Like many dog breeds the Redbone Coonhound owes its development to simple necessity. That necessity came in the form of a yearning to hunt by wealthy planters of 18 century America. However that burning desire to emulate the hunting habits of the European gentry was temporarily stumped by of all things, the environment. You see the landscape of deep southern America was radically different to that found in Europe and hence found the typical European hunting dog lacking!
The hunting pastures that proved to be too much of a challenge for Europe’s finest hunting hounds bristled not only with unfriendly terrain that included marshes and swamps, but also with vicious quarry such as alligators, cougars, bears, porcupines and raccoon that were not averse to fighting back. Another aspect that stumped the European hounds was quarry that took to the trees; many hunting dog breeds from Europe were used to routing their prey from subterranean refuge or simply running them to ground.
Hence it was obvious to the new would-be gentry of North America that the only solution was to breed their own hunting dog with ingredients of their choosing.
Development of the Redbone Coonhound
The Redbone Coonhound was derived from the Red Foxhound which was brought to the shores of America by Scottish immigrants in the 18th century. The Foxhound became the foundation stock for the Redbone Coonhound and later on the Irish Foxhound and Bloodhound lines were added to the mix.
In its early days the Redbone Coonhound was never solid red there having been made little to no attempt to breed for color uniformity. However by the 1920s a vigorous and earnest effort to breed for a solid red dog paid off and the earlier variably colored version of the Redbone Coonhound (known as the Saddleback because of its distinct black saddle like markings on its back) disappeared.
One breeder has been best associated with the development of the Redbone Coonhound and that breeder was none other than Peter Redbone. To this day it is not properly established whether the Redbone Coonhound was named after Peter Redbone or whether it got its name simply because of the fact it is…er…red. Personally I follow the school of thought that the dog breed was named after Peter Redbone because otherwise how do you explain the “bone” in the dog breed’s name?
Two other notable names come to mind with respect to origination of the Redbone Coonhound dog breed and those names are: 1) Dr. Thomas Henry of the 19th century; and 2) Georgia F.L. Birding of Georgia.
The Redbone Coonhound has been called by a variety of other names which include: Redbone; Redbone Hound; and Red-coon dog. Early on in the 20th century, 1902 to be more precise, the Redbone Coonhound became the 2nd coonhound dog breed to be recognized the UKC. The American Kennel Club (AKC) was somewhat more snail-paced in bestowing its formal recognition, only doing so almost 100 years later in 2001.
Redbone Coonhound Features and Character
The Redbone Coonhound is an easygoing, mild mannered dog that presents with what many have observed as a pleading expression dramatized by soulful poignant eyes. Redbones love being around people but unlike some other dog breeds (notably the Weimeraner) it is not clingy by nature.
The Redbone typically has a lean, muscular and well-proportioned body. The long straight front legs abut either side of a wide barrel chest. The head and tail of the Redbone Coonhound are held high when the dog is hunting or on parade in the show ring. This dog breed sports a short smooth coat that is coarse and tough enough to provide adequate protection to its skin whilst it is hunting in dense brush.
The Redbone has large floppy ears and a nose that is always black. In accordance with the breed standard, the coat must always be a solid red though a small smattering of white is permissible on the chest, between the legs and on its feet; note though such sprinkling of white is allowed it is not desired. The toes of the Redbone Coonhound are webbed a characteristic that enhances its ability to chase water bound prey. Much like the Labrador Retriever the Redbone is not averse to antics and frolicking in the water.