English Foxhound Breed Magazine - Showsight

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


Powered by