COURAGEOUS, COURTEOUS, CRAFTY
History & Origin
There are six different Coonhound breeds, of which one, the Plott Coonhound, has a different origin than the rest. Five of these breeds have, as a common ancestor, the American Foxhound. Each breed, however, although sharing similar ancestry, has its own, unique history.
The English/American Coonhound
The English Coonhound, also called the American Coonhound, is directly descendent from various foxhound breeds imported from France, Ireland, and England. These dogs, however, were not really suitable for the needs of American hunters who wanted dogs that were able to hunt animals that climbed trees such as raccoons (from which the term ‘Coonhound’ is derived), opossums, and even bobcats, with the occasional bear or cougar thrown into the mix.
In order to develop a dog that could fulfill this need, dogs that had excellent smell were interbred with some bloodhound added to the mix. Some of these dogs are even born with webbed feet, something that makes them great at tracking in wet, swampy areas.
These dogs usually hunt in a pack, although they can hunt as individuals alongside their owners as well.
The Redbone Coonhound
In the case of the Redbone Coonhound, their origins stem from common red dogs found in the area they originated from. These red dogs were crossed with Foxhounds and bloodhounds, with a little Irish hound thrown in for good measure.
Most of these dogs had white markings and a black saddle, which was later bred out of the breed by selective breeding, resulting in the dog we have today. Most Redbone Coonhounds are either a solid red color or red with white markings on their feet.
The Bluetick Coonhound is a mixture of several dog breeds. These include the French Bleu de Gascogne, cur dog, American Foxhound, Black and Tan Virginia Foxhound, and the English Foxhound.
These dogs make extremely excellent trackers and their voices regarded as quite musical for dogs.
Black and Tan Coonhound
The Black and Tan Coonhound’s history goes back to the 1700’s when Bloodhounds bred with selected Virginia Foxhounds resulted in a specialized hunter with a cold nose. The term ‘cold nose’ means he is able to find an old scent and track it after other tracking dogs have given up. They are a favorite with those conducting search and rescue operations.
The Treeing Walker Coonhound
The origin of this breed is the English Walker Foxhound. This breed, as well as hounds imported from England in the 1700’s, formed the basis of the Treeing Walker Coonhound. The only addition to their bloodline was with a dog from Tennessee who had uncertain origins. He was, however, an excellent hunting dog with an amazing sense of smell.
The Plott Coonhound
The Plott Coonhound is the only coonhound breed that does not originate from foxhounds. They originate, in fact, from five Hanoverian hounds brought by the Plott family from Germany in 1750.
For many years, the breed and strain were pure, except during the late 1700’s and possibly during the early 1900’s when it is believed some measure of interbreeding with unknown strains occurred.
Strong, hardy dogs, they were used for big game hunting as well as the normal prey of coonhounds.
PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER
Generally speaking, all Coonhounds have the same kind of personality. Of course, just like people, each dog has his own specific personality as well.
Owning a Coonhound means you have a dog that is gentle, calm, great with other dogs, and playful in nature. As pack dogs, however, they do not like being alone. They need a family to belong to, seeing them as pack mates, or, if left alone for periods of time, another dog to keep them company. They adore children.
Due to a strong pack and hunting instincts, these dogs need a home with a large, enclosed yard. Small animals such as cats are natural prey, so do not get a Coonhound if you want your cat to have a long, natural life. There is no guarantee your cat will reach a ripe old age with a Coonhound around.
Your Coonhound may seem like a rough-and-tumble dog that can withstand just about anything. The truth, however, is that Coonhounds are actually very sensitive souls. Their feelings are easily hurt, and when this is the case, you will know it. With very expressive faces and soulful eyes, their hurt shows.
A very intelligent breed, Coonhounds are difficult to train. This is because they are stubborn, want your time and attention, and love dog cookies. The easiest way to train these silly, wonderful creatures is by giving them treats. Coonhounds adore food!
NUTRITION AND FEEDING
An average Coonhound has a lifespan of approximately twelve years. Dogs that are very well taken care of and given great nutrition and live longer.
Coonhounds eat, and when we say eat, we mean they eat a lot! They have to. Coonhounds use up a lot of energy, and because of this, they need excellent nutrition. The more active your Coonhound is, the more food he needs, while an older, less active one, on the other hand, needs less. Feeding a less active dog the same amount of food as an active one causes obesity. This is not a good state of affairs as obese dogs develop health problems such as diabetes, as an example.
Feeding your dog a commercial brand of dog food has its advantages. It is easily obtainable and stored, and you can measure off the amount of food he needs in a day.
There is, however, a downside to dry commercial dog food as well. The quality regulations about what goes into dog food are not very strict. Most of the more popular brands contain fillers that do nothing for your adult dog or puppy except give a feeling of fullness. There are also many unknown additives not mentioned or explained on the packaging. Because heat is used during processing, many vital minerals and nutrients also get lost, resulting in a diet that does not meet all your puppy’s nutritional requirements.
When buying dry commercial dog food, please make sure you buy quality over quantity and price. Your best four-legged friend’s health depends on it.
A raw diet gives a dog everything he needs. Raw fed does not only mean meat, however, but vegetables and fruit as well.
The advantages of a raw diet for your adult dog or puppy include the following:
- His stools smell better and are smaller
- It is great for his digestive system
- He is less likely to get ill
- His teeth and gums are healthier and his breath does not smell as bad
- His skin and coat are healthier
- He is less likely to get fat
Some food, however, you should never feed your dog under any circumstances. Certain foods that are fine for humans are actually toxic to them and can make them ill. These foods include avocado, chocolate, caffeine in any form, cooked bones that can splinter and lodge in the intestine, sugar, most nuts, alcohol, and milk or any dairy products.
For all their small size, puppies eat a lot. They have to; they are growing. Feeding your puppy the right food and in the righty quantities and at the right time is important.
Puppies need food filled with minerals, proteins, vitamins, and fats. This allows them to grow up healthy and strong.
As a new puppy owner, you need to set up a puppy feeding schedule because free feeding is a bad idea. Free feeding means food is available all the time. Not only can your dog become fat when older, but also housebreaking is also more difficult. Just don’t do it.
Instead of free feeding, feed your new family member according to a schedule. Up until six months of age, he needs four meals a day. By the time six months is over, feed him twice a day, and keep this up for the rest of his life. Feeding him two smaller meals a day reduces his chances of developing bloat.
Remember to have a bowl of clean, fresh water for you puppy at all times. He needs it for hydration and cannot ask you for water when he is thirsty.
COAT AND GROOMING
Size and Coat
Black and Tan Coonhound
The Black and Tan Coonhound is the biggest of the six Coonhound breeds. Females stand between 23 inches and 25 inches when measured from the shoulder to the grounds, while the larger males stand at between 25 to 27 inches. These dogs weigh between 75 pounds and 100 pounds.
Their coat is mainly black in color, with tan markings on the legs, chest, and muzzle.
The Redbone Coonhound
The Redbone Coonhound resembles a bloodhound, only smaller. Male and female height is between 21 inches and 27 inches, and they weigh between fifty and seventy pounds.
These dogs usually have a thin tail that curves over the back of their bodies, with a thin, short coat. Their coat, as their name shows, has a reddish color.
Treeing Walker Coonhound
This breed is about the same size as the Redbone Coonhound. Their coat is either bicolor or tricolor, with a white base. The colors are either, in the case of the tricolor, black and tan and white, and with the bicolor, black and white.
Blueticks are the same size as the Redbone with spotted coats. Color variations are silver-white, black, and blue-gray.
The male dogs are slightly larger than the females and stand between 22 inches and 27 inches. The females stand between 21 inches and 25 inches. Their coats come in three different options. There is the red-tick, tricolor, and bluetick. This breed is often called the Redtick Coonhound because their coloring is usually that of a red-tick. Puppies in the same litter do not have the same coloring. Finding different colored dogs in the same litter is quite common.
A Plott Coonhound is either a black dog with a brindle trim or a brindle dog. They do not come in one solid color. This dog is larger than most Coonhounds and more the size of the Black and Tan Coonhound.
All Coonhounds have short, straight, stiff hair with the same grooming needs. They are moderate shedders needing a weekly brushing in order to get rid of loose hairs, thereby keeping the coat in shape.
Bathing is on an ‘as needed’ basis and depends on their activity level. Dogs that run around getting into mud need more regular bathing. When they start smelling like dog, you know it is bath time!
A rubber curry brush is great for these dogs. It massages the skin while ensuring the evening out of natural oils over the coat. This gives their coat a great shine.
Bathing needs a good quality dog shampoo. Cheaper brands tend to cause skin allergies or rashes. Other than that, they are good to go.
Their nails need checking regularly as well as their ears. Nails that click on floors when walking are too long and need a cut. Long nails have a tendency of tearing, which is painful. Many people cut their dog’s nails themselves, but if you are squeamish, take him to the veterinarian or a doggy parlor. It is not expensive.
Ears need cleaning with a damp cotton wool ball. Discoloration or reddening is signs of an ear infection. It indicates a visit to the veterinarian is in order.
EXERCISE AND TRAINING
Exercise, Energy, and Activities
The amount of exercise a Coonhound needs depends on the dog and his personality. Some are fine with a nice walk each day, while others need much more exercise. Many do well in homes with someone who jogs.
They can go jogging with you and work off their energy. Just keep him on a leash! The moment his nose picks up a scent, he will chase it!
Bred as working dogs, Coonhounds love having a job. They excel at different dog sports, including carting, lure coursing, weight pulling, dock jumping, tracking (they have the nose for it), agility, and obedience.
They also make great therapy dogs due to their kind, consistent nature.
Training and Sleep/Rest
So you finally made up your mind and brought home a Coonhound puppy! Congratulations! Now you need to train him!
The first step is socialization with his new home and family. This includes you and everyone else living in your home, in other words, human and pets if you have another dog or dogs. The second step, of course, is housebreaking, which could be a little difficult with this breed.
Luckily, Coonhounds are led by their stomachs and training is easy if their actions are rewarded with a treat. They are also fastidious and do not like messing in their den area. As soon as he learns where the outside is, and if he can get there easily, e.g. by means of a doggy door, things will be smooth sailing.
Puppies need to ‘go’ about fifteen minutes after a meal. Take him to his potty spot and allow him to sniff around and do his business. They also need taking outside first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Other times are at thirty to forty minute intervals throughout the day.
As he gets older, the times between going potty will stretch. Learning to control your bladder and bowels takes some time, even for us humans, you know ;-).
Your puppy needs a safe, quiet spot to sleep. Do not be alarmed if he sleeps a lot. He is a growing baby that needs his sleep. Nineteen hours’ of sleep a day is quite normal.
On the whole, Coonhounds are healthy dogs. Like all dogs, they are also prone to certain illnesses. This is why you should only buy one from a reputable breeder.
One of the most common problems in Coonhounds is hip dysplasia, which is inherited but also due to poor diet and injury. Elbow dysplasia also sometimes occurs. Other ailments include bloat, eye problems, and ear problems.
Bloat is common in deep-chested dogs such as Coonhounds. It can be fatal. It is caused when the stomach fills with gas and turns on itself. This is one of the reasons why two meals a day is suggested.
Eye problems encountered include:
Cherry eye: This is a pink, oval protrusion coming from the dog’s third eyelid. The condition is treatable.
Entropion: Here, the eyelid rolls inwards causing discomfort and irritation. The condition is easily treated.
Ectropion: This is a common condition where the bottom eyelids droop outwards. Eye drops are great for any inflammation. The condition is corrected surgically, but it is seldom necessary.
To Sum Up
A healthy, fun-loving, and good-natured breed, the Coonhound does well in homes with children. They need a large space to play in and do not do well in apartments.
These dogs are obstinate and not recommended for the elderly, infirm, or first-time dog owner.
Off you go, now! There are puppies for all!
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