The American Foxhound belongs to the family of English Foxhounds. They are the perfect hunting dogs and can hunt foxes by their scent. These hounds are related to Revolutionary soldiers and the rolling estates of ancient Virginia.
American Foxhounds are easygoing, good-natured, and low-maintenance hounds. They go well with children, cats, and other dogs, but you should never leave these hounds alone with them.
American Foxhounds can also be stubborn and independent, so you'll need to train them when they are puppies.
These dogs can have several health issues like other dogs but are generally healthy. Even so, regular care and vet visits are required to keep them in optimal health.
Characteristics of an American Foxhound
American Foxhound characteristics and those of English Foxhounds are pretty similar, but you can differentiate them by the length of their legs. American Foxhound's legs are longer and more well-defined, with a slightly arched back end.
The average American Foxhound size for males is 22 to 25 inches tall and 21 to 24 inches for females. Males weigh around 65 to 70 pounds, and females weigh about 60 to 65 pounds.
The estimated American Foxhound lifespan is 11 to 13 years.
American Foxhounds have big, soft eyes that give them a gentle personality. Their eyes are set widely apart and are brown or hazel. Their ears are also wide and low-set. They have smooth and short coats that require less care. Their coats lie close to their body.
These dogs have straight, longer legs and narrow chests. You can identify an American Foxhound by its long muzzle and large, domed skull.
These dogs are usually tri-colored, including black, white, and tan shades.
American Foxhound traits make them affectionate and highly-energetic dogs. They can be best friends to owners who want to run or walk with a hound daily.
The American Foxhound temperament is generally friendly, particularly with children and their families. However, they can be pretty reserved around strangers.
They are moderately vigilant and adaptable to varying environments.
Caring for American Foxhounds
American Foxhounds have low grooming needs as they have short, smooth coats. The coat is also hard, protecting the dog from the underbrush they may encounter while hunting, and is fairly manageable. Therefore, you won't have to follow an extensive grooming routine for your American Foxhound coat.
A small coat-caring session with a bristle brush, hound glove, or rubber grooming mitt should be enough once a week.
Your American Foxhound doesn't require regular bathing unless they become dirty or smelly.
Like all dogs, you'd also need to follow a nail-trimming routine for your dog.
Brush your dog's teeth daily with a soft toothbrush and pet-specific toothpaste to prevent any potential dental issues.
Your American Foxhound's health can also be affected by fleas, ticks, and heartworms, causing several health issues. The Companion Animal Parasite Council suggests pet owners provide year-round protection from ticks, heartworm, and fleas for their pets.
American Foxhounds may need a core set of vaccinations to prevent multiple diseases, such as rabies and DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus). Depending on your dog's health, your vet may recommend non-core vaccines for particular health conditions, like kennel cough, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, etc.
The timing and dosage of these vaccinations usually vary depending on your dog's age. Regular appointments with your vet will help you stay aware of your American Foxhound's vaccinations.
American Foxhounds were specifically bred to hunt foxes by chasing after them for several hours. This is why these dogs need a minimum of an hour or two of exercise daily. They get destructive and bored if you don't provide them with this outlet.
Regular exercises keep them happy and in shape. They do well outdoors, so you can take them to your jogging or walking session. However, you should choose a fenced area, since these dogs chase after a particular scent and may try to run away in open spaces.
American Foxhounds also have high mental stimulation needs. Have them participate in canine sports, including coursing ability tests, tracking, rally, and other activities you can enjoy with your dog.
American Foxhounds are usually amiable, but they can be stubborn sometimes. You should be patient while training your dog.
It's recommended to give obedience training to your American Foxhound with a leash in a properly-fenced yard. Work with a professional trainer in an obedience class to establish effective leadership that your dog will respect.
Since these dogs have moderate adaptability, you can train them indoors and outdoors. Positive reinforcement with treats works well with Foxhounds and motivates them to listen to you.
American Foxhounds are not too picky about their food. You can give them high-quality, commercially-made, or home-prepared dog food. However, make sure to provide them with limited quantities of food as these dogs love to eat and may become overweight.
Giving your adult Foxhound two measured feedings daily is better than offering them food all day. Also, limit the number of treats you give your dog during training, as they can significantly add to the pet's weight.
Always provide your American Foxhound with fresh and clean water all the time. Before giving anything to your dog, always get approval from your vet. Your dog's diet should suit their age and daily nutritional needs.
Health Problems to Watch for With American Foxhounds
American Foxhounds are solid and healthy dogs with almost no health concerns, but they can develop thrombocytopenia, hip dysplasia, ear infections, and dental diseases over time.
Some common American Foxhound health issues are:
It is a blood platelet disorder that can lead to abnormal bleeding in your dog because their body can't perform natural clotting. Thrombocytopenia is caused due to severe or prolonged blood loss, platelets' internal destruction, or damaged bone marrow.
These conditions result from several bacterial and viral infections, genetic syndromes, swollen spleen, chemotherapy medicines, or autoimmune diseases. They can lead to short-term or longer-term platelet deficiency.
Thrombocytopenia affects 5% of all dogs admitted to veterinary hospitals. Blood transfusions can stabilize your dog's condition in a case of mild blood loss.
Hip dysplasia is a common hereditary condition in several dog breeds. Like humans, a dog's hip joint is a ball (femoral head) and socket joint (pelvic coxofemoral joint). In cases of hip dysplasia, the pelvic coxofemoral joint poorly covers the femoral head, causing severe pain to the dog due to continuous grinding.
If this condition stays untreated, it may worsen and damage your dog's entire hip joint. Your Foxhound may show these symptoms:
- Less productivity
- Difficulty in moving from one place to another
- Severe pain when sitting
- Reduced thigh muscle mass
- Heavy shoulder muscles
Dogs with floppy, long ears can develop ear infections over time. The three types of ear infections affecting dogs include:
- Otitis externa. This is the most common type, referring to inflammation of the cells on the ear canal's outside area.
- Otitis media. This is the inflammation of the middle ear canal area.
- Otitis interna. This infection refers to the inflammation of the inner ear canal.
Otitis media and interna are caused when the infection spreads from the external ear to the inside. These infections can be severe and may cause facial paralysis, deafness, and vestibular issues in your dog.
The most common symptoms of ear infections are:
- Frequent shaking of the head
- Continuous ear scratching
- Dark ear discharge
- Bad smell
- Red or swollen ear canals
- Ear crusts or scabs
Your American Foxhound can have chronic dental issues at any point in their life. These diseases are quite common among pets and may affect the dog when they are just a puppy. Such problems start with a tartar build-up on your dog's teeth and spread to the gums and roots of the teeth.
Regular brushing can prevent most dental diseases in your Foxhound. If you don't care for your dog's teeth, they may lose their teeth.
Special Considerations for American Foxhounds
Controlling American Foxhounds on open grounds can be pretty challenging. You need to use a leash and opt for properly-fenced areas.
Remember that underground electric fences won't be an effective choice for this breed. That's because these dogs can ignore their fear of a shock when drawn by a scent.
Properly trained American Foxhounds get along with cats and small critters, but you should never leave them unsupervised. These dogs enjoy being in canine company.
History of American Foxhound
Several American Hounds originated when Robert Brooke brought them to Crown Colony in North America in 1650. These hounds remained a part of the Brooke family for about three centuries. The Marquis de Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette gifted French Foxhounds to George Washington.
When these French Foxhounds were crossed with the other dogs Washington received from the Brooke, they produced the American Foxhound.
The American Foxhound history began in Maryland and Virginia. They are also Virginia's state dogs.
These dogs were bred specifically to hunt foxes. They are popular for their musical howl, one reason why these dogs are not found in cities.
The American Kennel Club recognized American Foxhounds in 1886.
Currently, you can find various strains of American Foxhounds, such as Trigg Hound, Walker, July and Penn-Marydel, and Calhoun. These strains usually look different but are nonetheless recognized as one breed. Most show hounds are Walkers, while Penn-Marydel is the best pack hound used by several hunters for different hunting styles.