by Doris Donnerman
(last updated April 3, 2009)
The Foxhound is America's oldest sporting dog. Just when he first came to this country is a matter of uncertainty, but Hernando De Sota, the Spanish explorer, had "hounds" with him when he discovered the Mississippi River in 1541. These hounds were not used for hunting fox, however, but for hunting Indians!
The first pack of hounds was brought to America on June thirty, 1650, at which time the sport of fox hunting was born. The sport spread rapidly and widely and now is enjoyed in practically every state of the Union. The dates of the establishment of the first pack of hounds in England to be used exclusively for fox hunting have been variously reported as 1666, 1690, and 1698. It has been authoritatively maintained that packs of Foxhounds have existed in this country almost as long as they have in England.
There have been, and still are, many strains of American Foxhounds, practically all of which had their fountain-heads in the Brooke hounds, later importations from England, France, and Ireland or some combinations of these blood lines. Most prominent of these strains are the Walker and the Trigg.
The versatility of the American Foxhound is something at which to marvel. He can be trained to trail any species of ground game and even Man himself. A truly good American Foxhound possesses more qualities than any other domestic animal used for sport. He must have an amazing amount of endurance, more than the quarry he seeks. He must have a better nose than any other sporting dog, exceptional speed, strength to carry him through heavy covers and over rugged country, the agility to negotiate any sort of terrain quickly, and remarkable intelligence. In addition he must possess determination in a high degree, a high desire to reach his quarry, and the gameness and stamina to match his determination. He must be willing to "packup" or run with the pack, "harking in" immediately when another casting member of the pack "speaks" the trail. He must possess that mysterious quality which has brought so many wandering hounds home, a homing instinct. This is, indeed, a large package, yet it is wrapped up in countless blocks of hound hide wherever hounds are bred and hunted.
For versatility, stamina, nose, natural hunting intelligence, and gameness the American Foxhound knows no superior in the American sporting scene. Running the trail hour after hour, with seldom or never a glimpse of his quarry, the Foxhound gives his best in the sheer joy of the chase.
The males are usually between twenty-two to twenty-five inches while the female between twenty-one to twenty-four inches. They are measured across the back at the point of the withers. There really is no one color for the American Foxhound.
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