American Foxhound Overview
The American Foxhound is a very rare breed. In fact, it’s the second rarest breed in the United States, the rarest being the English Foxhound. To give you an idea of exactly how uncommon the breed is, vigorous searching on our part yielded little in the way of results, although the conventional wisdom seems to be that there could be fewer than 50 American Foxhounds actually registered with the AKC. Additionally, a search of the Masters of Foxhounds Association’s Foxhounds Studbook of America yielded no results.
It’s worth noting, however, that the lack of information available on registered American Foxhounds doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t exist in fairly robust numbers in some areas. In several states (Virginia and Maryland, for instance), there are American Foxhound breeders. It’s just that most breeders don’t bother to register their stock.
American Foxhounds are bred for hunting in packs, and have remained largely unchanged since they were first brought to the United States by settlers from England. The basic purpose of the breed hasn’t changed, and most American Foxhounds live in outdoor kennels, in packs. That’s not to say that these sweet-natured hounds don’t make good family pets – they do. However, if you’ve decided that you want one as a companion, you’ll need to exercise him regularly and vigorously.
For the purposes of this post, we’re going to assume that your intention is to have an American Foxhound as a pet. So keep reading to learn more about this fascinating breed, and then you can decide if the American Foxhound is a good fit for you and your family.
American Foxhound Puppies
You’ve probably heard people say that they wish dogs could remain puppies. That seems so misguided, since of the greatest pleasures of having a puppy is watching him become a strong, handsome, well-trained adult that’s a credit to his breed. There are three basic things you’ll want to work on with your American Foxhound puppy to ensure that this happens: socialization, house training, and basic obedience.
The very first thing you’ll want to do, though, is make sure that your house is “puppy-proof.” This simply means taking a look around and removing hazards, the same as you would for a very young child. Ensure that electrical cords aren’t laying or hanging where your American Foxhound puppy can chew them, and put any toxic items well out of reach.
For the first little while, if it’s at all possible, make sure that your puppy is never left alone unsupervised. If you have to leave the house, and there’s nobody there to take care of your puppy, place him in a room where there are absolutely no hazards, give him some food, water and toys, and close the door.
You can also use a crate if you have to be away, and in fact, this is a great idea for other reasons. If you ever have to travel with your puppy, it’s a very good idea to have him accustomed to being crated. Airlines will insist on it. Also, if your American Foxhound has to stay at the vet’s overnight, he’ll be crated there, and if he’s not used to staying in a crate, it could be traumatic for him.
A crate is also a very useful thing during the process of house training. Most dogs are very reluctant to soil anywhere that they’re going to be sleeping.
Of course, some pet owners do misuse the crate, and we hope that you won’t do that. A crate is not a place to put your puppy when you’re too busy to pay much attention to him. It’s far better that you allow him to wander the house with you. One way of doing this is to use an “umbilical cord.” This is simply a long leash. You tie the loop end around your waist, and attach the clip to your puppy’s collar. That way, he goes everywhere with you. Not only does it keep him safe and out of mischief, it’s a great way to bond!
Socialization is likely to be a breeze, since American Foxhounds are naturally affectionate. Just make sure to expose your puppy to as many different people as possible. Take him shopping with you, and let strangers pet him. If possible, have him meet people of different races and physical appearances.
Enrolling your puppy in a doggie kindergarten is also a great idea. That way, he’ll meet even more people, and become used to other dogs as well.
House training is usually the area where most puppy owners report problems and frustration. There are bound to be accidents, and not every puppy, even one as intelligent as the typical American Foxhound, is going to catch on immediately.
Try to catch your puppy before he actually needs to go outside. Take your puppy outside every couple of hours. Keep in mind, too, that most puppies are going to want to urinate and/or defecate as soon as they wake up. A trip outside before bedtime is also necessary. Also, don’t wait any longer than half an hour after meals before taking your puppy out.
When the inevitable accident occurs, don’t overreact. Don’t scold; just clean up the mess and then apply an odor-reducing spray. A rinse with hydrogen peroxide can also go a long way toward eliminating odors. The odor-reducing step is very important, since your puppy will have a tendency to want to go back and do his business where he’s done it before.
With a bit of vigilance and patience, house training can be accomplished. The length of time it takes can vary widely from one puppy to another, so if your American Foxhound puppy hasn’t mastered it within a few weeks, just keep on and carry on. Once house training is accomplished, you can start teaching your dog the basic skills he’s going to need to become a good dog.
Obedience training is also important for all dogs, and here, too, an early start is best. You’ll want to start as soon as you bring your American Foxhound puppy home. There are five basic commands that your American Foxhound needs to learn, so grab some treats and get to work. Keep training sessions brief – no more than 10 minutes at a time, and have fun!
This command is the foundation of everything else you’re going to be teaching your American Foxhound puppy. It’s also the easiest command for your dog to learn. Position your dog so that he’s facing you, and with a treat in your hand, pass your hand slowly over his head, toward his hindquarters, saying “Sit.” Your puppy’s natural reaction is going to be to raise his head toward the treat, at which point he’ll most likely also place his butt on the floor.
When he gets it right, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat the exercise until he’s sitting on command, whether or not he gets a treat. Use lots of praise – make him feel like he’s the most wonderful puppy in the whole world!
Once “Sit” has been mastered, you can move on to “Down.” Tell your dog to sit, but this time, change the motion – lower the treat toward your feet, and bring it toward you. Say “Down.” Again, the idea is that the dog will follow the movement of the treat, and naturally lower his front quarters to the ground. Give him the treat, praise him, and repeat the exercise at regular intervals until the treat is no longer needed.
“Stay” is one of the more difficult commands to teach – after all, your dog wants to be with you! Persistence is the key, though, and even it takes a bit longer than “Sit” and “Down,” “Stay” is one of the most important things your dog can learn. In fact, it can be a literal life-saver – a dog that will stay on command is not likely to run into traffic.
Place your dog in the sit or the down position. Have a treat in one hand. Hold that hand that doesn’t contain the treat upright, with the palm forward – essentially the same way a traffic cop would signal you to stop. Say “Stay,” and back up just a couple of steps. Your dog will likely hold the position for at least a few seconds, but be alert to when he’s likely to bolt. Before he does, praise him and give him the treat.
Repetition is key here, as it is with “Sit” and “Down.” Each time, you’ll want to back away a little more, and expect your dog to hold the position for a little longer. If he moves in your direction, just put him back in the sit or down position, and try again.
This is the most difficult command you’ll teach your dog, but it’s also the most important, particularly with a breed like the American Foxhound, which can be very difficult to call back if he catches a scent. You want your dog to come to you without fail, every time, and again, it’s a safety issue. A dog that will come consistently can be called back from any potential dangers.
Once your American Foxhound has shown that he will stay on command, you can begin to work on “Come.” Place him in the stay position, and hold out a treat. With the other hand,, pat your opposite shoulder, and tell him “Come.” Then have him sit, and give him the treat.
As with “Stay,” you’ll want to increase the distance regularly. A long training leash can be useful here – if your dog is disinclined to listen to you, you can reel him in, repeating the word “Come.”
An American Foxhound can grow to be quite a large dog, and the last thing you need is one that’s uncontrollable when you have him out on walks. Accordingly, it’s a really good idea to teach your American Foxhound how to walk at heel.
It’s easy! Just grab some treats, and put your dog on lead. He’ll probably be eager to get going, so let him do his own thing for a bit. Once he’s had a chance to explore, sniff, leave pee-mail and so on, pull a treat out of your pocket and bring it next to your knee, saying “Heel.” Chances are he’s going to move in toward the treat, so say “Heel again,” tell him what a remarkable dog he is, and give him the treat.
Repeat this a few times per session. If your dog begins to wander, there’s nothing wrong with a light tug on the lead to bring him back to heel.
That’s s pretty much all you need to know when it comes to basic obedience. Of course you may want to teach your dog some tricks, like shaking hands, rolling over, and so on. Your American Foxhound will probably love learning new things, but get the essentials out of the way first.
When training, be kind, firm and consistent. No dog responds well to harsh treatment, and the American Foxhound is no exception. So be the leader, but be one that your dog can respect.
American Foxhound Mix
There being comparatively few American Foxhounds in the United States and Canada, as you might expect, there aren’t all that many dogs that could be accurately described as an American Foxhound mix. Of course, with the prevalence now of so-called “designer dogs,” you can bet that people have come up with “blend” names for the few American Foxhound mixes that are known to have occurred. Generally speaking, these are not the result of intentional breeding.
A mix of American Foxhound and Alaskan Malamute has earned the appellation “Mally Foxhound.” An American Foxhound crossed with a Basset Hound is a “Basset Foxhound.” An American Foxhound crossed with a Great Dane is an “American Foxy Dane,” and when you cross an American Foxhound with a Beagle, the progeny are known as “American Foxeagles.”
It’s probably a safe bet that other “blend” names will follow.
American Foxhound Breeders
This is where, in the course of researching this post, we ran up hard against a wall. You can blame the rarity of the breed. The AKC Marketplace is usually a great source for finding puppies of most breeds, but they have none on record for American Foxhounds. This may, again, have to do with the fact that many breeders of American Foxhounds don’t register their dogs.
The AKC notes that there are breed clubs in all states, but we investigated several and found none that could actually guide us to anyone that had American Foxhound puppies for sale. What we did find was a lot of sites purporting to offer American Foxhound puppies, as well as several other breeds, for “urgent next day delivery!”
Needless to say, these are scam sites. The chances of you getting an American Foxhound puppy from any of these sites, never mind the next day, is slim to none. For more information on this topic, see 9 Ways to Avoid Dog Scams, and 3 of the Most Common Ones.
Your best course of action is to find a breed club, and interact with people. They may not be officially offering puppies for sale, but if they get to know you and you build a good rapport, they may be able to help you out.
Don’t fall for online ads that promise you quick delivery – a good breeder is going to want to meet you and know what you’re all about before letting you have a puppy. And finally, never, ever buy from a breeder who doesn’t want you to see the mother and the rest of the litter, or who wants to simply hand over a puppy to you in a parking lot or other meeting place. You’re dealing with a puppy mill operator, and chances are you’re not getting a purebred American Foxhound at all.
American Foxhound Price
Oddly enough, for such a rare breed, American Foxhounds don’t seem to cost all that much. Puppies tend to go from $400 to $600. Keep in mind, though, that this is based on online research, and we found many sites to be obvious scams, and many others to be questionable. Possibly the price looks low because again, many breeders of American Foxhounds don’t register, and a registered puppy is always going to cost you more than one that isn’t registered.
American Foxhound Temperament
American Foxhounds have historically been bred to live in kennels with other dogs, and because of that, they have a bit of a tendency to bond more to other dogs than to humans. That doesn’t mean, though, that they don’t make wonderful family pets. They need companionship, though, so if you’re planning on having an American Foxhound as a pet, it’s important that he not be left alone for long periods.
If you’re a singleton who’s away from home a lot, consider getting two American Foxhounds. If left alone without companionship, be it human or canine, American Foxhounds that are kept as pets can become destructive.
In this section, we’re going to give you the answers to ten questions that are often asked about American Foxhounds, and that we haven’t covered in the previous sections. It’s just going to be a quick Q&A with brief answers.
1. What is the difference between American Foxhound and English Foxhound?
In appearance, they’re very much the same. However, the English Foxhound is somewhat smaller. The American will weigh 65-70 pounds and stand 22-25 inches. The English will weigh 60-70 pounds and stand 21-24 inches.
2. How long does an American Foxhound live?
The average lifespan for an American Foxhound is 10-12 years.
3. Are American Foxhounds aggressive?
This is not a breed that is typically considered aggressive. Although any dog can be aggressive if not properly socialized or if mistreated, the American Foxhound is generally cordial with strangers and with other animals.
4. Are American Foxhounds good with kids?
Most definitely! In fact, there have been reports of toddlers learning to walk by dragging themselves up onto the family Foxhound, and leaning on him.
5. Do Foxhounds bark a lot?
Not really. Instead, as is the case with most hound breeds, American Foxhounds tend to howl. This can be annoying to your neighbors.
6. Do American Foxhounds swim?
American Foxhounds take very well to water. If your dog is reluctant to swim, though, don’t force him. Instead, get in the water yourself, and try to coax him in – he’ll want to be with you. You can also try throwing sticks or other “fetchables” from shore, a little farther out each time.
7. Can a dog mix with a fox?
We’ve seen this question a few times online, and we assume that “mix” means “breed.” If you’re worried about your American Foxhound girl or boy getting out and falling in love with someone from the “wrong side of the tracks,” but your concerns to rest. It’s not possible, because they don’t have the same chromosomes. Dogs can mate with wolves and coyotes, but not with foxes.
8. Can you let your dog live outside?
Well, you can, but if you do, you’re an asshole. Your dog wants to be with you, and if you relegate him to a kennel (or worse, a chain), he’s going to become horribly depressed. Bring him inside where he belongs.
9. What is the difference between a foxhound and a beagle?
In terms of markings and other characteristics, there’s not much difference. However, a Beagle will usually only be about half the size of an American Foxhound.
10. Why is the American foxhound Virginia’s state dog?
It’s because George Washington imported these dogs into the State of Virginia. All American Foxhounds in the United States can trace their lineage back to George Washington’s dogs.
Have you enjoyed this introduction to the American Foxhound? Want to own one? If you believe that this is the breed for you, it may take you a while to find one. We think it will be worth the wait!