Raised to hunt, the American Foxhound is sweet and affectionate, highly energetic, and most often found as part of a foxhunting club pack. They are one of the oldest American breeds to exist and also the rarest. It may be challenging to see one of these pups at a foxhound rescue, and a waitlist for breeders can be six months or longer. If you’re considering making one of these handsome hounds a part of your family, read on to learn more about their history, personality, health, grooming, and exercise recommendations.
The earliest known hounds were brought to America by Robert Brooke in 1650. In the late 1700s, the descendants of these dogs were bred with imported Irish, English, and French hounds to create a foxhound mix, which is what the American Foxhound is today. George Washington was among the early American breeders, becoming an avid fox hunter with his pack of American Foxhounds at Mount Vernon. The American Kennel Club recognized the American Foxhound as a breed in 1886. These days, there are four types of American Foxhounds: field trial hounds, slow-trailing hounds, drag hounds, and pack hounds - all with different hunting abilities. Because of their specialized hunting talent, the American Foxhound is not often seen as a companion dog, even though they make great pets.
Like most hounds, the American Foxhound is sweet and laidback while also being independent and stubborn. They’ve been bred to hunt for hours and are happiest when they get an hour or two of stimulating activity a day. With the right amount of exercise, the American Foxhound is easygoing and intelligent, but they can get anxious and destructive without it. This breed is also known for its loud howls and baying, so apartment and city living may not be the best option. A bored American Foxhound’s howling can carry for miles, so they need plenty of human or canine companionship to keep them entertained. Foxhound puppies also need early socialization and training to help them grow up to be friendly, well-rounded dogs.
The American Foxhound has a lifespan of about 10 to 12 years and is generally a very healthy breed with few genetic conditions. Hip dysplasia and ear infections are seen occasionally but not frequently enough to be considered a concern. Long-eared species can develop ear infections, so a foxhound’s ears should be checked and cleaned regularly to avoid any wax buildup. Other rare conditions include a platelet disorder called thrombocytopathy and a white blood cell disorder called Pelger-Huet anomaly.
The American Foxhound has a short coat that lies close to the body and is very easy to groom. A brief, weekly session with a bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove is usually all that is needed. The American Foxhound does shed moderately, so brushing will help prevent loose hairs from getting everywhere. Bathing isn’t typically necessary either unless your Foxhound has gotten into something grimy. Otherwise, the American Foxhound needs basic dental and nail care.
Exercise and Training
Before you get an American Foxhound, it’s essential to consider the exercise requirements that this breed needs. They were explicitly bred to chase after prey for hours, so they need substantial exercise every day. Since they love being with their family, long walks, hikes, or runs together are the perfect way to help them burn off that energy. The American Foxhound is best suited for a large, fenced-in yard or even an acre or two. If the foxhound doesn’t get the right amount of exercise, they will become bored, destructive, and loud with their infamous howling and baying.
Early obedience training is highly recommended to help the independent Foxhound view you as the pack leader. It may never be safe to have your Foxhound off-leash, as their noses can catch a scent and lead them astray. Patience and persistence are essential when training, and maintaining a strict exercise regimen will keep them from misbehaving. With proper training, the American Foxhound is even-tempered and loving, making excellent family pets.
Pros and Cons
American Foxhounds have various pros and cons, and it’s essential to weigh these before deciding to adopt or purchase. These pups are generally friendly with their family, children, and other animals. They were usually bred in large packs, so they are happy to have the company of other dogs. If no one will be home during the day, it’s best to have another furry friend for your foxhound. They even get along great with cats, rabbits, and other pets, as long as they’re raised in the home with them. Not to mention, they are very low-maintenance when it comes to grooming and health. The American Foxhound may not be suitable for you if you don’t want to deal with:
- Loud howling and barking when left alone for long periods
- Strict exercise requirements
- Needing ample amount of space and yard to run
- Stubborn attitude
- Difficulty training
If you’re looking for an energetic companion that you can go on adventures with, the American Foxhound may be the perfect dog for you and your family. You can start your search for a breeder through the American Foxhound Club and look at your local foxhound rescue groups. This breed is rare, ranking at 186 out of 197 on the American Kennel Club breed popularity list.