What Were American Foxhounds Bred For? Uncovering the Purpose and History

American Foxhounds were primarily bred to hunt foxes. Their exceptional sense of smell allows them to pick up on the scent of foxes from a considerable distance. Once they catch a whiff of their quarry, their natural instinct kicks in, and they’re off, chasing after the elusive fox with relentless determination.

2. Chasing Prey in Packs

Unlike some other hunting dogs that work alone or in small groups, American Foxhounds excel at hunting in packs. Their ability to work together as a cohesive unit is crucial when pursuing fast and nimble prey like foxes. By hunting in a pack, they can take advantage of their combined speed, stamina, and scenting abilities to increase their chances of a successful hunt.

History of American Foxhounds

To truly understand the purpose and development of American Foxhounds, we must go back in time and explore their origins and how they made their way to America.

1. Origins in England

The roots of American Foxhounds can be traced back to their English counterparts. In the 17th century, English settlers brought their prized foxhounds to the American colonies, laying the foundation for the breed’s development in the New World. These hounds were highly valued for their hunting prowess and were bred selectively to maintain their exceptional skills.

2. Introduction to America

As the English settlers established themselves in America, they continued to bring over their beloved foxhounds. These dogs played a vital role in the early American hunting culture, where fox hunting was a popular sport and a means of pest control. Foxhounds quickly found their place in the vast American landscape, adapting to the conditions and evolving to meet the specific needs of the huntsmen.

3. Founding of the American Foxhound Breed

Over time, the American Foxhound breed began to develop distinct characteristics, setting it apart from its English ancestors. George Washington, the first President of the United States, played a significant role in shaping the breed. He was not only an avid fox hunter but also a dedicated breeder. Washington’s breeding program focused on creating a breed that embodied the qualities necessary for successful fox hunting in America.

Development of the American Foxhound Breed

The development of the American Foxhound breed involved a fascinating mix of influences and crossbreeding, resulting in the distinctive characteristics we see today.

1. Influence of English Foxhounds

English Foxhounds played a crucial role in the early development of the American Foxhound breed. Their speed, endurance, and exceptional sense of smell were highly valued traits that were selectively bred into the American line. The infusion of English bloodlines helped solidify the breed’s hunting abilities and contributed to its overall athleticism.

2. Crossbreeding with French Hounds

In addition to English Foxhounds, French hounds also made their mark on the American Foxhound breed. The introduction of French hound bloodlines brought a distinct scenting ability and a different hunting style to the mix. This crossbreeding added versatility to the American Foxhound, allowing them to excel in various hunting terrains and tackle different types of prey.

3. Founding of the American Kennel Club

The establishment of the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1884 played a significant role in the development and recognition of the American Foxhound as a distinct breed. With the AKC’s support and breed standards in place, breeders had a framework to ensure the preservation of the breed’s unique qualities. The AKC continues to play a vital role in promoting and preserving the breed to this day.

Characteristics and Physical Attributes

American Foxhounds possess a distinct set of characteristics and physical attributes that make them well-suited for their hunting role and beloved as companion animals.

1. Size and Weight

American Foxhounds are large dogs, with males typically weighing between 65 and 75 pounds and females slightly smaller at 60 to 70 pounds. They stand at around 22 to 25 inches at the shoulder, showcasing their impressive stature.

2. Coat and Coloration

Their short and dense coats provide protection against the elements while being easy to maintain. American Foxhounds come in various coat colors, including tricolor (black, white, and tan), red and white, and blue and white. These striking color combinations add to their overall aesthetic appeal.

3. Athleticism and Stamina

As hunting dogs, American Foxhounds possess exceptional athleticism and stamina. Their lean and muscular bodies are built for endurance, enabling them to cover long distances at a consistent pace. This stamina is essential during the pursuit of prey, where the foxhound’s endurance can make the difference between a successful hunt and a lost chase.

Training and Temperament

American Foxhounds are not only highly skilled hunters but also possess desirable traits that make them beloved family pets.

1. Intelligence and Trainability

These dogs are intelligent and trainable, although they may have an independent streak. Consistent and positive reinforcement-based training methods are essential to bring out their best. Their intelligence and natural instincts make them quick learners, but patience and understanding are necessary to navigate their independent nature.

2. Socialization and Pack Mentality

American Foxhounds have a strong pack mentality and thrive in social environments. Early socialization is crucial to ensure they develop into well-rounded and friendly dogs. They tend to be good-natured and get along well with other dogs, making them suitable for multi-dog households.

3. Communication and Vocalization

One notable characteristic of American Foxhounds is their penchant for vocalization. They have a distinctive bay that echoes through the hunting grounds, alerting their human companions to their whereabouts. While this trait can be endearing, it’s important to note that excessive barking or howling can become an issue if not properly managed through training.

Modern Uses of American Foxhounds

While traditional fox hunting remains a popular activity for American Foxhounds, their versatility and skills have found new avenues to shine in the modern world.

1. Fox Hunting

American Foxhounds continue to participate in traditional fox hunting, primarily in areas where the sport remains legal and practiced. Although the focus has shifted from pest control to a more recreational pursuit, the thrill of the chase remains a significant part of their purpose.

2. Scent Detection and Search-and-Rescue

Their exceptional scenting abilities make American Foxhounds well-suited for scent detection work. These dogs can be trained to locate missing persons, detect illicit substances, or assist in search-and-rescue operations. Their natural hunting instincts and determination make them valuable assets in these critical situations.

3. Competitive Dog Sports and Events

American Foxhounds also participate in various competitive dog sports and events, showcasing their agility, speed, and versatility. From lure coursing to agility trials, these dogs excel in activities that allow them to utilize their natural abilities while bonding with their human counterparts.

In conclusion, American Foxhounds were purposefully bred for the pursuit of foxes and have a rich history deeply rooted in their English origins. Their development involved a combination of English and French bloodlines, resulting in a breed that possesses exceptional hunting skills, physical attributes, and a friendly temperament. While their primary purpose may have evolved over time, American Foxhounds continue to thrive in hunting, scent detection, and competitive dog sports, utilizing their innate abilities to the fullest. Whether as working dogs or cherished family pets, American Foxhounds are a testament to the enduring bond between humans and dogs in our shared history.

ThePetFaq Team