When the first European settlers arrived in the American colonies, some of them brought their hounds with them. In the late 1700s, the descendents of these dogs were bred with imported Irish, English, and French hounds. The American breeders were aiming to develop a Foxhound that would be lighter, taller, and faster than his English cousin, with a keener sense of smell, to better suit the game and terrain of their new country. George Washington was among the early American breeders. He kept a pack of American Foxhounds at Mount Vernon and tried to improve his dogs by breeding them to imported British hounds. He also bred them to French foxhounds given to him by his friend the Marquis de Lafayette, a wealthy Frenchman who fought with him in the American War of Independence. These days, there are four types of American Foxhounds: field trial hounds, which are known for their speed and competitive spirit; slow-trailing hounds, which are known for their musical baying and used for hunting foxes on foot; drag hounds, also known as trail hounds, which are raced or hunted using an artificial lure instead of real prey; and pack hounds, used by hunters on horseback in packs of 15 to 20 or more.
While they’re mainly sweet and easygoing, American Foxhounds have the independent and stubborn nature that’s common to hounds. They’ve been bred to hunt with very little direction from their human companions, and they don’t necessarily see why they should have to do things your way. Foxhounds who’ve been raised in the company of other dogs, rather than with a human family, can be challenging because they’ve bonded more with their pack than with people. They’ll need more time, attention, and training to help them get used to life as a family dog. Like every dog, Foxhounds need early socialization — exposure to many different people, dogs, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps a Foxhound puppy grow up to be a friendly, well-rounded dog.
This is typically a healthy breed and isn’t known to have any hereditary illnesses. On rare occasions, an American Foxhound may have the following condition:
Thrombocytopathy is caused by poorly functioning platelets and results in abnormal or excessive bleeding from minor bumps or cuts. The treatment is based on the cause and severity of condition.
Bred to be a fast hunter who can run for miles, the American Foxhound needs a substantial amount of exercise. If he’s not going to be a hunting companion, he’ll need daily runs or some other form of exercise to help him burn off his natural energy. He’s best suited to a home with a yard — or better yet, an acre or two; he’s probably too loud for condo or apartment living. Often raised in outdoor kennels with a pack of dogs, the American Foxhound is used to roughing it, and can live outdoors if he’s got a good shelter and another social dog to keep him company. If he’s an only dog, however, he should live indoors with his human pack so he won’t get lonely. Obedience training is highly recommended to help the independent Foxhound view you as leader of the pack. He won’t respond well to punishment-based training, so use treats and praise to reward him for doing as you ask. And “ask” is the operative word. Hounds will flat-out ignore you if you try to boss them around. Keep an old Southern adage in mind when training an American Foxhound: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Recommended daily amount: 2 to 3 cups of a high-quality dog food a day. NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl. Hounds like to eat. To help prevent obesity, measure your Foxhound’s food before you serve it and give meals twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. You should be able to see a waist when you look down at him. Do the hands-on test periodically to make sure your dog’s in good shape: place your hands over his body, thumbs along the spine and fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel his ribs beneath a layer of muscle. If they’re buried beneath rolls of fat, your dog needs more exercise and less food. For more on feeding your American Foxhound, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
Coat, Color and Grooming
American Foxhounds have a medium-length coat that lies close to the body and has a hard texture, protecting the hound from brush and briars in the field. The coat comes in many colors; as the saying goes, no good hound is a bad color. American Foxhounds are a brush-and-go breed. A once-over with a firm bristle brush once a week removes dirt and distributes the skin oils that keep the coat healthy. You don’t need to bathe your Foxhound regularly — only when you notice a strong doggy smell or he’s gotten into something grimy. Other grooming needs include dental hygiene. Brush your Foxhound’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath. Trim nails regularly if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the dog’s feet in good condition and protect your legs from getting scratched when your Foxhound enthusiastically jumps up to greet you. Start getting your Foxhound used to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience, filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy vet exams and other handling when he’s an adult. As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Ears should smell good, without too much wax or gunk inside, and eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
Children and other pets
American Foxhounds are patient and loving with children, and it’s not unusual to hear of a child learning to walk by holding onto the family Foxhound. That said, as with any breed, you should never leave a dog and a young child alone together. They should always be supervised to prevent any ear biting or tail pulling, by either party. Bred for living in large packs, American Foxhounds are always happy to have the company of other dogs. A bored hound will find ways to entertain himself — destructive ways that you won’t like — so if no one’s home during the day, it’s best if he has at least one canine buddy. American Foxhounds can get along well with cats, rabbits, and other pets if they’re raised with them in the home. Even so, don’t leave them unsupervised with other pets until you’re sure they all get along.
21 Apr, 2016
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