Last updated on July 21st, 2023
The oldest developed dog breed in America is the American Foxhound. Gentle, easygoing, and extremely loyal, American foxhounds belong to a dog breed that was initially bred as the leading dog for hunting foxes. They are not recommended for the family guard dog but have many other amazing qualities about them. These tall, sleek, and lanky creatures with attractive coats are well-known for their speed and agility but their standout characteristic is their extremely acute sense of smell and this is why breeders raised and trained these dogs as scent dogs that were extremely effective in chasing and hunting animals. Here is an extensive list of curious, fun, informative, and interesting facts about American foxhounds, the dog breed that has all but become a symbol of the Americana.
American Foxhounds Wrote Part of America’s Independence Story
1. It’s no secret that the American Foxhounds weren’t the first or the only dogs owned by their founding father, Sir George Washington. However, they won his heart, accompanying him on his political trips to Washington and Philadelphia, among other places.
One of his favorite American Foxhounds, Sweet Lips, was the cause for decisive introductions in George Washington’s journey to become the first American president.
American Foxhounds Were Once a Classroom Subject in Virginia
The social science and history classes taught the subject as a lesson of good citizenship for both pets and children. Virginia is one of thirteen states to have an “Official State Dog Breed.”
They are a Perfection of the English Foxhounds
3. Before creating the American Foxhounds, George Washington owned a strain of English Foxhounds bred from Robert Brook dogs. But these dogs disappointed him with their slow speed during his hunting sprees.
By crossbreeding French and Brook hounds, the Father of America wanted to create a dog with better “speed, scent, and brains.”
And he was successful. American Foxhounds turned out to be better than their British cousins in many traits:
- Bonnier and taller.
- Swift and agile.
- Faster speed on more rugged terrain.
- Better in scent.
There are Different Types and Strains of the Same Breed
4. While significant variations in the original characteristics of a breed are often considered flaws, the case is different for the American Foxhound. The breed has four types and several strains, all accepted as characterizing the same dog breed. See the table below.
|American Foxhound Types||American Foxhound Strains|
|Fox hunting hound||Trigg|
|Field trail hounds||Calhoun and Penn-Marydel|
They have a Distinctive Musical Howl
5. Having a musical howl is one of the most interesting facts about American Foxhounds. The howl is mostly inherited from their English parents. George Washington described it as similar to “the bells of Moscow.”
Of course, even a musical howl can annoy neighbors. So, you need to train your American Foxhound to stop howling. Watch this video for some training tips.
American Foxhounds are Smart but Stubborn
6. American Foxhounds are a smart breed, especially in the hunting task for which they were bred. They will track prey without waiting for your command and bring it back to you alive. But these dogs also have an air of independence and stubbornness, making training difficult.
The breed’s stubbornness could also explain its 46th position on Stanley Coren’s celebrated list in the “Intelligence of Dogs.” Going by the list, your American Foxhound has average intelligence. As such, it will need 25-40 repetitions to learn a new command. Besides, it will obey them at their first mention only half the time.
They have a Great Personality but Low Popularity
7. The American Foxhounds are tolerant, gentle, and sweet-tempered dogs. They are exceptionally great with other pets and children and won’t be pissed off easily by children’s rough play.
Despite their lovable personality and high-class political origins, the American Foxhounds are low in popularity, ranking only 196/199 in the latest list of AKC’s Most Popular Breeds.
AKC recognition before English Breed
8. The American Kennel Club (established in 1884) recognized the American Foxhound in 1886. It was not until 1909 that the English Foxhound was recognized even though the American breed was developed through a breeding history of the English, French, and Irish breeds.
There are more American Foxhounds than You Think
9. Although the AKC ranking places the American Foxhound among the least popular dog breeds, there are more dogs in this breed than you know. That’s because most hunters in North America today register their foxhounds with the Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America (MFHA).
Nonetheless, American Foxhound owners can double register their dogs with both bodies, especially if they want to be part of the AKC dog shows.
American Foxhounds Have Won Some Titles for Their Breed
10. According to EUROPETNET, American Foxhounds can whelp 1-12 puppies in a litter. Interestingly, however, an American Foxhound named Lena previously (1944) held the World Guinness Record for the largest dog litter with 23 puppies. The current record is 24 puppies, set in 2004.
Also, an American Foxhound won first prize at the 2013 Purina National Dog Show, the first by a Hound in the 12-year history. An American Foxhound was also voted Park City’s cutest dog in 2019.
All American Foxhound Coat Colors are Standard
11. Dog breeds have standard colors acceptable by the registering national Kennel clubs. While the breed information for the American Foxhound has two colors ticked as standard, the complete breed standard indicates that all color coats are acceptable. That means no color coat is considered a flaw.
First Developed Dog Breed in America
12. American Foxhounds are the oldest breed of dog developed in America originating from English Foxhounds brought over in 1650 by Robert Brooke. George Washington is the most famous of the Americans that created this breed. He imported French foxhounds to create what we know as the American Foxhound today. He was an active fox hunter with thirty-six foxhounds of his own. George Washington kept the foxhounds at his home in Mount Vernon where he would host hunts. His foxhounds had names such as Tipsy, Chloe, and Drunkard.
Another fact about the American Foxhound is that there are several different regional “strains.” (Trigg, Walker, July, Calhoun, Goodman, Penn-Marydel and Birdsong.)
13. In 1849 Charles Burden of Warrensburg, Missouri lost the life of his foxhound. He believed his hound to have been shot by his neighbor Leonidas Hornsby and took the matter to court. The court ruled in Burdens favor and Hornsby tried to take the matter to the supreme court where it was upheld. When Charles passed away it was near the place where his beloved dog died. There is a statue today on the Johnson County courthouse lawn honoring “Old Drum.”
Energy for Days
14. Fox hunting was a popular sport pre–Civil War and this breed was key. These dogs are known for their speed, endurance, strength, and versatility. They were bred to chase prey and run for hours. With high energy they need 1-2 hours of daily exercise. They will get depressed and destructive if they do not have a job to do or cannot get their energy out. They make the perfect running or hiking partner.
The Perfect Schnoz
15. American Foxhounds have a superior sense of smell. Perfect for fox hunting they are also on the list of a top breeds for tracking because of these excellent “sniffers.” They could be used to assist with important tasks such as cadaver dogs, bomb/ drug sniffing canines, and with search and rescue. They are stubborn dogs if they are on the scent which makes them extremely difficult to recall. They need to be trained early on. As a pet it would be best to not let them off leash due to being easily distracted by their environment. They love and thrive in an environment that allows them to explore with their nose safely. (a large, fenced yard)
16. American Foxhound’s love people and are very social. They want to meet everyone at the dog park and want a pack/family. They do very well with children.
17. American Foxhounds love to talk and are not quiet. They bark for a purpose but not excessively. Their “bays” and howls can travel for miles however many consider them to be “musical” and have been used in songs.
No More Baths
18. An interesting fact about the American Foxhound is that their coats are short, easy to maintain, and hard to penetrate. This creates protection from underbrush during hunts. Brush them weekly but it is unnecessary to wash them more than a few times a year.
(Only when their coat gets especially dirty)
19. American Foxhounds are known to be one of the healthier breeds of dogs. Thrombocytopenia and Gastric dilatation-volvulus are two more rare medical conditions that tend to occur with this breed.
Thrombocytopenia occurs when the platelet count gets too low. This can be due to a blood clotting disorder, and it is rare to dogs overall as it only affects 5% of dogs admitted to the hospital.
Gastric dilatation-volvulus: Their body structure increases the risk for GDV. It occurs when issues with gas cause the stomach to twist.
Movie and Books
20. American Foxhounds have made appearances in movies such as Annie, Murder She Purred, Voice of Bugle Ann and Tombstone. Foxhounds appear in the original Mary Poppins. In literature, Rita Mae Brown uses this breed in her novels.
Despite being cross-bred
21. Despite being cross-bred, American foxhounds are generally extremely healthy and lively dogs and show little signs of genetic disorders.
22. The average lifespan of an American foxhound is 10-12 years.
Strong and long!
23. It is to be noted that, perhaps owing to their diverse lineage, Americans foxhounds have a stronger build than their European cousins. Their legs are more finely boned and are also slightly longer than their British forefathers.
24. A fully-grown American foxhound stands about 21-25 inches tall and weighs between 45 and 65 lbs.
Not sure why?
25. Another curious American foxhound fact is that despite their European ancestry, these dogs are found in extremely small numbers in Europe.
26. Trigg hounds are a well-known variety of American foxhounds. Named after Colonel Haiden Trigg, the developer of the breed variety, the Triggs used to be hugely popular with game hunters. The famous big-game hunter Paul Rainey once described the Trig hounds as the most courageous and best hounds in the world.
Similar but different
27. On the other hand, some dog breeds that look somewhat similar to American foxhounds and are sometimes confused with them include breeds like Basenji, Beagle, and Bluetick Coonhound.
28. Although famous as hunting dogs, certain strains of American foxhounds are actually bred as show dogs. The most common example of these come from the “Walker” strain.
An attractive feature
29. Eyes of an American foxhound are often described as one of the most endearing features of these strong, agile, and physically attractive dogs. One cannot but love the soft, large eyes of an American foxhound filled with a gentle and almost pleading expression!
30. Most readers of American foxhound facts will also want to know exactly how the members of this dog breed fare as pets. Well, in short, we may say that, thanks to their extremely sweet and loving demeanor, American foxhounds make excellent pets.
Their basic needs
31. That said, one must also note that these dogs love large open spaces and require a lot of exercise throughout the day to stay in good health, mentally and physically. Accordingly, they might not be the ideal candidate as pets for apartment dwellers. Commonly, large estates are ideal for keeping American foxhounds. However, even if you have a reasonably large backyard, that should also suffice. Take note, though, that owners of these dogs need to take them for at least two long walks every day.
32. Another fun fact about American foxhounds is that they are excellent at the game of “Fetch”. However, one must make sure to let these dogs off the leash only when they are inside a fenced area (fenced parks, large lawns, backyards, etc.). Since they are by nature scent dogs, even well-trained and obedient American foxhounds can sprint off when they scent certain animals and disappear quickly beyond their owner’s reach!
When not in good mood
33. In fact, American foxhounds sometimes show contrasting tendencies as domestic dogs. For the large part, they are extremely docile, sweet, and lively creatures and bond well with humans. However, the dogs may at times turn a little destructive especially when they don’t receive enough exercise.
34. American foxhounds are extremely loyal animals and love to stay close to their human parents/owners as much as possible.
Anxious when separated
35. However, they also suffer from separation anxiety more acutely than most other dogs. In fact, another common trigger for these dogs’ destructiveness is separation from their owner. So, if they can’t see their owner for a relatively long stretch of time, they may start to chew and eat things around the house as a way to appease their anxiety!
Bonding with kids
36. American foxhounds also make great companions for little kids and toddlers. In fact, it has been noticed that some of these dogs actually help toddlers in the latter’s walking process and help them take their first steps!
37. One curious fact about American foxhounds is that they often act very shy and timid around strangers. Sometimes, however, they may also turn aggressive towards strangers or guests in the house, especially if they can’t see the owner around.
. . . continue reading on the next page