Redbone Coonhound

Written by:

PetMD Editorial
Published: October 06, 2009

Originally developed as a hunting dog, the Redbone Coonhound is also an excellent companion and family pet.

Physical Characteristics

The agile and fast Redbone Coonhound can travel tirelessly through rocky hills and swamplands. The dog's solid red coat is smooth and short, but its coarseness provides protection while hunting.

The dog's specialty is to tree raccoons, but it is also an expert in treeing and trailing bears, bobcats, and cougars. In addition, the Redbone Coonhound is a fast swimmer, able to pick up on trails that have long been "cold."

Personality and Temperament

The Redbone loves the company of its human family, but does not display overtly tenacious behavior. In fact, it is often described as a gentle and easy-going breed, with few cares in the world. And although it is eager to please, it may become frustrated with formal training techniques. The Redbone does, however, mingle well with children, dogs, and pets that are not too small.


Traditionally used as an outdoor dog, the Redbone has become more adaptable to indoor living with a family. It should be taken out on routine jogs, walks, or be allowed to swim nearby. However, these activities should only be done in safe and secure locations, as the dog can quickly roam off if it picks up a curious scent. While trailing or when excited, it has a loud and melodious voice.

To maintain its coat, the Redbone should be brushed weekly. Many Redbone Coonhounds also have a tendency to drool.


The Redbone Coohound, which has an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years, does not generally suffer from any serious health conditions. Despite this, it is common for veterinarians to conduct routine hip exams on this breed of dog.

History and Background

The origins of the Redbone Coonhound can be traced to the late 1700s, when Scottish immigrants introduced red foxhounds (its ancestor) to the United States. Coon hunters, however, sought a breed that was faster and more swift at locating and treeing game.

It wasn't until 1840, when a Georgian hunter and breeder named George Birdsong took an interest in developing such a dog, that the predecessor to the Redbone Coonhound was truly established. Later imports of swift Red Irish Foxhounds were crossed with these early Redbone dogs, resulting in "Saddlebacks" -- named for their unique black saddles. Dissatisfied with this characteristic, breeders continued to produce new litters until only rich, solid red-coated puppies remained.

The United Kennel Club recognized the Redbone as the second coonhound breed in 1902. Then, in 2001, it inducted into the American Kennel Club under the Miscellaneous Class. Even today, avid hunters choose this breed for its versatility and companionship.