Breed Profile: American Foxhound

American foxhounds are a rare breed native to America. They are fast runners with a great sense of smell and are often used in hunting packs.

American foxhounds are great hunters. By: Adam Franco
American foxhounds are great hunters. By: Adam Franco

Breed

American foxhound

Group

Hound

Physical Description

The American foxhound is native to the United States, as the name suggests, and is one of the rarest breeds in the country.

This fast hound was bred to run and has an excellent sense of smell. The dog is lighter and taller than one of its ancestors, the English foxhound. Height ranges from 21 to 25 inches tall with a weight average between 65 and 75 pounds. The large eyes are brown or hazel, and the short, hard coat may be any color. Average life expectancy is around 12 years.

Origin

A group of hounds arrived in America in 1650 with Robert Brooke. More were brought in from France and England to incorporate into the breed in the 1700s. The cross between the French and English hounds created the American foxhound. The new breed was developed in Maryland, Virginia and Tennessee.

The reasons for the new breed included a faster hound for field trials, fox hunting, trailing and dragging and using 15 to 20 dogs in a pack (typical in hunting clubs and farms). The dogs were also used to find American Indians and to later hunt wild animals. The American Kennel Club added the breed to its registry in 1886.

Fun fact: George Washington had foxhounds and ran a breeding program.

Purpose

Originally a fox hunter and hunting companion, today the foxhound is a companion pet and participates in field trials, hunting, conformation, tracking, agility and as a watchdog.

Temperament

Affection and a gentle nature are evident in the home, yet in the field the foxhound is focused, fiercely courageous and fast. The breed is known to get along with children and other dogs very well (a pack mentality drives them to other dogs).

They should not be allowed near non-canine pets because of their strong hunting instincts, although this may vary if they have been raised with another animal.

Foxhounds are pack animals used to being outdoors with other dogs. The breed is not ideal for homes, although this will depend on the actual dog since no two dogs are identical. Baying and barking is common.

Exercise Needs

The American foxhound breed is extremely active and energetic indoors and out, so apartment life is not ideal unless the owner is active every day. Farms or rural areas are the ideal setting for the foxhound. Daily walks, jogs and/or vigorous play are necessary for this dog to expel energy and avoid behavioral problems. Consistent training is also required to keep unwanted bad behavior from occurring.

Training can be a challenge; foxhounds are independent thinkers. They are also known for wandering off while tracking a scent just as the bloodhound or treeing walker coonhound does, so it is important to keep these hounds leashed or in an enclosed area for safety.

Check out this video of Texas and Viggo to get an idea of the sounds and playful nature of the American foxhound:

Grooming Requirements

The American foxhound sheds an average amount, and the short coat needs only a weekly brush. Bathing should be done only as necessary so the skin does not dry out.

For outdoor working dogs, check the body, paws and ears after every outing to look for bugs, debris and injuries. Maintain the nails, the teeth and the ears to keep your foxhound healthy.

Common Health Problems

The American foxhound is a healthy breed. They are prone to overeating, so food intake should be portioned and monitored.

Is the American Foxhound the Right Dog for You?

Make no mistake about the American foxhound: These are not quiet, relaxed lap dogs.

Having an American foxhound as your companion is a daily commitment to exercise and outings; the dog has so much energy that staying inside or lacking an outlet to expel that energy can lead to behavioral problems. Having access to an outdoor area is a must, so apartment life is not recommended unless you are active outdoors.

This dog breed does best in rural areas or on farms. The foxhound’s strong sense of smell can lead it to wander in search of the source, so be prepared to keep your pet on a lead or in an enclosed area.

American foxhounds have a pack mentality and thrive in the company of other dogs, but they should not be allowed around non-canine animals because of their strong hunting instinct. They do well with children and a family setting, but consistent training is strongly recommended and can be challenging. The foxhound has a tendency to be, well, stubborn — so training should be an ongoing commitment.

Grooming is minimal, and the American foxhound is one of the healthiest in the canine world.

If these breed recommendations sound overwhelming, don’t stress. The more information you have about a breed before you get a new dog, the better match you can make for the dog’s sake and yours. If you live in an apartment, or if you don’t venture out much, or if you prefer a lap dog to cuddle with on a quiet night, this is not the ideal breed for you. However, if you are an active person who doesn’t mind reinforcing dog training, the foxhound is a wonderful breed to consider for your next dog.

Adopt, Don’t Shop

American foxhounds, just like any other purebred dog, can end up in shelters and rescues. Please check our adoptable search first to see if one is out there right now who needs a loving home. If you decide to purchase a puppy or dog from a breeder, it’s important that you read Petful’s list of puppy mill red flags to ensure the breeder is responsible, reputable and raises healthy, happy dogs.

If you plan to spend more time indoors than out, look for a foxhound from a show line (dogs bred to show in conformation) instead of hunting lineages.

Additional Resources

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