Hound Dogs 101: The English and American Foxhound Dog Breed

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the many types of hounds and hound mix staring off in distanceLooking for the ultimate running or hiking partner? The Foxhound may be the dog for you. This dog breed was bred for fox hunting and while mainly seen as a working dog, it can be a great companion animal for the right owner and family.

Foxhounds are strong, sturdy dogs that have sharp instincts. They are hounds through and through, occasionally forgetting all obedience training and ignoring busy streets when they catch a scent.

They can be great family dogs in rural areas or farms with plenty of space to roam. Foxhounds are pack animals and enjoy having other dogs to play and hunt with. These dogs need to be exercised and entertained or they may get into mischief, including escaping and destruction.

English Foxhounds have a loud hound-like bark and need a fenced yard, which doesn’t make them the ideal apartment or townhome dogs. The American Foxhound breed are eager, happy hounds you see in American movies, accompanying the fox hunters on horseback.

There is so much more to these eager pups than what you might see on TV, though.

A Brief History of the English and American Foxhound Dog Breed

It all began when Englishman Robert Brooke brought hounds out to America in 1650. Outbreeding between European hounds and the descendants of Brooke’s dogs led to a breed more suited to American terrain. These dogs were lighter, taller and faster. British settlers continued to outbreed their English hunting hounds and the dogs became known as the Pilgrim Father’s dog.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate boasted its own pack of American Foxhounds, making him among the first American breeders. He improved the breed using imported British hounds and French foxhounds gifted by the wealthy Frenchman, Marquis de Lafayette.

The American statesman came up with the most creative names for these perfect foxhounds. Among these were Tipsy, Tipler, and Drunkard.

The English Foxhound was proven inferior by its progeny, the American Foxhound, in 1905 at the Middleburg Hunt in Virginia. This great international foxhunting match between A. Henry Higginson’s Middlesex (English) and Harry Worcester Smith’s Grafton (American) hounds settled a dispute concerning superiority. Mr. Smith’s American hounds won quite decisively.

english and american foxhound dog breeds apart of strong hunting breeds

The American and English Foxhound is now one of the oldest breeds and also among the rarest. Their rarity could be put down to their hunting dog tendencies.

Hound Dog Breeds Comparison! 

All hounds have the unique ability to bay, as it’s called. It’s a loud sound that is a combination of barking and howling. Some hound breeds that look similar to the English Foxhounds are the American Foxhound, French hounds, and Beagles. When trained, hounds can live in apartments and urban areas, but they really enjoy having space to roam.

American Foxhounds

American Foxhounds are not among the most popular breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, Spaniels, and Airedale terriers. Like the American Eskimo Dog of the Spitz family, they were also adapted to best suit American conditions.

Given that these American hounds were adapted from the English and French Foxhounds, similar breeds are to be expected. All of which, not surprisingly are working or hunting dogs.

These include Grand Bleu de Gascogne, the Belgian Malinois, Alaskan Malamute and German Spitz.

English Foxhound

The hound group can be diverse, but they all were originally bred for hunting. Some were bred for their ability to follow a scent trail, some were used for endurance, and others were used for speed. Many hounds today have a combination of these skills, like the English Foxhound.

All hounds have the unique ability to bay, as it’s called. It’s a loud sound that is a combination of barking and howling. Some hound breeds that look similar to the English Foxhounds are the American Foxhound, French hounds, and Beagles. When trained, hounds can live in apartments and urban areas, but they really enjoy having space to roam.


Referred tongue-in-cheek as a beagle on steroids, the Harrier is distinguished as being hard to raise and is comparatively smaller than the Foxhound. These prey-driven pack hounds are people oriented, friendly and outgoing, and really very sweet in the looks department.

American and English Foxhound Coat and Colors!

The Foxhound coat should have short, hard, and dense fur that naturally shines. Coat colors can be black, tan, white and any combination of these colors.  Any color patterns should be symmetrical. Foxhounds have low-set ears and big round eyes.

cute american foxhound puppies lying together

Average Size and Weight!

The male American Foxhound typically weighs from 65 to 70 pounds and stands between 22 and 25 inches. The females stand between 21 and 24 inches and weigh in anywhere between 60 and 65 pounds.

English Foxhounds should be about 24 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 60 to 70 pounds. These dogs are muscular and strong.

The Temperament and Personality of These Sweet and Sensible Doggos!

Hounds are the Houdinis of the dog world. A bored Foxhound will try to escape! Foxhounds are energetic, but also gentle and sweet dogs that get along with children and other pets. They need early socialization around small animals and strangers as puppies.

This medium-sized hunter is a low-maintenance, and good-natured hound. They get along swimmingly with children, dogs, and quite surprisingly for a hunter, even cats. You’d do well not to leave the hound alone with the cat though, just for safety’s sake.

Do not expect your hound to be happy living inside a small apartment without a well-fenced yard to exercise in. A well-known feature is their baying, which is a captivating sound but may annoy neighbors when a bored or lonely bayer goes at it for extended periods. Yes, they love company and are pack animals.

You’d do well to take your pup for obedience training. Regular and frequent outings are a must, but always have them on a lead. Once they give chase, they may prove difficult to call back. They tend to lose their listening skills (aka suffer from selective hearing) when they are on the scent of their ‘prey’.

Remember, when you start to feel exasperated, that they are independent hunters. These hounds are stubborn and therefore not about to change their ways just because you say so. Patience and firm consistency while training are not optional.

As such, this breed may not be the perfect choice for first-time dog owners.

Hound Mix? What to Expect from a Hound Crossbreed!

The best way to determine the temperament of a mixed breed is by checking the characteristics of the particular mixes. The mix should carry a combination of the associated traits. Designer hybrid dogs are not usually a 50% purebred to 50% purebred and may be multi-generation crosses.

american fox hound dogs and english foxhound breeds sleeping

The following mixes have proven successful:

  • The American Foxhound x Alaskan Malamute produces the Mally Foxhound
  • American Foxhound x Basset Hound produces the Basset Foxhound
  • An American Foxhound x Beagle produces the American Foxeagle
  • American Foxhound x Great Dane produces the American Foxy Dane

How Long Do These Hound Dogs Live?

The life expectancy of this energetic, friendly breed is 10 to 13 years.

6 Potential Health Issues Hound Breeds May Suffer From!

Certain breeds are genetically prone to certain ailments, which does not mean they will necessarily fall prey to any or all of them.

  1. Thrombocytopathy is caused by poorly functioning platelets which result in excessive bleeding from minor bumps or cuts.
  2. Pelger-Huet Anomaly is a rare blood disorder affecting American Foxhounds. Pups who inherit a copy of this abnormal gene from both parents will die before or shortly after birth.
  3. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia:  This inherited disease causes the joints to develop improperly and results in arthritis. Keep an eye out for lameness in the mature Foxhound.
  4. Ear Infections: Foxhounds are prone to allergies which cause itching and inflammation in the ears. Treating ear infections early will minimize the risk of eardrum damage that could cause deafness.
  5. Leukodystrophy: The form seen in Foxhounds is fortunately rarely encountered, but can lead to paralysis.
    This loss of myelin in the brain and nervous system causes excessive clumsiness or weakness.
  6. Retained Testicle: Males may be born with one or both testicles not descending into the scrotum. This can be rectified by surgery. Of course, it is always preferential to spay or neuter your Foxhound pups.

Hound Puppies for Sale!

Hounds are not everyone’s cup of tea. Knowing what you are after in a dog will help when selecting a puppy. Pups may be bred for four specific types of work, and you’d be well advised to know this if you’re looking to come by one as a family pet.

Field-trial hounds run in field trials, fox-hunting or slow-trailing hounds with good voices are used for hunting, and trail or drag hounds follow an artificial scent. Hunt clubs use packs to follow a fox as an exercise in houndsmanship and horsemanship. Discuss these breed specifications with the breeders before selecting your pup.

American Foxhounds raised among people will be far easier to train. Puppies who come from a pack or those raised outdoors will have you working really hard to instill obedience.

You can also find English Foxhound breeders through the American Kennel Club. The breed is not very common, so it may be harder to find local breeders through word of mouth.

Of course, trail hounds appreciated for their beautiful voices, will not endear you or themselves to your suburban or city-center neighbors.

What to Look for in Responsible Breeders!

American Foxhound Club, Inc will help you to find the best breeder in your area. Look for breeders offering health certifications, and who ask you questions about your expectations of the breed.

As with any family pet, a pup raised among people who is accustomed to having access to the house and the household, will be preferable to a pup who has only ever been outdoors. These are points to consider when visiting breeders and selecting your American Foxhound puppy.

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Ask an Animal Shelter About American Foxhound Rescues!

People often take these friendly hounds home without understanding their specific needs. For this reason, many rescues are available for adoption. The national or a local breed club will help you locate an American Foxhound rescue organization if you cannot find one in your area.

By all accounts, the Foxhound is a great companion dog who will get along with children and other family pets. If you have a lifestyle and property that fits this wonderful breed of dog, go ahead and look into adopting an adult rescue or finding the perfect pup for you.

Common Questions on Foxhounds

I live in an apartment block on a busy street. Will the American Foxhound be a good choice of family dog?

Could my six-year-old hound have hip dysplasia?

Is it safe to buy a mix breed American Foxhound?

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