Copper is the deuteragonist of Disney's 1981 feature film, The Fox and the Hound, and its 2006 midquel. He is a hound dog who becomes best friends with a fox named Tod, despite the fact that the two are supposed to be natural enemies.
Copper is loosely based on a hound dog with the same name that appeared in the novel The Fox and the Hound by Daniel P. Mannix. Besides the major changes between the book and the film, the original Copper was an older dog threatened by a younger dog named Chief (the film seemingly switches the two roles).
In the film, Copper is a Bloodhound/Coonhound mix. His body is light brown with dark brown ears and a dark brown spot on his back. He also has a white muzzle and belly, and four white paws. As an adult, he wears a blue-collar.
As a puppy, Copper is fairly curious. He has an excellent sense of smell, which makes him prone to wandering off, following various scents. One of these instances led to him befriending Tod, being unaware that the two were natural enemies. However, he could be slightly cautious, especially around his owner and the older Chief.
As an adult, he is much more serious, having been trained as a hunting dog. However, he does not initially go for Chief's theory that a hunting dog must be nasty, preferring to simply track and smell out a game. His training leads him to break off his relationship with Tod. However, he spares his friend out of past friendship until Chief is injured in an accident, at which time he becomes focused on revenge. However, their friendship would be rekindled, in a distant manner, when Tod saved him and his master from a rampaging bear. Copper would later repay his friend's brave efforts by keeping his still-mad boss from shooting Tod.
Copper is introduced as a cute little puppy that Amos Slade, an avid hunter, has recently obtained. Amos Slade intends to train the puppy as a hunting dog and instructs his older dog Chief, a trained hunting dog, to look after the puppy. One day, Copper wanders off, intent on following an unusual scent, and ends up meeting Tod the fox pup. The two play together and become good friends, unaware that the two are natural enemies. Copper must keep his friendship secret, and often sneaks off to play with Tod. Eventually, Amos grows tired of Copper running off and ties the puppy to his barrel home to keep him from doing so again. Tod comes over to Amos's yard see why Copper has not come out play. When he sees that Copper is tied up, the Tod attempts to play in the yard, but Copper worries that Chief will awaken. Chief awakens after smelling Tod, and Copper watches in horror as Chief chases Tod through the field. Tod is able to escape, to Copper's relief.
Soon after, Copper is taken on a long hunting trip with Amos and Chief. During the winter, Copper grows into an adult and becomes a skilled hunting dog. When spring arrives, Copper returns, having helped Amos obtain a lot of animal skins. That night, adult Tod comes over to see Copper, but Copper tells Tod that they can no longer continue their friendship, even though they agreed forever, as Copper is now a hunting dog while Tod is a fox. Suddenly, Chief and Amos catch Tod on their property, and Copper is forced to track his former friend, finding him under a woodpile next to a railroad. Conflicted, but not wanting to see Tod get killed, Copper leads Amos away from him, and Tod escapes onto the railroad. Copper then turns around to see Chief chasing Tod onto a railroad bridge as a train approaches. Tod ducks under the train that collides into Chief, who tumbles down a steep cliff into a river below. Copper arrives to find Chief severely injured and unable to get up. Spotting Tod on the bridge, he growls at the fox and furiously swears revenge on him for getting Chief nearly killed by the train.
When Amos and Copper deduce that Tod's owner, Widow Tweed, has dropped the fox in a game preserve, the two decide it is the perfect opportunity to get revenge. After setting foot into the game preserve, Copper leads Amos to a route the latter surmises that Tod will need to take for water as the hunter sets some bear traps on the route. After Tod narrowly escapes the bear traps, Amos and Copper chase him. Copper is suddenly stopped by Tod, both growling at each other while being distracted. Copper tries to attack Tod, but the brave fox quickly dodges his teeth and fights back, then runs back to a burrow where he lives with a vixen named Vixey. Copper chases Tod to the burrow and tries to thrash and claw his way in, but Tod drives him out of the burrow, yet Copper continues to dig furiously. Amos sets fire to some straw and fans flames through the burrow's back end, then he and Copper wait at the front end for the foxes to emerge. But then Tod and Vixey escape through the flames, to Amos's surprise.
Copper chases the foxes up the cliff next to a waterfall when he picks up a new scent, and a look of horror dawns on his face when he realizes what it is. Amos catches up to Copper and aims his gun at the foxes when suddenly, a huge grizzly bear looms up before them and attacks the hunter, causing him to drop his gun. As Amos backs away from the bear, he steps into one of his own traps, injuring his leg. Copper fearlessly lunges at the huge bear in an effort to protect his master but is soon overwhelmed when the bear easily overpowers him and knocks him to the ground with one powerful swipe. Copper lets out a loud yelp that reaches Tod's ears. Tod turns and is horrified to see his childhood friend getting nearly killed. Just as the bear prepares for the final blow to kill a wounded and exhausted Copper, Tod leaps onto the bear and lures him up the cliff, away from Copper and Amos, and toward the waterfall. Tod's fight with the bear eventually ends with both animals plummeting down the waterfall by luring the beast onto a fallen trunk to break apart.
As Tod emerges out of a pond created by the waterfall and collapses on its bank, immensely hurt and exhausted from his savage fight with the bear, Copper approaches him, amazed that Tod—the very fox he tried to track down—saved his life, despite everything that had happened, and now feels genuinely remorseful for all the horrors he put him through. When Amos arrives to kill Tod, Copper stands over Tod, in front of the gun, looking pleadingly at his master. Amos orders Copper to move out of the way, but Copper refuses to let his friend die. Amos eventually relents, lowers his gun, and tells Copper that they should let the fox be and leave for home. As Copper follows his master, he turns around to share one last smile with Tod as they both acknowledge each other as best friends while also accepting that they can no longer be together before going their separate ways.
Back at home, as Widow Tweed doctors Amos's injured leg, Copper, in his sleep, fondly reminisces his friendship with Tod.
Copper is one of the main characters of the midquel, which takes place prior to Copper going hunting with Amos Slade. In the film, Copper feels he is unable to do a lot of things right, whilst Tod tries to list things he can do, however, he realizes that at the time of the movie, Copper wasn't even house-trained yet. He and Tod later slip away to a country fair, where they encounter a group of stray dogs who formed a band known as the "The Singin' Strays". They find out that the band is preparing to perform, and that a talent scout for the Grand Ole Opry would be in attendance. After the band loses a member, Cash, Copper is recruited to perform after the band hears him sing. Impressed, they offer him a position, which Copper accepts after promising he is a stray. However, his friendship with the band causes him to forget a promise to watch fireworks with Tod.
Tod would later reveal to one of the band members, Dixie, that Copper was not astray. The two formed a plan to get Copper to leave by leading Amos Slade to the fair. However, the resulting chase ruins the band's performance, resulting in the talent scout leaving and Copper's removal from the band.
Copper and Tod would later admit their mistakes and work to reunite the band. Copper uses his tracking skills to find the talent scout, and he and Copper work to trick the band, including Cash, into coming. Copper helps the band work out their differences, leading to the band performing their song. The talent scout notices the group and is impressed, so he arranges to let them perform at the Opry. However, Copper chooses to leave the band to return home with Tod.
Copper doesn't appear on the show. However, he appeared in the canonical novel Red's Untold Tale. In this version, he was also the hunter's bloodhound, initially unnamed, that belongs to Amos Slade, specialized in a wolf hunt. After that Amos was slain during a wolf attack, Peter became his new owner and decides to name him Copper.
- In Spain, Brazil, and Italy, he is named "Toby".
- Some of Copper's growls when he fights the bear and tries to attack Tod and Vixey in their burrow are recycled from Old Yeller when Old Yeller was fighting the wolf.
- Copper's revenge on Tod is somewhat similar to Zira's revenge on Kovu. Both stay angry and explain about their family relationship's avenging (in Copper's case, Chief falling off the train track and in Zira's case, Nuka getting crushed by a log. Also, whilst Chief survives the fall, Nuka dies from his injuries.), but Copper is a hero while Zira is a villain and Chief was Copper's foster father and Nuka is Zira's son.
- It is never explicitly stated if Copper realized that Tod never intended for Chief to fall off the train track, although he might have guessed it when Tod saved him from the giant bear.
- In the book of the same title, Copper is said to be a Coonhound/Bloodhound mix.
- Also in the book, Copper is more like Chief in that he is the older, more experienced hound, and hates Chief (who is younger and less experienced, yet is favored by the Master).