When the American Foxhound named Jewel took Best in Show at the November 2013 National Dog Show she capped a year of showing in which she had already taken Best of Breed at the Westminster Kennel Club. While the owner of Jewel declared that she wanted to bring attention to an oft neglected (at least in the press) breed of dog, in fact there are many “types” of Foxhound as they are bred and used by different Recognized Hunts. Foxhounds that are shown at shows sanctioned by the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) must have been bred to chase foxes and in many cases trace their lineage to sires or dams listed in the Stud Book just as thoroughbred race horses are entered in the Stud Book of the Jockey Club. There are four main breeds of foxhound: American, English, Cross-bred and Penn-Mary-del. Many hunts, whether “Recognized” or not, trade hounds between themselves in order to increase genetic diversity or import (“draft”) some physical feature that is strong in one lineage to compensate for a perceived weakness in another. Hounds are, in fact, as variable in size, temperament and ability to move across different terrain as there are hunt packs across the country; the Master, Huntsman or Owner will breed hounds that will respond in the most efficient manner to the landscape and the quarry that they hunt. There are 159 Recognized Hunts and innumerable private packs across the continent: Location of Recognized Hunts courtesy of The Masters of Foxhounds Association – MFHA.org As a practical matter, while many people associate foxhounds with a traditional tri-color, black, tan and white, working foxhounds come in every color imaginable, every size and shape, girls (“bitches”) and boys (“dog hounds”), rough coat and smooth coat as seen at the 2013 Virginia Hound Show Whichever hound works best in that particular countryside is the hound that will prevail. And countryside from one Hunt to another can be vastly different, and vastly different even within the territory that is claimed by a Hunt ( Midland Fox Hounds of Columbus Georgia for instance, claim (a) 25 square miles of wooded, grass fields, (b) 80 square miles of grass pastures, some woods, (c) 10 square miles of sandy soil, pine tree plantations with streams, and lastly (d) 10 square miles or farmland and forests ). The following are a few photographs of hounds and their country shot within the last year and a half.
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