American English Coonhound: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

american english coonhound

Bitzu Bitzu / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Like other coonhound breeds, the American English Coonhound is a persistent and devout hunter of the racoon. This agile, sleek, and muscular breed is a hardworking hound that possesses great endurance--and can even climb trees. On the other hand, they are extremely devoted pack animals and make sweet and affectionate pets for active owners.

Breed Overview

Group: Hound

Weight: 45 to 65 pounds

Height: 23 to 26 inches

Coat: Medium-length

Coat Colors: Combinations of red, white, lemon, bluetick, and redtick

Life Expectancy: 11 to 12 years

Characteristics of the American English Coonhound

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness Mediu
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the American English Coonhound

The American English Coonhound is one of six American Kennel Club (AKC)-recognized coonhound breeds that were bred by frontiersman for a very specific purpose. These dogs were designed to both trail and "tree" raccoons—because, yes, these dogs are uniquely equipped to climb trees—which early North American settlers discovered were an ideal source of food, fur, and fat.

American by birth and English by ancestry, it's believed that the American English Coonhound was descended from English Foxhounds that were brought to America in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was then that "backwoods" breeders crossed foxhounds with other dogs to create the American English Coonhound. Once known as the English Fox and Coonhound (and briefly as the Redtick Coonhound or English Coonhound), the breed was known for hunting both foxes during the day and then raccoons at night...and, as it turned out, these dogs ultimately began to to specialize in the nocturnal creatures.

While foxhunting was a favorite pastime in Great Britain's southern colonies since the end of the 1600s, George Washington himself also had a deep appreciation for English-style horse-and-hound foxhunts. The import of English Foxhounds during America’s earliest formative years ultimately revitalized the gene pool used by colonial breeders to create America’s various coonhound breeds.

Ever since colonial times, the American English Coonhound has remained incredibly popular among "coon hunters," and today it's considered particularly famous for both its incredible endurance and speed. The American English Coonhound has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since 1995, and made its first Westminster Kennel Club show appearance in 2012.

American English Coonhound Care

It's important to provide a healthy, balanced diet for these hard-working, active dogs—not only to support their sleek and athletic bodies, but also to keep their coat healthy and shiny. The breed's short and hard protective coat requires weekly brushing (which will also help minimize shedding). Like most breeds, their nails should be trimmed on a regular basis, and they should receive regular bathing and ear cleaning.

The American English Coonhound has a very high energy level. Better yet, they are particularly thrilled to be part of a pack, so they make ideal companions for active families, as they'll be more than happy to join their owners for a run, hike, or even bike ride. These pack animals will also generally get along well with other pets and children in the home. However, because of their desire to be around their families at all times, these are not dogs that should be left alone for long periods of time.

The American English Coonhound requires an exceptional amount of exercise, however because of their extremely strong prey drive, they should never be walked off leash or allowed to play ball or roam freely outdoors without the confines of a strong and sturdy fence.

This breed will require early socialization as puppies, as they are prone to certain behavioral issues, such as possessiveness over food or toys. The American English Coonhound is sometimes described as having a "split" personality, because on one hand they can be tenacious and motivated hunters but also sweet and mellow family companions. The breed’s prey drive and seemingly endless energy can sometimes stand in the way of training, as they're not always keen to engage in activities that don't require hunting raccoons.

These dogs also tend to be a more "vocal" breed, so they are considered a better match for experienced dog owners. Though they are capable of producing a very loud howl, the American English Coonhound is considered a bit too friendly and sociable with strangers to make for a truly effective watchdog.

Common Health Problems

The American English Coonhound is generally a healthy breed, but because it's still primarily bred as a working dog, they should be closely monitored for health conditions including hip and elbow dysplasia and eye disorders such as progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts. This breed's ears should be checked regularly to remove excess wax and debris. Since the American English Coonhound is a large, deep-chested breed, they can also be prone to bloat, which is a sudden and life-threatening stomach condition, so owners should familiarize themselves with the warning signs and learn what they can do to prevent this dangerous condition.

Diet and Nutrition

The American English Coonhound should perform well with a high-quality commercially or home-prepared (under veterinary supervision) dog food. However, American English Coonhound owners should be aware that working dogs do have different nutritional needs than dogs that live more sedentary lifestyles. Fresh, clean water should be available at all times for these energetic dogs. As with all breeds, treats should be given in moderation and their diet should be controlled— coonhounds can be particularly susceptible to weight gain and obesity-related issues.

Pros
  • Sociable and friendly

  • Hard-working

  • Gets along well with kids and pets

  • Mellow and affectionate

Cons
  • Strong prey drive

  • Vocal

  • Requires significant daily exercise

  • Doesn't like to be left alone

Where to Adopt or Buy an American English Coonhound

Be sure to check your local animal shelters and rescue groups for American English Coonhounds that are in need of a forever home. National rescue organizations such as the American English Coonhound Association can be a helpful source of information to help you find your new best friend.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Be sure to do your homework when choosing a dog breed. Talk to other American English Coonhound owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups to learn more about this particular breed and their care. There's a variety of dog breeds, and with a little research, you can be sure you'll find the right dog to bring home.

If you’re interested in learning about similar dogs, consider these other coonhound breeds: