They come in all sorts of shades, some with strange names. Blue-tick, redbone, treeing walker, black-and-tan and English are all types of coonhounds with one thing in common -- they love to hunt raccoons. If coon hunting isn't your thing, these dogs make good pets for active people.
Most coonhounds are good-natured, getting along well with children and other dogs. Smaller animals are another story. Some coonhounds are just fine with felines, while others immediately think, "Prey." Your coonhound is energetic and a little goofy at times. Coonhounds aren't watchdogs. If you're lucky, he'll let you know someone's at the door. Now, if a raccoon shows up on the porch, that's a different story. They don't bark, but bay -- the ancient voice of the hunting dog.
Bred to run for miles after prey, coonhounds need lots of exercise. This isn't the dog for a small apartment. If you have a fenced yard, make sure the fencing is secure and high enough -- at least 5 feet -- to make it coonhound-proof. Take him for a daily walk, or let him loose in a safe area to run around. Coonhounds live to hunt, so if he catches a scent he's off and running. If you like to jog and take long hikes, he makes a good companion. Keep him on a leash or you may spend a lot of time searching for him.
Indoors or Out?
Hunting dogs often live in outdoor kennels. Your dog can live out if he has other pack members along with him, and you all hunt regularly and spend a lot of time together. Coonhounds make good pets and adapt to house living very easily. He gets the hang of housebreaking sooner or later, and enjoys being part of the family pack. You may want to restrict him to certain parts of the house, because even though coonhounds don't shed much, they do tend to drool.
He's not the easiest dog to train. Coonhounds aren't known for winning obedience championships, not because they aren't smart but because they're a slave to their noses and easily distracted. Your coonhound may also be a bit stubborn, practicing selective hearing. While he may not shine in conventional dog sports, he excels at field sports like tracking or work that comes naturally to him, such as search and rescue.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.