This breed is found primarily in large packs in the Southern and Eastern United States, where foxhunting is a favorite sport among the horsey set.
- Dog Breed Group
- Life Span
- 12 to 13 years
Adaptabilitybased on 6 ratings
Trainabilitybased on 6 ratings
Health & Groomingbased on 6 ratings
All-around friendlinessbased on 4 ratings
Exercise needsbased on 4 ratings
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Easygoing, sweet, kind, and loyal, the American Foxhound dog breed belongs to a way of life that has continued for more than two centuries, but he has the potential to be a modern-day companion as well. His stamina and love of running make him a great jogging partner for athletic owners, and his mild nature makes him an excellent family dog, so long as he gets the exercise he craves.
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When you see foxhunters in movies or on television — or out in the field if you live in hunt country — packs of American Foxhounds are leading the chase. Or perhaps you were introduced to the breed through Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy mystery series, set in Virginia hunt country with a number of American Foxhounds as key characters.
This rare breed still lives and works the way its ancestors did when they came to this country more than 200 years ago. Bred to hunt in large packs, American Foxhounds were developed from hounds brought by English settlers, who adapted them to suit the game and terrain of their new land.
American Foxhounds like the company of other dogs but can be a single companion dog if you're committed to giving them the exercise they'd normally get running around with their canine friends, and to spending the time to help them bond with their human family. Despite their size, they're mild-mannered unless they're in pursuit of their quarry. Then they become relentless in the hunt.
Like all hounds, the Foxhound is musical. Hounds are described as having bell-like voices, and their baying can carry for miles. It's best not to bring one home unless you're sure your neighbors will appreciate the concert or live far enough away that they won't be disturbed.
- The Foxhound is famed for his musical voice and his bays and howls can carry for miles; city living is not recommended for this breed.
- Foxhounds are easily distracted by various scents. Once he has decided to follow one, you'll have a difficult time calling him off.
- Foxhounds aren't homebodies and will roam if given the chance.
- Foxhounds are extremely active and need one to two hours a day of exercise. Take them on long, meandering walks with lots of sniffing time or take them on a run with you.
- Foxhounds aren't suited to living in cramped quarters; they need a large yard or, better yet, an acre or two.
- Foxhounds love to eat and easily gain weight if their food intake isn't strictly controlled.
- Foxhounds can be stubborn and independent, making training a challenge. Obedience training is important, however, to develop a better relationship with your dog and establish your position as leader of the pack.
- Foxhounds are gentle and tolerant and love children. They enjoy the company of other dogs and can learn to get along with cats if introduced to them at an early age.
When the first European settlers arrived in the American colonies, some of them brought their hounds with them. In the late 1700s, the descendents of these dogs were bred with imported Irish, English, and French hounds. The American breeders were aiming to develop a Foxhound that would be lighter, taller, and faster than his English cousin, with a keener sense of smell, to better suit the game and terrain of their new country.
George Washington was among the early American breeders. He kept a pack of American Foxhounds at Mount Vernon and tried to improve his dogs by breeding them to imported British hounds. He also bred them to French foxhounds given to him by his friend the Marquis de Lafayette, a wealthy Frenchman who fought with him in the American War of Independence.
These days, there are four types of American Foxhounds: field trial hounds, which are known for their speed and competitive spirit; slow-trailing hounds, which are known for their musical baying and used for hunting foxes on foot; drag hounds, also known as trail hounds, which are raced or hunted using an artificial lure instead of real prey; and pack hounds, used by hunters on horseback in packs of 15 to 20 or more.
Males are 22 inches to 25 inches tall and weigh 45 to 65 pounds; females are 21 inches to 24 inches tall and weigh 40 to 60 pounds.
While they're mainly sweet and easygoing, American Foxhounds have the independent and stubborn nature that's common to hounds. They've been bred to hunt with very little direction from their human companions, and they don't necessarily see why they should have to do things your way.
Foxhounds who've been raised in the company of other dogs, rather than with a human family, can be challenging because they've bonded more with their pack than with people. They'll need more time, attention, and training to help them get used to life as a family dog.
Like every dog, Foxhounds need early socialization — exposure to many different people, dogs, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps a Foxhound puppy grow up to be a friendly, well-rounded dog.
This is typically a healthy breed and isn't known to have any hereditary illnesses. On rare occasions, an American Foxhound may have the following condition:
- Thrombocytopathy is caused by poorly functioning platelets and results in abnormal or excessive bleeding from minor bumps or cuts. The treatment is based on the cause and severity of condition.
Bred to be a fast hunter who can run for miles, the American Foxhound needs a substantial amount of exercise. If he's not going to be a hunting companion, he'll need daily runs or some other form of exercise to help him burn off his natural energy. He's best suited to a home with a yard — or better yet, an acre or two; he's probably too loud for condo or apartment living.
Often raised in outdoor kennels with a pack of dogs, the American Foxhound is used to roughing it, and can live outdoors if he's got a good shelter and another social dog to keep him company. If he's an only dog, however, he should live indoors with his human pack so he won't get lonely.
Obedience training is highly recommended to help the independent Foxhound view you as leader of the pack. He won't respond well to punishment-based training, so use treats and praise to reward him for doing as you ask. And "ask" is the operative word. Hounds will flat-out ignore you if you try to boss them around. Keep an old Southern adage in mind when training an American Foxhound: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Recommended daily amount: 2 to 3 cups of a high-quality dog food a day.
NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.
Hounds like to eat. To help prevent obesity, measure your Foxhound's food before you serve it and give meals twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. You should be able to see a waist when you look down at him. Do the hands-on test periodically to make sure your dog's in good shape: place your hands over his body, thumbs along the spine and fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel his ribs beneath a layer of muscle. If they're buried beneath rolls of fat, your dog needs more exercise and less food.
Coat, Color and Grooming
American Foxhounds have a medium-length coat that lies close to the body and has a hard texture, protecting the hound from brush and briars in the field. The coat comes in many colors; as the saying goes, no good hound is a bad color.
American Foxhounds are a brush-and-go breed. A once-over with a firm bristle brush once a week removes dirt and distributes the skin oils that keep the coat healthy. You don't need to bathe your Foxhound regularly — only when you notice a strong doggy smell or he's gotten into something grimy.
Other grooming needs include dental hygiene. Brush your Foxhound's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.
Trim nails regularly if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the dog's feet in good condition and protect your legs from getting scratched when your Foxhound enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.
Start getting your Foxhound used to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience, filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy vet exams and other handling when he's an adult.
As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Ears should smell good, without too much wax or gunk inside, and eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.
Children and other pets
American Foxhounds are patient and loving with children, and it's not unusual to hear of a child learning to walk by holding onto the family Foxhound. That said, as with any breed, you should never leave a dog and a young child alone together. They should always be supervised to prevent any ear biting or tail pulling, by either party.
Bred for living in large packs, American Foxhounds are always happy to have the company of other dogs. A bored hound will find ways to entertain himself — destructive ways that you won't like — so if no one's home during the day, it's best if he has at least one canine buddy.
American Foxhounds can get along well with cats, rabbits, and other pets if they're raised with them in the home. Even so, don't leave them unsupervised with other pets until you're sure they all get along.
American Foxhounds are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many American Foxhounds in need of adoption and or fostering. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a American Foxhound rescue organization.
Below are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about the American Foxhound.
All Breed Characteristics
Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments
Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed
Health & Grooming
Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home
Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans
Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity
Adapt well to apartment living
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Affectionate with family
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
Amount of shedding
If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.
Easy to groom
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Easy to train
Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Friendly toward strangers
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
Good for novice owners
Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Potential for mouthiness
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Potential for playfulness
Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Potential for weight gain
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.
Tendency to bark or howl
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?
Tolerates being alone
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Tolerates cold weather
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Tolerates hot weather
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.
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