Continuing our feature on how breeding plans are crafted, Brazos Valley Hounds (TX) huntsman Sandy Dixon, who has been Master for 25 years, discusses the type of hound she requires for her country and quarry. Her hounds have also achieved sustained successes at shows across the country. Dixon: There is a certain type of American hound that I prefer in my kennel. The number one priority is biddability with a kind eye.
Dixon with Brazos Valley Marley '10 (BV Catfish '06 x their Meadow '06). Photo courtesy of Sandy Dixon.
I have a personal "rule" with any hound - if they won't look me directly into my eyes, I feel they don't trust me and consequently I don't have trust in them. We have a fair amount of young people and Pony Club kids who visit the kennel, thus I insist that they can enter any pen without me worrying about any rough hounds.
I prefer to hunt litters of hounds because I think they have similar talents, speed, and being raised together will stay together without much encouragement. Our territories are rather large with minimal trails, and in some areas are heavily wooded so the pack will be out of my sight when searching for quarry. I insist that they return to the trailer when called in, since we haul to our meets. I also like a large heavily-muscled American hound with long legs to give them speed, however, on the flip side I do not like a hound that fights in kennel. They can be a little scrappy, but no fighting.
Brazos Valley Mudbug '14 (BV Jett '12 x their Minnow '10). Photo courtesy of Sandy Dixon.
We hunt coyotes,however, in the last few years Texas has been overrun with wild hogs. That being said, I will let the hounds pursue a hog, however, I want them to be smart enough to realize when they are in trouble with a large boar or sow with babies. Basically they are allowed to chase coyotes or small hogs, but if they switch over to the boars or sows, I shoot into the air with a loud report .22 blank. Being sensitive American hounds, and heavy American Crossbreds, this is enough to stop their chase, and hopefully this will educate them enough when hunting on the outside.
When choosing a bitch to breed, I take a great deal of time to make a decision because as a small hunt with a small membership, I only breed one per year. since I prefer to keep litters, I have to reach outside to breed to keep from breeding too close. When visiting Piedmont Fox Hounds (VA) last spring, there was a large hound that certainly caught my eye immediately. Their huntsman, Jordan Hicks, asked Master Tad Zimmerman if he could be drafted to us as a stallion hound.
Piedmont Bullseye '17, by American hound Erskine '13 and Crossbred bitch Bimbo 12, was on his way to Texas to add new blood to my pack. I know Brazos Valley is known for American hounds, which are certainly my favorite, however, there are so few American lines, I feel the need to use a heavy American Crossbred back to one of my American bitches. Pickle '16 is out of our Molly '10 (littermate to Marley, who was Champion at the Virginia Foxhound Show) by Mystic '10, out of a Potomac-bred bitch entered with us, Meadow '06.
Pickle is a nice large-boned female with a beautiful head, perfect feet and above average conformation and she hunts well. I do not like to use a front running bitch, I prefer to use a middle of pack runner to keep my pack from getting too fast or too slow. Bullseye is a heavy Crossbred hound with lovely pedigree, and he fell into my pack pretty much in the middle to back, probably because of his size and being unfamiliar with our territory. He is extremely kind, biddable and very popular with the membership.
The Bullseye-Pickle litter arrived on Valentine's Day - eight dogs and one bitch.