American Foxhounds

The Foxhound is one of the oldest of American breeds but also one of the least known. He’s found most frequently on the Atlantic Seaboard or Southern United States, usually as a member of a pack owned by a foxhunting club. The American Foxhound is rarely thought of as a companion dog, but he can be a best friend to a person or family who loves hounds and wants a buddy to run, bicycle or ride with on a regular basis. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering making one of these handsome hounds a member of your family.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

A Foxhound is sweet and affectionate, but he's also highly energetic. This is a dog bred to run full throttle over hill and dale, hot on the heels of a fox. Expect to provide him with lots of daily activity. A bored Foxhound with energy to burn will create his own entertainment, and you probably won't like it. He's also noisy, with a loud bay that carries long distances. It's not a good idea to keep him in an urban environment.

Be sure to walk or run him on leash unless you're in an enclosed or traffic-free area. Otherwise, he'll take off when he finds a good scent, going at a pace that you won't be able to match. He'll also need a securely fenced yard to ensure that he doesn't go off hunting on his own. An underground electronic fence does not qualify as secure or effective for this breed. The desire to follow a scent will overrule any fear of a brief shock.

The typical Foxhound is gentle and friendly, especially with children. Toward strangers, his temperament varies, ranging from reserved to protective. If he's raised with them, he gets along fine with cats and other small critters, but use common sense. Don't leave them together unsupervised unless you're sure that they really are best buds. Being a pack animal, the Foxhound is fond of canine company and is best suited to a home where he won't be the only dog.

The Foxhound is smart and stubborn, but if you begin training early and show him what you want, he is willing to learn. Positive reinforcement, particularly with food rewards, is the way to win his heart and mind. Working with a trainer in an obedience class will help you learn how to establish your leadership in a firm but fair way that the Foxhound will respect and respond to. You'll need to put in additional effort if you've adopted an older Foxhound or one who is used to living in a pack rather than a home.

While you might think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be farther from the truth. Foxhounds love their people, especially children, and will pine without human companionship. They should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is home, the Foxhound should be with them.

Foxhounds have short, easy-care coats and need only a weekly brushing or wipe down. The only other grooming they require is regular nail trimming and tooth brushing. Check the ears weekly and clean them as needed to prevent ear infections.

Remember that the American Foxhound is an uncommon breed. You may have to wait six months or more for the right puppy to be available, so start your search well in advance of the time you would like to have a dog.

Health Issues Common to American Foxhounds

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

That said, American Foxhounds are a pretty healthy breed. Hip dysplasia and ear infections are seen occasionally, but not frequently enough to be considered a concern.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Low $1,500-$6,000

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy American Foxhound Puppy

A list of breeders can be found on the website of the American Foxhound Club. Choose a breeder who has agreed to be bound by the club's Code of Ethics, which prohibits its members from selling puppies to pet stores and outlines the responsibilities of its member breeders to the dogs they produce and the people who buy them. You can find the Code of Ethics on the website as part of the membership application.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Foxhounds aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Foxhound can live to be 13 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Foxhound to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, and in particular to watch out for the early signs of diabetes and skin problems, including ear infections.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you'll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for American Foxhounds

Pet insurance for American Foxhounds costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because American Foxhounds are a more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which American Foxhounds are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your American Foxhound is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.