The Coonhound dog breeds are all-American dog breeds having roots across the Atlantic. There are six different types of Coonhound dog breeds recognized by the UKC or the United Kennel Club. Of these varieties, the Bluetick, Redbone coonhound, Treeing Walker Coonhound and the Black and Tan Coonhound are very popular. From hunting companion to show competition dog; this multitalented breed also makes a loyal, loving household companion. The word ‘Coonhound’ is derived from the fact that these dogs were initially trained to track raccoons.
Let us study the characteristics of different coonhound dog varieties as well as the basic requirements of raising them.
Characteristics of the Bluetick Coonhound
- Blueticks have characteristic markings on their fur which led to the name ‘bluetick’.
- These dogs are known for their excellent hunting skills which are believed to have been acquired from the grey wolf.
- Bluetick dog breed was first developed in Louisiana as a hunting breed; today they are mainly companion and watchdogs for most American families.
- The Bleu de Gascogne is one of the ancestors of the Bluetick coonhound and so is the English Foxhound. While the English foxhound has an excellent sense of smell, the Bluetick is slower and ‘cold-nosed’.
- The Bluetick is a large hound having powerful endurance.
- In 1946, the UKC recognized the Bluetick dog breed but it wasn’t recognized by the AKC until 2009.
- Height and weight – Blueticks should ideally measure between 21 and 27 inches at withers and weigh between 55 and 80 lbs for males.
- When a bluetick chases a raccoon he often ‘trees’ the animal. This means he forces his prey to climb the nearest tree.
Characteristics of the Black and Tan Coonhound
- The Black and Tan coonhound has many European ancestors but it is completely an all American dog. Its original name was the American Black and Tan Fox and coonhound.
- They are direct descendants of the bloodhound.
- Male black and tan coons weigh between 50-75lbs with height up to 27 inches.
Characteristics of the American English Coonhound
- American English coonhound is also known as the English coonhound or the Redtick coonhound.
- They have a short hard coat that sheds a lot twice a year.
- Originally, they were bred to hunt foxes and raccoons.
- Size – they measure between 40-75 lbs.
Coat and colors
- Black and tan – as the name indicates, the Black and Tan coonhound dogs have black coats with tan markings on the muzzle, chest and legs.
- American English or Redtick coonhound – This dog comes in various colors like red and white, black and white or blue and white with ticking. Ticking is the pattern of spots found on the white part of the animal’s coat.
- Bluetick – As the name indicates, these dogs have short coats with blue ticks or blue ticks with tan coloring.
- Treeing Walker Coonhound – This breed has tri-colored coat but can also have white coats with tan or black spots.
Coonhounds are intelligent dogs, full of energy. They can be stubborn and hence need obedience training and socialization from an early age. Coonhounds make friendly pets who love to please their owners. They love to be by your side and mostly get along with kids. Remember; most coonhounds are avid trackers, so they are quick to chase their prey. As a result they may not be suitable for families having other house pets. Coonhounds are born hunters and they have been bred to alert their handlers to the game. As a result they bawl and bark a lot and this trait makes them unsuitable for apartments.
Black and tan coonhounds are even tempered and friendly dogs. They tend to be reserved but not shy or vicious. Black and tan coons work well with other hounds especially during hunts. Note that all coonhounds need to enjoy the ‘pack’ feeling and hence they love being around humans. Therefore, this is not a dog you can leave alone for prolonged periods during the day. Black and tan coons are also not laid back dogs and they need an active owner who can exercise them and keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Their formidable size and loud bark make them ideal watchdogs.
Ideal owners for Coonhounds
Are you considering buying or adopting a coonhound? Then you must ensure that this pet is indeed right for your lifestyle and family. Coonhounds need an owner who can take them on hunts and outdoor activities. This is a dog that could run away if he gets to smell an interesting scent. They are also pack animals and therefore in need of constant attention from their owner. Boredom can quickly set in if your coon is left alone without work or play. In such cases, your dog won’t hesitate to jump the fence or go exploring on his own. Their loud bawls and barks also demand a large home with a big yard or neighbor-less property. You simply cannot confine this dog in small quarters. If your job demands that you work long hours away from home, the Coon is not for you.
Where to find a Coonhound
You can get your Coonhound from a shelter or a reputable breeder. If you adopt a purebred coonhound or coonhound mix, expect to pay up to $500 to the shelter. On the other hand, if you choose to buy your puppy from a Coonhound breeder, prepare to shell out at least $1000-$2000 for Coonhound puppies (based on the city, bloodlines and the breeder). You can find reputed breeders on the official coonhound website here.
Training your Coon
All varieties of coonhounds do well with gentle, consistent and patient training with rewards and praise. Never shout at your coonhound; that would only setback the training. If you feel your pet is not progressing, take a break and get back to training in a bit. Keep sessions short and fun. No puppy gets it right the first time and there are bound to be mistakes. In the long run, you will have a well trained dog; one you will be proud of to call a member of your family. Here are some tips for training your Coon:
- While he is still a puppy, get him enrolled in obedience classes. This way; he will bond with you and you both will have a great time interacting with other pets and dog trainers.
- Do crate train your puppy early on.
- Potty training should also begin as soon as you bring your dog home. Show him where to void and, if needed, use newspapers and rags to teach him potty training.
- American English coonhounds tend to have separation anxiety so help your dog deal with it from an early age.
- Slowly teach him commands like Fetch, Heel, Sit and relax on cue.
- You must also teach your dog to greet people politely.
Your coon’s diet depends on his age, activity levels and overall health. In the beginning, it is best to continue with the same food that the breeder has been feeding. Later, your vet can guide you regarding the best food choices for your Coon based on his age. When you decide to start a new diet, always add small quantities of it to his current food. Once your pet has grown accustomed to the new food, you can make the complete switch. Coonhounds should never be fed dairy products like milk, cheese or yogurt. Most coons do well with a balanced mix of wet and dry food. At 3-6 months of age, cut back your pet’s feeds to twice per day. Take time to read food labels and make an informed choice.
Black and Tan and Bluetick coonhounds shed twice a year. Brush your pet’s coat once or twice a week using a natural boar bristle brush. This will bring out natural oils and help give the coat a glossy appearance. Coons do not need too much bathing unless they start to smell or get into something messy. During grooming session, pay special attention to the eyes. Watch out for gunk, redness and watering etc. If these signs are present, please have him examined by a vet. Clean out your pet’s ears from time to time. Also express his anal glands-you can get your vet to do so. Trim your pet’s nails every few months and don’t forget to brush his teeth every night. You can also provide dental chew sticks to help prevent plaque. It is important to get your Coonhound puppy used to these grooming steps early on. Regularly brush and comb your pet and soon he will start to look forward to these sessions.
The Black and Tan coonhound is generally very healthy. There are some genetic diseases that the breed is predisposed to including progressive retinal atrophy and coonhound paralysis. Regular vet checkups, healthy diet and daily exercise can prevent most illnesses and keep your pet healthy for years. Average lifespan of Treeing walker coonhounds is 12-13 years and Bluetick coonhound is 11-12 years.