Information about the Redbone Coonhound

The Redbone Coonhound is a breed of dog, which is widely used for hunting bear, raccoon, and cougar. Their agility allows them to be used for hunting from swamplands to mountains and some can be used as water dogs. The AKC standard says, “The Redbone mingles handsome looks and an even temperament with a confident air and fine hunting talents.” This breed has been registered with the UKC since 1904 and the AKC since 2009. This is the type of hound featured in the novel Where the Red Fern Grows.

The Redbone Coonhound has a lean, muscular, well proportioned build. The body type is typical to the coonhounds subgroup, with long straight legs, a wide barrel chest, and a head and tail that is held high and proud when hunting or showing. The Redbone’s face is often described as having a pleading expression, with sorrowful dark brown or hazel eyes and long, drooping ears. Their coat is short and smooth against the body, but coarse enough to provide protection to the skin while hunting through dense underbrush. Their paws have especially thick pads and are also webbed and dewclaws are common. The nose should be black and prominent. The ears are floppy and should extend to nearly the end of the nose if stretched out. Coloration of the nose is always black and the coat color is always a rich red, though a small amount of white on the chest, between the legs, or on the feet is permissible, though not preferred. Variations of black fur on the face and muzzle are also not uncommon. The toes are typically webbed.

Males should be 22-27 inches (56-68.5 cm) at the shoulder, with females slightly shorter at 21-26 inches (53-66 cm). Weight should be proportional to the size and bone structure of the individual dogs, with a preference towards leaner working dogs rather than heavier dogs. Generally, weights will range from 45 to 70;lbs (20.5 to 31.75 kg).

The Redbone Coonhound is an excellent companion and family pet, with some special considerations. They love to be with their owners and family, and are happy just doing things with their humans, or sitting nearby, watching them: a Redbone Coonhound who has been left out of the family fun or penned up during the party is often a heartbroken one. Overall, they are very affectionate and loving: they will often leap to their feet barking loudly to greet their master upon his return home and a typical Redbone will shower everyone with love, licking the faces of family and friends. However, a dog of this breed typically will not seek attention as fervently as other breeds (such as a Labrador Retriever). They are very happy if you pet them, and love it. They are also a very boisterous breed: as explained above, adult Redbones grow to a large size. They may not know how big and strong they are when young and thus may accidentally knock over elderly adults and young children if left untrained or never taught the command “heel,” so basic obedience should be emphasized with this breed. The Redbone is an extremely vocal dog, as would be expected of a hound. The breed is known for its distinctive “drawling” bark, also known as a “bay.” Hunters who use the breed follow the sound of the loud howls as the dogs track quarry. It takes training to first control their excited, emotional, booming barks, but also to help provide the hounds an outlet for their ‘tracking’ desires that sometimes drive their vocalizations.

If not hunting with the dog, an excellent outlet is to train as a watchdog, seeing that it’s a perfect alarm call as well as a highly alert and focused breed. As watchdogs, Redbones are unusually aware of the dress, smell, ethnicity, and territory of their owners, and have been known to “protect” the yard against service providers such as postal workers and garbage collectors. Their deep, excited, and constant bark along with large canine teeth can be most intimidating to the unwary intruder.

Redbones do not reach full physical and mental maturity until the age of two years, comparatively slower than many other breeds. They may also come in black fur rarely. Puppies and adolescents are more energetic than adults and need lots of activity or they will become destructive, often chewing furniture, chewing shoes, and snooping around the garbage. When going through obedience training it is imperative for a pet owner to know that harsher methods are not effective with this breed. Coonhounds are typically stubborn but can also be sensitive; being overbearing can frighten the animal. Once trained and aware of its size the breed is known to be very gentle and can be trusted with children, easily tolerating a small child playing tag or a crawling baby tugging on its long ears. While playing with older children they will happily jump into the family swimming pool to play. The dogs are adept in the water and can be compared to other water-loving breeds like the Labrador Retriever in swimming ability.

Coonhounds are in the same group as well known breeds such as the Beagle, Basset Hound, and Bloodhound: they are bred primarily to track game using sight and scent over long distances. They also instinctively mark their position for following hunters by vocalizing as they catch up with their quarry. Therefore, this breed will have the desire to chase small animals such as rabbits, squirrels, badgers, or even cats. A Redbone Coonhound should have a tall fence to retain the animal and keep it from wandering.

Hunting dogs require a good deal of exercise to stay happy and healthy. The breed is best suited to the countryside or suburbs; urban environments are less than ideal but workable so long as they get roughly an hour and a half or more of walking per day. Redbones are known to have an independent intelligence especially well suited for problem solving. This can be an issue if the problem they want to solve is their backyard fence or the dog-proof garbage. Most Redbones require leashes to avoid wandering. In a hunt setting they will often make quarter mile loops away from the pack searching for scent of their prey before returning or using their bay to raise the alarm, thus bringing the pack to their aid. Because of their instinctive desire to follow scents, they are eager to follow their noses and may ignore their owners’ commands-they should not be allowed off leash in an uncontrolled area.