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Get to Know the American English Coonhound: An All-American Hunter, Despite His Name

Laid back and easygoing at home, this lazy ol' hound dog springs to life on the trail.

Caroline Coile  |  Jan 18th 2016


In colors of red, white, and blue, the American English Coonhound is as all-American as you can get — except, of course, for the English part.

Created from English hunting hounds brought to America during the 17th and 18th centuries, the breed’s first American incarnation was the Virginia Hound. Selective breeding created a dog better suited to the tangled terrain of the southeastern United States and for hunting a variety of mammals, including fox and raccoon and sometimes opossum, boar, and cougar.

More interesting things about the American English Coonhound

  • In 1905, the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the breed as the English Fox and Coonhound.
  • Is it a foxhound or a coonhound? Both. The dogs were adept at hunting fox by day and raccoons by night. But they became best known as coonhounds.
  • The name was eventually shortened to English Coonhound in the 1940s, which is still its name with the UKC.
  • When the American Kennel Club recognized the dog in 2011, the AKC took the name from the parent club, the American English Coonhound Association. Nobody objected to the Americanization, since by that time they were true American citizens.
  • To add to the confusion, many people call them Redtick Coonhounds, because so many are the red-ticked pattern, although they also come in other combinations of red, blue, and white.
  • The breed is in the AKC Hound group, further classified as a scenthound since it hunts by scent.
  • The breed’s primary role has always been that of a first-rate hunting hound. Known for his speed, endurance, and melodious voice, top hunting American English Coonhounds command top dollar. The American English Coonhound is a fast, hot-trailing, loud-voiced hound with a reputation as an extremely competitive hunting trial dog. They can be trained to hunt just one species, or several.
  • It is far less known as a companion, show dog, or obedience dog.
  • The color can be red and white ticked, blue and white ticked, tri-colored with ticking, red and white, or white and black.
  • The AKC standard calls for height to be 23 to 26 inches; the UKC standard calls for 21 to 27 inches. Typical weight is from 45 to 75 pounds.
  • The American English Coonhound may be confused with the Bluetick or the Redbone Coonhound, but the Redbone is solid red and the Bluetick is only mottled black. It may be confused with the English Foxhound, but the English Foxhound has shorter ears, is less likely to have ticking, and is more likely to be tan with a black saddle and extensive white trim. It may be confused with the American Foxhound, but the American Foxhound is more slender, has more arch to its backline, has shorter ears, is less likely to have ticking, and is more likely to be tan with a black saddle and extensive white trim. And it may be confused with the Harrier, but the Harrier is much smaller, has shorter ears, is less likely to have ticking, and is more likely to be tan with a black saddle and extensive white trim.
  • It is one of the rarest AKC breeds, ranking 150th in popularity, and is seldom seen at dog shows.
  • No American English Coonhound has ever placed in the group at the Westminster dog show.
  • No celebrities or royalty are known to own or have owned this breed.

Interested in other breed profiles? Find dozens of them here.

About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier