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Highlights on Hunting Dogs: Redbone Coonhound

The Redbone Coonhound is the kind of hunting dog that’s as famous as it is skilled.

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Best known for their ability to swiftly track, pursue, and tree their prey, a hunter will be hard pressed to find a more reliable coonhound than the Redbone.

Bear, raccoon and mountain lion hunts are often accompanied by Redbone Coonhounds, and their agility and tracking smarts are put to good use.

From Where the Red Fern Grows fame to modern day hunting needs, the Redbone Coonhound’s even temperament and ideal skills give the outdoorsmen some pretty great tools at their disposal.

View the slideshow to read more on this great hunting dog breed.

Bred for excellence

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Though it now refers to a specific breed, the name “Redbone” once referred to any red dog with the ability to track and tree raccoons. Knowledge of the dog’s ancestry was unnecessary. Of course, that soon changed.

In the late 18th Century, America saw an influx of red foxhounds and bloodhounds brought to the US by Scottish immigrants who sought to escape the infamous Highland Clearances in their home country. Focused in the southeastern United States, particularly in Georgia, these dogs soon became known as excellent hound dogs, and breeders sought to produce a superior breed — one with the bloodhound’s nose and the foxhound’s versatility and speed.

The first breed to arise from this mix was the Saddleback, named for the black saddle markings the dogs developed. Eventually, the dogs were also bred for the solid red color, becoming known officially as the Redbone Coonhound. One century after their introduction to the United States, the Redbone Coonhound became a well known breed, admired for their ability to track across any terrain and through lakes and rivers.

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Though they have existed as a popular breed since the late 19th Century, it was not until 2010 that the Redbone Coonhound finally earned recognition from the American Kennel Club.

As hunters

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Redbones are born and bred hunting dogs, and stand to be remarkable companions in the field. Their coats protect them in all weather, and allows them to survive comfortably indoors or outdoors in various terrains. Though originally trained specifically to tree raccoons, Redbones are a versatile breed, and have been known to hunt small game, as well as other predators like bobcats, cougars, and bears. With the proper training, they also make exceptional water dogs. Like many hound dogs, Redbones also have a powerful bay that hunters either love or hate.

However, as excellent as they are, Redbones are sometimes too clever for their own good. Intelligent and easy to please as they may be, Redbones are also known for their stubbornness and attempts to manipulate their owners. A firm hand and early training is important, as well as early socialization. Because of its strong hunting instincts, Redbones should be introduced to any smaller animals at a young age, lest they mistake them for prey.

As pets

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Well-socialized Redbones are sweet, affectionate pets that get along well with other dogs and children. Though they must be raised with any non-canine pets from puppyhood, they are not a particularly aggressive breed. Redbones are happiest with daily exercise and attention from their owners. In an apartment setting, the exercise is doubly important, as they become extremely inactive while indoors.

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When exercising, it is important that a Redbone not be permitted to roam free. They must be kept on a leash or in a fenced in area, because the second a Redbone catches a scent, it will take off after its prey.

In film and fiction

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Of course, the Redbone breed has been immortalized in Wilson Rawls’ classic children’s book, Where the Red Fern Grows, where the Redbone coon hounds Old Dan and Little Ann stole hearts the world over. The book was later adapted into a movie of the same name in 1974, and again in 2003.

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Highlights on Hunting Dogs: Redbone Coonhound