What to Know About English Foxhounds

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on July 15, 2022
6 min read

Plenty of things may come to mind when you think of a hound dog. Sniffing, howling, and droopy ears are common traits amongst these dogs, but they’re only some of the characteristics of this lovable and active breed. 

English foxhounds are one of four official foxhound breeds. They have historically been bred for the hunt. They’re a medium-sized, short-haired dog with long legs for running and a killer sense of smell. They’re muscular and have broad chests to accommodate heavy breathing and lung expansion when out on the trail. 

The English Foxhound temperament is quite easygoing. These dogs are patient, good with children and other pets, and generally quite healthy. 

The English Foxhound received its name because it was bred to seek out foxes and other animals in the English countryside. 

These dogs are pack hounds. They were, and still are, kept in kennels or compounds with their pack and let out to hunt.

Large, round paws and strong legs help with this activity. Most of these dogs measure 20 to 27 inches at the top of their shoulders, also known as the withers. That makes them an ideal size for running through wooded areas and dodging stray branches. 

They have short hair that doesn’t require much upkeep, although they do shed. English Foxhounds usually feature a few colors on their coats. You can find them a mix of white, tan, red, or black. 

An English Foxhound size can be anywhere from 60 to 75 pounds, and they have a life expectancy of up to 13 years. 

They are also very sociable dogs. They love having a family to consider part of their “pack”. Easily trainable and playful, these canines will love a high-energy home with lots of people to give and receive attention. After playtime is over, they’ll be satisfied with a comfy place to lie down and snooze.

If you need to leave them alone, though, give them a mentally stimulating toy or activity. You may prefer that option to one that they choose when bored (such as chewing up the house). 

This breed is also quite a vocal one. Although friendly to most, their watchdog instincts can kick in, and they’ll make it known if they suspect something unusual. This often takes the form of barking or a traditional hunting dog howl.

Coat care is minimal for these pups. They have a short haired, double coat. They’ll only need you to brush them about once per week, but they do shed. 

English Foxhound shedding is average, so you’ll benefit from a good vacuum cleaner and some lint rollers in the house. 

Occasional baths are needed to keep your dog smelling fresh. Make sure to dry the ears thoroughly after any water-based activity. The floppy ears of the English Foxhound provide an ideal place for bacteria to thrive. 

English Foxhounds are a working breed. That means they were bred for a job and need a sense of purpose and space to roam. They will do well with a family and a large backyard or long daily walks. 

These dogs were born and bred in the mild, rainy climate of England. Any similar environment will suit them well. 

Their short hair suggests they can live in a warmer climate, but they have had historically shorter lifespans while living in extreme heat. In this case, a climate controlled environment would likely be helpful and more comfortable. 

English Foxhounds should have a diet high in nutrients to support an active lifestyle. Ask your vet to recommend an appropriate option based on their needs and age. 

Shortly after you get your new pet, you should take him to the vet for an initial checkup. The breeder might have given the first immunizations already. Your vet will recommend an immunization schedule for your new friend. This may include deworming. 

Deworming is an important part of the healthcare process for all dogs. It is usually a multi-step plan that involves several doses of medication. That’s followed by testing a fecal sample at the end of the treatment to ensure the worms are destroyed. 

Prevention is something else your vet will probably recommend. That includes flea and tick prevention, year-round heartworm prevention, and protection against any other parasites your dog could be vulnerable to. 

Your vet will likely recommend a special toothpaste that you can use to keep your dog’s mouth in mint condition. Daily brushing will help avoid painful cavities and tooth infections. 

Nails should be trimmed regularly. If they grow too long, they can make it difficult for the dog to enjoy long walks and runs. 

English Foxhounds are quite a healthy breed. There aren’t any diseases specific to this breed.  English Foxhounds can face general issues that can affect dogs with certain characteristics. 

Gastric dilatation-volvulus. This condition usually affects dogs with a large, deep chest. Its symptoms are a sudden bloating in the stomach that can quickly progress to become life-threatening if the stomach twists, cutting off circulation. It’s not known exactly why this happens, but it tends to affect older dogs. 

Ear infections. Dogs with floppy ears are prone to ear infections. Make sure you inspect your pet regularly. Ask your vet if you have any questions or notice your pet scratching around the ears. 

Chronic hip dysplasia. Symptoms include limping or reluctance to jump up or climb. These symptoms present mostly as the dog ages, but dysplasia is a hereditary condition that has existed throughout their life.  

Training any dog well can be a daunting task. Those with experience will know it takes trial and effort to see results. A dog is most trainable when it is young. English Foxhounds are eager to please in this area, and aren’t known to give their owners much difficulty. 

English Foxhounds are also famous for their sense of smell, though. If they do get carried away on the trail of a scent, it’s not uncommon for them to throw caution to the wind and ignore instructions. 

It’s recommended to keep them on a leash during walks for this reason. A large, fenced area is also ideal for balancing safekeeping with room to roam. 

English Foxhounds are very tolerant of other animals in the household. They are social, playful, and will easily adapt to changes around them. They are also known to get along well with horses. 

They are an active family dog and will participate in playtime with both children and adults. They are deeply loyal pack dogs and are very affectionate with their family. 

English Foxhounds are moderate shedders. For allergy sufferers, this means their dander can spread more easily and possibly cause allergic reactions. 

Barking and howling are second nature to these hunting dogs. How else will they alert you when they have found their target on the hunt? English Foxhounds are vocal, especially when they are on alert. 

Although some stereotypes suggest hounds are drooly dogs, that’s not entirely true with the English Foxhound. You won’t need to keep a towel handy to clean up after them. Drooling is minimal. 

English Foxhounds were developed in 16th century England. Before that, stag hunting was the nobleman’s sport. Over time the forests were cleared away, and there were no deer left to hunt. 

Foxes, once only hunted by farmers, became a newly sought-after sporting animal. 

English Foxhounds were bred specifically for this newfound hunt. Different dog breeds were selected for their qualities and bred to create the Foxhound. 

Greyhounds, English Bulldogs, and Fox Terriers were selected for breeding. It was thought at the time that the speed of the Greyhound, the strong will of the Bulldog, and hunting skill of the Fox Terrier would all contribute to the best possible breed for fox hunting. 

The breeders weren’t wrong. The English Foxhound today has those qualities the first breeders wanted. The breed became so distinguished that it hasn’t changed very much at all in four centuries.

American vs. English Foxhound. American Foxhounds are descended from their English cousins. English Foxhounds arrived in the U.S. in 1650. They were later crossbred with French hounds under the ownership of George Washington. 

Red foxes were imported from England to be used for the hunting sport. Later, the American Foxhounds were mixed with Irish hounds. This was thought to increase their endurance. 

American Foxhounds are famous for being vocal. They are known for their musical bark, also called a bay. The bay can be heard for miles. 

American Foxhounds are best raised in a spacious country setting with room to run and howl.