English Foxhound

By PetMD Editorial on Feb. 23, 2009

When thinking of the English Foxhound, the breed may conjure up images of James Bond or similar English gentlemen who go off for an afternoon hunt on horse or by foot. These loyal, obedient companions are tireless and able to run in the countryside for up to six hours with little or no rest.

Physical Characteristics

The English Foxhound is highly regarded for its powerful yet bony build. The size of it's ankle bone and the straight measurements of each stifle, meanwhile, provide the dog great stamina.

The English Foxhound can be seen black, tan, and white, or any combination of these three colors. The dog’s deep and rich voice is excellent for hunting. And many English Foxhounds have "rounded ears," so named because 1 1/2 inches are surgically removed from the ear’s end.

Personality and Temperament

This zealous trailer and sniffer is shy around strangers, known to have bouts of baying, and isn't considered a typical city dog. However, it is friendly, gentle and tolerant, and it gets along with children, horses, dogs, and other pets. A traditional pack hound, the English Foxhound makes an excellent house dog, especially if it offered both canine and human companionship.


The carefree Foxhound requires plenty of exercise. Easily covering several miles during a run, the English Foxhound can also function as a hiking companion or a jogging companion, but remember to keep it on a leash or in an enclosed area, as it is capable of running away.

The English Foxhound's coat requires the occasional brushing to get rid of dead hair. The breed can also survive temperate climates and live outdoors, but only if it has good bedding, warm shelter, and the company of other Foxhounds.


The English Foxhound, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 13 years, suffers from canine hip dysplasia (CHD) and renal disease. And though it does not have a propensity to any major or minor health concerns, hip tests are recommended for this breed of dog.

History and Background

The history of the English Foxhound dates back to 16th century Great Britain, the records of which have been meticulously maintained through English stud books. And while its exact origin is not known, it is widely accepted that the hounds gained much of their reputation in the mid-1700s through the sport of fox hunting.

The function of the hound was to pick up the scent of the fox while on the trail, leading the hunters, many of which were English gentry on horseback, to their prey. During a hunt, the master of foxhounds would organize and lead the activities. Afterwards, he would maintain the kennels and raise money for the hunt club.

As the sport grew in popularity, it was ensured that only the dogs of the best quality were produced. The pack members often shared identical coat coloration, the usual color being black saddle on a tan body. By the end of the 19th century, 140 packs of hounds were registered in England.

The English Foxhound was introduced to the United States during the 18th century, where it was crossed with other hound types to form the American Foxhound, which is thinner than its British counterpart. However, neither of these two foxhound types are considered a popular show dog or pet. Instead, many of those of whom choose the English Foxhound, do so because of its ability to lead a traditional hunting group to the game.

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