607 – Keeping Foxhounds Alive Into the 21st Century
Keeping Foxhounds Alive Into the 21st Century
Brigette Bryson, second generation breeder of Foxhounds at Foxhunt Kennels in Australia, joins host Laura Reeves in a wide ranging conversation about English Foxhounds, preserving the history they represent and how she hopes to keep the breed alive into the 21st century.
There are three breeders of English Foxhounds listed on the US National Club website. In 2022, the breed dropped to last place in numbers of dogs registered with AKC. Although the breed lives on in the packs around the globe, their popularity has certainly faded from their heyday when hunting fox was both useful and fashionable in much of the world.
“I don’t know if that’s ever going to change dramatically,” Bryson said. “I have this conversation with people regularly. I don’t know that you can ever make them mainstream. Their history is so deep. And it’s entrenched in people’s brains that this is a hunting and a working breed that’s not gonna fit in my suburban backyard.
“So I don’t know if you can ever change that. My goal is just to see them survive. That will happen in the packs. There’s many packs. You know, we’re not gonna have a figure of how many dogs exist in those packs, but they’re there. And I think that they will always be there through people like me that have maybe grown up in that pack and they’re obsessed with the breed, so they’ll keep it going.
“What I would like to see is if we could have a few breeders in each country breeding them, that would be a success for me. It’s enough to keep them alive and not let that piece of history die for me. I think I really enjoy the history of the breed. I love that almost every kennel club you visit around the world is gonna have a painting of Foxhounds hunting. I think it’s important to maintain it for that reason.
“I of course would love to see them become more popular with the general public. I just don’t know if that’s possible. The sizes of houses and properties and everything, it’s gonna be the same problem for all large breeds. It’s getting smaller.
“And realistically, as much as you can raise them to live in a smaller environment, it’s not ideal for them and people would have to put in a lot more effort to meeting their energy needs. My goal is just to get them out there with breeders around the world. That’s what I’m trying to achieve now.
“There’s not a single registered breeder that has had a litter in the UK that I can think of in the last 10 years. We have one active registered breeder in New Zealand who’s fantastic. And there’s a few really healthy packs over there that have some dogs from us as well.
“And in America, there’s a handful if they even keep breeding, but they start aging out too. And that’s what’s happening here. There was four main breeders that we had, myself and my parents before me worked in with. One of those hasn’t bred a litter for a decade. And the other two are at the point where they’re saying to me, I don’t know if I’ll have any more just because they’re getting a bit older.
“And (Foxhounds) are incredibly healthy. Now that’s another one that’s complex. Foxhounds have been largely inbred since the beginning of time. But with that, only the strong survived. There is no hereditary diseases in the breed.
“Part of that is that there hasn’t been human intervention. So, all the debates that people have about inbreeding, and I have this debate with people regularly, because they’ll say to me, you’re gonna have to outcross. And I say, well, you need to outcross because you’ve got problems you need to fix.
“But if I don’t have any problems, why do I need to do that? A litter we had last year was from a six -year -old maiden bitch, 15 puppies. So, we’re not having those issues that other people have. They’re incredibly healthy. And people buying these dogs that they spend thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars trying to keep alive, I can sell you a Foxhound that will only have to go to the vet for its vaccinations.”
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER — FRANCIS BACON
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