One of America’s native breeds, the American Foxhound is also one of our rarest. This tall hound sports a close, hard coat that can be any color. The Foxhound in this country is used for four purposes, thus calling for hounds of a different characteristics: competitive field trial hounds and “trail” hounds (speed is most important), fox hunting hounds (slow workers with good voices), and pack hounds (15 to 20 hounds or more, used by hunt clubs and farmers).
The American foxhound is slighter of bone and higher on leg than the English foxhound, with more rear angulation and arch over the loin. These attributes give it greater speed and agility for hunting over rough terrain. It has a melodious voice when on the trail. Its coat is hard and of medium length. Its expression is gentle and pleading.
Although by tradition the foxhound is not a house pet, it is actually well-mannered in the home. It gets along best with human or canine companionship. It is a tolerant, amiable and gentle dog, even though it is not very demonstrative. Most are reserved with strangers. It is first and foremost a hunter, ever ready to hit the trail. It needs daily exercise in a safe area. Once on a scent, it will follow gleefully, heedless of commands. This is a dog that likes the outdoors; it is not a city dog. It bays.
A Look Back
The American Foxhound’s origins date back to the early 1700’s in Virginia and Maryland, where it developed from the Walker, Trigg and Goodman strains of foxhounds. George Washington is the father of the American Foxhound – he ran a breeding program and often referenced his hounds in his journals.
Skull–Should be fairly long, slightly domed at occiput, with cranium broad and full. Ears–Ears set on moderately low, long, reaching when drawn out nearly, if not quite, to the tip of the nose; fine in texture, fairly broad, with almost entire absence of erectile power–setting close to the head with the forward edge slightly inturning to the cheek–round at tip. Eyes– Eyes large, set well apart, soft and houndlike–expression gentle and pleading; of a brown or hazel color. Muzzle–Muzzle of fair length–straight and square-cut–the stop moderately defined. Defects–A very flat skull, narrow across the top; excess of dome; eyes small, sharp and terrier like, or prominent and protruding; muzzle long and snippy, cut away decidedly below the eyes, or very short. Roman-nosed, or upturned, giving a dish-face expression. Ears short, set on high, or with a tendency to rise above the point of origin.
Neck and Throat–Neck rising free and light from the shoulders, strong in substance yet not loaded, of medium length. The throat clean and free from folds of skin, a slight wrinkle below the angle of the jaw, however, is allowable. Defects–A thick, short, cloddy neck carried on a line with the top of the shoulders. Throat showing dewlap and folds of skin to a degree termed “throatiness”.
Shoulders, Chest and Ribs
Shoulders sloping–clean, muscular, not heavy or loaded–conveying the idea of freedom of action with activity and strength. Chest should be deep for lung space, narrower in proportion to depth than the English hound–28 inches (girth) in a 23-inch hound being good. Well-sprung ribs–back ribs should extend well back–a three-inch flank allowing springiness.
Back and Loins
Back moderately long, muscular and strong. Loins broad and slightly arched. Defects–Very long or swayed or roached back. Flat, narrow loins.
Forelegs and Feet The forelegs are straight from elbows to feet, well boned andmuscular, with pasterns strong, flexible and very slightly sloping.
Feet–Fox-like. Pad full and hard. Well-arched toes. Strong nails. Defects–Straight, upright shoulders, chest disproportionately wide or with lack of depth. Flat ribs. Out at elbow. Knees knuckled over forward, or bent backward. Forelegs crooked. Feet long, open or spreading.
Hips, Thighs, Hind Legs and Feet
Hips and thighs, strong and muscled, giving abundance of propelling power. Stifles strong and well let down. Hocks firm, symmetrical and moderately bent. Feet close and firm. Defects–Cowhocks, or straight hocks. Lack of muscle and propelling power. Open feet.
Set moderately high; carried gaily, but not turned forward over the back; with slight curve; with very slight brush. Defects–A long tail, teapot curve or inclined forward from the root. Rat tail, entire absence of brush.
A close, hard, hound coat of medium length. Defects–A short thin coat, or of a soft quality.
Dogs should not be under 23 or over 28 inches. Bitches should not be under 21 or over 26 inches measured across the back at the point of the withers, the hound standing in a natural position with his feet well under him.
American Foxhound History
According to well-known authorities, the first mention of hounds being imported to America dates back to 1650, when Robert Brooke sailed for the Crown Colony in America with a pack of hounds. These hounds were the basis of several strains of American Hounds. Hounds from France and England were brought in to further develop the breed in the middle to late 1700’s. The pioneers of the American Foxhound were located in Maryland, Virginia and Tennessee with strains that included Walker, Trigg and Goodman hounds.
While the American Foxhound was in the developmental stages, there were four basic purposes that the breed was being used for: a field trial hound (for competition where speed and a jealous nature were important), a hound for hunting fox with a hunter (a slow worker with a good voice), trail or drag hounds (speed being the only factor) and pack hounds (numbering fifteen to twenty or more, used by hunt clubs and farmers).