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A large hunting dog, the Foxhound is a master scent hound and is used in packs across the globe to hunt foxes. They are usually followed by riders on horseback and will enthusiastically travel many miles in order to track down their quarry.
They are natural hunters and have a very strong prey instinct - they are alert and very energetic. They are the state dog of Virginia in the United States and there are many types of Foxhound including the American, English and Dumfriesshire Foxhound, the Black and Tan Virginia Foxhound and the Welsh Hound- all referred to simply as the Foxhound in their country of origin.
Following the decrease in deer numbers in England in the 16th Century, a new prey was needed and the fox was selected. Both royals and the aristocracy hunted deer for food and sport using deer and stag hounds, however neither of these breeds was suitable for seeking out the wily fox and a new breed needed to be created to meet the requirements of tracking the fox.
The Foxhound was created by carefully mixing traits from the Greyhound for speed, the Fox Terrier for a strong prey drive and the Bulldog for tenacity and persistence. During the Raj, the Foxhound was used in India for jackal coursing, but did not adapt well to the heat and rarely saw old age. They were still preferred for coursing over the Greyhound however, as they displayed much more stamina. Studbooks have been kept in the UK since the early 19th Century and at its height there were 250 packs of hunting Foxhounds in England.
Traditionally used in packs the breed lives happily with other dogs, humans and of course, horses.
Average height to withers: 22"-25" (dogs) 21"-24" (bitches)
Average weight: 27-34kg (dogs) 24-32kg (bitches)
With a wide skull and a long muzzle, the Foxhound is a very athletic dog. The nose is around four inches long and the nostrils are flared. The teeth meet in a scissor style and the pendulous ears are set low and hang flat to the head. Some owners choose to 'round' the ears by removing an inch or so of 'excess' skin.
The eyes are bright and dark and the legs are long with delicate cat-like feet, while the long tail is set high. Accepted colourways include tri-colour (black, white and tan), lemon and white or tan and white.
The coat is short and glossy and requires minimal maintenance.
A brave and enthusiastic hunter, the Foxhunter is a master in the field. They respond well to training and their master, but perhaps not as well as other breeds. Training a Foxhound takes time and patience as well as a basic understanding of canine behaviour.
The Foxhound is a very social animal and loves the company of people - particularly children. However they are never happier than when they're with other dogs and animals. They are fond of barking and have boundless energy - they can run at a constant speed for fiver or six hours without getting tired so if you are considering taking on a Foxhound please bear in mind the amount of exercise required to keep this breed happy!
Any potential owner of a Foxhound should live an active lifestyle and display a natural air of calm firmness - they make excellent companions providing they are given enough exercise and have very clear boundaries. Much like a child, the Foxhound thrives on a disciplined, consistent approach to handling.
A robust dog, the Foxhound does not display any breed-particular health problems as are apparent in some types of pedigree dog. Hip dysplasia - where regular dislocations and lameness can occur as a result of a malformation of the hip joint - does sometimes appear in the breed and both parents should be seen prior to the purchase of a puppy.
Epilepsy has also been reported in the breed and although this can be controlled with medication, this can be costly and may impact adversely on any insurance policy that may be in place. Renal problems can also present themselves, as can heart disease.
The number one consideration when looking at a Foxhound as a potential pet is exercise. The breed's appetite for activity cannot be underestimated and taking on a Foxhound is quite a commitment. They will require long walks on a daily basis and plenty of off-lead time in a secure area - never forget, this is a hunting animal with a powerful nose. He will be easily distracted by a scent and may get lost or stray onto roads in his pursuit of the scent if he isn't carefully monitored.
Jogging is an excellent way of exercising the Foxhound - he will have no problem keeping up with you! Don't forget though - keep strenuous exercise to a minimum until the dog is at least 12 months old to avoid unnecessary damage to joints. Hiking and cycling are also great ways of keeping the Foxhound entertained and will keep you both fit and healthy.
Any Foxhound denied physical activity will quickly become stressed and may display destructive and other unwanted behaviours. The coat is easy to care for - requiring brushing weekly and shampooing only when necessary. The breed is an average shedder.
A firm, loving owner suits the Foxhounds best. Despite their boundless energy and love of the hunt, they are gentle, sensitive dogs who do not respond well to harsh treatment and who will repay consistency and kindness with loyalty, devotion and dedication.