Black and Tan Coonhound
South of the Mason-Dixon line, there is no sound more recognizable or more enthralling than the loud, low, deep bay of a Black and Tan Coonhound who has treed a raccoon! This is a true American breed, developed from the Bloodhound and Virginia Foxhound…In the Appalachian, Blue Ridge, Ozark and Smokey Mountains, coonhunting is held as sacred as any religion! But to be a successful coon hunter, the hunter needs a dog who is rugged, swift, fearless and tireless. All these traits are found in the sleek, hardy Black and Tan Coonhound. This dog will track the scent of raccoons and other mammals with no sign of fatigue; he is single-minded on the job, baying and howling to inform the hunter that he has treed the coon that will soon end up in a cooking pot to feed a mountain family.
The AKC recognized the B&T in 1945. Prior to that time, he was only seen in the southern mountains; a poor family often relied on the dog’s tracking skills to provide food since money was scarce. He could also track deer, rabbits, bears and mountain lions with a fearless determination. The B&T is a hunting dog and is not appropriate for apartment or city life. In rural homes, his companionship as a house pet is not nearly as desirable as his tracking skills. He is, in every sense, a dog with a job, bred and built for this purpose.
In temperament, the B&T is mellow in nature, friendly and loyal with his family, calm and well-behaved. On the hunt, he is very excited and stubborn; it’s nearly impossible to call him off a scent. He’s strong and powerful, but gentle with children and moderately friendly with other pets. He is wary of strangers and makes an excellent watchdog, baying insistently to let his family know of the approach of a stranger. He can also be protective. There is an Appalacian legend that B&Ts were used to guard illegal whiskey stills, howling the warning of an approaching revenue agent.
This tall, handsome hound can literally run for hours without tiring, tracking the scent of a fleeing deer. Even a wily raccoon can’t throw him off the trail; the B&T will hold the coon treed until the arrival of the hunter. He’s assertive, but also eager and alert in the field. This is not a hound that takes to obedience or agility training; it simply bores his sharp and inquisitive mind. His field training requirements are all but non-existent since he was bred entirely as a tracker. Since raccoons are active at night, the southern states often hold night competitions for hound trackers like the B&T; when worked at top form, this hound can tree as many coons as he can locate in a single night. Although you’ll see the B&T at Westminster, he is not generally known as a show dog; the fuss, crowds and intense activity distract him.
This is a hardy, healthy, muscular dog with few health concerns except for hip dysplasia. This problem is compounded by the B&T’s habit of jumping halfway up a tree propelled by his powerful hindquarters. Since the hunter has long been outrun by the hound, by the time he/she catches up to the treed coon, the persistent hound has already made several of these leaps.
If you’re a serious coon hunter looking for just the right dog, just venture out into a soft southern night and listen for the unmistakable bay of a Black and Tan Coonhound; you’ll know you’ve found the dog for you!
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