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Get to Know the Redbone Coonhound: Loyal to the Bone

Hunters are the most common owners of these dogs, who have incredible scenting and treeing abilities.

Caroline Coile  |  Aug 31st 2015


He’s a good ol’ boy and loyal to the bone. He doesn’t put on airs or demand fancy frills. He’s not a redneck … he’s a Redbone. Coonhound, that is …

But even though he’d love to be friends, very few people know him.

Redbone Coonhound by Shutterstock.

Redbone Coonhound by Shutterstock.

More interesting things about the Redbone Coonhound

  • The Redbone Coonhound may be confused with the Bloodhound, but the Bloodhound has a much more wrinkled face, is generally larger, and may be other than solid red. It may also be confused with the Rhodesian Ridgeback. The Ridgeback is taller, has smaller ears, and usually has a ridge of backward-growing hair on his back.
  • The breed probably derived from red foxhounds brought to America from Scotland in the 1700s.
  • George Birdsong, a hunter from Georgia, is heavily responsible for their development starting in 1840. He and other hunters wanted a faster, “hotter”-nosed hunter and crossed the dogs with red Irish Foxhounds. Because many had a dark saddle, they were called saddlebacks.
  • Although most coonhound breeders bred solely for function, a group chose to select against the dark saddle, preferring solid red dogs. The saddle was eventually bred out.
  • The breed name comes either from its color, or more likely, from a Tennessee man named Peter Redbone who was an early promoter of the breed.
Redbone Coonhound by Shutterstock.

Redbone Coonhound by Shutterstock.

  • In 1902, the Redbone became the second coonhound recognized by the United Kennel Club. The AK took another century to recognize the breed, admitting it into the AKC Hound group in 2009.
  • They have a loud melodious voice when trailing or excited.
  • The book Where the Red Fern Grows brought Redbones to the attention of many people. It tells the story of a boy and two Redbones, Ol’ Dan and L’il Ann. In the movie version, the dog roles were played by two sets of Redbones, who were actual hunting dogs.
  • The 1960 Disney film The Hound That Thought He was a Raccoon was about a Redbone raised by a family of raccoons.
  • Redbones remain rarely seen as just pets; most are owned by hunters who want a dog with incredible scenting and treeing ability. However, they do make excellent companions.
  • The breed is virtually unknown outside of America. Even in America, it is mostly found in the Southeastern United States. It is the 142nd most popular AKC breed.
  • No Redbone Coonhound has won Best in Show or the Hound group at the Westminster dog show.
  • We could find no celebrity owners. A Redbone Coonhound just isn’t your typical Hollywood or royal palace kind of fellow.

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

Read recent stories by Caroline Coile

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