One of America's canine aristocrats, the Black and Tan Coonhound's bloodlines hark back to the Talbot hound of a thousand years ago, yet he's completely a creation of the mountain people of the Ozarks and the Smokies.
Nose to the ground, he singlemindedly trails his prey, primarily the raccoon but also mountain lions, bears, deer, and other game, "barking up" when his quarry is treed. Of the six coonhound breeds, the Black and Tan is the one most frequently recognized, notable for his size and distinctive coloring. Among hunters, he's famous for his cold nose; that is, the ability to pick up and follow an old trail, no matter how faint.
Because of his strong hunting instinct and specialized skills, the Black and Tan Coonhound is rarely thought of as a family dog. Still, for people who admire the hound's independent nature and sense of humor, he can make an excellent companion and at home he tends to be laidback, playful, and gentle.
The stamina that makes this Hound a great hunting dog also makes him an excellent jogging or running companion. But he's equally satisfied with a good daily walk, especially if there's plenty of sniffing time built in. Afterward, expect him to sack out on the sofa, preferably in or near your lap. This is a dog who likes his comforts.
Black and Tan Coonhounds are fond of children and willing playmates. They get along well with other dogs and can even be buddies with cats if properly introduced. They possess good watchdog skills, and are likely to sound off with a deep-throated bark to alert you that someone's approaching. This dog is big enough to look intimidating, but unlikely to bite or otherwise harm anyone.
As with every breed, Coonhounds have some drawbacks. For one thing, they can have a houndy odor. This is something you'll either love or hate. Be sure you love it, because it can't be washed away for more than a day or two.
Also, these dogs can sing. No, you're not getting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir here but the deep bay of a hound who's treed a squirrel, cat, or other furry animal foolish enough to enter your yard. Lots of people love the music of the hounds, but those people might not include your neighbors.
Nor is this a breed for the houseproud. Black and Tan Coonhounds drool when it's hot, slobber after drinking water, and shed heavily.
Finally, he's not for the faint of heart. A Coonhound needs a leader who's as stubborn and smart as he is.
Still, if you can have a sense of humor and can accept his drawbacks, plus provide the Black and Tan with the human companionship he loves, moderate daily exercise, and firm, consistent, patient training, it's hard not to fall in love with this breed.
- Bays and howls as only a hound can; city living is not recommended
- Easily distracted by various scents. Once he has decided to follow one you'll have a very hard time calling him off — this dog needs to be leashed!
- Coonhounds are not homebodies and will roam if given the chance. They can go for miles before looking up and realizing that home is nowhere to be found.
- Makes a good jogging or running companion but is also more than satisfied with 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise, and walks that allow for plenty of sniffing time.
- This breed does well with children, but is active and bouncy when young.
- Easily gains weight if given the chance.
- Can be stubborn and independent, making training a challenge.
- A bored Coonhound is a noisy, destructive Coonhound. He needs lots human companionship and training.
- Obedience training is highly recommended and likely to lead to a closer relationship with your dog.
- Never buy a Black and Tan Coonhound from a puppy broker or pet store. Reputable breeders do not sell to middlemen or retailers, and there are no guarantees as to whether the puppy had healthy parents. Interview breeders thoroughly, and make sure the puppy's parents have been screened for genetic diseases pertinent to that breed. Ask breeders about the health issues they've encountered in their dogs, and don't believe anyone who claims that her dogs never have any health problems. Ask for references so you can contact other puppy buyers to see if they're happy with their Coonhound. Doing your homework may save you a lot of heartbreak later.
As with all breeds, the Black and Tan Coonhound can be prone to certain health conditions.
Following are some conditions that can affect Black and Tan Coonhounds:
- Hip Dysplasia (HD): This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP). Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but it can be worsened by environmental factors, such as rapid growth from a high-calorie diet or injuries incurred from jumping or falling on slick floors.
- Cataracts. A cataract is an opacity on the lens of the eye that causes difficulty in seeing. The eye(s) of the dog will have a cloudy appearance. Cataracts usually occur in old age and sometimes can be surgically removed to improve the dog's vision.
Note: Responsible breeders use only physically sound, mature (at least two years or older) dogs, and test their breeding stock for genetic diseases pertinent to the breed.
Both parents should have health clearances, documentation that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Black and Tan Coonhounds, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better) and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site.
Health clearances are not issued to dogs younger than two years of age. That's because some health problems don't appear until a dog reaches full maturity. For this reason, it's often recommended that dogs not be bred until they are two or three years old.