenia, a platelet deficiency that leads to major bleeding even with small lesions, and hip dysplasia. It is sensitive to low temperatures, and while it prefers to be outdoors during the day, it is best kept indoors at night. It is prone to obesity and overweight, so it is essential to keep its diet under control and, above all, to give it plenty of exercise.
It has a life expectancy of 11 to 13 years.
As regards the care of its coat, it is sufficient to brush it once in a while, a little more often during the moulting period and a bath if necessary. The ears should be checked often to avoid infections.