Redbone Coonhound Dog Breed information and care

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redbone coonhound
Redbone Coonhound

The Redbone coonhound is a mild-mannered yet energetic hound dog of medium to large size with a friendly and loyal disposition. Easily recognized by their brilliant red color, these hard-working hounds are well-suited to both hunting and companionship. Redbone coonhounds can be great family dogs when properly trained and socialized. Redbones are also known for their voices—like most hounds, they bay. Some find the Redbone's bay rather sweet and song-like, while others find it irritating.

Breed Overview




21 to 27 inches at the shoulder


45 to 70 pounds

Coat and Color:

Short, smooth coat in solid red

Life Expectancy:

10 to 12 years

Characteristics of the Redbone Coonhound

Affection LevelHigh
Exercise NeedsHigh
Energy LevelMedium
Tendency to BarkHigh
Amount of SheddingLow
Redbone Coonhound

History of the Redbone Coonhound

Redbone coonhounds originated from red foxhounds brought to the United States by Scottish immigrants in the late 18th century. While you might think their name comes from their color, it actually derives from the name of an early breeder, Peter Redbone.

The majority of the breed's development took place in the Southeastern United States, especially in the state of Georgia. Over time, the Scottish foxhounds were bred for raccoon-hunting traits and were eventually crossed with Irish hounds and possibly bloodhounds which led to the Redbone coonhound we know today. Originally the Redbone's coats featured a black saddleback streak, but through years of breeding their fur evolved into its notable red color.

French bull dog standing near people
French bull dog standing near people

By the end of the 19th century, the Redbone coonhound was a well-established breed. Redbones have continued to act as excellent hunters and loyal companions. The Redbone coonhound was officially accepted into the American Kennel Club (AKC) hound group in 2009, yet they're still rare outside of North America. The breed is featured in Where the Red Fern Grows and The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Redbone Coonhound Care

Redbone coonhounds have short, smooth coats with a fairly low rate of shedding. Routine basic grooming with weekly brushing is all that's typically necessary to keep Redbones looking their best. They tend to have a distinctive hound odor, which you can keep at bay with regular bathing.

Like all dogs with long floppy ears, it's important to keep the ears clean and dry to prevent infection. Trim your dog's nails to prevent splitting and tears. Brush your dog's teeth a couple of times each week at a minimum for good dental hygiene and to help prevent gum infections.

Redbones are intelligent dogs, but they can also have a stubborn streak. Proper training is an absolute necessity and will help strengthen the bond between you and your dog. They're easily trained for hunting duties but other mundane commands don't click as naturally. They need lots of patience and persistence when being trained as they're said to be prone to canine Attention Deficit Disorder. As common to most hounds, they're also known to creatively interpret your commands rather than follow them in the way you intended. This may not be the best breed for a novice owner to train as a companion pet rather than a hunting dog.

short-coated white dog
short-coated white dog

Socialization is equally important. Redbones are generally friendly to everyone, which makes them poor guard dogs but good companions. True to their hunting dog roots, they're usually not excessively clingy with their owners.

This breed has loads of energy and can easily become bored, so adequate exercise is essential—as much as 90 minutes per day is recommended by some experts. These hounds are excellent swimmers, so this is another option to fulfill the dog's movement needs. Redbones should be kept on a leash or in a fenced-in area and not permitted to roam free. Once they catch an interesting scent, they'll follow it with intensity. With a strong desire to hunt, this hound can get pretty far very fast. Taking your dog for a long walk with lots of opportunities to sniff will help to keep him happy and stimulated.

Redbones tend to get along very well with children and other dogs. They might play too energetically for a toddler, but playing with older children can keep the dog and kids entertained. It may be hard for a younger child to control this dog on a leash—especially if the dog catches the scent of potential food.

Redbones have a very high prey drive and are hard-wired to chase raccoons and other small animals. Extra care should be taken to socialize your dog to cats. If the two are to share a household, the Redbone should ideally be raised from puppyhood with the cat. Fortunately, they're said to do better with cats than other coonhound breeds.

sitting dog in front of sitting man
sitting dog in front of sitting man

If you're adopting a Redbone coonhound, be aware that their bay can be a problem in an apartment, urban, or suburban setting. Luckily, they're not as vocal as other hounds when they aren't on the hunt.

Redbone Coonhound swimming
Redbone Coonhound Swimming
Redbone Coonhound dog sleeping with baby
Redbone Coonhound Dog Sleeping With Baby

Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to watch for:

redbone coonhounds as pets illustration
Redbone Coonhounds As Pets Illustration

Diet and Nutrition

A Redbone coonhound will need about 2.5 cups of dry dog food per day. It's best to give two smaller meals per day rather than one large meal or allowing free feeding. They're known to be enthusiastic eaters and are prone to overeating.

Be sure to monitor your pet to see whether he is gaining weight. Obesity can shorten a dog's lifespan and put him at risk for other conditions. Discuss an overweight dog with your veterinarian to get recommendations for a feeding schedule, food amount, dog food type, and exercise needs.

Which dog is best for hunting
black dog on brown grasses
black dog on brown grasses
  • Minimal shedding

  • Great hunting companions

  • Energetic and lively

  • Poor guard dogs

  • Challenging to train

  • Loud baying and howling

Where to Adopt or Buy a Redbone Coonhound

If you think you've found the perfect pet match in the Redbone coonhound, start by reaching out to an advocacy organization:

These groups will be able to pair you with a reputable breeder or rescue in your local area. If you aren't certain the breed is right for you, you may be able to try foster care to test if a Redbone coonhound is an ideal pet for your home and lifestyle.

black and white border collie puppy lying on green grass during daytime
black and white border collie puppy lying on green grass during daytime
black and white dog sitting on blanket near white Christmas tree
black and white dog sitting on blanket near white Christmas tree

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you think the Redbone coonhound is the right dog breed for you, be sure to do plenty of research before adopting one. Talk to other Redbone owners, reputable breeders, and hound rescue groups to learn more.

If you are interested in similar breeds, look into these to explore their pros and cons:

Otherwise, explore our wide variety of dog breed profiles. With a little research, you can find the right one to bring home.