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Redbone Coonhound

Nicole Cosgrove

Redbone Coonhound_Shutterstock_Crystal Alba

The Redbone Coonhound is a medium to large dog from the US and is also called Redbone, the Red Coon Dog and the Redbone Hound and its nickname is Reds. There are two possible origins for its name, the obvious one being for its deep red attractive coat and the other is that it was named after Peter Redbone, an early breeder from Tennessee. It was bred to be swift and surefooted to excel at hunting raccoons specifically but also deer and other larger game like cougar, bear and bobcat. It was this breed that was featured in the classic book ‘Where the Red Fern Grows’. As well as being a great hunting hound it can also be a great family dog with the right owners.

The Redbone Coonhound at A Glance
Name Redbone Coonhound
Other names Redbone Hound
Nicknames Reds
Origin United States
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 45 to 65 pounds
Average height 21 to 27 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Short, glossy
Hypoallergenic No
Color Red, golden, white
Popularity Not that popular – ranked 143rd by the AKC
Intelligence Above average – understands things in a reasonably quick manner
Tolerance to heat Moderate – cannot easily live with any kind of overly warm or hot climate
Tolerance to cold Good – can live somewhere cold but not too cold without support
Shedding Low – not a lot of hair left around the home
Drooling High – prone to slobber and drool
Obesity Moderate – not prone to obesity but can gain weight if fed too much or not given enough activity
Grooming/brushing Low maintenance – just brush regularly and basic upkeep
Barking Occasional to frequent and they howl
Exercise needs Very active – needs lots pf physical and mental activity
Trainability Easy with an experienced and confident owner
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog Moderate – this is a breed best suited to owners with previous experience
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Moderate to good – high prey drive, socialization is essential
Good with strangers Good but wary, socialization is needed
Good apartment dog Good but does better in a home with a yard or land
Handles alone time well Moderate – does not like being left alone for long periods
Health issues Very healthy in general, just a few issues like ear infections and hip dysplasia
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and pet treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for license, basic training, miscellaneous items and toys
Average annual expenses $1000 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $850
Rescue organizations Several including Gentle Jake’s Coonhound Rescue, Northeast Coonhound Rescue
Biting Statistics Statistics cover coonhound attacks, type is not specified. Attacks doing bodily harm: 3 Child Victim: 1 Death: 1 Maimings: 1

The Redbone Coonhound’s Beginnings

The Redbone Coonhound is an American breed and can be found dating back to the 1700s. It was in the late 1700s that Scottish immigrants brought red foxhounds to the US and around that time and into the early 19th century, from Ireland came other scenthounds that were red. These breeds (which include the Irish Hound and the Bloodhound) were bred together mostly in the regions of Tennessee and Georgia and these dogs became the ancestors of the Redbone Coonhounds. It was used to hunt with, on its own and in packs specifically racoons as well as other game including big cats.
At first little was done to stick to standards or to conform, breeders did as they wished and needed. However a small group of southern breeders came together with the aim of creating a stable line that were quicker than other coonhounds and had a hotter nose. As the first few generations of these attempts were born with black saddle patches on their backs they were given the nickname ‘saddlebacks’ but eventually that was bred away to reach the solid red coat. A George Birdsong who was a dog breeder and foxhunter from Georgia is credited as someone who did a lot for the development of this breed. Key qualities being looked for were determination, stamina and courage. Dogs need to also be agile and be able to swim. While this breed was common and well known in Tennessee and Georgia in particular but in the South in general, it was not one know well beyond that, especially beyond the US and was more known by hunters and farmers.

New Lease on Life

The Redbone Coonhound was recognized by the UKC in 1902 and was the second coonhound to be recognized after the Black and Tan. The AKC though did not recognize it until 2009. Where once it was a dog only known in the southern states of the US, today it does have a following that spans the globe, from Canada to South America, Mexico to Japan. It is prized for its athleticism and for its hunting ability but also for its temperament. It has also become more present in the show ring. But it is still a fairly rare breed and there are not many breeders outside of North America. It is almost unheard of in places like Australia and Europe. Today it ranks 143rd by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

This medium to large dog weighs 45 to 65 pounds and stands 21 to 27 inches tall. It is a stocky dog with strong back legs and forelegs and a tail that is held upright and is a little curved. Around the necks there is loose skin but not as obvious as the ones Bloodhounds have. It is a strong and robust breed but while it is muscled, it is still lean and is well proportioned. It has cat like compact paws that have webbed toes and thick pads. Its chest is deep and it holds its head high. Its coat is shiny, flat, smooth, short and coarse. It is the only solid-colored coonhound and its coat is a deep and rich red. A small amount of white can be accepted on its feet and chest, and its muzzle can be darker too. The Redbone Coonhound has pendulous ears that are low set and are long. Its eyes are dark brown or hazel. Their muzzles are broad and as mentioned can be black or have black on them and its nose is usually black.

The Inner Redbone Coonhound


The Redbone Coonhound is alert and makes a great watchdog that will bark to let you know if there is an intruder trying to get in. It is not known to be especially protective though so may not act to defend you or the home, this may vary depending on your dog’s personality. This breed is certainly not a dog best suited to new owners, it is a tenacious, sometimes aggressive, strong breed and needs owners who are even stronger and have experience so that they are clear about being the boss. Reds are fearless and tireless when out on the hunt and are also very determined. In the right hands it is outgoing, social and loyal but also gentle, kind and very sensitive. It is not a dog that will be happy in a home with a lot of tension and raised voices. It also does not like to be left alone for long periods.
While the Red is affectionate with its owners it is not a velcro or clingy dog and with socialization it really is good at adapting to various situations and does not easily scare. This is a very stable and easy going dog, it is not suspicious with strangers and it makes a great family dog as long as it gets out hunting or gets a large amount of physical and mental activity. Without that it can be harder to live with though it is one of the more laid backed coonhounds. It does bark frequently which will need training to control but at least its bark is pleasant to hear! It is also true that some Reds drool a fair bit.

Living with a Redbone Coonhound

What will training look like?

Redbones are easy to train compared to other scenthounds for people with experience, they tend to listen and obey and with positive methods you will make more inroads. When it comes to hunting it will need little training as its instincts are so strong but it will need at least basic obedience training and it should also have socialization started as early as possible. You will need to be creative with the training sessions, it will get distracted otherwise, so make them short and fun. Be firm and confident making it clear you are the pack leader and be ready for it sometimes being goofy, sometimes being a good listener and sometimes trying to get its own way. Be patient and consider using treats, it is a great motivator! Early socialization is another important part of its training, make sure it is exposed to different situations, places, people, animals and sounds. It will grow into a more confident and happy dog and one that you can better trust.

How active is the Redbone Coonhound

The Redbone Coonhound is an active dog and really should be kept as a hunting dog as that meets its needs very well. However being one of the more laid back coonhounds it can be just a companion dog as long as it still gets plenty of activity and mental stimulation, and is kept busy. While it is fine in hotter climates it does not handle cold ones as well. It will enjoy dog parks visits where it can run off leash, play games with you and socialize. It loves to swim too, has an inquisitive nature and are not suited apartment living, they need a large yard or even land to roam and explore. As long as it gets enough physical and mental stimulation it will be a happy dog at the end of the day, ready to snuggle and nap and be content. It should have at least two daily walks that total a minimum of an hour a day making sure they are kept on a leash. This breed has a great deal of stamina and are very agile.

Caring for the Redbone Coonhound

Grooming needs

Reds are not high maintenance, they are quite easy to look after in fact. It sheds a low to average amount and as well as weekly brushing with a rubber curry brush or hound mitt, its short and smooth coat can be kept clean and shiny by wiping it down with a dampened cloth. This means too that bathing is not needed too often which is good since that can damage the coats natural oils. It does come with that odor that is particular to hounds, some owners do not mind it and some dislike it. Be sure to check it regularly though for thorns, debris, ticks and parasites especially on or around the ears if being used to hunt with.
Its ears will need weekly checking for infection signs that include irritation, discharge, redness and wax build up. Then you can also clean them weekly, not by inserting anything, just by wiping down the parts you can reach using a damp cloth or cotton ball with dog ear cleanser solution. Also brush its teeth at least two to three times a week for good dental and oral hygiene and better doggy breath. The nails may be worn down naturally with its level of activity, but if not you will need to trim them, or have a vet or professional groomer trim them for you. Dog nails have nerves and blood vessels in the lower part called the quick. Do not cut into the quick of the nail as it will cause a fair bit of bleeding and it will hurt your dog. Also make sure you use proper dog nail cutters.

Feeding Time

This breed will need 2 1/2 to 3 cups of a good quality dry dog food each day, split into at least two meals. Reds like to eat and so do commonly put on weight if that is not controlled. Make sure it gets food that meets its high energy needs but measure those portions, watch its treats and avoid giving in and feeding it from the table. Also never leave food out that it can reach, because it will eat it. How much it needs exactly can vary depending on its size, metabolism, health, age and level of activity.

How is the Redbone Coonhound with children and other animals?

With socialization and when raised with them Reds are good with children, playful, lively and affectionate even. Its even temper means when with good strong owners it can handle them just fine though it is best not around toddlers just because they tend to get knocked down easily. Make sure the children are taught how to play and touch dogs in a kind and safe way. It can learn to get along with other pets if raised with them but with strange pets and animals it sees them as prey and will hunt them down. Keep it leashed when out walking or it will go after scents it catches. With socialization it is very good with other dogs, being historically a pack dog.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The life span of a Redbone Coonhound is 12 to 14 years and it tends to be quite a healthy dog. A few issues that might come up include eye problems, obesity, ear infections and hip dysplasia. For hunting Reds there are sometimes hunting injuries to deal with too and parasites and ticks to watch out for.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of dogs attacking people and causing bodily harm over 35 years in North America, the coonhound is said to have been involved in 3 incidents. Note the reports just say the dogs were coonhounds and do not specifically name which coonhounds it was. Of those 3 attacks 1 involved a child, 1 out of the 3 lead to a death and 1 out of the 3 was a maiming, where the victim was left with permanent scarring, disfigurement or loss of limb. The Red is one of the more laid back coonhounds and if properly cared for is not likely to attack people. Make sure you are sure this is the breed that suits your level of activity, knowledge, experience and commitment. Also make sure that you socialize, train, exercise and stimulate your dog as well as giving it the attention and companionship it needs.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Redbone Coonhound puppy will likely cost around $850 for a good quality dog from a decent and trustworthy breeder. If you are using a top breeder of show quality dogs that price is likely to be more. It is always a good idea to use breeders you have done some homework on. Ones that have a good reputation and seem to be knowledgeable, experienced and committed. While these breeders may have a waiting list this is preferable to the lack of knowledge back yard breeders have, or the cruelty animals experience coming from puppy mills and the like. Another option when getting a new pet is to see if there is a dog in a local rescue or shelter that calls to you. It is true it is unlikely you will find a purebred, but if you are not showing your dog its pedigree is less important than its nature, personality and the love it has to offer you. Rescues to adopt tend to be around $50 to $400.

Once you have found your new best buddy you need to get some things at home ready for it. Dogs need things like a crate, carrier if on the smaller side, collar and leash, bowls and such. These initial costs will come to around $180. As soon as you have it you should make an appointment with a vet to have it examined and have some tests and procedures. Things like a physical exam, blood tests, micro chipping, deworming, spayed or neutering and shots. These will cost about $290.
Then there are ongoing costs to be ready for in order to best take care of your dog. It will need at least basic health care that includes check ups, flea and tick prevention and shots along with pet insurance for an estimated cost of $485 a year. Feeding it will cost around $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. Then other costs like toys, basic training, license and miscellaneous items will be around $245 a year. This mean the estimated annual cost will be about $1000.


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The Redbone Coonhound is a handsome dog there is no doubt about that. But do not be drawn to it just because you like its looks. You need to understand it has needs, to be physically active, preferably to be used to hunt with, and does not like being left alone for long periods. In the right hands it is happy, relaxed, affectionate, loyal and friendly. It does have an independent side though, it can be vocal and its strong prey drive needs consideration when thinking about other pets and when out for a walk.

Featured Image Credit: Crystal Alba, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.