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English Foxhounds

The English Foxhound History of the Breed

By Emily Latimer Osborne

field. Since this was the type winning at the Peterborough Hound Show, it began being known as a ‘Peterborough Hound’. The ‘Peterborough’ type hound persisted until around 1930. Common sense pre- vailed and by the late 1940’s and early 1950’s huntsmen had again bred a hound with good looks that could last for a long day’s hunt. This type is the type of English Foxhound that we know today. The first mention of hounds in America comes from a diary of 1539 during DeSoto’s expedition. These hounds were used to hunt human quarry instead of

The majority of dog breeds can trace their origins back to a specific reason for their development. This is certainly true of the English Foxhound. Early man dis- covered that canines could assist him in hunting game so hounds became part of the hunting team instead of the food source. The type of game and the terrain over which it was hunted determined the type of hound that developed. The English Foxhound of today can be traced back to the time of the Norman Conquest. As the breed developed, two distinct types of hound emerged. One was quite heavy and slow with Bloodhound like characteristics. The other was much lighter and leaner almost resembling a Greyhound. Through the years the best hounds were bred to the best hounds and eventually a hound resembling today’s English Foxhound evolved. In the 1700’s, foxhounds were being used almost exclusively to hunt fox, as fox were a definite threat to a farmer’s livestock. Again the breed developed with respect to the terrain. In the 1800’s several ‘fads’ in style resulted in some very strange looking hounds. One such fad was the ‘Shorthorn’ Era that became the fashion in the late 1890’s. It was called that as the hounds resembled Shorthorn cattle. This was a hound that was completely over- done, knuckled over horribly and could- n’t have lasted five minutes in the hunt

The Standard for the English Foxhound was written in the 19th century. AKC adopted that Standard, with minor revi- sions, in 1935. It continues to be the Standard for English Foxhounds today. ENGLISH FOXHOUND DESCRIPTION AND STANDARD OF POINTS (By Courtesy of the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America) The Head should be of full size, but by no means heavy. Brow pronounced, but not high or sharp. There should be a good length and breadth to give a dog hound a girth in front of the ears of fully sixteen inches. The nose should be long (4 1/2 inches) and wide with open nostrils. Ears set on low and lying close to the cheek. Most English hounds are “rounded” which means that about 1 1/2 inches is taken off the end of the ear. The teeth must meet squarely, either a pig-mouth (overshot) or undershot being a disqualification. The Neck must be long and clean with- out the slightest throatiness, not less than 10 inches from cranium to shoulder. It must taper nicely from shoulders to head, and the upper outline should be slightly convex.

game. The first importation of any impor- tance came over 100 years later by Robert Brooke, the first known Master of Foxhounds. He settled in what is now Maryland. George Washington was an avid foxhunter who maintained his own pack of hounds. The American Foxhound was developing as its own breed with crosses to other hounds. Some packs continued to import English hounds and keep the English blood pure. It wasn’t until 1890 that the first entries in the Foxhound Stud Book of America were recorded. English and American Foxhounds were shown as Foxhounds at AKC shows until1909. The first English Foxhound so recorded by AKC was Auditor, as his name started with ‘A’!

The Shoulders should be long and well clothed with muscle, without being heavy,


English Foxhounds

The English Foxhound - History of the Breed - By Emily Latimer Osborne

especially at the points. They must be well sloped and the true arm between the front and the elbow must be long and muscular, but free from fat or lumber. Chest and Back Ribs -The chest should girth over 31 inches in a 24-inch hound, and the back ribs must be very deep. The Back and Loin must both be very muscular, running into each other without any contraction between them. The cou- ples must be wide, even to raggedness, and the top line of the back should be absolute- ly level. The Stern well set on and carried gaily but not in any case curved over the back like a squirrel’s tail. The end should taper to a point and there should be a fringe of hair below. The Hindquarters or propellers are required to be very strong, and as endurance is of even greater consequence than speed, straight stifles are preferred to those much bent as in a Greyhound. Elbows set quite straight, and neither turned in or out are a sine qua non . They must be well let down by means of the long true arm above mentioned. Legs and Feet. -Every Master of Foxhounds insists on legs as straight as a post, and as strong; size of bone at the ankle being especially regarded as impor- tant. The desire for straightness had a ten- dency to produce knuckling-over, which at one time was countenanced, but in recent years this defect has been eradicated by careful breeding and intelligent adjudica- tion, and one sees very little of this trouble in the best modern Foxhounds. The bone cannot be too large, and the feet in all cases should be round and catlike, with well-developed knuckles and strong horn, which last is of the greatest importance. The Color and Coat are not regard- ed as very important, so long as the former is a “good hound color,” and

the latter is short, dense, hard and glossy. Hound colors are black, tan and white, or any combination of these three, also the various “pies” compounded of white and the color of the hare and badger, or yellow, or tan. The Symmetry of the foxhound is of the greatest importance, and what is known as “quality” is highly regarded by all good judges.


Points Head

1. Long and well muscled 2. No fat 3. Well sloped



10 10 10 15 10


Chest and back ribs

CHEST AND BACK RIBS 1. Circumference of 31 inches (for a 24 inch hound)

Back and loin Hindquarters



2. Deep back ribs 3. Not well sprung

Legs and feet



5 5



----- Total

1. Absolutely level top line 2. Very muscular 3. Almost level underline 4. Stern is never over the back 5. No slope to the croup


HEAD 1. Substantial without heaviness 2. Moderate stop 3. Large nostrils 4. Ears close to the head and not over- ly long POINTS OF THE ENGLISH FOXHOUND

HIND QUARTERS 1. Very strong

2. Straight stifles are preferred


1. Very straight, neither turned in or



1. Long and clean 2. No throatiness 3. 10 inches from cranium to shoulder (for a 24 inch hound)

1. Well let down

LEGS AND FEET 1. Legs straight as posts and as strong 2. No dainty ankles 3. Feet should be round and catlike 4. Substantial bone COAT AND COLOR There is not a color preference-black, white, tan, pieds or any combination Coat should be hard and glossy


1. Overall symmetry is very













English Foxhounds

The English Foxhound Today By Andrea Bradford, MD

Today, as has been true historically, the majority of English Foxhounds are regis- tered with the Master of Foxhounds in working packs. For AKC, registrations are few, the dogs that are shown in the conformation ring are fewer, and the breed is a low entry breed. Despite this, there have been a few outstanding speci- mens who were also outstanding show dogs, and happily represented the breed over the years. English Foxhounds can be great pets, and some do compete in obedience, rally and agility, though they are a true hound and present many of the challenges seen with the other hounds in performance events. The breed also has some repre- sentation in therapy dog work. The English Foxhound is primarily a hunting hound, and as such may not be as co- operative with conformation ring proce- dure as one would like (see the article on temperament). Historically, there were two types acknowledged within the breed. The Peterborough Hound (see History of the Breed) was a heavier hound with a ten- dency to knuckle over, while other hounds were more “racy” and con- tributed to the American Foxhound and the Coonhounds. The true to type English retains many characteristics of the Peterborough hound, while maintain- ing soundness and ability to work in the field all day. The AKC English Foxhound standard was adopted in 1935 with a few minor changes from the Master of Foxhounds standard for the breed. Breed aficionados are adamant about not making changes to the Standard, so much so that the English Foxhound Club of America formed in response to an AKC effort to change the Standard. This means there is still some terminology within the Standard which today requires explana- tion. For example, the “stern” is the tail, and the “horn” are the toenails. The Standard also retains a scale of points, which makes it very clear that the prima-

ry focus is on structure of the dog which will enable it to work in the field. The highest number of points (20) go to the legs and feet. Legs should be straight as a post and as strong, with lit- tle if any bend to the stifle when standing. Bone should be substantial and round, which is an important differentiator for the English Foxhound. There should not be bladed bone in this breed. The ankles should be a continuation of the leg, remaining substantial – no dainty ankles! Feet should be round and catlike – anoth- er significant difference from their American cousins. If knuckling over is seen in an English Foxhound, it should be considered a serious fault. The next highest number of points (15) go to the back and loin. The topline of the English Foxhound, from the with- ers to the set on of the tail, should be absolutely level – like an ironing board. The back and loin should be very mus- cular running into each other without any noticeable change from back to loin. There should be noticeable width to the loin. The underline of the English Foxhound should also be nearly level, with little if any tuck up. The hindquarters, shoulders, neck and chest and back ribs each are accord- ed 10 points in the Standard. The hindquarters should be very strong, with angulation in the front and rear match- ing. Endurance in this breed is desired over speed, so much so that straight sti- fles are preferred over extreme angula- tion in the hindquarters, but overall bal- ance and working ability are the desired result. The shoulders should be well laid back, with a long upper arm, and mus- cular, but not overdone (no fat), with the neck , long (at least 10 inches), clean (no hint of dewlap), tapering from the shoul- ders to the head, with a slight arch. The chest should girth 31 inches in a 24 inch hound. This is depth of chest, not a bar- rel-chested hound. Rib spring should be moderate, and ribs should extend well back, with the majority of the length of

the hound being ribs. The head, elbows, stern and symmetry each are accorded 5 points in the Standard. The head is described as full size but not heavy, with a girth of fully 16 inches in front of the ears, and the muz- zle should be wide with a length of about 4 1/2 inches. Nostrils should be large and open. Ears should be set low and close to the face. Bite should be level or scissors, with overshot or undershot a dis- qualification. The elbows should be set on straight, turning neither in nor out. The tail should come directly off the level topline, with no slope to the croup, and should be carried gaily, but never over the back, squirrel-like, or curled over the topline. Symmetry and quality are of great importance and result from appro- priate structure. The color of the English Foxhound is of little importance as long as it is a “good hound color”, defined as “black, tan and white, or any combination of these three, also the various “pies” com- pounded of white and the color of the hare and badger, or yellow, or tan.” The coat should be “short, dense, hard and glossy”. The English Foxhound fancy within AKC has imported dogs from England and Australia, as well as bringing the occasional dog into the AKC registry from the packs that exist here in the United States. Many of our great show dogs have been the result of breeding these imports and pack dogs, and some few of the pack dogs have been great show dogs. Because there are so few shown, there is always concern that the quality of breed type must be maintained and that judges pay close attention to the Standard and not judge the English Foxhound as a “generic dog”, with the resultant emphasis on rear angulation and tremendous reach and drive. It is always a thrill to see an English Foxhound with bone and substance and the easy, all day gait that would serve well in the field. ■


English Foxhounds

Temperament in the English Foxhound By Ann Roth

The English Foxhound, relatively unknown to the general public, nearly always ranks last in numbers registered by AKC. These hounds, primarily kept as hunting dogs by organized packs, exist as they have been for hundreds of years. The disposition of the breed reflects the pur- pose for which it was perfected, which is to hunt the fox as a pack. The emphasis is on working well with the other hounds, rather than socializing and being exten- sively handled by multiple humans. Their traditional setting is the fields, farms and kennels, rather than large dog show halls and suburban family homes. As the breed becomes more popular as family pets, show dogs, and performance event com- petitors, the origins of the breed must be taken into account in each facet of the evolution of the breed's function. When families call to inquire about an English Foxhound for a companion dog, a frequent concern is about the lifestyle and environment in which the hound would be living. Suburban neighborhoods with covenants restricting traditional fences are at odds to keeping an English Foxhound safe and secure. "Invisible" fences are no match for a hunting hound's desire to follow his nose. Again, the breed's origins must be considered. A suc- cessful hunter must have the drive and determination to follow his quarry over, under, around and through any obstacle in his path. His instincts are unable to dis- tinguish the family picket fence from the walls his ancestors scrambled over, in pur- suit of foxes. To successfully keep a fox- hound as a family pet, the owners must be dedicated to providing adequate exercise in a secure environment, never allowing the hound off leash unsupervised. When considering an English Foxhound for a show dog, the exhibitor must realize that this breed was never intended to be a "show dog." Instinct places the highly evolved nose on the ground for scenting, not carried in the air in the desired show ring carriage. His hearing is keen, and likely to be

insulted by the boom of a loud speaker or the roar of a motor home generator. As a hunting hound, this breed is seldom han- dled by strangers, but is instead cared for primarily by a single huntsman in the kennel and field. The traits that make a dog accepting of strangers and outgoing in all situations are ones that have not been widely selected for in the develop- ment of this breed. The difference in AKC show ring procedure and the methods employed by Masters of Foxhound judges at their hound shows illustrate a different mindset. In hound shows, the English hounds are evaluated moving off-lead in a fenced enclosure, and standing while being baited by their familiar huntsman and staff. They are never hand stacked and the judges rarely put their hands on the hounds. It is rare to see an English Foxhound exhibit any shyness or resent- ment in this type of show setting. However, for our traditional AKC type of show setting, much socialization and patience is often required to produce the desired results. A few exceptional dual-purpose hounds have successfully bridged the gap, becoming top show dogs, as well as

valued pack members. These are the dis- positions that need to be included in the gene pool if these hounds are to evolve into a truly dual-purpose breed. If called upon to judge English Foxhounds, the arbitrator should remind himself of the purpose and origins of the breed, selecting not only for the desired structure, but also the correct tempera- ment favored in a pack hunter. Aggression towards other dogs or humans cannot be tolerated. The young entry may not be willing to move with his nose off the ground and should not be forced into an unnatural gait for his breed. A good judge will be capable of evaluating a hound without excessive handling or noise. Quiet observation will produce a more relaxed hound, where rattling keys and squeaking toys will only evoke a startled expression. English Foxhound breeders must con- tinually strive to improve temperament and incorporate the desired traits in future generations. Despite a limited gene pool, this must be a priority, if we expect to promote the breed in all facets of purebred dog activities. ■ --- Ann Roth, 5205 Wrightsville Avenue, Wilmington, NC 28403



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