Hunting

Top tips for choosing the best foxhound

Traditionally bred to hunt foxes, most foxhounds now (certainly in the UK) are used for trail hunting. However, when searching for your new hunting dog there are still many key points to consider. Polly Portwin from the Countryside Alliance explains exactly what makes a great foxhound.

Your breeder should have a level pack of quality hounds that have a strong desire to hunt, hopefully with traits that can be passed on to future generations.

 

Back and loins
As well as having good pace and stamina, a hound must have a good depth of chest to enable maximum lung capacity.

A strong back and loin will assist with stamina. If a hound drops away behind the loins then he is likely to lack power. Good, strong hindlegs will help drive a hound uphill, jumping any obstacles along the way.

“Your breeder should have a level pack of quality hounds that have a strong desire to hunt.”

 

Feet
For longevity, a hound needs good feet where the weight is distributed evenly on each toe. Those with bad feet do not put the weight evenly on each toe and these can be identified by uneven wear of the toenails.

Not only do poor feet also denote a bad shoulder, but they reduce the lifespan of a hound. A hound with a poor shoulder will wear out the outer toes and won’t last, similarly, hounds with too much weight on their heels do not last either.

Photo by Sarah Farnsworth

Movement
A hound should be balanced; it must move well and be able to last, so ideally it should have conformation that leads to good pace and stamina. Pace is vital for the whole pack to ensure they can hunt, while stamina is needed to enable the pack to drive on all day.

It is important to ensure that a hound which looks correct while stationary can also move correctly. The entire hound must be balanced from front to back, ensuring it is able to cover the ground with ease and over long periods of time.
It is possible to see a hound with a good stride if you stand at the side to watch it moving. From the front, you can look to check if the stride is straight rather than having a round arm action.

For a hound to have good pace, its shoulder must be angled back rather than being straight or upright. An upright shoulder will reduce the length of the stride, whereas the laid-back shoulder will allow the humerus – the bone between the elbow and the bottom of the shoulder – to move forward straight. The longer the humerus, the better.

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