Is the Black and Tan Coonhound the Right Dog for You?

The handsome Black and Tan is happy-go-lucky and adaptable. Calm by nature, he has an outgoing, friendly temperament. He’s a good friend to children, but if you have toddlers, consider adopting an adult Black and Tan, who will be less rambunctious than a puppy.

Black and Tans get along well with other animals, cats included, especially if they’re brought up with them. Their exercise needs are moderate. Plan on giving a Black and Tan at least a half hour walk once or twice daily, plus several shorter outings throughout the day. Remember that a tired Black and Tan is a good Black and Tan.

Always walk your Black and Tan on leash to ensure that he doesn’t run off after an interesting scent. He also needs a securely fenced yard to keep him contained when you’re not home. He loves to hunt and will go off on his own if given half a chance.

Black and Tans can adapt to living indoors or outdoors, but they love their people and will pine without human companionship. A Black and Tan needs plenty of companionship and activity to be happy. If that activity involves following some kind of scent trail, so much the better. Even if you don’t hunt him, consider getting involved in tracking or search and rescue. He’s also a great hiking companion if you don’t mind going at a slow pace so he can follow a trail now and then.

This is a large breed, standing 23 to 27 inches tall and weighing 65 to 100 pounds. Black and Tans have short, dense, easy-care coats in coal black with rich tan points above the eyes, on the sides of the muzzle, chest, legs and thigh area, and black pencil-line markings on the toes. They need only a weekly brushing or wipedown, plus regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and tooth brushing.

Be aware as well that the Black and Tan Coonhound has what can best be described as a musty odor. Regular baths can help keep the odor under control, but it’s something you should be prepared to live with.

The drawbacks? Coonhounds can be loud and stubborn. Unless you live about five miles from your nearest neighbors, they’re going to hear your Coonhound when he gets excited about finding a good scent. Begin training early and use positive reinforcement techniques. The B&T especially appreciates food rewards.

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Black and Tan Coonhound Puppy

  1. Start your search for a good breeder on the website of the American Black and Tan Coonhound Club, which maintains a referral list for breeders; choose one who has agreed to be bound by the club's Code of Ethics, which prohibits its members from selling puppies to pet stores and outlines the responsibilities of its member breeders to the dogs they produce and the people who buy them.
  2. Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Black and Tan Coonhounds aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Black and Tan can live to be 10 to 12 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.
  3. Puppy or adult, take your Black and Tan to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, and in particular to watch out for the early signs of diabetes and skin problems, including ear infections.
  4. Because the puppies are extremely appealing, be on the lookout for puppy millers and irresponsible breeders. They'll be very happy to cash your check or run your charge card, but not so happy to answer your questions about health testing and temperament in their dogs.
  5. Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Health Issues Common to Black and Tan Coonhounds

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Black and Tan Coonhounds are generally healthy, but they have some health conditions you should be aware of: hip dysplasia; autoimmune thyroiditis; and ectropion, an eye condition in which the eyelid rolls outward. Some Black and Tan Coonhounds have been diagnosed with hemophilia B. And dogs with floppy ears can be prone to ear infections, so check the ears weekly, clean them if necessary, and keep them dry to eliminate the warm, moist environment in which yeast and bacteria thrive.

The American Black and Tan Coonhound Club, which is the American Kennel Club parent organization for the breed in the United States, participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program. For a Black and Tan Coonhound to achieve CHIC certification, he must have a hip clearance from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or PennHIP, certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy, and an OFA cardiac evaluation. Optional clearances are OFA elbow and thyroid evaluations. Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. You can check CHIC’s website to see if a breeder’s dogs have these certifications.

Choose a breeder who can provide you with written documentation that both of a puppy’s parents had hip radiographs (x-rays) that received scores of excellent, good or fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, a CERF clearance and an OFA cardiac clearance.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing, and any breeder who says her lines are free of all these problems, or that they're not a concern, is either lying or knows almost nothing about Black and Tan Coonhounds. Look for your puppy elsewhere.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia
Medium $1,500-$6,000
Estimates based on claims paid by Embrace Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance for Black and Tan Coonhounds

Pet insurance for Black and Tan Coonhounds costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Black and Tans are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace pet insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Black and Tan Coonhounds are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Black and Tan is when he’s a healthy puppy. You can’t predict what will happen in the future and pet insurance is the one thing you can’t get when you need it the most.