English Foxhound: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

An English Foxhound resting outdoors.

 AElisa / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Despite their popularity as hunting dogs, English Foxhounds are rarely kept as companion dogs. In fact, they currently rank 188th out of 195 breeds officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. English Foxhounds, but can make excellent pets for very active homes. They're pack-oriented, loyal, and gentle, and would make the perfect running or horseback riding partner. English Foxhounds are consider kid-friendly, and it's believed they actually fare better in a home with multiple dogs.

As previously mentioned, English Foxhounds are a good pick for active households. These hounds require extensive, daily exercise in a fenced-in yard (English Foxhounds will innately pursue prey outdoors) or on a leash. Because English Foxhounds have high exercise needs—and, accordingly, high energy levels—they're not recommended for families with extremely busy schedules, those who are away from the home for extended periods of time, or people living in smaller spaces. It's typically recommended that English Foxhounds get between 30 and 60 minutes of vigorous exercise every day. It's important to note: These dogs can become destructive if they become bored or have excess energy to burn.

With the proper obedience training and exercise, however, English Foxhounds can make excellent family pets in homes with other dogs.

Breed Overview

Group: Hound

Height: 24 inches to the shoulder

Weight: 60 to 75 pounds

Coat: Short, dense, glossy coat that requires little grooming

Coat Color: Tri-color coat coming in white, tan, and black, with flecks of gray or yellow occasionally

Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

Characteristics of the English Foxhound

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

History of the English Foxhound

Throughout Medieval England, it was most common for English aristocrats and their packs of hounds to hunt deer; hunting smaller animals, like red foxes—which were considered pests—was reserved for lower-class farmers and groundskeepers. As England's forests receded during the Middle Ages, however, fox hunting became an accepted pastime for English aristocracy and higher-class folks.

The classic English fox hunt, featuring backs of hounds and Englishmen on horseback, originated sometime during the 1600s. At this time, breeders began to develop a suitable fox hunting dog by breeding larger, deer-hunting hounds with long-legged, Greyhound-type dogs. This blend of scent-hunting and endurance, and agility produced the English Foxhound.

By the 1700s, English fox hunts had become extremely popular throughout England—and even became a trend in colonial America. Records show that George Washington and his friends often hosted fox hunts on their large plantations. It's believed that George Washington was one of the originators of the American Foxhound.

Because English Foxhounds were typically kept as hunting companions, today, they're the least popular breed registered by the American Kennel Club. This can make it extremely difficult for families to purchase or adopt English Foxhounds in the United States.

A historic image of a Foxhound hunting.
duncan1890 / DigitalVision Vectors / Getty Images

English Foxhound Care

English Foxhounds were originally bred as hunting dogs, so their grooming routine is fairly low-maintenance. Because they have very short, dense coats, you can expect to brush your English Foxhound with a rubber mitt once per week to remove dirt, debris, and loose hairs. You can bathe your English Foxhound every few months, or as-needed to prevent odors.

Like all breeds, it's important to examine and clean your English Foxhound's ears and teeth once per week. If your dog's ears are dirty, you can gently remove dirt and waxy build-up with a soft, clean cloth. Avoid cotton swabs, as they can damage the delicate, inner-ear structures. If your dog's ears are excessively dirty, red, inflamed, or smell funny, contact your veterinarian ASAP. These may be signs of infection. Dental hygiene is also extremely important, so try to brush your English Foxhound's teeth at least once per week.

Although their grooming needs are lower, English Foxhounds have extremely high exercise needs and energy levels. As previously mentioned, it's typically recommended that English Foxhounds exercise for 30 to 60 minutes per day. English Foxhounds can make excellent running partners, but be sure to keep him or her on a leash—today's English Foxhounds have retained their drive to pursue prey. It's also extremely important to exercise him or her in an enclosed or fenced-in area.

In addition to extensive exercise, English Foxhounds can benefit greatly from obedience training that begins in puppyhood. English Foxhounds—like many hounds—have a mind of their own and can be very stubborn. Consistent, positive training and proper socialization with both humans and other dogs can be the difference between a well-behaved dog and a challenging dog.

Common Health Problems

Although English Foxhounds are considered generally healthy dogs, they may be susceptible to certain health conditions. These conditions won't arise in every English Foxhound, but it's important to know the signs and symptoms, so you can take action if needed.

Some health conditions that are common in English Foxhounds include:

  • Hip dysplasia: A common condition among large breeds, hip dysplasia is the weakening of the hip joint caused by abnormal growth and development. Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that reputable breeders test for, but environmental factors, like rapid weight gain or poor nutrition, can also cause dysplasia. Look for signs like weakness or pain when your dog is moving.
  • Renal disease: This condition occurs when the kidneys fail to remove toxins from the bloodstream. Frequent urination, increases thirst, and changes in appetite may be signs of this disease.
  • Epilepsy: Characterized by seizures, epilepsy can be managed with proper medications. Even if your dog develops epilepsy, the right care will enable him or her to live a long, happy, healthy life.

If you're worried about these health conditions, or any other health conditions afflicting your English Foxhound, be sure to consult your veterinarian.

Diet and Nutrition

Depending on your dog's age, weight, and activity levels, you can expect to feed an English Foxhound between two and a half and three cups of high quality dog food divided into two meals each day.

If you're not sure how much to feed your English Foxhound, or believe your dog may have canine obesity, talk to your vet. They can advise on the right foods (and the right amount of food) for your pet.

Pros
  • Loyal, loving, and pack-oriented

  • Thrives in households with other dogs

  • Low-maintenance grooming

Cons
  • Extremely high exercise needs and energy levels

  • Very loud, frequent barking

  • A strong drive to pursue prey

Where to Adopt or Buy an English Foxhound

Because English Foxhounds are rarely kept as companion pets in the United States, it may be difficult to find one in your local shelter or even from a reputable breeder. Look for English Foxhound rescue organizations in your area, or contact a breeder—they may be able to help you locate an English Foxhound in your area.

If you decide to work with an English Foxhound breeder, be aware that there may be a long waiting list due to their rarity. It's also important to do your research and ensure you're working with an ethical, reputable breeder that maintains the highest breed standards. Be on the lookout for signs of backyard breeding, and if possible, meet the litter parents to ensure they're happy, healthy animals.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

English Foxhounds may be difficult to find in the United States. Fortunately, there are many dogs that are similar to the English Foxhound. Some other breeds to consider include: