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American Foxhound

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

american foxhound_Olga Aniven_Shutterstock

Height 20-25 inches
Weight 40-80 pounds
Lifespan 10-12 years
Colors White, tri-color, blue, red, tan, white and cream
Suitable for Hunters, those looking for an intelligent yet independent dog
Temperament Loving, smart, loyal, good-natured, loud, determined

The American Foxhound isn’t as well-known of a breed as you might expect. Often mistaken for Beagles or their English cousins, American Foxhounds are actually bigger and lankier than either of those breeds.

Still, these are reliable hunting dogs that also make wonderful family pets, so it makes sense that they’d get confused with the Beagle. While their sweet and easygoing nature makes them wonderful pets, they do have other characteristics that may not suit them for city life.

If you’d like to learn more about these wonderful dogs, this guide should have all the information that you’d ever want.

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American Foxhound Puppies — Before You Buy

Energy
Shedding
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

It’s hard not to fall in love with the American Foxhound at first sight. These dogs are downright adorable, and they have sweet, gentle personalities to match.

While they make fantastic pets in general, there’s no guarantee that they’ll make a fantastic pet for you. It’s essential that you understand everything that goes along with owning one of these dogs before you bring one home, or else you could be in for a nasty surprise.

It’s important to remember that these dogs were bred to be hunting dogs, and dedication to that cause runs deep in their DNA. They may have certain predispositions that make them poor fits for apartment life especially.

None of this is to say that you can’t have an American Foxhound in a small apartment in the city, however — many people have them in such situations and they thrive. We just want to make sure that you understand the challenges that may accompany owning one of these dogs.

After all, one of the biggest reasons that people abandon their dogs is because they’re a poor fit for their living situation. As long as you understand what you’re getting into when you adopt an American Foxhound, you should be more than satisfied with the result.

What’s the Price of American Foxhound Puppies?

American Foxhounds are a fairly rare breed, and tracking down a breeder can be a bit of a chore. You might have to be willing to travel a fair distance in order to get your hands on a puppy.

Given their rarity, these dogs are surprisingly affordable, usually costing somewhere between $500 and $1,000. That number may go up substantially if you want a dog with championship bloodlines, but that’s only important if you’re looking to breed or show the animal.

Another thing that might drive up the price is the amount of training that the dog is given. If you’re buying them primarily as a hunting animal, then you might want the breeder to also teach them the proper way to assist during a hunt. That can also increase the cost, but in that case, you’ll primarily be paying for the training, not the dog itself.

American Foxhounds are rare enough that it’s unlikely you’ll run into a puppy mill or backyard breeder when shopping for one. Still, it makes sense to be on the lookout for disreputable characters; if the puppy you’re considering is kept in foul conditions or acts aggressive or standoffish, you might want to find another breeder.

You can sidestep that issue entirely (and save a few hundred bucks) by adopting your pet from the pound or a rescue group. However, if you’re dead-set on having a purebred animal, it might take a while before one shows up at either of those places.

3 Little-Known Facts About American Foxhound

1. One of the Men Responsible for Developing the Breed Also Created Something Else of Note

american foxhound_Giovanni Gio_Pixabay
Image Credit: Giovanni Gio, Pixabay

Many of the hunting breeds that are native to America are descended from dogs brought over by a man named Robert Brooke in the 17th century. His dogs, known as ”Brooke’s hounds,” were successfully bred for over 300 years.

One of the men who owned several of Brooke’s hounds — and intermingled them with French Foxhounds and Grand Bleu de Gascognes to create the modern American Foxhound — was none other than George Washington.


2. They Can Be Loud — Very Loud

American Foxhounds bark about as much as any other breed, but their bark isn’t the problem. Their bays are what will keep your neighbors up and possibly get you evicted from your apartment.

Remember, these dogs were bred to hunt in packs. Hunters would turn the pack loose after a fox, and when one had their quarry up a tree, they’d have to signal to the rest of the group (and the hunter) to come running.

During the course of a hunt, a dog could put quite a bit of distance between themselves and the rest of the pack, so their signal would need to carry for a few miles. That sound — a long, deep, mournful howl — is known as “baying,” and while it’s extremely helpful out in the deserted countryside, it’s not quite as appreciated in the confines of a cramped apartment building.


3. They Need High Fences, Maybe Several of Them

While these dogs are often kept as pets, they still love to hunt. They’re so enamored by it, in fact, that they can become quite single-minded about chasing down their prey.

That means if you have them in your backyard, they’re liable to break out of the fence and try to chase down whatever scent caught their fancy. They won’t stop until they find it either, and that can take them miles away from home.

It’s easy to lose one of these dogs quite by accident, so if you’re planning on adopting one, be sure to give your fencing a thorough inspection before you leave them outside unattended. Also, this is one breed that should never be allowed to roam off-leash.


Temperament & Intelligence of the American Foxhound

Given how determined they are as hunters, you might expect the American Foxhound to have a feisty, aggressive personality. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.

These dogs are extremely laidback and easygoing, and they’re thrilled to just be in your presence. They get along with just about anyone (maybe not foxes), and they’re seldom prone to aggression.

In some cases, these dogs will be shy and reserved around new people. However, that usually wears off quickly, and it rarely turns nasty.

Their intelligence is a bit of a question mark. Traditionally, most scent hound breeds have ranked low on the canine intelligence charts, and the American Foxhound is no exception. However, many people believe that the doggy IQ tests that are generally used discriminate against them, as they rely on the animal’s ability to process visual cues, whereas these breeds are scent-motivated.

Another thing that works against them is their easygoing stubbornness. They likely won’t feel the need to show off during training sessions by doing what you say, and that leads many people to assume that they’re stupid. They can be quite clever when properly motivated, though.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?

Due to their sweet disposition and almost limitless patience, American Foxhounds are excellent family pets. They get along especially well with smaller children, although they should still never be left unsupervised with them.

You should keep in mind, however, that aggressiveness isn’t the only way that a dog can injure a child. These are big pups, and they can be excitable, so it’s not unusual for them to bowl over an unlucky toddler who couldn’t get out of the way in time.

You may need to enlist the entire family in tuckering them out too. These dogs have boundless energy, and they’ll run around as much as you’ll let them. You may need to work in shifts to burn off all that excess energy.

The combination of all that energy and the occasional baying fits makes them a poor choice for apartment life, although it’s not impossible with the proper training. But they thrive in rural settings, where they can really stretch their legs out while howling to their heart’s content.

Be sure that you can keep them contained, though, or else you could be setting your family up for heartbreak when the dog busts out of their fenced-in yard.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

You’d expect a breed whose entire existence is predicated on hunting down smaller animals to be a poor choice for your menagerie, but American Foxhounds are surprisingly good with all sorts of other animals.

They’re used to working in packs, so they’ll welcome another dog into their lives. They’ll also be grateful for the gift of a companion that can keep up with them.

Be careful about pairing them with other hounds or breeds that like to howl, like Siberian Huskies. They could encourage each other to let loose, and you (and your neighbors) could be treated to a moonlight serenade at 3 a.m.

They also tolerate cats and other small creatures well, especially if they’re raised with them. They have a surprisingly low prey drive, so you might be able to have them around cats, gerbils, hamsters, etc. We wouldn’t leave them alone together unless you’re certain that everything will be fine, however.

Things to Know When Owning an American Foxhound

American Foxhounds are fairly rare, so you might not know what to do with one once you’ve brought them home.

Fortunately, they’re not unlike other dogs in many ways, but it would still behoove you to do your research before buying one. We’ve taken the liberty of doing much of that research for you here.

Food & Diet Requirements

Obesity is one of the biggest health issues facing the breed, so it’s extremely important to be particular about their diet. Be strict with portion control, and try not to feed them a kibble that’s loaded with junk. That means avoiding cheap filler ingredients like corn, wheat, and soy. These give your dog short bursts of energy but do little beyond that — except expand their waistline, of course.

Instead, look for a high-protein food that uses lean cuts of quality meat. Avoid anything that says that it’s made with animal by-products, as those are low-grade cuts of meat that were rejected for other purposes. They could come from long-dead or diseased animals, and you do not want your dog consuming them.

One area in which people let these pups get out of control is training treats. They can be stubborn during training sessions, and inexperienced owners sometimes resort to bribing them with food to get them to comply. Not only does that result in a less-well-trained dog, but all those calories also add up over time.

You may also want to consider supplementing their diets with glucosamine or omega fatty acids, as these can help keep joint problems and arthritis at bay. Don’t use them as a substitute for a lean, healthy diet, though.

  • Exercise

Given how laidback these dogs are, you’d think that they’d be down for a marathon Netflix session, but American Foxhounds can run all day long, or at least it seems that way. They’re a great fit for active families or those with enough room to let them run around for hours on end. If you’re a couch potato, though, both you and your dog will likely end up miserable.

Walks aren’t really going to cut it. They need to run, and they’re marathoners, not sprinters. Taking them for a long jog is a good idea, as is allowing them to lope around a dog park for a few hours.

If you don’t give them enough exercise, they’ll become prone to all sorts of behavioral issues, with excessive vocalization and destructiveness being two of the biggest. You want these dogs to be so pooped, they can’t get in trouble — but that’s much easier said than done.

It’s also useful to tucker them out mentally as well. They love to play games that challenge their sense of smell. They may not be into more visually-centered games like fetch, though.

  • Training

Training is one area in which American Foxhound owners often have trouble with their dogs. These animals are fiercely independent and can be quite stubborn, making them a poor fit for novice owners.

They’re not the type to do something just because you say to do it; instead, they often need to be convinced that the thing is worth their while.

They’re also easily distracted, as the slightest scent trail on the breeze could catch their attention. They will almost always choose their noses over anything else, so it’s difficult to command their attention in a distraction-rich environment.

To get the best results out of training them, you should use positive reinforcement and try to limit your sessions to areas that aren’t likely to be too distracting. You should also cater your sessions to their strengths, so teaching them skills that are scent-based are more likely to be successful.

If you don’t feel up to the task of training your Foxhound, don’t hesitate to retain the services of a professional. Proper training is important for these dogs, and it’s much better to outsource the task than leave it undone.

Grooming

American Foxhounds have short, bristly coats and they shed constantly. Your entire life will be filled with reminders of their presence.

If you brush them regularly — at least once a week — you can greatly reduce the problem, but it’s unlikely that you will ever completely eliminate it.

That said, you can probably skip bath time unless they’re visibly dirty (which, to be fair, they often will be).

Beyond that, you should clean out their ears every week with a damp cloth, brush their teeth every day, and trim their nails as needed. If you let them run around as much as they’d like, though, you might be able to skip the nail trimming entirely.

Health and Conditions

By and large, American Foxhounds are healthy animals — when their weight is kept in check, that is. Obesity can wreak havoc on their health, and it’s one of the best ways to shorten their lives and reduce their quality of life.

Beyond that, you should be on the lookout for the following conditions.

Serious Conditions:
  • Thrombocytopathy
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Pelger-Huet anomaly
Minor Conditions:
  • Ear infections

Male vs. Female

Males tend to be both taller and heavier than females, although females tend to mature faster, both physically and mentally.

Females also tend to be a bit more independent, although males aren’t far behind.

All in all, though, you aren’t likely to see any major differences between the two sexes.

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Final Thoughts

American Foxhounds aren’t for everyone, but if you have enough time, energy, and space to devote to them, they can be excellent companions. It’s hard not to fall in love with their sweet dispositions, and they have a goofy streak a mile wide.

They also have incredible stamina, and they require a truly massive amount of exercise. Most people simply can’t keep up with them, and that’s not fair to dog or owner.

If you’re an overachiever with enough vim and vigor to keep up with these dogs, though, an American Foxhound might be the best friend that you’ve ever had.

Check out these other incredible dog breeds:


Featured Image Credit: Olga Aniven, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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