Dogs participating in endurance exercise, including herding, hunting and racing have a greater energy requirement and may be more susceptible to nutrient depletion, electrolyte imbalance and metabolic stress. The objective of the present study was to investigate the acute response to unstructured mixed exercise in American Foxhounds fed a nutrient-fortified endurance diet. Thirty-nine adult Foxhound dogs (median age: 5·0, range: 2–10 years and median body weight (BW): 36·4, range: 24·9–49·5 kg) were allotted to a standard performance diet (Control) or nutrient-fortified endurance diet for adult dogs (Test). Dogs were balanced by sex, age, BW and athletic performance between diets. All male dogs were intact, whereas all the female dogs were spayed. After 80 d on diet, blood samples were collected via jugular puncture at baseline (0 h), and at 3 and 25 h post-exercise (mean: 17·7 (sem 0·92) km run over 2–3 h). Plasma taurine concentration and complete amino acid (AA) profile, serum chemistry and creatine kinase were measured. Serum chemistry profile remained within normal ranges throughout the study. A significant (P < 0·05) diet by time interaction was observed for calcium, alkaline phosphatase and most AA. Plasma taurine and most essential AA were increased (P < 0·05) after exercise and remained greater (P < 0·05) in dogs fed the Test diet, including the branched-chain AA (isoleucine, leucine and valine). Creatine kinase increased (P = 0·01) after 3 h and returned to baseline after 25 h post-exercise, but was not altered by diet. These data indicate that dogs undergoing a moderate bout of exercise did not suffer from electrolyte imbalance, and that a nutrient-fortified diet resulted in greater plasma taurine and essential AA concentrations.