Long, droopy ears, a short-haired brown and white coat, and bred for the purpose of hunting—if you guessed ‘beagle’, you’re absolutely right; if you guessed ‘foxhound’, you’re absolutely right, too!
The confusion that occurs when distinguishing beagles from foxhounds is a very common one, given some of the identical characteristics that both dogs share, especially physically.
However, as the old adage goes, don’t judge a book by its cover alone!
Beagles and foxhounds are actually quite different from one another when it comes down to their personalities, temperaments, health needs, and guard-dog capabilities.
If you’re looking to welcome either breed into your life and home, here’s a detailed breakdown of all that you need to know about both breeds, as well as the differentiating markers between them. Read on!
An Overview of Beagles
Looking at their adorable faces (the OG puppy dog eyes, honestly!), happy-go-lucky nature, and funny antics, you wouldn’t think it, but beagles come from a history of hunting.
These little dogs were all the rage in 13th-century England.
From Queen Elizabeth I’s pack of six-inch beagles to the hunting packs of various Englishmen, these “foot hounds” were a favorite among royals and commoners alike, bred expressly for the purpose of hunting small game and valued for their strong sense of smell, loyalty, and superb temperament.
Beagles are said to have made their way from England to America for the first time in the 17th century, where they were bred and crossbred. They were especially favored by hunters who couldn’t ride or own horses, as they were easy to keep up with even on foot.
Along with being efficient hunters, their temperament made them great house pets, so it was a win-win all around!
Many years of breeding and crossbreeding later, we have the beagle as we know it today—ever-smiling goofy floofers that love company, attention, and playtime!
The two common beagle breeds are the larger beagles and pocket beagles.
An Overview of Foxhounds
Just like their smaller cousins, foxhounds were bred in England for the purpose of hunting.
Where Beagles were bred for hunting small game on foot, foxhounds were bred for hunting large game on horseback.
Like beagles, foxhounds made their way to America in the 17th century and became extremely popular hunting dogs and companions by the turn of the century.
In fact, George Washington himself is said to have owned a pack of foxhounds.
He is also said to have played a crucial role in creating the American foxhound by crossing French and English foxhounds.
Thus, based on their origins and the breeding that followed, foxhounds can be divided into two sub-breeds—the American Foxhound and the English Foxhound.
Foxhounds, like beagles, are easygoing and energetic dogs, but the hunting genes remain stronger in them than in beagles, which is why Foxhounds are still popular as hunting dogs today, whereas beagles are more popular as house pets.
Beagles vs Foxhounds: A Comparison
Now that we know a little bit about both breeds and their origins, let’s compare the two and see how they fare against each other!
To the untrained eye and while generally speaking, beagles and foxhounds may seem like they’re the same physically, with their short, straight hair, long tails, similar coloring, long ears, and melt-worthy eyes!
While it can’t be denied that many of their physical traits are the same, owing to their hunting heritage, there are some obvious differences between the two.
Height and Weight
The primary differentiator is the size of the two breeds.
Foxhounds are much bigger than beagles, growing up to 25 inches in height and weighing anywhere between 60 and 70 pounds.
Beagles, on the other hand, only grow to be 13 to 15 inches tall and weigh anywhere between 20 and 30 pounds.
If it’s a pocket beagle, you can expect a maximum height of 13 inches and a maximum weight of 20 pounds.
Also Read: Beagle vs Basset Hound
Foxhounds have thick, smooth, short, single coats that lie flat against their bodies.
The standard coloring you will find among English foxhounds is white, white and lemon, and a combination of white, black, and tan, whereas with American Foxhounds, the standard coloring is white and cream, pure white, red, tan, blue, and the tri-color combination (black, white, and tan).
Unlike foxhounds, beagles have smooth, shiny (if properly groomed), rain-resistant double coats that regulate their body temperature and keep them warm.
(For foxhounds, their short, hard, wiry hair does the job of protecting them against natural elements.)
Beagles’ coats are shorter than foxhounds’ coats and can be orange and white, lemon and white, tan and white, brown and white, red and white, or tri-color.
Foxhounds are narrow-chested, with pronounced muzzles and long legs.
Their tails are white-tipped and upright, just like beagles, and their ears are long and droopy—another trait they share with beagles.
Foxhounds also appear more muscular and athletic than beagles and are also much stronger than their small cousins.
With so many similarities to foxhounds, beagles look like smaller versions of foxhounds (and vice-versa!).
However, beagles have an ever-wagging tail and an alert stance, unlike foxhounds. Their front legs are quite straight, whereas the back legs curve slightly.
Since both beagles and foxhounds are pack dogs, they do very well with company; in fact, they thrive on it!
Both breeds are friendly and well-behaved around other animals, families, and children.
Though they both carry a stubborn streak, they’re lovable and affectionate and could be the perfect house dog for the right family.
That said, foxhounds are a little more individualistic and cautious around strangers than beagles, as the hunting genes are more dominant in them than in beagles.
This is also why, as mentioned earlier, Foxhounds are still preferred as hunting dogs today and beagles as house dogs.
For the same reason, Foxhounds may not be suited to living in urban environments, especially in apartments and small spaces.
These dogs were bred to run and hunt, pursue all scents, and this urge still strongly remains in them, unlike in beagles, where these urges have been somewhat weathered.
Without adequate exercise and space to run around, foxhounds can get depressed and aggressive. They need an open yard or ground to work off all that pent-up energy! So, bring a foxhound home only if you can invest time and energy into sufficiently exercising it.
Beagles have adapted themselves to city living and do well in various home environments.
Though they are still energetic, their exercise needs aren’t as high as foxhounds.
While both breeds love being outside and exploring, bear in mind that they equally love living indoors and cuddling with their hoomans—a good belly rub and some scratching behind the ears never go unappreciated!
Another thing to be aware of is that both breeds still retain a high prey drive from their hunting heritage.
This means they could perceive small animals as prey and instinctively hunt them, which includes any small household pets you may have, such as guinea pigs and hamsters.
Socializing these breeds at a young age and training them well will help curb such instincts, as well as their natural tendency to bark and howl for unnecessary reasons!
When on walks outdoors, a leash will also go a long way in controlling both breeds’ hunting instincts.
While we’re on the topic of walks, let’s talk about the exercise requirements of both breeds in a little more detail.
As mentioned, both breeds have exercise needs, but a foxhound requires more exercise than a beagle because of its bigger size, its high energy levels, and its rawer hunting instincts.
This makes a Foxhound a good option for families that are active, have sufficient outdoor space, and kids who love playing outside.
It is recommended that a maximum of 60-90 minutes and a minimum of 15-30 minutes of exercise per day, for foxhounds, is effective.
A great way to exercise foxhounds is to take them along on hikes, long walks, runs, or have them run alongside the bicycle while you cycle.
Beagles are less energetic, but energetic all the same!
They adapt well to whatever space is available, though this can be counterproductive sometimes—many a beagle has been spoiled by the comforts of the couch!
If you’re not giving your beagle at least 20-40 minutes of exercise a day and encouraging them to play in an open space or yard, your beagle could end up becoming quite lazy, leading to obesity and other health issues.
Taking your beagle on plenty of walks and letting them play freely at a dog park will more than help meet their daily exercise quotas!
Unlike foxhounds, they also love playing with their hoomans, so if a Beagle initiates a game with you, take the cue!
Insufficient activity and exercise could lead to both breeds becoming depressing, anxious, obese, and aggressive, especially foxhounds.
All small dogs live longer, and beagles are no exception. Beagles can live up to 12 or 15 years, whereas a foxhound can live up to 10 or 13 years.
All healthy dogs live longer too, though, so the proper diet, sufficient exercise, and lots of care will help both breeds live longer.
While beagles have a higher life expectancy than foxhounds, they are more at risk of health issues than foxhounds.
Both breeds of foxhound don’t come with any health test recommendations, but if not cared for properly, they can be vulnerable to dental issues, bloat, hip dysplasia, ear infections, and thrombocytopathy.
Beagles, on the other hand, are quite prone to epilepsy, hip dysplasia, ear infections, eye disorders, hypothyroidism, and dental issues.
The National Beagle Club recommends complete ophthalmologic and hip evaluation for Beagles, along with MLS DNA tests.
Beagles love their food. Of course, all that gorging is understandable after long activity sessions, but your beagle doesn’t eat food just to refuel—these greedy humbugs live to eat!
Whether or not beagles are hungry, they’ll immediately claim all food in sight or smelling distance for themselves.
They may not be great protectors, but you can be quite sure that they’ll attacc your pantry and your trash, too, if it means more food!
This makes it essential to carefully monitor your beagle’s diet and only feed them as much as necessary, based on expert recommendations, instead of going by the fullness of the bowl.
Laying out food for your beagle twice a day is ideal, instead of leaving the bowl filled the entire day.
Foxhounds also love eating, but they’re not quite the food thieves that beagles are.
Due to their more athletic build and bigger size, Foxhounds need nutritious, balanced meals full of vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
That doesn’t mean you feed your foxhound the same salads that you eat—foxhounds are prone to stomach issues and bloating, so it’s essential to find dog food that agrees with their system and is nutritious too.
One way to reduce the stomach issues is to feed foxhounds smaller, more frequent meals designed for big dogs, instead of 2-3 big meals a day.
The bad news is that both breeds shed. However, given their thicker double coats, it may seem like beagles shed more.
The good news is that with regular brushing, shedding can be managed.
A good brushing once or twice a week can work wonders for shedding.
Of course, during shedding months, you may have to up the number of brushing sessions to manage seasonal shedding.
When it comes to bathing, both breeds require bathing only once in 8 or 12 weeks.
Even if your beagle or foxhound decided to try out the new mud pool in the backyard, avoid shampooing, as too much shampooing can cause skin issues.
Instead, just a rinse in plain water will do.
When the time comes to shampoo your dog, use only shampoos that are specifically made for dogs (Pantene may be great for your locks, but definitely not for your dog’s).
Additionally, shampoos with natural ingredients are more gentle on the skin than synthetic ones, so you may want to pick those.
At the end of the day, the grooming needs for both dogs are the same, but owing to their bigger size, grooming a foxhound will obviously take you a little longer than grooming a Beagle.
Also Read: How to Keep Your Beagle’s Ears Clean
The Final Take
Both foxhounds and beagles are amazing dogs to welcome into your family—loving, affectionate, loyal, energetic, and playful.
Though neither of them is capable of being a guard dog, both breeds are capable of being excellent hunting dogs and goofy cushions of floof at the same time.
However, before you decide on which breed to add to the family, go over all the requirements for each breed, see how many of these you can meet, and only then take the final call.
Bringing home a dog and not giving it the life it needs and deserves is going to cause a lot of happiness for you and the dog, so ensure you have the time, energy, and will to invest in a good life for the both of you before you bring home a pup!