All through life George Washington was surrounded by dogs. He was passionate about fox hunting and throughout the years he spent in Virginia he rode out regularly to hunt with his dogs.
Washington fox hunting in Virginia
Beyond enjoying their company, everywhere in his diaries are references to Washington’s dog breeding, Following a childhood on the farm in Virginia, Washington understood animal breeding, and as a hobby he embarked on a serious undertaking, namely building a pack of hunting hounds. After much painstaking effort George Washington finally came up with a breed he named “Virginia Hounds.”
Political and military duties threatened to cut Washington off from his favorite pastime, especially when he had to be in Philadelphia. Luckily, the Mayor and his wife came to the rescue and Washington had access to the Gloucester Hunting Club in New Jersey.
The friendship with the Powels also proven advantageous politically, since Mayor Powel had excellent connections in the financial and political worlds of the day. Washington presented some of his Virginia Hounds to individuals he met through the Powels, and they showed their appreciation by lobbying to help get Washington appointed as Continental Army Commander.
STAGHOUNDS from the France’s Royal Kennels
Washington developed a warm friendship with the French general and political leader the Marquis de La Fayette, who played an important role in the revolution. Lafayette spoke in glowing terms about staghounds that belonged to the French king. Their focus and stamina during the hunt were especially of interest to Washington, so he did all he could to obtain a few of these dogs for breeding stock.
Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette
The hounds that Washington has set his heart on, originally came from the royal French kennels, and were therefore hard to come by. However, in the end, Lafayette found 7 large hounds and sent them to his friend.
Washington wasted no time and on retirement he returned to one of his favorite activities – dog breeding.
He began breeding the large French staghounds to his Virginia Hounds, which were considerably smaller. He aimed for a hound that was somewhat larger than his Virginia hounds but definitely smaller than the French hounds. He wanted to retain the strength and speed of the French dogs, so that the new breed would have a superior running speed when compared to the English foxhound. This was important when considering the larger distances such hounds had to cover.
George Washington’s gift to us: The experiment worked well and hence Washington is known as largely responsible for the American foxhound
The American Foxhound is a loyal, sweet, and kind dog breed that we have known for over 200 years. He is a dog of our day as a wonderful companion and jogging partner. He loves to run and so long as he gets enough exercise, his soft nature that makes him a wonderful family dog.
This rare breed still behaves as they did when English settlers brought them to America more that 2 centuries ago. They bred them to adapt to the local game and terrain.
The American Foxhound can be a single companion dog so long as they get to exercise regularly. They love the company of other dogs. They are mild natured until in pursuit of their quarry. That’s when they become relentless hunters.
The foxhound belongs to the hound group, can reach a shoulder height of 2 feet, 1 inch, and weighs 40-60 pounds. Its life span is about 12-13 years. All hounds make a musical sound and the America Foxhound is no exception. Consider the neighbors if you’re thinking of bringing one home.
>>READ MORE ABOUT THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR: Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware Before the Battle of Trenton – Did His Trusted Dog Come Along?