The American English Coonhound is a sweet, mellow dog that is highly sociable with people and other dogs and requires a lot of outdoor exercise. Originally bred for hunting as the Virginia Coonhound, breeders encountered lost scent issues when game would climb trees. To overcome the scent loss on tree-climbing game increasingly preyed upon in the southeast United States, breeders crossed the Virginia Coonhound with the Bloodhound, a breed renowned for its scenting abilities. The resulting American English Coonhound was both agile with high endurance capable of crossing the rough American terrain and able to track game in trees.
The American English Coonhound is a true American dog, having sprung from the English Foxhound. Early immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries brought the ancestor of this bloodline to the American south, aptly named the Virginia Coonhound. First President of the United States, George Washington, was one of the early breeders of these dogs, which were excellent hunters in their own right but were faced with obstacles unique to the Americas.
Game in the American south utilized the trees, which prevented the Virginia Coonhound from tracking once the animal took to the trees. Noting this difficulty, early breeders selected the Bloodhound, whose nose is considered the most powerful of all canines, for crossbreeding. The resulting hound was the American English Coonhound, a high-endurance, sleek-bodied hound with cold nose tracking capable of tracking game in trees across rough terrain.
The American English Coonhound once covered other similar looking breeds, such as the Bluetick Coonhound and the Redbone Coonhound but all three coonhounds have since been distinguished as their separate breeds. The American English Coonhound was first acknowledged by the United Kennel Club in 1905 as the Coonhound and English Foxhound.
Despite a long history in the United States, the American English Coonhound did not gain American Kennel Club recognition until 1995 when the Foundation Stock Service of the AKC recognized the breed as the American English Coonhound. However, not until 2011 did the AKC recognize the breed in its own right. The American English Coonhound started competing in the hound group in 2012 as the AKC's 171st breed.
The American English Coonhound is well known for its speed and endurance. The breed has a deep chest, strong back, and well-defined muscles, giving it a graceful, athletic appearance. The breed's head is of moderate size with kind, expressive eyes and long floppy ears that sit low on the skull. When extended forward, the tip of the ears touches the tip of the nose. The muzzle is square-shaped and proportionate to the head. In fact, there is no disproportionate feature on the American English Coonhound whose well-balanced body is made for speed.
The forelegs are angular and strong, and support uninhibited movement. The hind legs are powerful and straight with well-defined thighs. The American English comes in several color combinations including red and white ticked, blue and white ticked, tri-color with ticking, red and white, and white and black. Ticking is a hallmark aesthetic feature of the breed whose coat is hard and protective and of medium length.
The hard protective coat of the American English Coonhound does not require frequent grooming, but occasional brushing will help with moderate shedding potential. The protective coat also means you should only bathe and shampoo your dog when he's dirty from the mud or rolling around in a dead animal.
Although your American English Coonhound can be quiet and relaxed indoors, he needs plenty of exercise to stay mentally and physically fit. This breed requires a lot of outdoor space to run, so apartment and small space living are not ideal. Ideally, your American English needs a large, fenced-in yard to burn off some energy. Because they use a lot of energy, these dogs require a significant amount of water. Access to fresh, clean water will prevent dehydration and possibly overheating during the hot summer months.
You must socialize your American English from early puppy stages and continue through life to prevent protective behaviors like guarding food and toys. Though these dogs are not aggressive, they can develop dominant behaviors if not properly trained.