These sleek and racy, lean but muscular hounds work dusk to dawn in pursuit of the wily raccoon. The sight of the American English Coonhound tearing through the moonlit woods, all sinew and determination, bawling their lusty night music, is coon-hunter heaven.
Standing as high as 26 inches at the shoulder, American English Coonhounds are deep-chested, sweet-faced athletes beloved by sportsmen for their speed and endurance. Stretched tightly across the athletic frame is a medium-length coat of various patterns, some with ticking. The head is broad with a domed skull, with soft, low-hung ears and dark-brown eyes that glow with warmth and kindness. American English Coonhounds are mellow when off duty but tenacious and stubborn in pursuit of their ring-tailed prey. Their work drive and energy, the patience it takes to train them for things other than coon hunting, and their loud, ringing bark can make the breed a bad fit as house pets for novice owners. Some passionate fans of American English Coonhounds feel that without a sporting outlet for this breed’s houndy virtues, you’re simply wasting a good dog.
Backwoods breeders crossed foxhounds with other breeds to create the American English, once known as the English Fox and Coonhound, as it could hunt foxes by day and raccoons by night. As the breed came to specialize on nocturnal raccoon hunts, it acquired its current name. (The breed was also known for a time as the Redtick Coonhound and, simply, the English Coonhound.) Since Colonial times, the American English has been immensely popular among the tight fraternity of coon hunters. “If I couldn’t have an English hound,” a veteran raccooner tells says, “I’d give up hunting.” Today’s American English is considered by some experts as the fastest of the coonhound breeds.
Temperament: Sweet / Mellow / Sociable
Height: 24-26 inches
Weight: 45-65 pounds
Life Expectancy: 11-12 years
Still bred primarily as a hard-working dog, which must have an efficient physical condition, the American English Coonhound is generally a healthy breed. Responsible breeders will screen their stock for health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia as well as eye disorders such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts. His ears should be checked regularly to remove excess wax and debris. Like other large and deep-chested breeds, he can experience bloat, a sudden, life-threatening stomach condition. Owners should learn the signs of bloat and what to do should it occur.
Good nutrition influences the shine and texture of your American English Coonhound’s coat from the inside, but he will still need regular grooming to be at his best. His short, hard, protective coat requires a minimum of care. Using a shedding tool or a grooming mitt with rubber nubs at least weekly will help to keep his shedding to a minimum. This also distributes skin oils down the hair shaft, giving his coat a natural shine. His nails should be trimmed once a month, and a bath every four to six weeks will keep the coat and skin clean and healthy, and reduce doggy odor. His ears should be checked weekly and gently cleaned of any excess wax or debris.
With his high energy level and innate desire to be part of a pack, whether human or canine, the American English is an ideal candidate as a companion for someone who is an active runner, biker, or hiker. He needs a lot of exercise to stay healthy and happy. The breed has a very strong prey drive, so should never be allowed off-leash in an uncontrolled situation, as he will not be able to resist the instinct to follow an interesting scent he detects with his sensitive nose. He requires a fenced area where he can run freely. Chasing a ball in his backyard can be an excellent source of exercise.
Following through with proper early socialization of your American English Coonhound is paramount, or your puppy may become possessive over food or toys in your home. The key to a well-adjusted, mentally healthy dog is to have him experience positive interactions with many different kinds of people in a variety of places and situations. Like many hounds, English dogs have a split personality: tenacious, tireless, and stubborn on the trail, but at home these spirited hunters are sweetly amiable companions. Still, the breed’s limitless prey drive and energy, the patience it takes to train them for anything other than coon hunting, and their tendency to bark in a loud, ringing voice make them most appropriate for experienced dog owners.
The American English Foxhound should do well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Remember that a working dog requires a very different food than one who lives a more sedentary life. Coonhounds are prone to getting overweight as they age, so be mindful of your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.