Redbone Coonhound

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Redbone Coonhound[1]
An adult male Redbone Coonhound
OriginSouthern United States

Males: 50-70 lb

Females: 45-65 lb

Males: 22 to 27 inches

Females: 21-26 inches
Coat Short and dense
Color Solid red or chestnut. White is allowed on the paws and chest.
Life span 12-14 years
Classification / standards
AKC Hound standard
UKC Scenthounds standard
Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)
A two-year-old male Redbone Coonhound with black masking

The Redbone Coonhound is an American breed of dog used for hunting raccoon, deer, bear, boar, and cougar. The breed originated in the Southern United States and is highlighted by their deep red coat. Described by the American Kennel Club as a "medium-to-large hound whose muscles undulate beneath a sleek and stunning red coat," with an "overall impression that a master sculptor carved them from blocks of the finest mahogany," the Redbone blends an unrelenting hunter with a loving family dog.

This breed has been registered with the United Kennel Club since 1902 and the American Kennel Club since 2009.


In the late 18th century, many European-type hunting dogs were imported to America, most of them of Scottish, French, English, and Irish ancestry: the English Foxhound, the Harrier, the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, the Welsh Hound, the Beagle, and the Bloodhound were among these. As is the case with most of the other coonhound breeds, the ancestors of the Redbone were foxhounds.

In the early 1800s, Scottish immigrants brought red-colored foxhounds to Georgia, which would become the foundation stock of today's Redbone. Around 1840, Irish-bred Foxhound and Bloodhound lines were added. The name came from an early breeder, Peter Redbone of Tennessee, though the United Kennel Club credits Redbone's contemporary, George F.L. Birdsong of Georgia, and Dr. Thomas Henry in the 19th century.[2]

Over time, breeders followed a selective program that led to a coonhound that was adept at treeing boar and wild-game up trees, was courageous against larger animals such as bear and mountain lions, agile enough to carry on over mountains or in meadows, and could swim if necessary. They are ideal for pack hunting of both small and larger prey. Originally, the Redbone had a black saddleback, but by the beginning of the 20th century, it was an uninterrupted red tone.[2][3]

Like many American hunting dogs, especially those from the South, they were widely known by hunters and farmers, but not well known in the show ring (the Redbone has found recognition by the two major American kennel clubs). Because of its main use as a hunting dog rather than a show dog, Redbones are extremely rare dogs outside of the United States. There are very few breeders outside of North America and it is virtually unknown in Europe or Australia.

The Redbone Coonhound was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1902, becoming the second coonhound breed to gain recognition[4] and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2010.[2] It was shown at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for the first time in 2011.


A female Redbone in the field.


The Redbone Coonhound has a lean, muscular, well proportioned build. The body type is typical to the coonhounds subgroup, with long straight legs, a deep chest, and a head and tail that are held high and proud when hunting or showing. The Redbone Coonhound has brown eyes and a face that is often described as having a pleading expression.[5] The dog's eyes may be dark brown to hazel, but a darker color is preferred.[4] The coat is short and smooth against the body, but coarse enough to provide protection to the skin while hunting through dense underbrush. Some Redbones may exhibit a ridge of fur behind the ears and down to the shoulders when excited, but dissimilar to the ridge found on the Rhodesian Ridgeback. The large paws have especially thick pads, with webbed toes, and dewclaws are common. The nose is often black and prominent, with black on the muzzle and around the eyes, called "masking", not uncommon. The ears are floppy and will most likely extend to nearly the end of the nose if stretched out. 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 sometimes seen.[4] The white chest and feet markings that occasionally appear on Redbone Coonhound puppies today is most likely a throwback to the mixing of Bloodhound and Foxhound bloodlines. [6]

Males tend to 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).[4]


The Redbone Coonhound overall is a very sweet natured dog. The breed is affectionate, gentle, and has a strong desire to please its owner.[4] Socially active and agreeable with other dogs, aggression towards people or other canines is very rare. With proper exercise, the Redbone can be happy as a non-hunter and would make a great household pet. In many households in their native USA, they are kept as both the family dog and a hunting dog at the same time and so it has been for over a hundred years. Unlike their European foxhound and Bloodhound ancestors, they have never been kept on a manor with dozens of dogs of similar genetic background and have always been a dog of the middle and lower classes that would hunt with their master for supper and at the end of the day receive a bath, a treat, and a place by the fire as a member of the family. They can be kenneled in small numbers, but this is less common than living in the house.

They genuinely like children and once trained not to jump up on people they are very gentle with kids; a Redbone Coonhoud will adore playing with a family's children and will rejoice at the chance to run around in the backyard with them. [7] Examples of this breed are unusual in the hound group because they were actively bred to be very good swimmers: taking a Redbone Coonhound to the local lake to splash in the water with the children or asking him to jump in the family swimming pool is a delight for this breed.

Redbones do not reach full physical and mental maturity until the age of two years, comparatively slower than many other breeds. As with all breeds, puppies and adolescents are more energetic than adults and need lots of activity or they will become destructive, often chewing furniture or "counter-surfing" for food. 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. The breed is also very vocal: they naturally have a loud booming bark and howl they use all the time to address master coming home, danger, or that something has gone wrong.

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; they cannot be trusted for even a moment not to follow their noses.


A Redbone tracking

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 voice as the dogs track quarry. A Redbone Coonhound will have a "specific" bay when it has an animal either treed or cornered. This bay is very much distinguishable from their normal day to day baying. A Redbone's bay helps when hunting. A Redbone Coonhound's training is a key component to creating a capable hunting dog. Proper training should begin as soon as possible. The Redbone Coonhound has a stubborn mindset that can work to the owners advantage, but the Redbone can also absorb a significant amount of information that can help with creating a reliable hunting dog. [8] It is important to state that a Redbone Coonhound should never kill an animal it's tracking. To discourage this behavior, it's important to begin training as a puppy by using a weighted duck or waterfowl dummy to prevent the dog from shaking the prey with its head.

Young Redbone Coonhound in the snow

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 are one of the few "cold-nose scent hounds," or hounds that can accurately track and follow old scents. 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— though the Redbone can differentiate between domesticated cats and other small animals in the home. They are also adept in the water and can be compared to other water-loving breeds like the Labrador Retriever in swimming ability.

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. When breeding the Redbone Coonhound, traits such as determination and endurance created a dog that isn't afraid to hunt until its exercise is accomplished.[9] Because of their instinctive desire to follow scents, they are eager to follow their noses and may ignore their owners' commands.

Famous Redbone Coonhounds[edit]

  • Where the Red Fern Grows is a story about two Redbone Coonhounds ("Old Dan" and "Little Ann") and their owner Billy Colman. The book was written by Wilson Rawls in 1961, then turned into a movie in 1974.
  • The Hound That Thought He Was a Raccoon is a story about a young Coonhound puppy raised by a family of raccoons. The film was made by Walt Disney Productions in 1960.
  • The Outlaw Josey Wales is a story of a Civil War Veteran who has everything, including his family, taken from him by a group of renegade Union Soldiers. During his quest for vengeance, he picks up other loners who accompany him on his path, one of which is a Redbone Coonhound.
  • Arthur Ownby, one of the main characters in Cormac McCarthy's first ever published novel, The Orchard Keeper, owns a three legged Redbone Coonhound named Scout. The dog accompanies him as he attempts to escape the authorities after a shootout at his cabin, and is later shot after Arthur is sent to live out his days in a mental hospital.


  1. ^ Club, American Kennel. "Redbone Coonhound Dog Breed Information". Retrieved 2017-02-25.
  2. ^ a b c Club, The American Kennel (11 November 2014). "The New Complete Dog Book: Official Breed Standards and All-New Profiles for 200 Breeds- Now in Full-Color". i5 Publishing – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Club, American Kennel (18 December 2007). "The Complete Dog Book: 20th Edition". Random House Publishing Group – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b c d e "United Kennel Club Standard for the Redbone Coonhound". United Kennel Club. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  5. ^ Club, American Kennel. "Redbone Coonhound Dog Breed Information". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  6. ^ " Coonhound Breeds". Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Redbone Coonhound Dog Breed Information". Vetstreet. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  9. ^ "Best Hunting Dogs: OL Picks the Best Retrievers, Pointers, Flushers and Hounds". Retrieved 2017-04-18.

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