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Black and Tan Coonhound


The Black and Tan Coonhound, also known as the American Black and Tan, the Cooner or simply the Coonhound, is one of the few truly American dog breeds, developed in the deep South by hunters who blended the unique traits of a number of hound breeds. These dogs are famous for their exceptional sense of smell, excellent tracking capabilities and unique baying voice. This is not the breed for someone who wants a quiet dog. The Black and Tan Coonhound was accepted for full American Kennel Club registration in 1945 as a member of the Hound Group; it was the first AKC-approved coonhound breed. These are independent and spirited working dogs first and foremost, but normally are exceptionally tolerant of children. Coonhounds are even-tempered, friendly and personable. They are gentle and happy when working, but also are perfectly content to take an afternoon snooze. They form close bonds with their human families. They are extremely scent-driven and can wander if not properly restrained or confined.
The male Black and Tan Coonhound should be between 25 and 27 inches at the withers, while females should range from 23 to 25 inches in height. They typically weigh between 40 and 75 pounds, with females usually being lighter and smaller in stature than males. Their short dense coats require little maintenance, but their long and pendulous ears should be cleaned regularly.

History & Health


Black and Tan Coonhounds were bred to be working and hunting dogs. While wealthy colonial landowners in the southern United States engaged in organized fox hunts on horseback using imported foxhounds, working-class settlers were developing their own medium-sized working dogs bred for performance rather than appearance and capable of helping put meat on the family dinner table. Coonhounds were developed to locate and hunt their own prey, primarily at night, while making an exuberant baying vocalization during the chase. In North America, the Black and Tan Coonhound has been used to hunt raccoons, bobcat, cougar, deer, elk, wild boar and even bear. They are believed to be descendants of the Bloodhound, the Talbot Hound and the Foxhound which were imported from England. In the United States, Coonhounds have been used for tracking since the late 1700's. With the advent of urban development and receding rural areas, this versatile dog has continued to be a devoted companion and a willing participant in almost any human-canine activity, including obedience, conformation, agility, jogging, camping, watchdog, babysitter, couch potato and tracker. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1945 and is the most popular of all coonhounds in America.


The Black and Tan Coonhound has an average life span of 10 to 14 years. Breed health concerns may include ear infections and hip dysplasia. Overall, this is a very hardy breed.

Temperament & Personality


Black and Tan Coonhounds are a pleasant, laid-back addition to families of all sizes and ages. Playful as puppies, this breed mellows out considerably in adulthood and is happy with moderate exercise and lots of time to relax around the house. Black and Tans are good with children, they are patient and not dominant, but they aren't particularly playful when the get older. Many Black and Tan Coonhounds think they are lapdogs, despite their size, and can ball up into the tiniest of spaces to sleep next to the people they love.

Activity Requirements

Black and Tans don't need an excessive amount of vigorous activity, and as adults they quite enjoy relaxing on the living room rug or attempting to curl up next to you on the couch, despite their large size. They can adapt to just about any living situation and will do just fine in an apartment.
While outside, the Black and Tan Coonhound should be kept on a leash or in a fenced in yard. If they catch a scent, their instincts will take off and employ true hound dog "selective deafness," and will not obey your commands to return home. They make excellent companions for hunters and farmers. They will track an animal across any terrain, in any weather, and won't stop working until they have that animal penned up a tree.


Black and Tans assume they are the leader and require their trainer to prove otherwise. They can be stubborn and even manipulative with their expressive brown eyes and droopy faces. Training a Black and Tan is not for the soft-hearted.
As with most hound breeds, the Black and Tan is sensitive and needs to be trained with a confident, consistent, but gentle hand. Harsh treatment can lead to avoidance behaviors, and extremely sensitive individuals can shut down completely. Positive reinforcement, treats, and a lot of patience will yield the best results when training a Black and Tan.

Behavioral Traits

Hound dogs tend to be howlers, and Black and Tans are no exception. They like to sing along with fire trucks and police cars, but can take to howling and baying when left alone for long periods of time.
Unless they are at work on a farm, Coonhounds should be kept on a leash or in a fenced in yard at all times. They are far too driven to track small animals to be left unattended.
Black and Tans can be prone to drool and slobber, and can make quite a mess at mealtime. Be prepared to mop up lots of puddles around this breed.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Black and Tan Coonhound is first and fundamentally a working dog, a trail and tree hound, capable of withstanding the rigors of winter, the heat of summer, and the difficult terrain over which he is called upon to work. Used principally for trailing and treeing raccoon, the Black and Tan Coonhound runs his game entirely by scent. The characteristics and courage of the Coonhound also make him proficient on the hunt for deer, bear, mountain lion and other big game. Judges are asked by the club sponsoring the breed to place great emphasis upon these facts when evaluating the merits of the dog. The general impression is that of power, agility and alertness. He immediately impresses one with his ability to cover the ground with powerful rhythmic strides.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Size measured at the shoulder--Males 25 to 27 inches; females 23 to 25 inches. Oversized dogs should not be penalized when general soundness and proportion are in favor. Penalize undersize. Proportion--Measured from the point of shoulder to the buttocks and from withers to ground the length of body is equal to or slightly greater than the height of the dog at the withers. Height is in proportion to general conformation so that dog appears neither leggy nor close to the ground. Substance--Considering their job as a hunting dog, the individual should exhibit moderate bone and good muscle tone. Males are heavier in bone and muscle tone than females.

The head is cleanly modeled. From the back of the skull to the nose the head measures from 9 to 10 inches in males and from 8 to 9 inches in females. Expression is alert, friendly and eager. The skin is devoid of folds. Nostrils well open and always black. The flews are well developed with typical hound appearance. Penalize excessive wrinkles. Eyes are from hazel to dark brown in color, almost round and not deeply set. Penalize yellow or light eyes. Ears are low set and well back. They hang in graceful folds, giving the dog a majestic appearance. In length they extend naturally well beyond the tip of the nose and are set at eye level or lower. Penalize ears that do not reach the tip of the nose and are set too high on the head. Skull tends toward oval outline. Medium stop occurring midway between occiput bone and nose. Viewed from profile the line of the skull is on a practically parallel plane to the foreface or muzzle. Teeth fit evenly with scissors bite. Penalize excessive deviation from scissors bite.

Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is muscular, sloping, medium length. The skin is devoid of excess dewlap. The back is level, powerful and strong. The dog possesses full, round, well sprung ribs, avoiding flatsidedness. Chest reaches at least to the elbows. The tail is strong, with base slightly below level of backline, carried free and when in action at approximately right angle to back.

Powerfully constructed shoulders. The forelegs are straight, with elbows turning neither in nor out; pasterns strong and erect. Feet are compact, with well knuckled, strongly arched toes and thick, strong pads. Penalize flat or splayed feet.

Quarters are well boned and muscled. From hip to hock long and sinewy, hock to pad short and strong. Stifles and hocks well bent and not inclining either in or out. When standing on a level surface, the hind feet are set back from under the body and the leg from pad to hock is at right angles to the ground. Fault--Rear dewclaws.

The coat is short but dense to withstand rough going.

As the name implies, the color is coal black with rich tan markings above eyes, on sides of muzzle, chest, legs and breeching, with black pencil markings on toes. Penalize lack of rich tan markings, excessive areas of tan markings, excessive black coloration. Faults--White on chest or other parts of body is highly undesirable, and a solid patch of white which extends more than one inch in any direction is a disqualification.

When viewed from the side, the stride of the Black and Tan Coonhound is easy and graceful with plenty of reach in front and drive behind. When viewed from the front the forelegs, which are in line with the width of the body, move forward in an effortless manner, but never cross. Viewed from the rear the hocks follow on a line with the forelegs, being neither too widely nor too closely spaced, and as the speed of the trot increases the feet tend to converge toward a center line or single track indicating soundness, balance and stamina. When in action, his head and tail carriage is proud and alert; the topline remains level.

Even temperament, outgoing and friendly. As a working scent hound, must be able to work in close contact with other hounds. Some may be reserved but never shy or vicious. Aggression toward people or other dogs is most undesirable.

Note--Inasmuch as this is a hunting breed, scars from honorable wounds shall not be considered faults.

A solid patch of white which extends more than one inch in any direction.

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Sources: American Kennel Club


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