Guide to the Coonhound (More Than a Strong Sense of Smell)

Published February 10, 2022
Coonhound dog lying upside down on bed

American English Coonhounds are well-known for their speed and agility in the field, endurance, and loud bark while hunting. As with many other hunting breeds, they are very energetic ,enjoying as many adventures as possible. They need regular daily exercise and an owner with a desire for mental and physical fulfillment.

Origin and History

The American English Coonhound's ancestors are thought to have come to the United States in the 1800s. In the 1900s, breeders started crossing their ancestors with foxhounds to enhance their hunting abilities. They were first known as Virginia hounds and were imported to the United States by Robert Brooke, Thomas Walker, and America's first President, George Washington. They were originally developed to hunt raccoons, foxes, deer, bobcats, and opossums. Today, you can still see them hunting with their owners, and as a loving part of the family.

Although this breed has been around for quite some time, they were recently recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2011.

Breed Characteristics

The American English Coonhound is a hunting dog who has been used for centuries to sniff out prey. These scenthounds will follow their noses to the end, which makes them perfect for hunters who are trying to track down certain animals. These dogs have a strong sense of smell and will follow a trail until they find their target. They can also be trained as guard dogs and rescue dogs.

American English Coonhound

Appearance

American English Coonhounds are medium-sized dogs that typically weigh in at between 45 and 65 pounds. They have short, soft coats that come in various colors, including red, white, black, and brown. They have a powerful back, broad loin, and well-defined muscle, as well as a deep chest with lots of lung capacity. The American English is a balanced, athletic dog with no exaggerated components.

Temperament

The same intense drive that makes American English Coonhounds great hunters can make them difficult to train for beginners and new owners. When not pursuing prey, this breed can be calm and loving with a little patience and proper training.

Purebred Bluetick Coonhound dog standing and smiling with tongue out

When given adequate time each day to run around, explore, and play, American English Coonhounds thrive. They can be charming and docile when their mental and physical needs are fulfilled.

Their loud barking makes them excellent watchdogs, even if they're more likely to lick an intruder than scare them away in the end. They will at least let you know they're there.

As with any breed, they require early socialization to become well-rounded adult dogs. Begin bringing your puppy to areas with different smells, sights, and people. Don't forget to bring a leash; you don't want them running off if they see a squirrel.

Training

This breed is more difficult to train than many others. They require consistent, firm training using positive reinforcement. Offer treats or praise as a reward during any type of training period. Don't forget, you shouldn't give more than 10 percent of their daily caloric intake in the form of treats. Once you reach that threshold, try using praise, or alternate between treats and praise to let them know they're doing a good job.

Coonhound dog entertains fans during the Outback Bowl game

Exercise Requirements

American English Coonhounds like to run and play, so they need a lot of exercise. To keep them happy and healthy, you should spend at least 30 minutes each day playing with them or taking them for a walk. They also need plenty of socialization and mental stimulation, so make sure you get your dog out and about. It's not uncommon for this breed to wander off without warning, so you need to make sure you secure your property and keep your dog inside if necessary.

Health

As with all breeds, the American English Coonhound is prone to certain health conditions:

  • Canine hip dysplasia: This painful joint and skeletal disorder tends to affect larger, active dogs.
  • Cataracts: An eye condition that generally affects senior dogs and can damage their vision.
  • Gastric torsion: Also known as bloat, this disease affects deep-chested dogs and can be fatal if not treated right away.

Lifespan

The American English Coonhound has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years.

Grooming

The coat of the American English Coonhound is short to medium in length and requires little maintenance. Brushing your dog's fur with a grooming mitt on a weekly basis will remove dead fur, reduce shedding, and properly distribute healthy oils. Their floppy ears should also be cleaned and checked on a weekly basis to prevent infection. Trim their nails as necessary.

Fun Facts about the Breed

Once you start doing your research on this breed, you will find a handful of information, but did you know the following?

  • The American English Coonhound's nose is so strong that they can detect prey from as far as 2 miles away!
  • They are capable of making a deep, bellowing sound that can be heard from a mile away.
  • They were recognized as the official state dog of Tennessee in 1984.
  • American English Coonhounds were once known as Virginia Coonhounds.

Purchasing or Adopting an American English Coonhound

If you're looking for an American English Coonhound puppy, a good place to start is the American English Coonhound Association. The club has a breeder directory available as well as helpful tips on how to find responsible breeders with quality dogs. The AKC PuppyFinder page also has a breeder search. Expect to pay around $800 to $1,200, although higher-end show dogs from champion lines can cost as much as $2,000.

Bluetick coonhound puppy running in grass field

Rescue Organizations

If you are searching for a rescue, you can begin by looking through the listings on Petfinder and Save-a-Rescue. You can also search the following breed-specific rescues:

  • American Black & Tan Coonhound Rescue: An organization operating nationwide rescuing and adopting American English Coonhounds, other coonhound breeds, and Bloodhounds.
  • HoundSong Rescue: A nonprofit rescue locating and finding forever homes for American English Coonhounds, other breeds, and mixes.
  • Hound Rescue and Sanctuary: A hound rescue located in Findlay, Ohio, re-homing dogs within three hours of their location to households that have a fenced-in yard.

Is this the Breed for You?

If you're searching for a high-energy companion to spend time with, this could be the breed for you. If you are someone who isn't home most of the time, you may want to search for a lower-energy, more independent breed. These dogs require a lot of attention, along with physical and mental exercise. Remember, every dog is different, and regardless of the breed you choose, it's important to meet each puppy individually.

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Guide to the Coonhound (More Than a Strong Sense of Smell)