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This pack hound has been bred for more than 150 years and is used primarily for fox hunting, but with plenty of exercise he can also make a fine family companion. His size and voice make him best suited to a rural home.
The typical quarry of the English Foxhound is the red or gray fox, but they are also used to hunt coyotes. But don’t worry: a hunt is all about the chase, not the kill, and the quarry lives to run another day.
The English Foxhound has been a part of the American landscape since the 18th century or earlier. He’s found most frequently on the Atlantic Seaboard or Southern United States, usually as a member of a pack owned by a foxhunting club. The English Foxhound is rarely thought of as a companion dog, but he can be a best friend to an active person or family in a rural area who loves hounds and wants a buddy to run, hike, bicycle or ride with on a regular basis. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering making one of these cheerful and spirited hounds a member of your family.
The English Foxhound has a stately bearing, but beneath his classic good looks lies a dog who’s always ready to rock and roll. This is a dog bred to run full throttle over hill and dale, hot on the heels of a fox. Expect to provide him with lots of strenuous daily activity. A bored Foxhound with energy to burn will create his own entertainment, and you probably won’t like it. He’s also noisy, with a loud bay that carries long distances. It’s not a good idea to keep him in an urban environment.
Be sure to walk or run him on leash unless you’re in an enclosed or traffic-free area. Otherwise, he’ll take off when he finds a good scent, going at a pace that you won’t be able to match. He’ll also need a securely fenced yard to ensure that he doesn’t go off hunting on his own. An underground electronic fence does not qualify as secure or effective for this breed. The desire to follow a scent will overrule any fear of a brief shock.
The typical Foxhound is gentle and friendly, especially with children. Toward strangers, his temperament varies, ranging from reserved to protective. If he’s raised with them, he gets along fine with cats and other small critters, but use common sense. Don’t leave them together unsupervised unless you’re sure that they really are best buds. Being a pack animal, the Foxhound is fond of canine company and is best suited to a home where he won’t be the only dog.
The English Foxhound is smart, with a reputation for being biddable and quick-learning, but training him still requires much patience. Positive reinforcement, particularly with food rewards, is the way to win his heart and mind. Working with a trainer in an obedience class will help you learn how to establish your leadership in a firm but fair way that the Foxhound will respect and respond to. You may need to put in additional effort if you’ve adopted an older Foxhound or one who is used to living in a pack rather than a home.
While you might think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be farther from the truth. Foxhounds love their people, especially children, and will pine without human companionship. They should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is home, the Foxhound should be with them.
Foxhounds have short, easy-care coats and need only a weekly brushing or wipedown. The only other grooming they require is regular nail trimming and tooth brushing. Check the ears weekly and clean them as needed to prevent ear infections.
Remember that the English Foxhound is an uncommon breed. You may have to wait six months or more for the right puppy to be available, so start your search well in advance of the time you would like to have a dog.
Find a good breeder who will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. Foxhounds can be bred for the field or the show ring. Those from show lines have a slightly lower energy level than those from field lines.
Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Foxhounds aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Foxhound can live to be 13 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.
English Foxhounds were probably created in Britain through judicious crosses of Bloodhounds, Greyhounds and Staghounds. In addition to foxes, they were also used to hunt stags.
The dogs were brought to America by British colonists in the 17th century. Among the records of their history are an account of one Robert Brooke bringing them into Maryland in 1650. Notable Foxhound fanciers included Thomas, Lord Fairfax, of Virginia, and a certain George Washington. Some of the English Foxhound packs that exist today can trace their lineage back to dogs in the 18th and 19th centuries. Of the breed it was said “Next to an old Greek statue there are few such combinations of grace and strength as in a fine Foxhound.”
The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1909. Among the breeds registered by the AKC, the English Foxhound ranks dead last, 167th, but only because he has a rare and highly specialized job.
Foxhounds must be biddable, willing to take direction from the hunter and work as a team member with the rest of the pack. That trait makes the exuberant English Foxhound highly trainable. He loves people and other dogs and should never be left to live alone with little human or canine companionship.
The English Foxhound’s magnificent voice carries for miles. And he is capable of running for miles, having stamina to spare. Be prepared to give him plenty of daily exercise.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from an English Foxhound, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
That said, English Foxhounds are a pretty healthy breed. Congenital deafness and kidney disease are seen occasionally, but not frequently enough to be considered a concern.
The English Foxhound’s short, dense coat is easy to groom. Brush it weekly with a hound mitt or rubber curry brush to remove dead hairs and distribute skin oils. The dogs shed moderately, and regular brushing will help prevent loose hairs from settling on your floors, furniture and clothing. Bathe the dog as needed.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails every few weeks. Keep the rounded hanging ears clean and dry so bacterial and yeast infections don’t take hold. Brush the teeth for good overall health and fresh breath.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as is possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than in making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life. Look for more information about the English Foxhound and start your search for a good breeder by contacting members of the English Foxhound Club of America.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical and should be reported to the EFCA and the American Kennel Club. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Many reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of an English Foxhound puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult English Foxhound might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com can have you searching for a English Foxhound in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the English Foxhounds available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a English Foxhound. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love English Foxhounds love all English Foxhounds. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The English Foxhound Club of America’s network can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other English Foxhound rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a English Foxhound home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your English Foxhound, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your English Foxhound to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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