Meet the Breed: Homegrown Hound
The sleek American Foxhound pursues quarry on the trail and delivers laughs at home.
One of the few breeds that originated in the United States, the American Foxhound ranks so low in American Kennel Club registrations that it almost seems that the breed is about to disappear. Few puppies are registered with the AKC each year, but many hundreds more are registered with other organizations that cater to several hound breeds, and they form a large population of hunting hounds across North America. With the International Foxhunters stud book and the Master of Foxhounds Association registering hundreds of American
Foxhounds each year, the breed is far from extinction.
Settlers of the New World brought along their hunting dogs, which were needed to provide meat for the pot. Englishman Robert Brooke brought one of the first packs of English Foxhounds to America in 1650 when he sailed to Maryland. His dogs were mostly black-and-tan, and many believe these dogs were the ancestors of the Black and Tan Coonhound. The Brooke family bred and hunted with their hounds for close to 300 years.
In the early 18th century, more English Foxhounds were imported into Virginia. George Washington, who was an enthusiastic supporter of hunting and bred many Foxhounds throughout his life, received a pack of them in 1770. He kept detailed records in his journals, named specific hounds and described their traits and performance. In 1785, Washington imported several large French hounds known as Grand Bleu de Gascogne to increase the size of his dogs. In the 1830s, hounds from Ireland were incorporated to increase speed.
The crossing of these three types of hounds – the English, French and Irish – led to the creation of the American Foxhound of today, a uniquely American creation: taller, lighter-boned and longer in body than the English Foxhound, and with greater speed. The two breeds, however, still resemble each other closely enough to often be mistaken for one another.
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