American Foxhounds are a tall breed with a close, hard coat that can come in any color. They are taller, more streamlined, and faster than their ancestors, English Foxhounds. The breed has a large body for a hound, and their long heads are slightly dome-shaped. Their eyes are alert and expressive, and their ears are widely set. American Foxhounds carry their medium-length tails high. They are attractive dogs with considerable coat variety. The breed stands 21 to 25 inches at the shoulder and weighs 65 to 75 pounds. American Foxhounds can live up to 15 years.
Because the foxhound is a pack animal, it does best with canine company.
The American Foxhound is one of America's few native breeds. It is also one of the rarest in the country. Because the foxhound is a pack animal, it does best with canine company. The breed is also great with kids and can usually become friends with cats and other pets, provided they are raised together.
George Washington is considered the father of American Foxhounds.
American Foxhounds are sweet, affectionate, and energetic dogs. They are very gentle with children and are usually tolerant of strangers, but rarely accepting of them. When raised in a home with small children, the breed tends to become very mild-tempered and easy-going.
While this breed is not usually thought of as a companion animal, it makes an ideal house pet for people or families who desire a loyal friend to bike, run, or otherwise be active with. These dogs are not ideal for apartments or for urban life due to their loud, frequent barking and high energy levels. They become unhappy when made to stay indoors or alone for long periods.
American Foxhounds are happiest when in a rural setting, surrounded by other dogs and human companions. They must be given plenty of freedom to run and hunt.
Although the breed is generally a very healthy one, American Foxhounds are known to suffer from certain health conditions that require veterinary care. The breed is prone to hip dysplasia and ear infections, both of which require careful monitoring at home and at the veterinarian's office. These hounds may also develop a platelet disorder, called thrombocytopathy, that requires medical attention. Additionally, American Foxhounds are at increased risk of a genetic white blood cell disorder called Pelger-Huet Anomaly.
American Foxhounds have a natural need to run and hunt, and the breed also has a strong appetite. If allowed plenty of exercise, weight management should not be a problem. In dogs confined to homes or small yards, however, overeating may become a problem and obesity can develop quickly. Because being overweight puts dogs at increased risk of heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, some cancers, and other health conditions, it's crucial to provide hounds with adequate exercise and to monitor their caloric intake.
With routine veterinary visits and vaccinations, and with ample exercise and a healthy diet, American Foxhounds can live 8 to 15 years.
Because American Foxhounds were bred to run, they should ideally be kept on large farms or in rural areas. However, they can do well in smaller spaces if offered plenty of opportunity to exercise.
Training American Foxhounds can be a lengthy and frustrating process; the breed is stubborn and independent. These dogs are very playful, and this can come across as misbehavior if the playful energy is not properly directed. Moreover, American Foxhounds can be very destructive without training and attention, and the breed tends to bark loudly and incessantly when not exercised enough or when left alone.
Begin training early and focus on positive reinforcement, especially food rewards. Obedience classes might be beneficial in building respect for human caretakers. Socialization is also important, and the American Foxhound enjoys the company of other dogs. When outdoors around people or animals, these dogs must be kept on a leash. Backyards must be secured to prevent American Foxhounds from escaping and hunting. Electric fences will not hold this breed; their desire to hunt is stronger than any fear of shock.
With their easy-to-care-for coat, American Foxhounds require minimal grooming. A weekly brushing with a rubber curry brush or hound mitt will remove dead hairs and distribute skin oils throughout the coat. Brush the hound's entire body during grooming, as the stimulation will improve circulation and overall skin health.
American Foxhounds only need bathing when they become soiled, and a weekly wipe down with a damp cloth or cleansing wipe should remove most dirt and odor. If bathing becomes necessary, it's best done outside with the hound leashed to prevent running. The ears must be checked at least once weekly and then cleaned and dried as needed to remove dirt, wax, and debris. Otherwise, the breed may develop bacterial or fungal infections. Brush the teeth frequently with a canine toothpaste to prevent dental problems and bad breath.
American Foxhounds shed moderately, and this may become a problem during certain months of the year. Brushing more frequently removes some loose hair. Wearing a grooming mitt while petting the hound is also beneficial and can significantly reduce hair left on furniture and clothing.
American Foxhounds were bred to run and were used in the United States for four purposes: as competitive field trial hounds, as fox hunting hounds, as pack hounds, and as trail hounds.
The earliest recorded hounds were brought to the United States in 1650 by Robert Brooke. The descendants of those first hounds were the origin of several strains of current-day American Foxhounds, including the Walker, the Trigg, and the Goodman. Hounds were also imported to America from France and England during the 1700s, and records of the breed in the United States date back to that century in Maryland and Virginia. Importation of the breed continued into the 19th century.
Now, the breed is most commonly found along the Eastern Seaboard or in the Southern United States. American Foxhounds are usually owned by foxhunters, but they are also kept as companion animals in many homes.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the American Foxhound in 1886.