Black and Tan Coonhound has a long history dating back to early England. Descended from the Bloodhound (which was known as the St. Hubert Hound) and the Talbot Hound, the ancestors of today’s Black and Tan Coonhound were treasured as early as the 11th century. In the United States, the Black and Tan Coonhound was bred both for her distinctive color and her ability to hunt raccoons and opossums. She is not limited to small game, however.
The Black and Tan Coonhound dog breeds have also been used to trail larger game, including deer, bears, and mountain lions. The Black and Tan is not a fast hunter, but instead trails her game as her Bloodhound and Virginia Foxhound ancestors do. She is a deliberate, persistent hunter, giving voice (baying) when her quarry is found (or chased) up a tree. The Black and Tan Coonhound is first and foremost a hunting dog.
This dog breed stands 23 to 27 inches tall at the shoulder, weighing between 50 and 70 pounds, with females slightly smaller than males. They should give the impression of alertness, power, and stamina. This dog is well-muscled yet not blocky or heavy; she must be able to run for hours. The eyes are round, dark brown, and expressive; the ears are hanging and, if pulled forward, reach beyond the tip of the nose. The coat is dense but thick, so as to be impervious to brush and brambles during a hunt. The coat is black with rich tan markings on the muzzle, over the eyes, and on the chest, legs, and toes.
Grooming a Black and Tan Coonhound is easy. The short but dense coat needs twice weekly brushing with a soft bristle brush or curry comb. Although these dogs do shed, primarily in the spring and fall, regular brushing will help keep the shedding under control. The breed’s heavy ears require weekly cleaning, or more if the dog is outside a lot.
The Black and Tan Coonhound requires daily exercise. A long walk morning and evening, a run alongside a bicycle, and a chance to chase squirrels in the backyard will keep most dogs happy. They are not known to be retrievers, so fetch is not a favorite game. Hide-and-seek games are great favorites, though. Hide a toy (or one of the family kids) and send your Black and Tan after it. During exercise, the Black and Tan must be leashed at all times when outside of a fenced-in yard, as the breed’s hunting instincts are strong. If she catches a scent, she will be gone, and no amount of calling will bring her back.
Black and Tan Coonhounds are social animals, both with people and other dogs. A puppy class with socialization opportunities to other people and other puppies will bring out the best in a Black and Tan puppy. Training can be a challenge, however, as Black and Tans have minds of their own. They are naturally fairly well-behaved but can also be stubborn and independent. A puppy class followed by a basic obedience class is always a good idea, although motivating this hound to follow directions can keep an owner on his toes.
Black and Tan Coonhounds can be good family dogs; they are patient with children and good with other dogs. They can bay and howl, though, which can cause problems with neighbors. All interactions with other small pets should be supervised; remember, this is a hunting hound! Major health problems include hip and elbow dysplasia and hypothyroidism.