american foxhound

How to Train an American Foxhound

American Foxhounds are good-natured, low-maintenance hounds who get on well with kids, dogs, even cats, but come with special considerations for prospective owners. They are closely associated with Revolutionary heroes and the rolling estates of old Virginia. American Foxhounds are sleek, rangy hunters known for their speed, endurance, and work ethic. You can tell the American Foxhound apart from their British cousin the English Foxhound by length of leg’ the American’s legs are longer and more finely boned’ and by the American’s slightly arched loin (back end). American Foxhounds have large, soft eyes with an expression described as gentle and pleading. So far, so good. But Foxhounds come with special considerations. They need lots of exercise or they can get depressed and destructive. A Foxhound’s single-minded prey drive must be managed. Their loud bawling is melodious to hound lovers but can be a nuisance to neighbors, and training and housebreaking these independent souls can be a steep challenge for novice owners.


George Washington can be seen as the ultimate American. But he and other wealthy Virginia plantation owners who came of age in pre-Revolutionary times considered themselves in most ways thoroughly British. George and Martha Washington’s life at Mount Vernon was modeled on the customs of British elites who inhabited England’s vast country estates. The Washingtons played English music on their English-made pianoforte, danced English dances, and entertained their guests with English chinaware and crystal. The general even had his pre-Revolutionary uniforms made by a London tailor.

Another cherished British institution upheld at Mount Vernon was the traditional English foxhunt, with scores of equestrians and hounds thundering across the countryside in pursuit of the wily fox. Washington was an avid foxhunter. He kept a pack of hounds bred from British imports and kept meticulous records of his breeding program. He refined his pack with French breeding stock given to him by his friend the Marquis de Lafayette. Washington didn’t invent American Foxhounds single-handedly, but he was a key player in the breed’s development. The Jeffersons, the Lees, and the Custises were among other famous families of America’s founding generation for whom horses and hounds were a way of life.

In post-Colonial times, further refinements were made to the American Foxhound throughout the South until the breed was distinctly separate from its cousin the English Foxhound. Until the coming of the Civil War, foxhunting with hounds was the principal field sport of the American gentry. Today, the American Foxhound is the state dog of Virginia.

Quick Facts 

Temperament: independent / easy-going / sweet-tempered

Height: 21-25 inches

Weight: 60 to 70 pounds

Life Expectancy: 11-13 years

Hound Group


The American Foxhound is typically a healthy breed, and a responsible breeder will test breeding stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia and thrombocytopathy, which is a blood disorder. Long-eared breeds can develop ear infections, and a Foxhound’s ears should be checked regularly to remove foreign matter and avoid a buildup of wax. Regular brushing will keep the hound’s teeth healthy as well.


The American Foxhound’s handsome coat is short and lies close to the body. The coat’s hard texture protects the dog from the underbrush he courses through while on the hunt’ and the coat also happens to be extremely easy to take care of. A short, once-a-week session with a bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove is usually all that is needed. The Foxhound should not need to be bathed unless he gets into something particularly messy while outdoors. As with all breeds, the American Foxhound’s nails should be trimmed regularly.


Foxhounds were bred specifically to spend long hours chasing after prey. That’s why an American Foxhound needs at least a solid hour or two of exercise every day’ if he doesn’t get it, he may become bored and destructive. If they get all the activity they need, they can fit in pretty much anywhere. While they are happiest living indoors with their human family, American Foxhounds make great companions on long walks or hikes. Because they were bred to hunt and chase animals and to follow a scent, they should only be allowed loose in areas that are securely fenced, and any walks must be taken on a leash. The breed also exercises mind and body by participating in canine sports such as tracking, rally, coursing ability tests, and other activities that can be enjoyed together by dog and owner.


American Foxhounds are easygoing and amiable. They also can be stubborn and independent, however, which can make training an exercise in patience. Obedience classes are recommended, and as scenthounds, it may never be safe to have them off-leash, because their noses can lead them into trouble. Foxhounds raised in the home tend to be wonderfully mild-tempered, devoted, and easygoing companions, and they get along well with children. Even so, owners will need patience and persistence when training them, and hounds can develop unwanted behaviors if not given enough exercise.


The American Foxhound should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Foxhounds love to eat and can be prone to getting overweight, so to prevent obesity it can be better to feed an adult two measured feedings per day rather than allowing him to free-feed all day. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.