Large, athletic hunters who work nights, Black and Tan Coonhounds are friendly, easygoing hounds who love company. They are snoozy by the fireside but tenacious when on the trail of the wily raccoon. The Black and Tan Coonhound is a real American original.
The raccoon is an unsung hero of American history. These plump, nocturnal creatures were a steady source of meat, fur, and fat for settlers who tamed the wild continent.
The frontiersmen who lit out for the western and southern territories in post-Revolutionary times, hoping to carve their fortune out of the wilderness faced a challenge: No dog breed fully equipped to hunt raccoons. The closest thing at hand was the foxhounds used by the landed gentry of the South on traditional English-style foxhunts. But foxhounds, bred to run at straightaway over the gently rolling acres of a plantation, were unsuited to the task. What America required was a whole new hound.
With typical Yankee ingenuity, the frontiersmen crossed European hounds—foxhounds and Bloodhounds were indeed in the mix—to create a uniquely American breed type, the coonhound. These hounds trail raccoon scent through moonlit woods and swamps until they “tree” their quarry, bawling along the way in a clear, musical voice to mark their location to rifle-toting hunters.
To this day, the activity of treeing raccoons with hounds is called a “nite” hunt, with the intentional misspelling meant by the sport’s devotees as a tip of the coonskin cap to the untutored backwoodsmen who developed the B&T and America’s other coonhound breeds. Among the early coonhound enthusiasts was the legendary explorer, huntsman, and “cooner” Daniel Boone, whose beloved Kentucky became a hub of coonhound breeding. Truly, the B&T and his coonhound kinfolk are America’s dogs.
In 1945, the B&T became the first coonhound breed registered by the AKC.
Black and Tans have an amazingly sensitive nose, long, velvety ears, and a sweet disposition. The coal-black coat features rich tan accents, including the distinctive ‘pumpkin seeds’ above keenly expressive eyes. These are big, strong hounds: A good-size male can stand 27 inches at the shoulder and cover ground with effortless, eager strides. Black and Tan Coonhounds are sociable hounds. A lonely Black and Tan Coonhound will serenade the neighborhood with loud, mournful ‘music.’ Black and Tan Coonhounds can keep pace with the most active family, but they also can hog the sofa for hours on end. Hounds will be hounds: A passing squirrel can arouse Black and Tan Coonhound prey drive in no time flat, so a strong leash and sturdy fence are must-haves. Black and Tan Coonhounds might be too much hound for the lifestyle of every owner.
Temperament: easy-going / bright / brave
Height: 23 to 27 inches
Weight: 65-100 pounds
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
The Black and Tan is typically a sturdy breed with few health problems, and a responsible breeder will screen breeding stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, cataracts, and thyroid issues. The Black and Tan’s ears should be checked weekly for any signs of infection. As with all breeds, the teeth should be brushed regularly.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Hip Evaluation
- Cardiac Exam
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
The Black and Tan Coonhound has a short, dense coat that is shed once or twice a year. Weekly brushing with a medium-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove will remove the dead hair before it can fall onto the furniture. Grooming also promotes new hair growth and distributes skin oils throughout the coat to keep it healthy. Black and Tans should be bathed occasionally to avoid developing a doggy odor. As with all breeds, the Black and Tan’s nails should be trimmed regularly because overly long nails can cause the dog pain and problems walking and running.
Black and Tan Coonhounds require moderate exercise every day, whether it’s a play session in the yard or a long walk. Of course, these hounds were bred to hunt and have a powerful instinct to chase after any small animal they smell, so the yard has to have a tall, solid fence, and the walk has to be on a leash. An obvious option for exercise is, of course, a hunting trip, and not just for raccoons’¿the Black and Tan can be trained to help out hunting just about any game, from squirrels to deer, if local ordinances permit. And, as one might expect, Black and Tans also enjoy participating in coonhound field events.
As with all breeds, early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. Black and Tan Coonhounds are intelligent, affectionate, and devoted and also have an independent streak. They can be trained, but it’s best to expect compliance rather than blind obedience. Once they learn to do something, they’ll be inclined to do it that way for the rest of their lives, so it’s essential to train the behavior correctly the first time. Black and Tans want to be with their families, and a dog left alone in a yard for long periods, bored and ignored, is likely to complain’ loudly.
The Black and Tan Coonhound 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). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch 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.