The horn of a English Foxhound’s Foot…..

On the digital magazine, Best in Show Daily, Bo Bensington wrote an article on “Words we Say, Breed Standards”

I had a response to his article….and commented…see below for what I wrote




I read with interest Bo’s description of unusual terms in standards….especially interested as the English Foxhound is one of my breeds.    Beagles and Harriers the other.       I stopped suddenly when Bo described the ‘Horn” of the English’s foot as toenails.     That’s not what I understood!!      I quickly dashed an email off to Bo, saying no no no, you have it all wrong…it’s the pads of the feet…the horny callus that develops in a working dog……that enables him to travel 40-50 miles without getting bloody feet!


Well….this started an 12 hour adventure of phone calls, googlemania, and research.    Talking to fellow breeders – the comment was “of course it’s the pads…who cares about toenails in a working dog? “       I called a friend who is an huntsman of a pack of English Foxhounds – he’s never heard of the term “horn”, but agrees, the pad is utmost importance….he can recall times he’s hunted dogs that have pulled toenails and they run fine……a good hoof on a horse and pads on a dog for a huntsman.


So…here’s what the research shows – it’s a bit cloudy……but hopefully we can shed some light on the issue….


1867 – an author by the name of John Henry Walsh (aka Stonehenge) wrote a description of an English Foxhound and a point system.   He wrote:


“The bone cannot be too large, and the feet in all cases should be round and catlike, with well–developed knuckles and strong horn, which last is of the greatest importance.”


Later in 1878 he wrote In the Modern Field Spaniel :


“The feet are round and cat-like, well clothed with hair between the toes, and the pads furnished with very thick horn.


I think we can conclude by inference that he was referring to the same “horn” of foot in the field spaniel as the foxhound.


John Henry Walsh also wrote the basis for two other documents (maybe more)….the AKC Beagle and AKC Eng. Foxhound standard.     It’s from his writings that I find that all Eng. Foxhound standards (Kennel Club,  UKC, CKC,  AKC, etc etc) seem to derive from.


Interesting to note though as well, the Kennel Club altered there standard in the 2000’s to modernize the language…they changed the words “horn” to “toenails”


The United Kennel club (admitted EFH in 1905, 4 years earlier than the AKC) also modernized their standard in 2009.   The changed the terminology of “horn” to “pads”


To me, the icing on the cake is the quote, “ strong horn, which last is of the greatest importance.”     I simply can not bring myself to understand how that could reference toenails.      When I think of pads – it instantly makes sense to me.


Long ago, I was taught on a harrier and Eng. Foxhound, a good judge will lift the foot and inspect the pads…..nice soft pink pads means the specimen being examined is not a working dog and wouldn’t hold up on a hunt.     A hard “horny” pad would mean that the dogs would endure keeping up and surpassing the horses.


No hoof – no horse

No foot – no hound……


A hunting parable…



Yours respectfully,


Kevin Shupenia

Jackpot & Kingsbury Hounds

Eng. Foxhounds, Harriers and Beagles

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