Black and Tan Coonhound

Born in the USA, the outgoing and friendly black and tan coonhound is a versatile companion who shines in the show ring and field. At home, he’s a superb playmate, jogging or walking companion, and bed warmer.

See all Black and Tan Coonhound characteristics below!

Additional articles you will be interested in:

Dog Names
Bringing Home Your Dog
Help with Training Puppies
Housetraining Puppies
Feeding a Puppy
Dog games for scent hounds
Teaching your dog tricks
How to take pictures of your dog

Breed Characteristics:

Adapts Well to Apartment Living1More info +

Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make — plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

See Dogs Not Well Suited to Apartment Living

Good For Novice Owners2More info +

Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

See Dogs That Are Good For Experienced Owners

Sensitivity Level3More info +

Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

See Dogs That Have Low Sensitivity Levels

Tolerates Being Alone2More info +

Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

See Dogs Poorly Suited To Be Alone

Tolerates Cold Weather4More info +

Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

See Dogs Poorly Suited For Cold Weather

Tolerates Hot Weather4More info +

Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

See Dogs Poorly Suited For Hot Weather

All Around Friendliness
Affectionate with Family5More info +

Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family

Incredibly Kid Friendly Dogs5More info +

Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

See Dogs Not Kid Friendly

Dog Friendly5More info +

Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

See Dogs That Are Not Dog Friendly

Friendly Toward Strangers5More info +

Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

See Dogs That Are More Shy

Health Grooming
Amount Of Shedding5More info +

If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

See Dogs That Shed Very Little

Drooling Potential3More info +

Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.

See Dogs That Are Not Big Droolers

Easy To Groom4More info +

Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

See Dogs That Require More Grooming

General Health5More info +

Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

See Dogs More Prone To Health Problems

Potential For Weight Gain5More info +

Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

Size3More info +

Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right large dog for you!

See Medium Dogs

See Small Dogs

Easy To Train2More info +

Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

See Dogs That Are Challenging To Train

Intelligence5More info +

Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

See Dogs That Have Low Intelligence

Potential For Mouthiness1More info +

Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

Prey Drive5More info +

Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by — cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars — can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

See Dogs That Have Low Prey Drive

Tendency To Bark Or Howl5More info +

Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

See Dogs That Are Mostly Quiet

Wanderlust Potential5More info +

Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

See Dogs Less Prone To Wander

Exercise Needs
Energy Level5More info +

High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

See Dogs That Have Low Energy

Intensity5More info +

A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

See Dogs With Low Intensity

Exercise Needs5More info +

Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

See Dogs That Don't Need Tons of Exercise

Potential For Playfulness5More info +

Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

See Dogs That Are Less Playfull

Vital Stats:

Dog Breed Group: Hound Dogs
Height: 1 foot, 11 inches to 2 feet, 3 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 75 to 100 pounds
Life Span: 10 to 12 years
  • One of America's canine aristocrats, the Black and Tan Coonhound's bloodlines hark back to the Talbot hound of a thousand years ago, yet he's completely a creation of the mountain people of the Ozarks and the Smokies.

    Nose to the ground, he singlemindedly trails his prey, primarily the raccoon but also mountain lions, bears, deer, and other game, "barking up" when his quarry is treed. Of the six coonhound breeds, the Black and Tan is the one most frequently recognized, notable for his size and distinctive coloring. Among hunters, he's famous for his cold nose; that is, the ability to pick up and follow an old trail, no matter how faint.

    Because of his strong hunting instinct and specialized skills, the Black and Tan Coonhound is rarely thought of as a family dog. Still, for people who admire the hound's independent nature and sense of humor, he can make an excellent companion and at home he tends to be laidback, playful, and gentle.

    The stamina that makes this Hound a great hunting dog also makes him an excellent jogging or running companion. But he's equally satisfied with a good daily walk, especially if there's plenty of sniffing time built in. Afterward, expect him to sack out on the sofa, preferably in or near your lap. This is a dog who likes his comforts.

    Black and Tan Coonhounds are fond of children and willing playmates. They get along well with other dogs and can even be buddies with cats if properly introduced. They possess good watchdog skills, and are likely to sound off with a deep-throated bark to alert you that someone's approaching. This dog is big enough to look intimidating, but unlikely to bite or otherwise harm anyone.

    As with every breed, Coonhounds have some drawbacks. For one thing, they can have a houndy odor. This is something you'll either love or hate. Be sure you love it, because it can't be washed away for more than a day or two.

    Also, these dogs can sing. No, you're not getting the Mormon Tabernacle Choir here but the deep bay of a hound who's treed a squirrel, cat, or other furry animal foolish enough to enter your yard. Lots of people love the music of the hounds, but those people might not include your neighbors.

    Nor is this a breed for the houseproud. Black and Tan Coonhounds drool when it's hot, slobber after drinking water, and shed heavily.

    Finally, he's not for the faint of heart. A Coonhound needs a leader who's as stubborn and smart as he is.

    Still, if you can have a sense of humor and can accept his drawbacks, plus provide the Black and Tan with the human companionship he loves, moderate daily exercise, and firm, consistent, patient training, it's hard not to fall in love with this breed.

  • Highlights

    • Bays and howls as only a hound can; city living is not recommended
    • Easily distracted by various scents. Once he has decided to follow one you'll have a very hard time calling him off — this dog needs to be leashed!
    • Coonhounds are not homebodies and will roam if given the chance. They can go for miles before looking up and realizing that home is nowhere to be found.
    • Makes a good jogging or running companion but is also more than satisfied with 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise, and walks that allow for plenty of sniffing time.
    • This breed does well with children, but is active and bouncy when young.
    • Easily gains weight if given the chance.
    • Can be stubborn and independent, making training a challenge.
    • A bored Coonhound is a noisy, destructive Coonhound. He needs lots human companionship and training.
    • Obedience training is highly recommended and likely to lead to a closer relationship with your dog.
    • Never buy a Black and Tan Coonhound from a puppy broker or pet store. Reputable breeders do not sell to middlemen or retailers, and there are no guarantees as to whether the puppy had healthy parents. Interview breeders thoroughly, and make sure the puppy's parents have been screened for genetic diseases pertinent to that breed. Ask breeders about the health issues they've encountered in their dogs, and don't believe anyone who claims that her dogs never have any health problems. Ask for references so you can contact other puppy buyers to see if they're happy with their Coonhound. Doing your homework may save you a lot of heartbreak later.
  • History

    Scenthounds descend from the Talbot Hound, the hunting dog used by nobles and kings a thousand years ago. The direct ancestor of the Black and Tan Coonhound is the English Foxhound, but the coonhound breeds themselves are a uniquely American creation.

    The Black and Tan Coonhound, developed in the mountains of the southern United States in the 1700s, takes his size, coloring, long ears, and scenting ability from the foxhounds and bloodhounds perched in the branches of his family tree.

    He was bred to tree raccoons and possums, but he's more than capable of running bigger game. That versatility made him an ideal companion for colonial settlers who created him to be a "trail and tree" dog, meaning he could find his quarry and tree it until the hunter arrived.

    The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1945. The first Black and Tan Coonhound registered by the AKC was Grand Mere Big Rock Molly.

    Despite his fine qualities, the Coonhound has never made the leap to popular companion dog, something for which his fans are probably grateful. He ranks 131st among the 155 breeds and varieties recognized by the AKC.

  • Size

    The largest of the six coonhound breeds, Black and Tans range in weight from 75 to 100 pounds. Males stand 25 to 27 inches at the shoulder, females 23 to 25 inches.

  • Personality

    This working scenthound was bred to work closely with other hounds, so he knows how to go along and get along with canine pals. With people he doesn't know, he might be reserved but never shy or vicious.

    He can be headstrong and likes to have his own way, but with firm, consistent, patient training the Black and Tan Coonhound is a well-mannered companion, albeit one who's slow to mature. Expect to have a fun-loving puppy on your hands for at least three years.

    At home he's an easygoing friend, but put him on a scent trail and he's as serious as a heart attack. This compulsion to follow his nose means you won't ever want to have him off leash unless you're in an enclosed area.

  • Health

    As with all breeds, the Black and Tan Coonhound can be prone to certain health conditions.

    Following are some conditions that can affect Black and Tan Coonhounds:

    • Hip Dysplasia (HD): This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP). Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but it can be worsened by environmental factors, such as rapid growth from a high-calorie diet or injuries incurred from jumping or falling on slick floors.
    • Cataracts. A cataract is an opacity on the lens of the eye that causes difficulty in seeing. The eye(s) of the dog will have a cloudy appearance. Cataracts usually occur in old age and sometimes can be surgically removed to improve the dog's vision.

    Note: Responsible breeders use only physically sound, mature (at least two years or older) dogs, and test their breeding stock for genetic diseases pertinent to the breed.

    Both parents should have health clearances, documentation that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Black and Tan Coonhounds, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better) and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site.

    Health clearances are not issued to dogs younger than two years of age. That's because some health problems don't appear until a dog reaches full maturity. For this reason, it's often recommended that dogs not be bred until they are two or three years old.

  • Care

    Being a pack dog, the Black and Tan Coonhound is among the few breeds who can adjust to kennel life and even live outdoors — if it's not too cold, he's with another social dog, and he's given warm, dry shelter. But if he's an only dog, he should live indoors with his human pack so he doesn't get lonely.

    If you do keep him outside, make it during the day only and bring him in at night. He'll need a large fenced yard since hounds are the original "travelin' man" and will roam for miles if they catch whiff of an interesting scent. A fence keeps your Black and Tan Coonhound safely at home.

    Note: An underground electronic fencing isn't strong enough to contain him.

    Because of his tendency to wander, it's essential that a Coonhound be tattooed and microchipped and always wear a collar with identification tags.

    Coonhounds are big enough to countersurf, and they'll eat anything you leave within reach. Put the garbage up high, and don't leave pies, bread, roasts, or any other goodies cooling on the counter, or they'll be gone when you turn your head.

    It is important to crate train your Coonhound puppy. Puppies explore, get into things they shouldn't, and chew stuff that can harm them. It can be expensive both to fix and replace destroyed items, not to mention the vet bills. Crate training ensures not only the safety of your puppy but that of your belongings.

    While they're mainly sweet and easygoing, Black and Tan Coonhounds have the independent and stubborn nature common to hounds. They've been bred to work on their own, and don't necessarily see why they should have to do things your way. On the plus side, they generally housetrain quickly.

    Obedience training is highly recommended, but don't count on perfect compliance. This is a dog who enjoys putting his own spin on obedience commands. Use treats and positive reinforcement techniques to persuade your Black and Tan that he wants to do as you ask.

    And "ask" is the operative word. Hounds will flat-out ignore you if you try to boss them around. When training a Black and Tan Coonhound, bear in mind the saying that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 3 to 5 cups of a high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals.

    How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog.

    The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

    Hounds like to eat. Monitor your Black and Tan Coonhound's food intake so he doesn't get fat. Keep your Coonhound in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.

    First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.

    For more on feeding your Coonhound, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat Color And Grooming

    A short, dense coat protects the Black and Tan Coonhound as he trails his quarry through rough brush. It is, of course, black, with rich tan markings above the eyes, on the sides of the muzzle, and on the chest, legs, and back of the thighs. The toes bear markings that look as if they were made with a black pencil.

    Brush the Black and Tan two to three times a week with a hound mitt or firm bristle brush to distribute skin oils and keep loose hair from floating off the dog and onto your furniture and clothing.

    Check and clean his long, graceful ears weekly to prevent infections. Bathe as needed.

    Other grooming needs include dental hygiene and nail care. Brush your Black and Tan Coonhound's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

    Nails should be trimmed regularly to keep them short. Your Black and Tan's nails may need to be trimmed weekly or only monthly; each dog is different. If you can hear the nails clicking on the floor, they're too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep the dog's feet in good condition and keep your legs from getting scratched when your Coonhound enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.

    Get your Coonhound accustomed to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears.

    Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

  • Children And Other Pets

    Black and Tan Coonhounds are patient and tolerant with children. That said, it's never appropriate to leave dogs and young children alone together. They should always be supervised to prevent any ear biting or tail pulling on the part of either party.

    Being pack dogs, Black and Tan Coonhounds are always happy to have the company of other dogs. A bored hound will find ways to entertain himself — destructive ways that you won't like — so if no one's home during the day, it's best if he has at least one canine buddy.

    They can also get along well with cats, rabbits and similar pets if they're raised with them in the home. Be sensible and don't leave them unsupervised with other pets until you're sure they all get along.

  • Rescue Groups

    Black and Tan Coonhounds are often acquired without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one, and these dogs often end up in the care of rescue groups, in need of adoption or fostering. Other Coonhounds end up in rescue because their owners have divorced or died. Contact rescue organizations for more information about available dogs and adoption requirements.

  • Breed Organizations

    Below are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about the Black and Tan Coonhound.