An adult male Redbone Coonhound
|Origin||Southern United States|
|Dog (domestic dog)|
The Redbone Coonhound is a tenacious hunting dog used for hunting raccoon, deer, bear, boar, cougar, or any other large game. The breed originated in the Southern United States and is highlighted by their deep red coat. Described by the American Kennel Club as having "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.
In the early 19th century, Scottish immigrants brought red-colored foxhounds to Georgia, which would later become the foundation stock of today's modern-day Redbone. Around 1840, Irish-bred Foxhound and Bloodhound lines were added. The Redbone name comes 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.
Over time, breeders followed a selective program that led to a coonhound that was adept at treeing wild-game, was courageous against larger animals such as bear and mountain lions, agile enough to track in the mountains or in the marsh, and could swim if necessary (one of the few hounds with webbed feet). 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 replaced by an uninterrupted red tone.
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 since found recognition by the two major American kennel clubs. Its main use as a hunting dog instead of 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 outside of the U.S..
The Redbone Coonhound was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1902, becoming the second coonhound breed to gain recognition and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2010. It was shown at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for the first time in 2011.
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. The dog's eyes may be dark brown to hazel, but a darker color is preferred. The coat is short and smooth against the body, but coarse enough to provide protection to the skin while hunting through dense underbrush. Their 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. 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. 
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 lb. (20.5 to 31.75 kg).
The Redbone Coonhound is a very amiable dog overall. The breed is affectionate, gentle, and has a strong desire to please its owner. Socially active and agreeable with other dogs, aggression towards people or other canines is rare. With proper exercise, the Redbone can be happy as a non-hunter and makes a great family pet. In the U.S., particularly in the south, they are kept as both the family dog and a hunting dog.
As with other hounds and sporting breeds, puppies and adolescents are more energetic than adults and require frequent activity. Failure to mentally or physically exercise this breed will typically result in a dog that is destructive in the house. When going through obedience training, it is imperative to know that harsher training methods are not effective with this type of breed. Coonhounds are typically stubborn but also overly sensitive; loud and strict correcting can frighten this breed. The Redbone is also very vocal: they naturally have a loud booming bawl, also called a bay, and will be vocal in welcoming their owner coming home, if they sense 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 sufficient exercise. Redbones are known to have an independent intelligence especially well-suited for problem solving. The majority of Redbones require leashes to avoid wandering. It is not uncommon for this breed to wander from its owner.
The Redbone is an extremely vocal dog. 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.
Bred to work on all kinds of punishing terrain, Redbones are fast and surefooted and move with a proud, "swinging" gait. A Redbone Coonhound's training is a key component to creating a capable hunting dog, so proper training should begin as soon as possible. The Redbone has a stubborn mindset that can work to the owner's advantage, but the Redbone can also absorb a significant amount of information that can help with creating a reliable hunting dog.  If properly trained, a Redbone Coonhound should never kill an animal it is tracking. To discourage this behavior, training a puppy with a weighted duck or waterfowl dummy can be used to discourage the dog from shaking the prey with its head.
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. 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. Because of their instinctive desire to follow scents, they are eager to follow their noses and may ignore their owners' commands while in the field.
Famous Redbone Coonhounds
- 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 picks up a Redbone Coonhound, who accompanies him on his path.
- 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 the rest of his days in a mental hospital.
- "Redbone Coonhound Dog Breed Informationl". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
- Club, The American Kennel (11 November 2014). "The New Complete Dog Book: Official Breed Standards and All-New Profiles for 200 Breeds". i5 Publishing.
- Club, American Kennel (18 December 2007). "The Complete Dog Book: 20th Edition". Random House Publishing Group.
- "United Kennel Club Standard for the Redbone Coonhound". United Kennel Club. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- "Coonhound Breeds". www.coondawgs.com. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
- "Redbone Coonhound Dog Breed Information". Vetstreet. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
- "Best Hunting Dogs: OL Picks the Best Retrievers, Pointers, Flushers and Hounds". www.outdoorlife.com. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
- Suddath, Claire (18 June 2010). "Where the Red Fern Grows". Time.
- "The Redbone Coonhound Is a Great Hunting Dog". The Spruce Pets. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
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