Redbone Coonhounds

The Redbone Coonhound is a mighty handsome dog, with his dark, rich, mahogany-red coat. He descends from Foxhounds, Bloodhounds and possibly Irish hounds, from whom he likely takes his striking color. You may know of the breed if you’ve read Where the Red Fern Grows; Little Ann and Old Dan were both Redbones. Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in acquiring one of these sociable, interesting dogs.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

Merry and gentle, Redbones are probably the most laidback and easy to handle of the Coonhound breeds, although there's no denying that they have an independent hound nature and a strong desire to tree furry animals. They make good companions, being friendly and loyal, and they have a talent for providing comic relief. Like most hounds, they are original, creative thinkers and have perfected a look of innocence when caught doing something they shouldn't.

A Redbone can be a child's best friend, but if you have toddlers, consider adopting an adult dog, who will be less rambunctious than a puppy.

Redbones can get along well with other animals, cats included, especially if they are brought up with them. The Redbone has athletic ability to spare and his exercise needs are met with a couple of long walks or runs daily. They'll also appreciate the opportunity to run in a safely enclosed area once or twice a week and are excellent water dogs. Remember that a tired Redbone is a good Redbone.

Always walk your Redbone 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.

Redbones can adapt to living indoors or outdoors, but they appreciate soft furniture and air conditioning just as much as anyone else. They also love their people and will pine without human companionship. There's no point in having a Coonhound if you're just going to stick him out in the backyard all by his lonesome.

A Redbone needs plenty of companionship and activity to be happy. Even if you don't hunt him, consider getting involved in tracking or search and rescue. He's also a great hiking companion, able to navigate any kind of terrain, from swamps to steep, rocky ground.

Depending on gender, with females being smaller, the Redbone stands 21 to 27 inches tall. He has a smooth, easy-care coat that needs only a weekly brushing with a rubber curry. The only other grooming he needs is regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and tooth brushing.

Be aware that scenthounds such as the Redbone can have what is often described as a musty scent. Regular baths can help keep the odor under control, but it's something you should be prepared to live with.

The drawbacks? Redbones can be loud and stubborn. To people who love him, the Redbone has a sweet, musical voice, but it carries. Unless you live about five miles from your nearest neighbors, they're going to hear your Redbone when he gets excited about finding a good scent.

As far as training, hounds are independent thinkers and like to do things their own way. They have a short attention span because their interest is always being captured by a scent they'd like to check out. Assume that if your Redbone's nose is down, his ears are closed. Begin training early, keep training sessions short, and use positive reinforcement techniques, never force. The Redbone especially appreciates food rewards.

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.

Health Issues Common to Redbones

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.

Redbone Coonhounds are generally healthy and have a long lifespan, but a few have been diagnosed with hip dysplasia. More likely, they may sustain injuries in the field while hunting. Even raccoons are capable of doing some damage to a dog.

With their floppy ears they can be prone to ear infections. Check the ears weekly, clean them if necessary, and keep them dry to eliminate the warm, moist environment in which yeast and bacteria thrive. This breed is also prone to obesity, so take care not to overfeed them, which can exacerbate joint problems and contribute to diseases such as diabetes.

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 fair, good or excellent from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. A bonus would be a clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation and an OFA cardiac clearance. Having dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Low $1,500-$6,000

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Redbone Puppy

Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Redbone Coonhounds aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Redbone can live to be 10 to 12 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Redbone 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.

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 problems, or that they're not a concern, is either lying or knows almost nothing about Redbone Coonhounds. Look for your puppy elsewhere.

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.

Pet Insurance for Redbone Coonhounds

Pet insurance for Redbones costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Redbones are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance offers full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Redbones are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Redbone 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.