American Foxhound: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Pack of American Foxhounds with horse in field

  dageldog / Getty Images

The American foxhound is a medium-sized hound dog breed with a lean and athletic build, long legs, floppy ears, and a short, smooth coat that is typically a mix of white, black, and tan. This distinguished dog breed has plenty of history and heart, and while it may share a resemblance with one of America's most popular dogs, this hound is much more than a larger Beagle. The hardworking foxhound is all-American despite its British and European heritage, and this leggy, vocal breed is best recognized for its melodious bay.

Historically speaking, the American foxhound was prized for its pack hunting prowess, and it was a favorite choice among hunters (particularly on horseback). In more recent years, the breed has found a place in family homes and hearts thanks to its easygoing and friendly nature. American foxhounds are particularly noted for being very patient with children, and they're great companions for active households. If you can meet the activity and environmental needs of this breed, you’ll be delighted to have the loyal foxhound by your side.

Breed Overview

Group: Hound

Height: 22 to 25 inches (males); 21 to 24 inches (females)

Weight: 65 to 70 pounds (males); 60 to 65 pounds (females)

Coat: Short, smooth coat

Coat Color: Combinations of white, black, and tan

Life Span: 11 to 13 years

Temperament: Sweet-tempered, active, independent, stubborn, loyal

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: United States

Characteristics of the American Foxhound

As pack animals, American foxhounds aren’t content to lead a solitary life. They crave companionship—whether human or animal—and do best in homes with people around for most of the day. Your foxhound will enjoy the company of other dogs when you're away from home.

When well-exercised and socialized, not much seems to rattle the foxhound. However, keep in mind that like all hounds, they were bred to work. These aren't lap dogs; they tend to have an independent temperament and can be shy or standoffish toward strangers. The best way to sum up the American foxhound's personality may be "docile but reserved."

The attributes that make the American foxhound a superb hunter are also a challenge for city life. The dogs possess a unique and far-reaching bay (a special hunting bark that more resembles a howl). This bay is particularly melodious, according to experts, but some foxhounds develop separation anxiety and bay excessively when left alone. Baying is an inherited behavior and can’t be trained out of the dog. Hound enthusiasts love this unique bark, but it also means these dogs are best-suited to rural life.

Affection Level Medium
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the American Foxhound

The origin story of the American foxhound starts across the pond. In 1650, English foxhounds were brought to colonial America from Britain by a man named Robert Brooks. However, the new frontier had its own topography and challenges, and it was recognized early on that the breed needed longer legs to cover the land and keep pace on a hunt. The English foxhound was bred with other European hounds in the United States, and the resulting hunting companion came to be known as the American foxhound.

Perhaps the most famous breeder of the American foxhound was George Washington. As it turns out, America’s founding father was also key to developing the American foxhound as we know it today. Colloquial history holds that in 1785, Washington bred English foxhounds with French hounds he received as gifts from Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and American military commander. Later, the dogs were crossed with Irish hounds to create a speedier animal that could keep better pace with American foxes. Washington kept careful records regarding the breeding and pedigree of his pack, and thereby greatly contributed to the growth and establishment of this breed.

The American foxhound was first bred in Virginia and Maryland, and it received AKC recognition in 1886. As a nod to the breed’s rich history in the area, Virginia made it the official state dog in 1966. Not generally known as a household pet, the American foxhound has been bred and prized for its sporting ability and seemingly endless stamina. The sport of foxhunting has greatly contributed to the breed’s longevity. In fact, early American history shows that foxhunting was one of the most popular sports for the American gentry until the Civil War era. Even today, the sport is popular in equestrian society and relies on the participation of pack hounds—many of which are the classic American foxhound.

Illustration of American Foxhound in 1894, black and white foxhound
 THEPALMER/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

American Foxhound Care

Understanding the nature of the American foxhound is key to living a happy life with this easygoing but energetic breed. These dogs need plenty of exercise every day to be satisfied, and they're known for stubbornly following their own desires (a trait that makes them excel when pursuing a scent on the hunt). In the grooming department, the American foxhound's short coat is easy to care for.


Owners should be aware that these dogs have boundless energy that needs a daily outlet to avoid undesirable behavior. It’s important to remember that American foxhounds were bred for their speed and stamina. They have a seemingly limitless amount of energy, and this comes with significant daily exercise needs. Be prepared to spend up to two hours every day exercising your foxhound. It's best if you have a secure, fenced area for your dog to run in as a supplement to structured exercise time. These dogs love to be on the move, and if they’re left alone in the house, they can become destructive when finding their own entertainment.

Like other scent hounds, the American foxhound has a keen sense of smell and a one-track mind when it gets on the trail of prey. For this reason, you should never trust your foxhound to walk off-leash—especially in the city, where the threat of being hit by a car or becoming lost is even greater. This dog was bred to follow a scent and ignore everything else in its surroundings. This means that your foxhound is very unlikely to follow recall commands if it takes off after birds, cars, people, or other animals.


One area where the foxhound is particularly low-maintenance is grooming. These dogs have a short, smooth coat that lies close to the body. The coarse hair doesn’t become easily matted, but it does have a tendency to shed around the house. Owners should brush this breed about once per week to keep its coat healthy and reduce shedding. Bathe your foxhound on an as-needed basis when its fur becomes noticeably dirty.

Like other dog breeds, foxhounds should also have their teeth brushed, nails trimmed, and ears cleaned on a regular basis. Checking your dog's ears for debris each week and cleaning them monthly is especially important for this breed. Floppy ears hold in moisture, and this makes the foxhound easily susceptible to ear infections. If you notice signs like redness, irritation, swelling, or your dog pawing at its ears and shaking its head often, a trip to the vet should be scheduled as soon as possible to begin medication. Ear infections can progress quickly and become very painful. For dogs that have experienced multiple infections, owners should talk to a veterinarian to determine how often the ears should be cleaned.


The American foxhound has an independent streak that helps it excel in the field, but this can cause challenges in household settings. As a foxhound owner, you should make obedience training a priority from an early age when puppies are about eight weeks old. Otherwise, you may end up with a stubborn dog that resists learning the basics of house training or recall commands.

Positive reinforcement methods are effective for this breed. Training sessions should be kept short and performed frequently to keep the dog interested, as it's likely to wander off when training becomes boring. Avoid any methods that use punishment—these are often counterproductive. Foxhounds have very sensitive personalities and may become fearful of their owners (and thus, less likely to obey their commands) if yelling is involved.

Two American Foxhound puppies in wooden box
 Andrew Fladeboe/Moment Open/Getty Images
American foxhound in snow
 Pro16productions/iStock/Getty Images
American foxhounds and horse
 Ingram Publishing/Getty Images
American foxhounds in pursuit on a hunt
Dageldog/Getty Images

Common Health Problems

One of America’s oldest breeds, the American foxhound has remained very genetically healthy. These dogs are known for being hardy, however, they may be prone to diseases based on their size and long ears. When adopting a puppy from a breeder, always ask to be provided with the medical history of the litter's parents.

The following conditions can sometimes affect American foxhounds:

  • Thrombocytopathy: This blood platelet disorder can cause abnormal bleeding because of complications with natural clotting.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Common in large dog breeds, this condition affects your dog's hip joints and causes a malformation as they grow. Hip dysplasia may require surgery in severe cases to help your dog live comfortably.
  • Ear infections: Like other dogs with long, floppy ears, American foxhounds are especially prone to ear infections. This can cause permanent hearing damage and severe pain, so it's important for owners to seek a veterinarian's help as soon as any signs are present.

Diet and Nutrition

Like all dogs, the American foxhound thrives when fed high-quality dog food, either commercial or homemade when supervised by your veterinarian. Keep in mind that these active canines will require a protein-rich food source, and it’s best to skip formulas with a lot of filler. Since these dogs are food-motivated and will likely overeat when given the opportunity, it's best to keep healthy treats to a minimum.

Feed your American foxhound two measured meals per day. If you're unsure how much food your dog needs, ask your veterinarian to help you determine a healthy meal and portion schedule based on your specific dog's age, weight, and activity level.

Where to Adopt or Buy an American Foxhound

The American foxhound can bring great joy and unique challenges to your household, so it's helpful to talk to breeders and other foxhound owners before adopting your own. If you're certain this breed is right for you, the best place to find your next best friend is at your local shelter. The foxhound's exercise needs can contribute to it ending up in shelters when owners aren't prepared to keep up with its care. To make an American foxhound part of your pack, check out breed-specific rescues that help these dogs find forever homes.

If you plan to purchase an American foxhound puppy, it's essential to ensure you work with a responsible breeder. Ensure you're provided with the litter's medical records, allowed to meet their parents, and able to see that the dogs are kept in a comfortable, safe indoor location. These puppies typically cost between $500 to $1,000, but prices may vary based on pedigree and availability. Breeders are most likely to be found in regions where hunting is a popular sport.

Breed-specific rescues and the AKC can help you start your search:

American Foxhound Overview

  • Generally healthy with a low-maintenance coat

  • Easygoing, patient, and loyal to owners and kids

  • Great stamina as a hiking or running partner

  • Requires considerable daily exercise

  • Loud and unique bark that may disturb neighbors

  • Strong prey drive that tends to override training

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you love the American foxhound, you may also like these similar hound breeds:

There's a whole world of dog breeds out there that can join your family. With a little research, you can find the perfect match to bring home!

  • Are American Foxhounds Good Pets?

    American foxhounds make wonderful and loving family dogs for those that can keep up with their exercise needs. These dogs do best in homes with large fenced-in yards to run around in as they please, and they also need consistent companionship from their people or other dogs in the home.

  • Are American Foxhounds Aggressive?

    American foxhounds are not known for being aggressive. These sweet-natured, gentle dogs are friendly towards people and other dogs, and they even do well with cats when introduced properly.

  • Do American Foxhounds Howl?

    Like other hound breeds, American foxhounds bay, which sounds like a cross between a howl and a bark. This bay is essential to let hunters and other canine hunting partners know that they're on the trail of an animal, but because it's in their genes to be excessively vocal, this breed is not recommended for urban living with nearby neighbors.