I have to say at the outset that I’ve never met a Redbone Coonhound, but one of my favorite pastimes is looking through “coffee table” books about dogs. I love looking at the pictures, and learning more about different breeds. Recently, I was so taken with some pictures of Redbone Coonhounds that I just had to learn more about them, and now I’ll share what I’ve discovered with you.
The Redbone Coonhound is descended from Bloodhounds and Foxhounds, and may even have some Irish hound in the mix. George E.L. Birdsong, a Georgia breeder and foxhunter, is largely responsible for the Redbones we know today. Originally, the Redbones had black, saddle-like markings over their backs, but today the preferred color is a solid red.
The Redbone is a fairly young breed, having only been recognized by the American Kennel Club since 2009.
Redbone Coonhounds make wonderful family pets. They are good-natured and easy to handle, but may have a bit of a stubborn streak. Redbones are good with kids, and can usually coexist nicely with other animals. Keep in mind, though, that a Redbone should be supervised around cats and other animals that are smaller than he is, in the same way as any other breed of dog that has been bred to hunt.
Redbones are highly intelligent, and actually seem to have a sense of humor, which is sometimes mistaken for goofiness. Don’t let them fool you – there’s a fine brain behind that silly expression.
Redbones need early training, and lots of positive reinforcement. Because of their hunting background, it is in their nature to catch the scent of something they want to chase, and then head off in hot pursuit. You should, therefore, plan on fencing in your yard, and get the obedience training down as quickly as possible. Once on the scent, only the best-trained Redbone can be expected to come when called.
With some breeds, you don’t really have to start obedience training right away, but you should begin with your Redbone right from the time you bring him home. Even an 8-week-old Redbone is more than capable of learning anything that you want to teach him, and if you leave it too long, you are going to end up with a large dog who very much has a mind of his own, and will test you.
Virtually any breed of dog can be prone to certain health problems. Fortunately, Redbones are typically healthy and free of many of the conditions that can plague other breeds. As is the case with many large breeds, they can have a propensity toward hip dysplasia, although even this is rare in Redbones. They also have a slight propensity toward retinal atrophy, which is an eye condition that can cause vision problems and eventual blindness.
As is the case with any long-eared breed, Redbones can also be vulnerable to ear infections. If you have a Redbone, you will need to check his ears regularly, and keep them clean and dry.
All dogs love their food, but Redbones can be total gluttons. Therefore, obesity can be a problem. Make sure not to over-feed your Redbone, since obesity can lead to other medical issues, and is often a factor in hip dysplasia.
If you decide to adopt a Redbone, make sure that the breeder is able to provide you with a clean health record, and proof that the parents are free from any known defects. This is actually the case with any breed of dog you might be considering purchasing. A breezy “The vet checked him over, and says he’s fine” is not something you should ever settle for.
With its short, smooth coat, the Redbone Coonhound is very easy to groom. A weekly brushing usually suffices. Redbones are, however, prone to having an odor that is often described simply as “houndy”. This may or may not trouble you. If it does, you can bathe your dog, but you will never be able to completely get rid of the smell, just suppress it a bit.
As to the rest, it’s pretty basic as well. Keep the nails trimmed, and brush his teeth daily with a good dog toothpaste like Arm and Hammer Advanced Care Tartar Control. It retails for $8.99, but Amazon has it for $4.99, and if you order ten, you’ll get free shipping. You might as well stock up, since you’ll be needing it for as long as you have your dog.
To get the right dog, you have to start with the right puppy, and to find the right puppy, first you have to find the right breeder. I’ve already mentioned the importance of ensuring you get health records and guarantees from your breeder, but there’s a bit more to it than that.
I’ve talked in detail about finding a good breeder in How to Get the Right Dog From the Right Breeder. To summarize, a good breeder is going to want to know a lot about you, so if the breeder shows no interest in your home situation, whether you have kids, if you have other animals, how you will handle training and so on, then this is not someone who cares about the puppies he or she is placing – they just want to sell you a dog, and they won’t care if you and the puppy are a good match for one another. Also, make sure you can view both parents – if a breeder makes excuses as to why you can’t see the dog and the bitch, something is very, very wrong, and you should look elsewhere. A really good breeder is going to care a lot more about placing the right dog in the right home than they will about making money.
If you are not stuck on the idea of a puppy, you might consider rescuing an adult Redbone or consulting local breeders to find out if they know of any retired show dogs that need homes. An adult is usually going to be less rambunctious than a puppy, and might fit better into your life if you have limited time to devote to training.
Redbone Coonhounds are personality plus, and can fit into virtually any type of family environment. If you are looking for a “forever friend,” you could do a lot worse than the playful, affectionate, intelligent Redbone.