The American Foxhound is a much admired dog that is beautiful to look at, smart, affectionate and very loyal as well as being highly athletic and a great hunter. As with any breed, the American Foxhound is not a good match for each and every family and owner and for all types of living situations. Knowing some characteristics of this breed will help you decided if an American Foxhound is a good choice for a dog or if another breed may be a better option.
Temperament wise it is really difficult to imagine a better dog for almost anyone. They are very loving, sweet and friendly, but they also will make outstanding watchdogs. This is due in part to their very distinctive baying bark that is both loud and penetrating, very quickly alerting the family to the presence of animals or people that aren't part of the family. Of course this very same baying and melodic type of howling bark is also a real problem in some urban areas where neighbors may not find the hunting call of the American Foxhound to be musical at all. Problem barking is an issue for this breed, not because they bark for unnecessary reasons but because they have been bred to bark continually while they are working. This barking keeps hunters alert and aware of where the dogs are located in deep brush, in rough or forested terrain as well as in the dark. Stopping an American Foxhound from barking is going against generations and centuries of breeding and is quite literally impossible. They can be taught to stop barking on command, which is highly recommended in those American Foxhounds kept as companion pets.
For an active family that loves to include the dog in lots of different outside activities the American Foxhound is a great match. This is, like all hound breeds, a high exercise level dog without being a high energy or hyper type of pet. They are always up for a walk or a jog but may be rather sedate if left on their own in the yard. Typically an American Foxhound needs at least one to two hours of fairly intensive activity per day which can include walks, play time at an off-leash park, romping with a companion dog or the family or engaged in some type of structured training or practice. American Foxhounds that don't get the right type of exercise or enough exercise can become obese although they are not typically a breed that becomes destructive.
For those families and owners looking for a dog that will be happy in an apartment or very small living space the American Foxhound is not a good match. Generally these dogs do need a significant amount of outside time in order to be well adjusted and mentally happy, plus they love to be outdoors regardless of the weather. An ideal situation for the American Foxhound is outside in the day in large, well fenced yard that is secure so they can't get out and roam combined with a loving family to spend time inside with at night. Without a secure fence these dogs will roam and get on a scent, running out into traffic and traveling for miles at a time. These dogs are not good at staying around the house and can become escape artists if they are bored or lack attention and exercise on a regular, daily basis.
The American Foxhound has been bred to be a pack hunter and they do need to feel part of a pack to be mentally happy and healthy. The pack can be the human family, but the owners must provide a firm, consistent and positive alpha leader role. With owners that don't provide consistent training and firmly establish themselves as the leader some American Foxhounds can become dominant and possessive. With proper training and interaction this is not a typical breed characteristic. Intact males are most likely to exhibit this type of dominance, however any dog that is not routinely trained and socialized may fall into this type of difficult behavior.
Many breeders recommend that an American Foxhound be kept with at least one other canine companion. Keeping two American Foxhounds is ideal, however they will adjust to virtually any other breed of dog including smaller dogs. Toy dogs need to be carefully supervised with the Foxhound as their play, especially when they are young, may be too rough for the toy and very small breeds.
Another feature of the American Foxhound temperament is that they are not a good match with other pets, particularly rodent type pets. While some American Foxhounds that are raised with cats will accept the family cat or cats and get along well, they will have a tendency to chase stray cats that are inside and outside of the yard. If an American Foxhound is kept with another dog they are more likely to have problems adjusting to other animals in the house and may be less trustworthy around other pets.
The American Foxhound is a very intelligent dog that is willing to learn new things and loves to please his or her owner. Like all hounds they are certainly not slavishly obedient, but most are less independent than some of the other hounds in the group. With routine obedience work, especially as puppies, these dogs can compete in obedience classes, agility events and of course in hunting trails. The American Foxhound is a good dog with children and will accept a child as a pack leader. They tend to be very gentle with children of all ages but may be somewhat timid of very young children unless raised in the family.
For those interested in an American Foxhound as a family pet and companion dog it is important to look for kennels or breeders that produce show lines rather than field lines. The show lines tend to be overall calmer dogs that have slightly less natural hunting instincts. They are also typically larger than the field lines and are more likely to adjust well to living as a member of the family rather than as a hunting dog that is part of a larger pack.