The American Foxhound is a sweet, mild-mannered canine companion—unless, of course, you’re a fox. Bred to lead Colonial-era foxhunts, American Foxhounds are fast, fearless, and determined hunting dogs.
American Foxhounds are at least somewhat indebted to George Washington for their existence. This Founding Father was an expert breeder, so the title extends to American Foxhounds as well. He crossed several dogs from England, France, and the U.S. to help create the breed, which is now the official state dog of Virginia.
Adult American Foxhounds weigh 60–70 pounds and stand 21–25 inches tall. According to the breed standard, these muscular hounds have medium, tough coats that were built for navigating the great outdoors. They can come in any color but usually feature black, tan, and white. American Foxhounds can also be identified by their gently curved tails with a slight brush on the end and their long, broad ears that endearingly flap up and down like wings when they run.
Caring for an American Foxhound
Despite their illustrious history and the fact that American Foxhounds have been recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) since 1886, the breed is quite rare. But scarcity isn’t an indication of their worthiness as family dogs, as they can do well with both two- and four-legged friends of all ages. Still, they aren’t a good fit for every home.
American Foxhounds were bred for a specific job, and some of the characteristics that make them ideal for hunting are less popular in domestic settings. For example, American Foxhounds have huge energy stores that need to be directed into appropriate activities. Prospective pet parents should expect to provide one or two hours of exercise every day.
And while American Foxhounds can generally enjoy the company of other animals, their innate prey drive means caution is warranted when introducing them to smaller pets like cats. It also means they should always exercise on a leash or within a securely fenced area.
Another noteworthy trait from the American Foxhound’s hunting days is their booming bay, with which they communicated to their human hunting companion that they were on the scent. Though early and ongoing training can help curb their conversational style, it’s probably best if your neighbors are far enough away that they won’t be bothered by a bit of baying.
American Foxhounds have huge energy stores that need to be directed into appropriate activities. Prospective pet parents should expect to provide one or two hours of exercise every day.
American Foxhound Health Issues
The American Foxhound is a generally healthy breed with a lifespan of 11–13 years. However, like all breeds, American Foxhounds are predisposed to some health conditions.
Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to a loose joint and degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis). Mild cases are treated with interventions like physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs, but severe cases may require surgery.
Common signs of hip dysplasia include:
Reluctance to get up or jump
Shifting of weight to front legs
Loss of muscle mass in the back legs
Thrombocytopathy is a clotting disorder in which a dog’s platelets (cell fragments that aid in clot formation) aren’t healthy enough to do their job. There is no cure for this disorder, and affected dogs should avoid surgery unless absolutely necessary.
Signs of thrombocytopathy in dogs include:
Bleeding gums or gingiva
Tiny bruises under the skin
Excessive bleeding from cuts or wounds
The American Foxhound’s long ears are predisposed to infection. Ask your veterinarian how and how often you should clean your dog’s ears—clean and dry ears can keep infections at bay. You should also clean your dog’s ears with a veterinary-approved ear cleaner every time your dog is in water, such as after baths or swimming.
What To Feed an American Foxhound
Every American Foxhound is unique. You’ll need to partner with your veterinarian to develop a feeding plan that’s nutritionally complete and balanced for your pup’s age, size, and health history.
How To Feed an American Foxhound
Most adult dogs should eat two meals a day: once in the morning and again in the evening. Because American Foxhound puppies have a higher metabolism than adult dogs, it’s generally best to add a midday feeding for a total of three meals. Your vet can help you determine the best feeding schedule for your dog’s age.
How Much Should You Feed an American Foxhound?
The nutrition label on your dog’s food bag includes a feeding guide that will give you a general idea of how much you should feed your American Foxhound, based on their weight. But for a more precise answer, ask your veterinarian. Your vet will tailor their recommendation to your dog’s age, weight, body condition score, lifestyle, and health needs.
Keep in mind that treats have calories, too, and they can add up fast during training sessions. Be sure to include them in your daily calorie count for a more accurate view of what your pet is eating. Treats should never be more than 10% of your dog's daily calorie requirements.
Nutritional Tips for American Foxhounds
If your American Foxhound is eating a complete and balanced diet of dog food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), they shouldn’t need supplementation.
However, nutritional supplements and even prescription diets are sometimes used to treat or prevent certain health conditions. Talk to your veterinary team before adding anything new to your dog’s diet.
Behavior and Training Tips for American Foxhounds
American Foxhound Personality and Temperament
American Foxhounds were bred to work. These are intelligent, high-energy dogs that need opportunities to wear out their body and brain every day.
Their innate prey drive can prove problematic around small animals, but American Foxhounds can make fast friendships with other dogs and humans of all ages. As long as you don’t look foxlike, they have a reputation for being mild, sweet, devoted companions.
American Foxhound Behavior
Without enough exercise (one to two hours a day) or companionship, American Foxhounds can lean into undesirable behaviors like destructive chewing, barking, and baying. Given their hunting instincts, they should always be kept on a leash or within a securely fenced area to keep them from following their noses into trouble.
American Foxhound Training
American Foxhounds are smart and easygoing, but they were also bred to work independently—a trait that can hinder training. Regardless of your American Foxhound’s temperament, all dogs benefit from consistent positive training that uses rewards instead of punishment. In addition to building and supporting the human-animal bond, positive training time has the bonus of exercising your dog’s brain and body.
If you use treats as a reward during training, be sure to factor them into your dog’s daily calorie count. Play, toys, and other things your dog enjoys can also be used as reward.
Like all dog breeds, American Foxhound puppies need to be consistently socialized so they are confident and comfortable in new situations.
Fun Activities for American Foxhounds
American Foxhound Grooming Guide
As you would expect for a dog bred for outdoor work, the American Foxhound is decidedly low maintenance. Their smooth, medium fur is tough enough to protect their skin while bounding across rugged terrain and asks very little of the pet parent in return.
Check your American Foxhound’s skin for ticks and scrapes after outdoor adventuring. Bathing isn’t typically needed unless your pup’s nose leads them into the mud.
American Foxhounds typically only need a once-a-week brushing to keep their coats clean and healthy.
Because American Foxhounds are prone to ear infections, visit the vet if you see signs of infection (redness, odor, pain, itchiness).
Considerations for Pet Parents
Here are some questions to consider before adding an American Foxhound to your family:
Am I OK with having a more talkative dog?
Do I live in a home where baying could occur without bothering neighbors?
Do I have time to provide a dog with one to two hours of exercise every day?
When outside, can I keep a dog either on a leash or within a fenced area?
Do I have the skills and patience to train a dog using positive reinforcement?
Can I give a dog daily companionship?
Am I financially prepared to provide veterinary care?
Can I provide a dog with a loving home for his lifetime, which could be 13 years or more?
If you can answer these questions with an enthusiastic “Yes!” you may be ready to parent an American Foxhound.
American Foxhound FAQs
Is an American Foxhound a good family dog?
American Foxhounds can be wonderfully sweet and devoted family dogs as long as they have the right family. These energetic hunting hounds need at least one hour of exercise a day and plenty of companionship.
Do American Foxhounds bark a lot?
American Foxhounds are highly vocal dogs. In addition to barking and howling, hounds are specifically known for their ability to bay. Baying is lower and deeper than howling and carries a greater distance.
Is the American Foxhound a rare breed?
The American Foxhound is very rare. The breed consistently ranks at the bottom of the American Kennel Club’s popularity ranking.
Do American Foxhounds drool?
American Foxhounds do not drool very much.
Featured Image: Adobe/Mary Swift
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