10 Facts About the American Foxhound

Meet the American Foxhound, a breed that’s as American as apple pie and has a history tied to the first U.S. president.

Jun 4, 2024By Jessica Montes
facts about american foxhound

A select group of breeds can boast that their development dates back to the founding of a nation. American Foxhounds fall into this prestigious category and have an independent, energetic personality to match. Keep reading to discover 10 fun facts about the American Foxhound’s history and presidential connection, grooming requirements, exercise needs, and much more.

American Foxhounds Have Colonial Origins

American Foxhound
Photo by: American Kennel Club

American Foxhounds are synonymous with history, a developing nation, and the land of the free. They were one of the first breeds developed in the United States, and their breeding dates back hundreds of years to the time of American settlers. With their newfound independence from the British, the colonists wanted a canine companion of their own. English Foxhounds were in supply as many had accompanied their owners from Europe, and breeders made it their mission to develop a breed with the “Made in America” badge of honor.

One early enthusiast was none other than the first U.S. president, George Washington. Throughout his lifetime, he owned several breeds and was keen on building a faster, taller hound that better adapted to the American landscape. Luckily, he was gifted seven sturdy canines, believed to be the ancient Grand Bleu de Gascogne, by the French general Marquis de Lafayette. Washington bred them with his pups, and with other breed additions over the years, the American Foxhound standard was established!

Hounds with a Fox-Hunting Purpose

American Foxhounds Field
Photo by: Palmetto Bluff

Some pups were bred to kill vermin, like terriers, while others were meant to chase and hunt game, waterfowl, and other animals as a source of meat for their owners. As their names imply, foxhounds were developed to hunt foxes by scent. These canines would navigate the world with their highly skilled nose, which is estimated as 100,000 more sensitive than humans, and use it to find a fox’s trail.

Not surprisingly, these hounds let their noses dictate their actions and have an incredible prey drive. If something catches an American Foxhound’s attention, they will sniff and follow the path until their curiosity is satisfied. Their independent, easily intrigued tendencies are one reason this breed is not ideal for first-time pet owners; they are better suited for experienced hound enthusiasts with a firm, loving demeanor.

American Foxhounds Have a Distinctive Appearance

Black White Tan Foxhound
Photo by: Vetstreet

These medium-sized dogs stand 21-25 inches tall at the shoulders and can weigh between 60-70 pounds, depending on gender. The breed standard also calls for a tri-colored coat with white, tan, and black fur. American Foxhounds have a mostly tan face and floppy ears with a white stripe down the bridge of their nose and a white area around the muzzle.

The white coloring also extends to their necks, chests, tummies, legs, and all or part of the tail. Their torso has either a gradient of tan and black patterns or tan spots with a solid black “vest” of fur that begins at the upper back and ends before the stomach. Some pups even have light tan “freckles” on their faces, snout, legs, or bellies as well.

While these are the most favored colors, they also exist in other varieties, such as red and white, white and cream, solid white, and blue. All fur patterns are eligible to participate in the American Kennel Club’s dog shows.

Grooming a Foxhound Comes with Pros and Cons

American Foxhound Profile
Photo by: Jonathan Shlegel

An American Foxhound's fur has pros and cons. On the plus side, their short, sleek coat means owners do not have to worry about tangles and matting common in other long-coated breeds. They only require a quick, weekly, or biweekly brushing with different dog brushes and do not need a bath unless they are muddy or dirty from outdoor excursions. In between baths, dust can be brushed or wiped off with dog-friendly towelettes.

Their bathing and brushing routine is minimal, but their shedding levels are moderate. Owners will likely have their furniture, bedding, carpets, and favorite sweaters covered in a thin layer of fur. This might require more laundry and sweeping to manage the sheddings. Because they rank as a three out of five on the AKC’s shedding meter, they are not hypoallergenic and might trigger a reaction in people with dog allergies.

These Dogs Have High Exercise Demands

American Foxhound Running
Photo by: Palmetto Bluff

Due to their foxhunting and scent hound background, American Foxhounds need hours of daily exercise. Their DNA doesn’t allow them to sit and stare out the window without physical activity or mental stimulation. The AKC recommends at least one to two hours of playtime a day. No matter the activity, they must always remain on a leash or inside a large, enclosed space without obstructions. As mentioned earlier, their curious noses lead them to chase whatever piques their interest. A leash and enclosed space will ensure these hounds stay close, increase their safety, and reduce the chances of them becoming lost or a pup that’s incredibly difficult to bring home.

In terms of activities, consider long-distance fetch in a fenced backyard or dog park. This gives them the chance to chase and capture and also run at high speeds. Additionally, their stamina makes them excellent dogs for running and hiking. American Foxhounds can easily walk and run several miles at a time, and the outdoors lets them explore and sniff in a supervised setting.

Training Is a Must for These Hounds

American Foxhound Dog Show
Photo by: David Woo | American Kennel Club

It’s also highly suggested to teach American Foxhounds basic obedience training. They are independent creatures, and the owner-pup relationship will be more efficient if they can follow a handful of commands. That being said, training might not be easy. These canines are less eager to please than others and can have stubborn moments, so a patient, assertive owner will have the magic touch to train them.

For the dedicated and ambitious, American Foxhounds are great candidates for breed-specific sporting events, such as competitive obedience, agility, and scent work. Their high energy levels mean they can move through courses with speed and use their sniffing abilities to find hidden objects.

These Dogs Are Vocal

American Foxhound Bark
Photo by: Caronna

American Foxhounds are not quiet dogs by any means. They rank as a 5 out of 5 on the AKC’s barking level and are known as very vocal pups. It’s as if they narrate their lives and always have something to say about how they are feeling, who’s at the door, or the upcoming run around the neighborhood.

They can also bark to warn their owners of potential dangers, out of boredom or discomfort, and to show excitement. Just like humans, dogs use their voices to communicate, and depending on the environment, the presence of other animals, and foot traffic around the home, American Foxhounds might have something to say once an hour or every few minutes.

Training can help minimize their need to speak, but it’s not realistic to expect this habit to stop completely. Calming aids made from essential oils and toys can also decrease the frequency and intensity of their howls.

American Foxhounds Have Some Health Concerns

American Foxhound Body
Photo by: Svenska Mässan

This is considered a healthy breed, and dogs that get enough exercise, playtime, and vet visits will live to celebrate their 11th or 13th birthday. Owners can make sure their furry friends live the longest lives possible with a few preventative screenings. First, American Foxhounds can develop hip dysplasia. In this condition, the hip joint’s ball and socket do not move smoothly in place and grind against each other, leading to pain and partial or complete loss of hip function.

Additionally, their health should be monitored for a blood disorder called thrombocytopathy. This inherited condition develops from unhealthy platelets and can have symptoms such as nose bleeds, excessive bleeding from wounds, and small bruises beneath the skin. Responsible breeders will complete genetic and blood testing to prevent future pups from inheriting the disorder, but vets can also perform diagnostic tests as well.

Leia: A Story of Hope

Leia American Foxhound
Photo by: @fancyleia’s Instagram

The Instagram account @fancyleia documented the heartbreaking and heartwarming tale of two dog parents who lost their American Foxhound, Leia, in the Maryland woods for 101 days. In October 2022, the pup and her owner were visiting a neighbor when the front door was left open. An unleashed Leia seized the opportunity and ran outside. Attempts to run after her were unsuccessful, and the hound was loose in the streets within a few minutes.

The couple’s surveillance system showed Leia returning home while they were searching, but a scent in the woods caught her attention, and she dashed away again. Next, began a three-month journey of walking in the woods and setting food traps in areas where Leia was likely to seek shelter. After several close encounters, she finally entered a trap on the 101st day of her disappearance and was reunited with her family. She arrived malnourished, startled, and filthy, but the couple patiently welcomed Leia back and made her a healthy, happy pup again.

These Dogs Rarely Win Dog Shows

Jewel Dog Show Winner
Photo by: NBC Sports

Despite their sweet personalities, American Foxhounds are underrepresented in dog show wins. They can participate in events, such as the Westminster Dog Show; however, this breed rarely takes home one of the big crowns. They have a few major celebrations, most notably in 2013 when a three-year-old named Jewel won the Best in Show title at the National Dog Show Presented by Purina.

The white, tan, and black pup was the first hound in the show’s history to earn the title and she was selected from more than 2,000 entries. Her handler, Lisa Miller, beamed with pride and told the Associated Press, “She is probably the best American Foxhound I’ve ever bred.” They walked away with the award, $20,000, and huge smiles.

Jessica Montes
By Jessica Montes

Jessica is a California-based writer, journalist, lover of animals, and vegan of 17 years. Growing up, she owned parakeets, fish, a rabbit, and a red-eared slider turtle. She currently has a black cat named Marty and a tabby named Jellybean. In her free time, she enjoys reading, baking, camping, and roller skating to funky tunes.