Raised to hunt, the American Foxhound is typically a low-maintenance, social breed—a good companion for families and people with other pets. American Foxhounds need plenty of exercise and attention. Without it, they tend to become depressed, which can lead to trouble.
American Foxhound Traits
The American Foxhound has a moderately long, muscular and strong body with large eyes and a gentle, pleading expression.
Coat and Colouring
The American Foxhound has a close, hard coat of medium length. It’s traditionally black and tan with white, or mostly white with black and tan.
Distinctive Physical Traits
American Foxhounds have fairly long, slightly domed skulls, with low and long-reaching ears, and large eyes that are set far apart. Their muscular shoulders are sloped, and their hips and thighs are strong.
American Foxhound Temperament
Like most hounds, the American Foxhound excels at hunting and chasing. After all, they’ve been bred to spend hours doing so. In the absence of a daylong hunt, keeping this energetic breed happy usually requires at least an hour or two of stimulating exercise each day.
With the proper amount of exercise, this breed is intelligent and good-humored, with all the makings of an excellent pet. But without it, the American Foxhound may get into trouble—channeling all that anxious energy into destructive behaviors.
The breed is also known for its loud howls that, in an apartment or city setting, can be very intrusive. Early socialization and training can help them be friendly toward strangers and other animals and reduce their tendency to howl.
American Foxhound History
One of the first breeds the American Kennel Club ever recognized, the American Foxhound can trace its roots back to 1886.
Historical records suggest George Washington was an avid fox hunter. For this hobby, he kept hounds descended from imported British dogs. Eventually, he crossed these hounds with French breeding stock from Marquis de Lafayette—a French aristocrat and military officer who fought in the American Revolutionary War.
From there, what would become the American Foxhound continued to evolve throughout the post-Colonial period, especially in the South. Eventually, it became its own breed, completely separate from its English Foxhound ancestor.
The American Foxhound is currently the state dog of Virginia, where it began its American journey.
American Foxhound Care
As an active and energetic breed, the American Foxhound requires a high-quality dog food that’s suited to their particular age—as well as any additional health concerns.
You should monitor the amount of food and treats that you give your American Foxhound, especially since they love to eat and are prone to becoming overweight. Your veterinarian is always a good source for appropriate nutrition and feeding guidelines.
The American Foxhound has a short coat with a hard texture that’s easy to care for. Weekly grooming sessions with a bristle brush or grooming mitt should be all you need to handle stray hairs and keep shedding at bay. Bathing isn’t usually necessary, either, unless your Foxhound has gotten into something outside.
All dogs require regular dental care, including at-home teeth brushing and professional dental cleanings, and American Foxhound is no exception. Maintaining good dental hygiene is important for their overall long-term health.
Before you get an American Foxhound, it’s essential to first consider the exercise requirements necessary to keep this breed happy and healthy. In the absence of long hunts, American Foxhounds need a couple of hours of daily activity.
Since they love being with their people, long walks or hikes are a fun way to meet this exercise quota. But remember to always keep your Foxhound on a leash in areas that aren’t fenced. Once this breed finds a scent it would like to track, it can be incredibly difficult to get a Foxhound back.
Besides walks and hikes, this breed also enjoys canine sports like tracking and course ability tests.
Noble and affectionate, the American Foxhound has two sides. They tend to be easygoing, but can also be independent and exhibit streaks of stubbornness. So, a little patience is key when it comes to these dogs. Maintaining a strict exercise schedule is arguably the best way to keep them from misbehaving.
Beyond that, obedience training can help reinforce desired behaviors while providing mental exercise. American Foxhounds that are properly trained and exercised are often mild-tempered, loving pets that get along with children and other animals alike.
The most common ancestral trait of this group is being used for hunting. Some use acute powers of scent to follow a trail while others demonstrate the gift of stamina as they run down a quarry. Beyond these two common traits, however, generalizations about hounds are hard to come by as the group is comprised of a very diverse lot of breeds.
Reviewed 26 July 2020 by Cindy Elston, DVM, MPH