ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Redbone Coonhound

Redbone Coonhound dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Redbone Coonhound has most of the typical hound traits such as a great sense of smell that allows them to follow trails for long durations of time or even pick up cold trails. They are independent thinkers and problem solvers. They are also blessed with a stubborn streak which makes them want to do things their way because they believe they know better.

Individuals of this breed are excellent hunters and they are known for their ability to tree and corner their prey which ranges from raccoons to bears, bobcats and even cougars.

They are a versatile breed and besides hunting they also enjoy swimming and spending time with their families. They make a great addition to the active family as they require plenty of exercise. They are eager to please, affectionate, loyal, friendly, and have a great sense of humour even if some humans can’t relate to it.

Breed characteristics

AdaptabilityHigh
TrainabilityHigh
Health and GroomingHigh
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group: Hound Dogs
Height: 21-27 inches tall at the shoulders.
Weight: 45-70 lb.
Life Span: 12 to 14 years
Main Highlights
  • The breed was developed in the United States from Foxhounds, Irish hounds and Bloodhounds.
  • They are the most easy-going and laid-back of the hounds.
  • The Redbone Coonhounds are rare and hard to find outside of the United States.
  • They are one of the favourite breeds among hunters due to their work ethic, keen nose and ability to work tirelessly in less than perfect conditions.
  • They are light shedders and make a good choice for people with asthma or allergies.
  • The breed is prone to obesity.
  • They need a lot of physical activity and can become destructive if bored or left alone for long durations of time.
  • The Redbone Coonhound are a very vocal breed, a fact that should be considered prior to purchase or adoption especially for people who live in a city.
  • They have a short attention span and can be a challenge to train therefore, not the ideal breed for the novice or inexperienced owner.
  • They are independent thinkers and problem solvers.
  • The Redbone Coonhounds love children and for the most part get along with other dogs. Cats and other smaller critters might prove more of a challenge unless the Redbone Coonhound was socialized properly or raised with them.
  • They are slow to mature, both physically and mentally until they are about 2 years old.
Breed History

The breed was developed from red Foxhounds brought to the United States by Scottish and Irish immigrants in the late 18th century. It is believed that they were descendant from a breeding between the Foxhounds, Bloodhounds and Irish hounds. The hunters of the time were interested in developing a breed of hounds that are relentless, have great stamina and could tree or corner their prey.

George E.L Birdsong was credited with developing the early Redbone Coonhound who were called saddlebacks due to the black saddle pattern on their red coats. The feature was bred out in future generation and a new breed emerged. They had a solid red coat and specialized in prey that could climb trees, were great swimmers and were able to work in difficult conditions. Some believe they got the name Redbone for their beautiful red coat while others believe they derive their name from Peter Redbone who was one of the first known breeders.

They became extremely popular in Tennessee and Georgia, from there their popularity among hunters spread to the rest of the United States.

Today, their name precedes them due to their work ethic, stamina and a great sense of smell. Although, very popular in the United States, they are virtually unknown and extremely rare to find in Europe and Australia.

They rank 144th most popular breed according to the AKC.

Size

The Redbone Coonhound males measure at 22-27 inches tall at the shoulder. The females are generally smaller and measure at 21-25 inches tall at the shoulder. The average weight for the breed is 45-70 lb.

Personality and Character

The breed is very versatile and can adapt fairly quickly to a new environment and situations. They do OK in an apartment as long as they are sufficiently exercised but their ideal home would have a large fenced yard where they can romp around safely or a home in the country. A secure fence is a must as they have the tendency to take off after scents or unsuspecting cats.

They are the more laid back of the hounds and also easier to train as they are eager to please their owners. They are a perfect addition to the active family who can keep up with their energy levels and fulfil their exercise needs. They also make great hunting partners since they were bred for that purpose. They are fearless and have an excellent nose that can track trails for long durations of time in harsh conditions and difficult terrain. They are experts in hunting raccoons but are not ones to back down from a bear, cougar or a bobcat.

They are a vocal breed, that’s how they let the hunters know the prey’s location, a fact that makes them a good watchdog but something to take into an account if one resides in an apartment or in the city.

Although, they can adapt well to living outdoors if given a suitable shelter, water and food, they do better living indoors with their humans. They develop a deep bond with their families and thrive on people interaction. They are affectionate, loving and loyal to their families without being clingy or needy.

The Redbone Coonhounds are slow to mature, expect puppy behaviour and antics until they are about 2 years old.

Health and Potential Problems

The breed is generally very sturdy and healthy. Most reputable breeders and shelters make sure the dog or puppy has received a clean bill of health from the vet. The majority of reputable breeders test the dogs prior to breeding and then test the litter as well for any genetic or hereditary conditions.

Never buy a pet from a puppy mill as these operations are more concerned with financial gain than the mental and physical well-being of the dogs in their care. Also be aware of backyard breeders, the majority have no experience or proper knowledge of the breed, resulting in hereditary conditions and temperament issues in the litters, as well as unknown bloodlines.

With proper diet, regular exercise and consistent vet visits, your loyal companion will remain by your side for years to come.

The main diseases you have to be worried about with this breed are:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A common hereditary condition in dogs, occurs when the femur doesn’t fit snugly into the hip socket. It may cause lameness, discomfort and arthritis in advance age and can be managed with pain medication or surgery in severe cases.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: An eye disorder that causes slow deterioration of the retina and may result in limited or complete loss of vision.
Care Features

The Redbone Coonhound needs perhaps more socialization than most breeds as they were bred for hunting. The introduction to new people, children, strange dogs, cats and other animals should begin as soon as possible, preferably from a very young age. It is highly recommended to enrol them in puppy kindergarten where their introduction to the new big world is done under professional guidance. It also allows for a bonding experience between the puppy and handler.

Another great training tool is the crate training which has proven efficient with house training as well as alleviating anxiety and stress levels when the owner is away from the house. It also helps protect the furniture and belongings from the wrath of a bored Redbone Coonhound as they can be quite destructive when bored and left unattended.

The breed is notorious for their short attention span, therefore to get the most out of training sessions, they need to be kept short and fun. The breed doesn’t like to repeat commands they have already mastered, and traditional training is often of no interest to them. They are a sensitive breed and don’t respond well to any form of harsh treatment or training.

The handler needs to be calm and consistent in reinforcing boundaries and rules in the form of plenty of praise and tasty rewards. The handler needs to establish themselves as a pack leader — that is why this breed is not the most suitable for a novice or inexperienced owner. They are independent thinkers and like to do things their way.

The Redbone Coonhound needs plenty of physical activity in the form of daily walks or jogs. They have to be leashed when they are not in a fenced and a secure area as they have the tendency to take off if they picked up an interesting scent and follow it regardless of what the owner has to say about it.

Hunting is their bread and butter but they also excel in search and rescue, tracking and are known to be great swimmers. Involving them in any of these would guarantee a very happy and accomplished Redbone Coonhound.

Feeding Schedule

The breed will benefit from a whole, balanced diet, specifically designed for their activity levels, age and size. High-quality diet, free of unnecessary additives such as corn and grain, and rich in meat protein goes a long way in providing the Redbone Coonhound with healthy skin, coat, bones, mental and physical vitality and longevity. It is recommended to divide their daily consumption into 2 meals as the breed is more prone than most to obesity.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Redbone Coonhounds have a beautiful rich dark red, coarse, short and smooth coat. The original ancestors had what looked like black saddles, but those were replaced through selective breeding with the solid red color they are known for today, some dogs still have some white but it is not very common.

The coat keeps them comfortable in different climates and allows them to work in difficult terrain. It is easy to take care of and usually only requires weekly brushing to avoid tangles and mats. The breed doesn’t shed much and is a good choice for people who don’t want hair on everything, as well as people with asthma or allergies. It is important to note that there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. The allergens are usually found in the dog’s hair and saliva. Allergies can also build up over time and the only way to really know for certain is to spend plenty of time around the breed.

The breed’s floppy ears also require weekly maintenance. The floppy shape makes it easier for moisture and debris to be trapped in the ear canal, resulting in reoccurring ear infections.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The breed makes a great companion to children. Gentle and affectionate, they also can keep up with the children’s energy levels and find plenty of mischiefs together. It is a beautiful thing to witness the friendship between the Redbone Coonhound and the younger members of the family. As with all other breeds, children need to be taught the proper way to approach dogs and give them the respect they are due as well as space when they require it. Any tail or ear pulling should be discouraged immediately.

An alarming number of dogs are surrendered to shelters, abandoned or put down yearly because of failure on the adults’ part to educate children on proper dog handling etiquette. Play time between children and dogs should be supervised by an adult at all times.

The Redbone Coonhounds usually get along well with other dogs, as they have been bred to hunt in a pack. They get along with cats and smaller critters as long as they have been extensively socialized and raised together. Even then sometimes the breed’s strong prey drive is too high and they will give chase to cats, rabbits, gerbils and other smaller family pets.

The dog’s mentality and relationship to other people, children, other dogs, cats and other animals strongly depend on socialization, training, breeding, handler and environment. Although there are general traits in every breed, each dog should be treated as an individual.

The Redbone Coonhound makes a terrific addition to the active family or the avid hunters. They enjoy spending time outdoors with their families and curl up by the fire after a long day of activity or hunting.

They do require plenty of physical activity, human interaction and socialization. They are affectionate and loving towards their families and love the younger members of the family. Generally they get along great with other dogs, but due to their high prey drive would require supervision around cats and other smaller critters unless they were properly socialized or raised with them.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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