by Dr. Tracy Dewhirst

Pets | Dogs: Meet the Penn-MaryDel Foxhound

Chances are you've never heard of this active hunting breed -- but it's an American original. A breeder tells us more

The colonists brought their hunting hounds with them from England. But in American fashion, outdoorsmen in eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware selectively bred to create their own perfect hound for scenting and chasing quarry -- usually fox -- across the tri-state's farmlands and dense woods.

The Penn-MaryDel, or PMD for short, is gaining popularity from coast to coast. The PMD is known for its deep voice and tenacity in following a scent line. And there's nothing like listening to PMD "music" as the dogs track a fox over hill and dale!

A PMD looks a bit like a kissin' cousin to an American or English Foxhound, but with a few distinguishing characteristics:

- A prominent occipital dome (posterior part of the head)

- Long, low ears to trap scent

- A compact body built more for toughness than for speed

- Tight, muscular feet

The PMD's Biddable Behavior

By biddable, I'm not talking about betting on a PMD's personality -- although I'm sure you'd fall in love with our hounds if you saw their sterns (tails) happily wagging in anticipation of the day's chase. Biddable means easily trained. Even the little kids in our club enjoy grooming and showing them. Whereas American or English foxhounds have independent personalities and can be headstrong once they pick up a scent, PMDs are known for:

- Being easy to work with and to handle

- Listening to their owners

- Making good eye-contact

- Responding to commands

- Wanting to please and do what is asked of them

An Active Family Dog

PMDs are not commonly household pets, but there's no reason why an active family couldn't adopt a puppy or retired hunting dog to be their loyal and devoted exercise buddy. PMDs thrive on long walks or runs, plus they're hardy and generally free from serious health issues. Mature PMDs weigh 65 to 75 pounds and have a keen hunting instinct. So if you do adopt one, you'll need to keep it on a strong leash until it's obedience-trained.

And don't let the fox-chasing history scare you -- PMDs are not aggressive. They're gentle and loving around people and other pets when socialized properly.

If you're hunting for an easily trainable sport hound, or if you're looking for a canine exercise buddy who would love nothing better than regular runs with you, the all-American PMD could be your next best friend.



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Dog Breeds: Meet the Penn-MaryDel Foxhound