The consensus among huntsmen with exclusively Penn-Marydel foxhound packs is that they're unbeatable for their nose, voice and ease of hunting.
These traits foster a fierce loyalty that not only appears to pass along through generations of foxhunters, but it also springs forth in the newly converted, making them as tenacious as their hounds.
Once hunted solely in Pennsylvania, and on the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Delaware--hence their name--the Penn-Marydel foxhound has now extended its reach across the nation and proven its versatility.
This is due in large part to its chief proponents--Todd Addis, Robert Crompton and Jody Murtaugh. Individually, they have pollinated packs from Connecticut westward.
Addis, who has an unrecognized pack, the Warwick Village Hounds (Pa.), also known as "Doc Addis' Hounds," inherited his love for Penn-Marydels from his father, who started the Perkiomen Hounds in Pennsylvania's Montgomery County.
"The Penn-Marydel is a hound that can give you everything you can take and more--stamina, tenacity to the line," Addis said. "This is the chief difference between the Penn-Marydel and other strains of hounds. You can go anywhere in the country and show whatever sport it provides."
The Addis' influence can be seen in both the De La Brooke Foxhounds (Md.) and Marlborough Hunt (Md.) packs.
"Years ago, the complaint was that Penn-Marydels weren't biddable, but hunts had just bought hounds from small, private packs, and those hounds were not part of larger packs," Addis said.
Easy To Keep
According to Crompton, jt.-MFH of Andrews Bridge Foxhounds (Pa.) and keeper of the Penn-Marydel studbook, 42 hunts recognized by the Masters of Foxhounds Association claim to have some Penn-Marydels in their packs. And about 24 hunt with exclusively Penn-Marydel packs, with both listed and registered hounds (see sidebar). In addition, many small, independent packs along the Eastern Shore and in Pennsylvania hunt with Penn-Marydel packs.
Crompton has always hunted with Penn-Marydels. In the mid-'60s he whipped-in at Huntington Valley (Pa.) while a student at Lehigh College (Pa.).
Today, his Andrews Bridge pack has 251Â³2 couple, down from the 35 to 40 couple he used to keep.
For Crompton, the Penn-Mary-del's voice has "a nice, deep note. Opposed to hounds with great cry, the note of the Penn-Marydel carries so well. It varies too with bitches, which are a bit higher. But the Penn-Marydels are all tongue. They don't run mute even if the line is really hot," Crompton said. "Their nose is why they can run well, but what holds them together is voice.
"Some Penn-Marydels have good fox sense, but our pack is more interested in running the line and putting the fox to ground," Crompton said. "They aren't interested in accounting for the fox. Penn-Marydels are really bred to show sport."
Another bonus of the breed is that they're relatively user-friendly. "The Penn-Marydel is not an aggressive breed of hound; they're placid," Crompton said. "They aren't hard-headed--they're easy in the kennel, easy to handle and not difficult to hunt. They sort of hunt themselves and don't require a lot of additional work.
"You don't need to road them continually because they're very wiry," Crompton added. "Mine are only off three months of the year and then are back in action, and they don't seem to lose their condition."
The Andrews Bridge hounds are most recognizable for their distinctive color--black and tan. The color harks back to the pack's origins. The Andrews Bridge hounds were started by Sam Riddle, who was more known for owning the famed race horse Man o' War. He began the pack at his Glen Riddle Farm in Ocean City, Md., on the Eastern Shore, at the end of the 19th century.
When Riddle died in 1951, his pack went to his nephew, Walter Jeffords Sr. He wanted to distinguish the pack from other packs, so he decided to breed black-and-tans. Crompton, MFH since 1968, kept the color.
Improving The Look
The Penn-Marydel is coming up in class at hound shows too. When Rose Tree Needy '02 was grand champion at the 2004 Virginia Hound Show, according to Crompton, "she was the best.
"There has been some very astute out-crossing on the Eastern Shore," Crompton said, leading to improvements in the breed.
Certainly, Joseph "Jody" Murtaugh, the Rose Tree MFH, agrees. "We've done a better job breeding for conformation. Judges thought that Penn-Marydel feet weren't 'cat-like', so we tightened them up," Murtaugh said. "The unusual head, which originally was the American look, we retained."
Murtaugh has been hunting with Penn-Marydels since he was 4 years old. His grandfather, M. Roy Jackson, was one of the breed's originators. The Penn-Marydel is "old-line American breeding with the old-world 'houndy' look. It's a look which has been retained while bred up for some of the modern-day expectations, such as running coyotes, bobcats and foxes with long hard runs," Murtaugh said.
It represents "a large, untapped gene pool for American hounds," he added.
Rose Tree has 27 1/2 couple, plus 12 1/2 couple of new entries and 15 puppies. These hounds are tricolors (some with ticking), solid reds, red-and-whites and some black-and-tans. Their breeding goes back to the original Kimberton pack from Chester County, Pa., and some to a pack from the Eastern Shore.
Murtaugh explained that the original Eastern Shore hounds were smaller, but they produced medium-sized hounds.
"Hounds get big fast. Now they have better food and medicine," Murtaugh said, "I prefer a medium-sized hound. Needy is on the top end at 25 inches."
Penn-Marydels are "bred into me, I couldn't see doing anything else," Murtaugh said. "With [Penn-Marydels] you can gauge your quarry, you can slow it down, so if you want to tone down the speed you can still stay within the breed," Murtaugh said. "They're so serviceable for all facets of hunting, if people know what they are doing."
John Dean, the huntsman for Wicomico Hunt (Md.), is another staunch Penn-Marydel man. His grandfather, Vernon McWilliams, hunted hounds for John Hannum, former MFH of Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Foxhounds (Pa.). Dean was born in 1948 and started hunting at age 5 in Calvert County, Md., with his uncle's private pack of Penn-Marydels.
He later built his own pack, which he took to the West Chester Hunt (Pa.) before joining Wicomico five years ago.
Today, the Wicomico pack has 351Â³2 couple of Penn-Marydels. His hounds are "a little smaller and not as tall as some, but they're swifter and hold up better in open country with lots of page wire fences, where they can go sideways and slip right through," Dean said.
The Wicomico territory is flat, swampy land in Maryland and Delaware. "It takes a while to pick up scent, so hounds need a good nose to trail a fox. The Penn-Marydel is noted for nose. I chose the Penn-Marydel because it's so versatile and can cope with any territory they are in," Dean said.
The Penn-Marydels' tenacious nose is a strong selling point. In North Carolina, "we hunt giant forests, so the deep-mouthed hound and that Penn-Marydel voice works for us here," said huntsman David Raley, who was an MFH and huntsman at De La Brooke Foxhounds and is now with Red Mountain Foxhounds (N.C.).
When Raley started hunting the Red Mountain hounds, the pack was English and Crossbred. But Raley recruited Penn-Marydels from De La Brooke, Addis and Murtaugh. "They don't cast as far forward as American and Crossbreds; they stick together more to the line of the game, and they are tenacious about it. Get a bunch of Penn-Marydels and they're very loud," Raley added.
He pointed out that De La Brooke had American hounds until 1993, when Addis started sending them Penn-Marydels. "The roots of all American hounds are similar," Raley said, "The Penn-Marydel may be more like the old southern hounds that were brought over from England around 1650.
"What appeals to me," Raley said, "is that I have a reasonable expectation of how to hunt and how they [Penn-Marydels] will act. They fit a certain style of hunting. Penn-Marydels used to run in a line like Beagles, but now they run lighter abreast, with a little more head," he said. "They don't get too far ahead of me, and my hounds honor one another. And they do well with amateur hunt staff because they're easy to hunt."
Red Mountain has 23 couple of mostly tricolor hounds with some red-and blue-tick hounds. And the hounds are doing well in the show ring too. Red Mountain Voodoo '02 was the champion Penn-Marydel at the Carolina Hound Show (N.C.) and Red Mountain Hooligan '02 is a three-time "listed" champion dog, winning at both Penn-Marydel shows and the Virginia Hound Show.
"The Penn-Marydel is not as shy as it used to be and are beginning to show off lead. Since they have a little bit different style of moving than the American and Crossbred hounds, they show better off leash," Ramey said.
Edward "Ned" Bonnie, jt.-MFH of the Long Run Hounds (Ky.), found the Penn-Marydel to be the solution to a vexing problem. The Long Run pack was a combination of very fast, aggressive imported English and Crossbred hounds. Bonnie said "they were fast enough to catch a coyote and aggressive enough to kill."
But in the early '90s, the Fund for Animals, a national animal-rights organization, initiated a lawsuit against coon hunters in Kentucky. The suit concerned the foxhunters because the limited hunting season on red fox might be seen as an opportunity by animal-rights organizations to stop foxhunting with hounds, except for a 30-day period.
So the foxhunts banded together and hired attorney Steve Beshear, the former Kentucky attorney-general and lieutenant governor, to negotiate on their behalf to remove the 30-day-only hunting rights on red fox if foxhunters would agree to hunt for sport and not to kill. As a result, the red fox season isn't limited in Kentucky and hunts agreed to be licensed and not to kill.
Bonnie explained that in keeping with the agreement, the hunt's leaders re-examined their country and analyzed the consequences of having such a fast pack. They determined that the country wasn't big enough to keep coyotes running in their territory and there were lots of unwanted kennel fights. Based on this experience, they drafted the top end of the pack and turned to Crompton and Murtaugh for Penn-Marydels. About 85 percent were black-and-tans.
"The voices of the black-and-tans are without equal," Bonnie said. "You know where they are in deep woods because they keep the cry going."
The Long Run territory is varied, some is very hilly and hard to get through, but another portion allows fast runs.
"If we're running a coyote hard with fast, aggressive hounds, the coyote runs flat out of the territory," Bonnie said. "The Penn-Marydel is more deliberate and doesn't run as fast, so coyote have a tendency to run circles, creating longer runs. It's worked out well for us--they suit our territory here."
The Mystery Of Registered Vs. Listed Hounds
The Penn-Marydel foxhound was long considered an American hound. But in the 1930s a few sportsmen decided to distinguish the type of hound that was bred and hunted in Pennsylvania and along the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Delaware. In 1934, the Penn-Marydel Association was formed to preserve the bloodlines of this type of foxhound.
Still, differences of opinion have evolved as to exactly what breeding may be registered. According to the Masters of Foxhounds Association rules, the offspring of a Penn-Marydel that is bred to an American hound is considered a "listed" hound rather than a "registered" hound. "Listed" in foxhounds has a similar to "appendix" in Quarter Horses.
Thus, all Penn-Marydels are considered American hounds if outcrossed to an American hound. Further, if a Penn-Marydel is outcrossed to a Crossbred hound, the offspring are considered to be Crossbred hounds.
Dennis Foster, the executive director of the MFHA, said that they "don't keep track of Penn-Marydels outside of them being American hounds."
Conversely, according to Robert Crompton, the Penn-Marydel Association considers both of these outcrosses as "listed" hounds in the Penn-Marydel Stud Book. The Penn-Marydel Stud Book goes back to 1933, and to be a "registered" Penn-Marydel, a hound needs to trace back five generations of registered breeding. In other words, to be considered a registered Penn-Marydel, the hound must have five clean generations of Penn-Marydel breeding without an outcross.
The proponents of the Penn-Marydel currently are working with the MFHA to have the breed recognized. Foster acknowledged that the MFHA is looking at the issue and trying to can get agreement on what a Penn-Marydel is. Jody Murtaugh and Todd Addis are representing the Penn-Marydel breed in these discussions.
Control Is The Key
Frederick Getty, the Middlebrook Hounds (Va.) jt. MFH and huntsman, raves about his Penn-Marydels. Getty said he hunted all three types of hounds and in 1977 brought the Pennsylvania Penn-Marydel to the Smithtown Hunt (N.Y.). In 1980, he left Smithtown and acquired a new pack of Penn-Marydels and has been hunting the breed ever since.
"The Penn-Marydels find a fox and own it all day until they're finished with it. While the old style Penn-Marydel was a slow, cold-nosed hound, breeding changes since the 1930s have improved the breed," Getty said.
"Now Penn-Marydels are very desirable. They're very biddable and reliable, even with changes in territory. They don't need speed--a coyote will only run as fast as it is chased."
Getty said his pack is "very obedient, deer-broke and very easy to keep off game."
In fact, Getty is especially proud of the fact that his pack was so good that he decided to breed for color. Getty said his foundation bitch was a blue-tick named Omen '80. She was bred to a blue-tick dog, and eight of 13 puppies from that match were blue-tick. He culled the other colors, and by 1986 if he bred a blue to a blue, he got an all-blue litter.
He now has a level blue-tick pack, which he said was the original color of Penn-Marydels, descendents of the French Blue de Gascoyne hounds. He said he even imported one to deepen the blue color of his pack.
"More hunts are changing to Penn-Marydels than any other hound. With country closing in, you need control, and the Penn-Marydel is very controlled," Getty said.