The Black and Tan Coonhound is a true hound breed in all aspects of the term. They are a lean, long and tall dog that has the typical loose fitting skin, gentle personality and disposition and long, baying bark of the hound family of dogs. The Black and Tan Coonhound will weigh between 50 and 75 pounds when fully mature and can measure up to 27 inches at the shoulder. They are very proportionate and appear smooth and fluid when in motion. There are actually two different types, a show dog that is larger, calmer and more family oriented and a field line that is slightly smaller and more intended for tracking and hunting.
One of the more distinctive features of any hound is the leather or long folds of skin on the ears. The Black and Tan Coonhound is no exception, with the ear hanging well down below the lower jaw. This particular formation of the muzzle does lead to some drooling; however some lines are less likely to drool than others. The jaw itself is well developed with a broad, black nose, alert brown to hazel colored eyes and wide, flat forehead. The neck is long and slightly arched and the chest is very deep, reaching down to the elbows of the front legs. The back is fairly level and the long legs seem rather loosely jointed, providing a very free, flowing gait. The tail is long, narrow and tapered to a point.
The Black and Tan Coonhound has a short, coarse and dense coat that is always primarily black with tan markings on the muzzle, eyebrows, chest, and lower legs and on the tail and underside of the dog.
Originally bred in America, the Black and Tan Coonhound is actually made up of several different breeds. Although it is hard to trace its heritage accurately, it is seen that they dogs are most commonly from Bloodhounds and Foxhounds of black and tan varieties. Historians have been able to trace this Coonhound back as far as the eighteenth century.
Black and Tan Coonhounds were originally bred as scent hunters and were used to tree small animals, mostly raccoons, and to then bay at the base of the tree to allow the hunters to find the prey. Black and Tan Coonhounds can also be used to hunt other types of game, they excel at any type of scent hunting. The breed was first officially recognized in 1945 and although not a common dog they are popular in many of the southern areas of the United States.
Most Black and Tan Coonhounds are very calm, relaxed and loving dogs, accepting of people, other dogs and even household pets. As with any dog early socialization is the key to maintaining this calm disposition and to prevent problems with dog aggression or chasing of other animals. They can be good watchdogs but are usually too friendly to be used a guard dogs. Once a Black and Tan Coonhound meets someone they treat them as a friend, welcoming them with a happy bark and a wagging tail.
Since they can be rather boisterous in play, they are recommended for families with older children as well as a large, fenced space where the Black and Tan can self-exercise during the day. They are not a good dog in confined spaces or in kennels; they need to have both routine human companionship and exercise to be happy and well-adjusted dogs.
All breeds of dogs have some hereditary health conditions and the Black and Tan Coonhound has the same general health issues of any large breed. The biggest concerns are hip dysplasia, which can be tested before dogs are bred to ensure this condition is not passed on to the puppies. Another concern is bloat a potentially fatal digestive condition that can be prevented by providing two or three smaller meals per day, limiting exercise immediately after eating and ensuring that the dog does not eat a large amount of dry food and then drink immediately after. This will cause the food to swell and obstruct the digestion, leading to bloat. Providing fresh water throughout the day or pre-soaking food can prevent this problem.
Grooming the Black and Tan Coonhound is simple, a rubber brush, soft bristle brush or a grooming mitt is all that is needed. Groom once a week to remove any dead hair and only bath when necessary to avoid stripping the natural protective oils from the coat.
The Black and Tan Coonhound needs daily exercise in the form of both long walks and room to run off leash. A very large fenced yard is ideal for this breed as they will self-exercise when left on their own. They are a social dog, used to working in packs, and will do best both temperament and exercise wise if kept with another fairly active dog.
It is important to keep the Black and Tan on a leash whenever they are out of the yard. Once they hit on a scent they will track to the exclusion of everything else, including the owner’s commands to return. They are known to become so intent on tracking they will walk or run into traffic with no attention to vehicles, often with fatal consequences.
Once fully trained the Black and Tan can be taught to work off-leash in quiet areas, but this takes both time and patience and is not recommended in high traffic locations, no matter how well trained the dog may be.
As with any type of specialized dog the Black and Tan Coonhound requires specialized training in scent discrimination to hunt and track. There are professional hunting and gun dog trainers that can provide this type of training for both the owner and the dog.
Overall obedience training for the Black and Tan Coonhound will require consistency, positive training methods and lots of repetition. These dogs are very smart but do have a tendency to be easily distracted. Their ability to hyper-focus on a scent can sometimes be frustrating to the owner, so learning how to work with the dog rather than against their natural tendencies is the key. Start training and socialization early with this breed as with any other large type of dog.