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Foxhound vs. Beagle: What Are the Differences?

At first glance, it may seem impossible to distinguish the Foxhound from the Beagle. Both dogs look remarkably similar, which makes sense given that they were both bred for similar purposes.

Both breeds have short coats that grow in similar patterns, and both were designed for hunting small game. Beyond that, though, there are quite a few differences worth highlighting.

In the brief guide below, we’ll walk you through what to expect from both breeds so you can be sure to pick the right one for your family.

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Visual Differences

foxhound vs beagle
Image credit | Left: Olga Aniven, Shutterstock; Right: AlbanyColley, Pixabay

A Quick Overview

Foxhound
  • Average height (adult): 19-25 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 45-75 pounds
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Exercise: 1-2 hours per day
  • Grooming Needs: Minimal
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Moderate; these dogs are intelligent but also independent and hardheaded
Beagle
  • Average height (adult): 13-16 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 20-25 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Exercise: 1-2 hours per day
  • Grooming Needs: Minimal
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Easy, although they can be stubborn

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Foxhound Overview

Foxhounds are genial and easygoing dogs, although they’re also quite energetic. They need a great deal of exercise, and they don’t do well on their own. They were bred to hunt in packs, after all, so they thrive around people and other dogs.

If you’re buying a Foxhound puppy, you can expect to pay between $500 and $1,000 on average. That price can go up substantially if you’re looking to show them or you want a proven hunting dog, however. If all you care about is having a companion for your family, there’s no reason to pay that much.

English foxhound tilted head
Image credit: Mary Swift, Shutterstock

Personality

Foxhounds are simultaneously laidback and excitable, which sounds contradictory but also encapsulates the job that they were bred to accomplish. After all, these dogs needed to preserve their energy until they hit upon a scent trail, at which point, they needed to operate at full speed until the job was done.

Bred to hunt in packs, these dogs don’t handle solitude well. They need to be in the company of others, and it would be a good idea to get them a canine brother or sister. Be careful about bringing smaller pets into the house, though, because you can’t simply turn off centuries of programming that compels them to hunt.

They generally handle small children with patience and forgiveness, so they can be wonderful family pets. Be aware, though, that they often view strangers with suspicion, and aggressiveness toward non-family members can be a problem with the breed.

These dogs can become fixated on certain things, especially scent trails. That makes them accomplished escape artists, so if you leave them in the backyard, you’ll need an incredibly sturdy fence.

As long as you understand that most of a Foxhound’s actions will be dictated by their predisposition toward hunting in packs, you’ll go a long way toward understanding how best to relate to your dog.

Training

Like most hunting dogs, Foxhounds are intelligent and capable of learning all sorts of commands. That being said, they’re not necessarily easy to train.

They can be quite stubborn, so you’ll need to have a firm hand during training sessions. First-time dog owners may not be equipped to handle them.

You should understand that whenever a Foxhound encounters a new and notable scent, everything else in their brain shuts off, including the part that was paying attention to you. As a result, you’ll want to hold training sessions in areas where fresh smells are unlikely to be found.

This can work to your advantage in training, though. Many people struggle to train these dogs because they try to relate to them visually, but Foxhounds primarily interact with the world through their noses.

Any commands you can give that allow them to use their powerful snouts will be much easier for them to follow than commands that require them to look around with their eyes.

American Foxhound
Photo credit: giovannistrapazzon, Pixabay

Health and Care

These dogs are bred to run, and they have boundless amounts of stamina. As a result, as long as you feed them properly and give them plenty of exercise, they’re generally a hale and hearty breed.

Hip dysplasia can be a problem later in life, especially if the dog is overweight. They can be prone to ear infections as well, so you’ll need to clean out their ears regularly and be sure to dry them thoroughly after bathing.

Foxhounds are low-maintenance animals, grooming-wise. In addition to cleaning out their ears, you also need to trim their nails and brush their teeth regularly. If they run around as much as they’d like, though, the nail trimming may not even be necessary.

You should only bathe them when they’re visibly dirty, and they only need to be brushed about once a week. The brushing is as much for redistributing the dog’s natural oils as it is for taming shedding.

Suitability

Foxhounds can make great pets, but only if you’re willing and able to meet their prodigious exercise requirements. If they don’t get all the physical and mental stimulation they need, they can become destructive or start trying to escape.

Hunters should definitely consider adding a Foxhound to their packs, as these dogs are tireless in pursuit of their quarry. If you’re not looking to hunt, though, you’ll need to find other ways to tucker these dogs out.

These pups can make great family pets, and having a large household may prove helpful when it comes to providing them with exercise. Their stimulation needs may be too much for one single person, so it’s nice to be able to divvy up that particular chore.

Owning a Foxhound in an apartment likely isn’t a good idea. Not only will they need more room to run around, but they’re also prone to baying, which is deep, sustained howling. It’s not a great way to ingratiate yourself with the neighbors.

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Beagle Overview

Beagles are similar to Foxhounds, although they’re much smaller. Like Foxhounds, they were bred to track prey with their powerful noses and then contain it until their owners could arrive to finish the job.

If you buy a Beagle through a breeder, you can pay anywhere from $500 to $1,000. You may even find one for less, given how common these animals are, but beware of backyard breeders. You should also check your local shelter or rescue groups.

beagle
Image Credit: christinescha, Pixabay

Personality

Beagles are the definition of happy-go-lucky dogs. They have a near-constant smile on their faces, and their tails practically explode the moment that their owners come into view.

Like Foxhounds, they were bred to hunt in packs, so they don’t do well on their own. They’ll likely glue themselves to your side as long as you’re around, which can be welcome or annoying, depending on your mood at the time.

They bond quickly and easily with family members, but they can be aloof toward strangers. This aloofness seldom lasts long, though, especially if the stranger has a treat in their hands. For this reason, they don’t make particularly effective guard dogs.

They can be quite excitable, and it’s not uncommon to see a Beagle go from dead asleep to racing around the room. If you value your furniture and other possessions, you’ll want to give them plenty of room to get their zoomies out.

They love children, though, and are surprisingly patient with them. Be forewarned that this can work against you, as many people trust their Beagles so implicitly that they leave them alone with small children. While Beagles aren’t known for being aggressive, no dog should ever be left unattended with a small child.

Training

Beagles can be taught to do all manner of things, as they’re one of the smartest breeds around. Unfortunately, though, they’re also stubborn and single-minded, which can make training a chore.

As with Foxhounds and other scent hounds, Beagles will shut down everything else that’s going on in their brains the moment that they encounter a fresh scent. This can totally derail a training session and make going for walks a nightmare.

Once they’re locked onto a scent, it’s next to impossible to get them off of it. You need a sturdy fence if you’re going to own a Beagle, because they will find and exploit any vulnerabilities in it if that allows them to chase down a scent.

The one silver lining in terms of training Beagles is that they’re absurdly food-motivated. You can get them to do almost anything if you have a treat in your hand. Don’t overdo it, though, because these dogs are prone to obesity, which is terrible for them.

beagle
Credit: Alexey Androsov, Shutterstock

Health and Care

Beagles have two distinct weak points: their ears and their eyes.

Their ears are quite prone to infections and need to be cleaned regularly. They also need to be dried thoroughly if they get wet, or else you’ll likely have an infection on your hands within a few days.

They’re also predisposed to cherry eye, a condition in which the tear duct inside their third eyelid becomes inflamed. It’s not serious, although it can be gross-looking, and it’s usually treatable with prescription eye drops. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary, though.

Beagles can also be prone to hip dysplasia and other joint issues, especially if they’re allowed to become overweight. It’s easy for that to happen too, as Beagles will eat anything. Be careful about what and how much you feed them, and keep all food (both yours and theirs) securely stored.

They shed moderately, so you’ll want to brush them at least once a week. Brush their teeth as often as you can, and trim their nails as needed as well.

Suitability

Beagles make great family pets, but they can’t be afterthoughts. The entire family will need to be on board with the idea of owning and caring for these dogs, as they need quite a bit of exercise and companionship.

They do well in rural households, especially if they have the room to run around. It’s not a good idea to let them explore off-leash, though, because they’ll likely find a scent trail, wander off, and never come back.

They can function in apartments, but you’ll need to take them outside for vigorous exercise regularly. Like Foxhounds, they’re prone to baying, so you’ll need to get this under control if you want to have any friends in your complex.

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

Foxhounds and Beagles are remarkably similar breeds, and the decision may ultimately hinge on how big you want your dog to be. Foxhounds outweigh their cousins by at least 20 pounds, so if you want a larger dog, they’ll be the choice for you.

They have similar dispositions, although Beagles are a little more affectionate. They’re both prone to separation anxiety, both are difficult to train, and both can be accomplished escape artists, so there’s not much in the way of a difference there.

Perhaps the best solution, for both you and the dogs, is to adopt one of each. That way, they can keep each other company (not to mention, tucker each other out).