American Foxhound

Reviewed by: BD Editors

An American Foxhound standing on the pavement with trees in the background
An American Foxhound
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family Canidae
Genus Canis
Species C. lupus
Species C. lupus familiaris
Niche Domestic
Height 22-25 inches (55-64 cm)
Weight 65-70 lbs (29-32 kg)
Lifespan 10-12 years
Social Structure Social, domesticated
Breed Status Declining popularity (186 of 196 AKC)
Preferred Habitat Domestic
Average Litter Size 5-7 puppies
Main Food Item Dog Food

The Basics

American Foxhound is a breed of domestic dog originally bred for hunting foxes. It is a descendant from the English Foxhound and Irish Foxhound and was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1886. Modern-day American Foxhounds include various strains, mostly distinguished by their color pattern and frequency. The American Foxhound may be the first truly American dog breed and George Washington one of its first breeders.

American Foxhounds are attractive, large dogs, weighing up to 70 lbs (32 kg) and standing about 25 inches (64 cm) tall at its withers (shoulders). They have a long muzzle, a round skull, and brown eyes. Their ears are set at about eye level and flop over on the sides of their skull. Their coats coarse and medium length, providing a protective barrier from brush and thorns. It requires little brushing or maintenance by the dog’s owners. American Foxhounds can be many colors, but are classically a mix of brown, white and black and differ between strains and individuals. Most have a ‘masked’ pattern of some sort on their faces and some have spotted sections on their bodies.

An American Foxhound lying on the grass panting
American Foxhounds have masked facial markings

American Foxhounds are calm and affectionate. Most are gentle and make great pets for families with children or other animals. As with all dogs, early socialization will go a long way in ensuring that they will get along with other animals as well as humans. Foxhounds are likely to be shy with strangers, but rarely aggressive. They are highly trainable, but have a strong independent streak and therefore require consistent and attentive owners to encourage their best traits.

As Pets

Having been bred for longer legs for hunting quick animals, they have high energy and require a fair amount of exercise as well as a large, fenced yard. Also, they will require several walks daily. If living with other dogs they will be happy living outdoors. Otherwise, they will be unhappy spending the nights alone outdoors away from its human pack.

A friendly looking American foxhound on a leash
American Foxhounds are common pets

Perhaps due to their long and relatively diverse lineage, they do not have many common genetic health disorders. They can shed significantly and are not excellent watchdogs but are great human companions. They were bred to track animals through scent. Because of this instinct they can be difficult to recall at times. Females typically give birth to a litter of about 5-7 puppies.

Fun Facts about American Foxhound!

Often depicted leading the hunt in packs in many films and television shows, the American Foxhound has a rich legacy as a symbol of Americana. In fact, it may be the first American dog breed.

American Independence

The American Foxhound is a close relative of the English Foxhound. In 1650 Foxhounds accompanied colonizing missions from Great Britain to North America as hunting dogs. These are the stock from which the American Foxhound is descendant.

George Washington himself was said to receive some of these dogs which he crossed with the French Foxhounds he was already receiving. This crossing is said to be the origins of the American Foxhound breed that is recognized today. As if to match the grandeur of the country it was a part of pioneering, the American Foxhound is larger than its English cousin.

Many Strains, Same Breed

The American Kennel Club recognizes various strains of the American Fox Hound. These go by names such as Walker, July, Goodman, and more, each distinguished by their coloration. Although they appear somewhat different, they are recognized as being of the same breed. Some are also distinguished by purpose. For example, most pack hounds are “Penn-Marydel” while show dogs are typical of the “Walker” strain.

An American Foxhound with dark head color and a spotted white head resting on the grass
An American Foxhound resting

There are four general categories that these strains can fall within. Field trial hounds are fast and competitive while slow-trailing hounds are strong bayers that were used for hunting on foot. There are also drag hounds or trail hounds, which were sometimes raced. Finally, the most famous category is pack hounds, often used by hunters on horseback in packs of as many as 20 dogs.

The Howling Hound

The American Foxhound is among other fox breeds known for their melodious howls. This is referred to as a ‘bay’ and can carry for miles. It was likely trained and bred for to allow hunters – sometimes unable to keep up with a pack hounds tracking a scent despite being on horseback – to hear the location of dogs in the forests from far away. Although this may be somewhat melodious and entertaining to hound lovers, it can be a nuisance for neighbors and should be part of the consideration of owning a hound.

Cite This Article

MLAAPAChicago Editors. "American Foxhound." Biology Dictionary,, 23 Aug. 2020, Editors. (2020, August 23). American Foxhound. Retrieved from Editors. "American Foxhound." Biology Dictionary., August 23, 2020.

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