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Redbone Coonhound Dog Breed Information: Facts, Traits, Pictures & More


Last Updated: April 10, 2024 | 21 min read | 4 Comments

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The Redbone Coonhound is a gorgeous dog with a fine, red coat. They are one of the American Coonhounds, making them an excellent hunter. This is the purpose they were originally bred for. They are especially good at treeing raccoons and other quarries. They also have a majestic voice they use both in and out of the hunt– which may be a cause of dismay for the neighbors!

These days, they commonly spend their time as loving family companions in addition to workers on the field. There’s so much that makes the Redbone a lovable dog. Their adorable, pleading eyes are difficult to resist! They are mild in temperament, devoted, affectionate, and great in the field.

These dogs will require a lot of exercise; the mental and physical stimulation keeps them satisfied. They are also a bit of a challenge to train, so this must be tackled early on in their lives. Redbone Coonhounds are intelligent dogs and will require you to be a strong, firm leader to give them the structure they need. In this article, we explore the Redbone Coonhound’s history, what they look like, their temperament, plus everything else you need to know about giving them the care they deserve in every area of their life.

Breed History

Redbone Dog Standing in Leaves

The Redbone Coonhound were bred for hunting purposes and do well in packs.

Redbones have their roots in Scottish dogs who were brought to the state of Georgia in the early 19th Century. These provided the foundation stock for the breed. Later on, in around 1840, they added Irish-bred Foxhounds and Bloodhounds into the mix. Peter Redbone of Tennessee was one of the earliest breeders; this is where the breed’s name comes from.

However, it used to be that every red dog that had unknown ancestry was called a Redbone. Afterward, dedicated breeders stepped into the cause to breed a fine specimen of hunting dog. F.L. Birdsong of Georgia was one of these breeders. He was an instrumental force in developing the Redbone Coonhound into a more recognizable breed.

More traits of the ideal Coonhound were bred into the early Redbone. This created a dog that was agile enough to chase their prey over the rugged terrain of the South. The Redbone is one of the only Hounds with webbed feet; this was bred into them so they could swim after their quarry if necessary. As the breed developed, they became more suited to hunting in packs. Ultimately, they became good enough to hunt large game. These dogs had plenty of hunting talent, and were relatively uniform in appearance.

However, they originally had large, black “saddle” markings, which led to them being called “Saddlebacks” at some point in time. This was eventually bred out of them until there was only a rich, red color— the same one we recognize and admire today. It’s speculated that the patches of white that sometimes appear on the chest and feet are attributed to the breed having been crossed with Irish hounds, though the truth of this is lost to time.

Redbones were recognized by the United Kennel Club as the second Coonhound breed in 1902. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that they were recognized by the American Kennel Club. This breed enjoyed popularity after the publishing of the 1961 novel Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls. It tells the story of a boy named Billy, who adopts two Redbone Coonhounds named Old Dan and Little Ann.

Today, Redbone Coonhounds aren’t the most popular breed, though they are well-beloved by those who appreciate them. They rank 146th out of 195 on the AKC’s 2020 dog popularity list.


Dog Face Up Close in Camera

The Redbone Coonhound is very loving and loyal, and does well in large families.

You can expect your Redbone to be a loving and loyal family companion. The AKC describes them as “even-tempered, amiable, [and] eager to please”. These dogs are always happy to be in a pack, so they will always let you know that they value their place in your family.  This makes them a suitable dog for many different kinds of families, provided you can fulfill their high energy needs!

Since they have such a high demand for exercise, they can be difficult to keep up with. People who may be too busy to take care of them will have a difficult time keeping one of these pups around. This also makes it difficult for novice dog owners who may not have the experience in taking care of a high energy needs dog.

When it comes to interacting with other members of the family, the breed does very well. They get along great with virtually everybody in your home. They enjoy spending time with their human companions, and will even take well to being around children. Early socialization is important just so they know how to behave appropriately around every member of the family.

They get along great with other dogs because of their pack mentality. However, they may view smaller animals as prey, especially birds and hamsters. However, it’s good to note that raising them side-by-side cats can really help to make them get along well. As long as you can meet all of their needs, the Redbone Coonhound will be more than happy to be an affectionate cuddle buddy. In fact, it’s not a good idea to leave them alone for too long because they can develop separation anxiety, which can lead to destructive behavior.

Like most Coonhounds, the Redbone has a tendency to bark and bay very loudly. This can be endearing to their owners, since the sound quality is quite musical. However, this may be a source of annoyance for your neighbors. It’s important to train your dog when to make noise appropriately. They may serve well in the role of a watchdog, and will be a great protector of the home.

These dogs are intelligent and eager to please, but it’s imperative that you train them from the moment they come home with you for the first time. This will help curb any stubborn behavior that would otherwise be there if you started training later. Their hunting skills are also topnotch, so if you enjoy hunting as a hobby, your Redbone Coonhound will have no trouble keeping up with you on the trail.

Size and Appearance

Red Coated Dog Outdoors

Redbone Coonhounds can weigh up to 80 pounds and be around 27 inches tall.

The Redbone is a medium to large sized dog, with a fairly muscular build and floppy ears that are completely adorable. They have a body that can tolerate the rough terrain of the Southern United States. Adult males stand anywhere between 21 to 27 inches at the shoulder; this goes the same for females. Both male and female dogs weigh anywhere between 45 to 80 pounds at full maturity. There is a lot of room for variation in both height and weight, so don’t worry too much if your dog is not as big as you expected.

These dogs have a moderately broad, flat skull. Their muzzles are In good balance with the other features of the head, shaping up to be relatively square. Their eyes give a pleading expression, and are colored anywhere from dark brown to hazel. The eyes are set well apart, round, and without drooping eyelids. The ears are set moderately low, and reach near the end of the nose when extended that way. Like all other features of the face, the ears are in good proportion when compared to the head. The nose is black, with large, open nostrils.

The Redbone Coonhound has a majestic, proud silhouette, with a strong body that allows for excellent movement. Their necks are medium in length and slightly arched. The topline is slightly taller at the withers than it is at the hips. Their chests are deep and broad, with well-sprung ribs to allow good lung capacity. Their tails are of a medium length, strong at the root, and are saber-like, with a medium brush.

A Redbone’s shoulders are clean and muscular. They have straight forelegs that give a feeling of both speed and strength. The forequarters are well-boned, with the same feeling that the forelegs give. The Redbone Coonhound’s gait is described as “determined, steady, and proud, with good reach and drive”.

Coat and Colors

Two Red Dogs Exploring in a Yard

The breed can come in a variety of different shades of red.

Unlike their Bluetick Coonhound relative, the Redbone Coonhound has a beautiful red coat that is instantly recognizable. Their coat is short and has a fine texture, with a beautiful, glossy sheen. It is smooth, but still coarse enough to give them the protection they need on the hunt. It’s worth noting that they do shed, so they are not a hypoallergenic breed.

As far as color goes, this dog will only really have red fur, ranging anywhere from mahogany to a rich, deep red color. Small patches of white are permissible on the chest and feet, but it shouldn’t be in excess, according to AKC standard. They are also allowed to have a darker muzzle than the rest of their body.


Two Dogs Playing Together in Yard

This breed is a high-energy dog that will need around 90 minutes of exercise each day.

Certainly one of the most difficult parts of owning a Redbone Coonhound is catering to their high energy needs. You will need to give this dog a lot of exercise in order to keep them happy and content. This can be a difficult job to do for first time dog owners, so novices should take heed. This dog has high intelligence, so you will always need to keep your exercise routine as interesting as possible to keep them engaged.

Frequency is important, but so is variety, so take care that your routine has both of these qualities in effect. Given that this dog loves being in a pack with their family, it’s a good idea to have the whole family take part in giving them the exercise they need. This helps to keep boredom away, which in turn prevents any destructive tendencies from arising.

You can avoid these destructive tendencies by making sure that your dog is taken out on a walk every day. It’s a good idea to give them at least 90 minutes of exercise, though you can opt to split this into multiple sessions each day, so that it’s less demanding. If you’re lucky enough to live in a more rural area, then your Redbone will be happy to accompany you on hikes through the forests and mountains. This is what they were bred for, and as such will be great exercise for them.

If you have a fenced in yard, they will also be happy to burn off excess energy by running around outside. Just take care that the fence is well secured, as the breed can be prone to wanderlust, especially if they catch an interesting scent of some wild animal nearby. Prepare plenty of games to play together, such as fetch and tug o war, as this will help them stay happy as well as provide a good dining experience for the both of you.

Living Requirements

Red Dog Laying on a Dock

This breed does will in rural, open areas so it can run around and explore.

It’s generally not a good idea to keep a Redbone Coonhound in an apartment, given their tendency to vocalize very loudly. They will be far happier to make noise in a rural area, given the sparse population density. However, if you can train them to bark only when appropriate– which can be a difficult task– you may be able to live with them happily in a suburban setting. Giving them a lot of toys to play with in their down time can also help keep them behaved, which is always a good thing.

With regard to tolerating weather, the breed will not be a good fit for climates that are too cold. There are better breed choices for colder climates. Redbones will be happiest in more temperate weather, where it’s neither too hot nor cold. Provided that the weather never gets too extreme, you can expect your dog to be happy.

If it gets cold in the wintertime, provide them with a little doggy sweater or jacket, so they can stay warm on their walks outside. Heaters indoors are always a good idea also. In the summertime, be sure to give them lots of water and keep them indoors as much as possible, in air conditioning if you can.


Red Dog Sitting in Field

This breed is very intelligent and when it comes to training can be quite stubborn.

Like most Coonhounds, the Redbone is very intelligent, though they may be a little bit difficult to train if it’s not done as early as possible. They may prefer to do their own thing if rapport has not yet been established, as other things may be more interesting to them. Training them from the first time they come home with you will really help to curb any bad behavior, including stubbornness. They need a firm leader who is confident enough to give them the direction they need, as well as supply them with the structure required to live a routine-led life.

It’s very important that your dog learns how to behave when put on a leash. Given their strong noses, it’s easy for them to follow interesting scents instead of saying behaved on their walk. Their high wanderlust will also give them the incentive to escape as soon as possible, so walking them is really meant only to be done when they are on a leash. Leash training should go hand-in-hand with their early obedience training. It’s also important to train them not to bark inappropriately when they are out on walks, so this should be done as early as possible too.

If you haven’t established a good enough rapport with your dog, you may find yourself becoming frustrated with them if they aren’t following your commands during training. However, you must never treat your dog unkindly because they are quite sensitive, and will easily take this to heart. They may develop resentment towards you if you are unfair to them. Instead, it is always best to reward good behavior, to give incentive for it to be done again. This is why positive reinforcement is so effective. Giving them plenty of pets, praise, and treats can really help to instill good behavior in them.

The Redbone Coonhound is eager to please once you have reached a good point in your relationship. They will be far happier to perform more complicated tricks, and even start training in competitive agility and obedience trials. Keeping your routine consistent and interesting is a great way to keep your dog behaved.

Socializing your dog is one of the best ways to make them mentally healthy. This builds good behavior and confidence, which is good news for everybody who shares the home with them too! Getting them used to new people, animals, places, and situations will really help build a well-rounded pup. Given their friendly nature, it is not too difficult to socialize these dogs. However, if sharing the home with cats, be sure that everybody is comfortable with each other.

If your dog seems fearful of anyone in the home, it may be a good idea to separate them, and then reintroduce them to each other gradually, for a better transition into home life. Some dogs may be shy, so always take care to be gentle with them.


Red Dog Running in Woods

The Redbones Coonhound is a fairly healthy dog and can live up to 12-14 years.

Your Redbone Coonhound is a fairly healthy dog, though you can doubly ensure their health by purchasing from a reputable breeder. Good breeders will always do what is right to guarantee the health and safety of your dog. Redbones have a lifespan of 12 to 14 years. By taking care of your dog’s health and giving them the best quality of life, you will be able to make those years as enjoyable as possible. You may even extend your time together!

However, just like all dogs, this breed is also predisposed to several different illnesses. If you understand these illnesses ahead of time, you will be giving your dog a good chance at their best life possible. Familiarizing yourself with symptoms can really help you know what to inform the veterinarian, so you can follow their treatment plan as soon as possible. It’s possible for your dog not to develop any of these illnesses, though it’s still always good to be informed. Here are three of the most common problems that your dog’s health can face.

Hip Dysplasia

Since your dog has a lot of running around, they may be prone to developing hip dysplasia. This is also commonly a hereditary disease, so your breeder will have done a routine check for this before they release your puppy to you. Hip dysplasia is a condition where your dog’s thigh bone does not fit properly into their hip socket. This results in limping in one or both hind legs, strange posture, and an unusual gait.

This can also eventually lead to arthritis and lameness. Hip dysplasia is normally a very painful condition for your dog, so it’s important that it be addressed immediately. Treatment plants usually include anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, or weight loss if your dog is overweight.

Eye Problems

This breed is prone to several different eye problems. One of these problems is progressive retinal atrophy. This is a condition where the eyes slowly lose their function over time until your dog comes to partial or complete blindness. In the early-onset form, this condition is called retinal dysplasia. While this condition isn’t painful, it can really take a toll on the quality of your dog’s life. It’s important to manage the condition by talking to your veterinarian to learn what to expect. It isn’t curable, but with the right care, your dog will be able to live a happy and healthy life.

Ectropion is another condition that this breed may develop. This is a defect where the eyelids droop or hang away from the eye. This can look quite cute, giving your dog sad puppy dog eyes. Still, it must be treated, as this exposes the eye to environmental contaminants, which may then lead to drying and infection. Luckily, this condition is easily treated with surgery.

Gastric Torsion

Since your Redbones have a deep chest, they are more prone to gastric torsion, or bloat, than many other dogs. This is a dangerous and potentially deadly condition that will require immediate veterinary attention. This condition occurs when the stomach becomes distended with air, is unable to expel that air, and then twists. Since the dog cannot expel the contents of their stomach, their blood pressure drops and they go into shock. Some signs of gastric torsion are a distended belly, retching without vomiting, restlessness, and excessive drooling.

Thankfully, this condition is easy to avoid. Bloat is triggered when your dog eats too quickly and in excess, drinks too much and too fast, and exercises too soon after eating. Giving your dog several meals a day instead of one large meal can really help to reduce the chances of getting gastric torsion. For their safety, only allow your dog to exercise if a minimum of one hour has passed since their last meal.


Dog Licking Lips

This dog breed will need an all-natural dry kibble with a good amount of protein.

A well-balanced diet is the key to good health throughout your dog’s lifetime. Good nutrition is the foundation of healthiness in all living beings. Proper nutrition is necessary for your dog to develop a strong body during their puppyhood. This is the most important developmental stage of any dog’s life. The adult and senior years will focus on maintaining overall vitality and ensuring the healthy body they grew during puppyhood is working properly. If you feed your dog food that is appropriate for their life stage, you will ensure good nourishment and health all of their lives.

There are many different kinds of dog food available on the market, so it can be confusing to go shopping and not know which to pick. Luckily, the most convenient type of food is also the best food that you can give your dog. Choose all-natural, dry kibble for your Redbone Coonhound, since this is what gives your dog the nutrients required to maintain complete health. Be sure to stay away from food that markets itself as being for “all life stages”, since every life stage is going to have very different requirements from each other. Also avoid food that contains artificial ingredients, since this does not have any impact on your dog’s diet, and may even be detrimental to their health.

Portion sizes for your dog should be decided based on a few different factors, namely: age, size, and activity level. Activity level is especially important, because Redbones are an active breed. They will be eating more than many other dogs of their breed size just because of how active they are. This goes doubly if they play a lot of sports, like competitive agility.

Puppies need nutritionally dense food to help them grow into a healthy body; their portion sizes will change as they grow up. Adult Redbones need more food than puppies, but will not need food that is as calorie dense as puppy food. Senior dogs will eat the least amount of food. However, it’s a misconception that they need less protein than in their adult years. Protein is especially important during the senior years in order to keep your dog’s muscles strong. Your veterinarian will be able to help you decide food portion sizes. Feeding your dog too much can lead to obesity, which opens the door for many preventable diseases.

There are a few different ways to address pickiness in a dog. First, you can be stricter about eating time. Leave your dog’s food out for 30 minutes, then take it away if they don’t eat any. Keep the food away from your dog until it is time for the next meal. This helps your dog understand that their food is not always going to be available to them, and will thus urge them to eat on time. You can also try adding wet food to your dog’s kibble to up the palatability.


Dog Standing Next to River

Redbones don’t shed very much and will only need to be brushed a couple times a week.

This breed does shed regularly. This makes them un-hypoallergenic, which is bad news for allergy sufferers. However, these dogs don’t shed very much, and aren’t very high-maintenance when it comes to grooming. You can keep shedding at bay with a rubber curry brush, brushing them a few times a week. Sometimes only weekly brushing is necessary, but we find that they enjoy the massage the brush brings too! This also helps keep the fur looking nice and shiny, keeping your dog looking sharp.

As for bathing, you may find that your Redbone has a distinct “houndy” odor. Some enjoy this smell, while others don’t. You can keep the smell at bay with regular bathing, around once or twice a month should be fine. You can opt to bathe them more if your dog becomes visibly dirty. Use warm water and a mild dog shampoo, and rinse well so that no soap residue is left. Soap residue can irritate your dog’s skin, so it’s important that they be rinsed properly. In between washes, you can wipe down your dog with baby wipes to keep the excess grime off.

Cleaning your dog’s ears, especially after swimming, can really help to prevent infection. Wipe at the visible parts of your dog’s ears using a cotton ball and an ear cleaning solution from your vet. This will help to clean away the excess wax and debris. Brush your dog’s teeth regularly using a toothbrush and toothpaste that is made specifically for dogs. This helps your dog have clean teeth, fresh breath, and less tartar and plaque.That last point is especially important, since unclean teeth can cause a myriad of diseases.

Since your dog has a lot of running around, it’s likely that they will wear down their nails on their own. Still, it’s good to check them every once in a while and trim them at least once a month to prevent cracking, splitting, and injury.

Grooming can be a difficult activity to partake in for both you and your dog if they do not enjoy the process. To make grooming as stress-free as possible, try soothing your dog into enjoying it. Basic obedience commands can really make a difference, and a gentle touch will move the process along nicely. Being kind during their grooming can really help your dog get used to it, and even look forward to future grooming sessions together. This also prevents any accidents that may happen from the fear of being groomed. This should be a relaxing bonding experience for you and your dog, so try to make it that way!

Breeders and Puppy Costs

Red Puppy Sitting in Grass

Expect to pay about $1,000 and up for this breed.

Adopting your Redbone Coonhound from a reputable breeder is highly recommended. However, take note that we actually do mean “reputable”! Be sure that you do your research thoroughly before you make your purchase. There are so many irresponsible breeders out there who only care about profit and could not care less about their dogs.

These unscrupulous breeders run puppy mills where conditions are unsafe and unsanitary, and the dogs are often abused. There is very little access to fresh air, as well as clean food and water. These operations have no respect for the animals they rear, and will only put maximum puppy production into account. Be thorough about your research, and ask around to see who is a responsible breeder; stay away from these bad breeders at all costs!

On the other hand, there are so many different good breeders who truly love and care for the dog that they raise. These breeders are very enthusiastic about the breed and will be happy to show you where the puppies live. These places are not necessarily fancy, but they will always be clean and cozy. Your puppy will never lack things to play with, nor will they have a hard time accessing clean food and water.

These breeders will also encourage you to get to know your puppy in the few weeks before you bring them home. This helps to make a more harmonious transition into home life. They will answer all the questions you may have about the breed, as well as all of the important things you need to know about raising your puppy. They will also give you veterinary certifications denoting any vaccinations, deworming, plus screening for illnesses.

If you are looking to find a good breeder for a purebred puppy, there are many different places that you can explore. You can ask your veterinarian for leads on responsible breeders in your area. You can also go to dog shows to ask local enthusiasts about potential breeders, especially if they themselves have a Redbone they love!

Moving the search online, you can browse the countless forums and social media websites available to you, full of dog lovers who might be able to lend a helping paw. Lastly, there is an excellent resource for breeders available on the AKC’s website. You can expect to pay anywhere between $1,000 and up for this pup, with show-quality dogs costing more.

Rescues and Shelters

Old Red Dog in Grass

Always check your local shelter before you look into purchasing a new pup.

While it is always a good idea to consult with a good breeder before making your purchase,  we always recommend our readers to first look at adoption sites, shelters, and rescues. Adopting instead of shopping is a great way to save a dog’s life. Many of the dogs at the shelter are senior dogs or dogs with special needs who will really need the extra care to get their lives back in good shape. This can make them less adoptable than others, so we urge you to give them a look.

When picking out a dog to rescue, take care that you will ask the staff everything you may need to know about your new furry friend. Understanding everything about your new dog, from their temperament to their health issues and other special needs, can really help eliminate the guesswork so that you don’t have a difficult time later. This helps them to live a happy and healthy life– the kind they truly deserve.

Dogs from shelters tend to be a lot more timid and sensitive than most. Be patient with your new canine companion, because they will often be frightened of their new surroundings. This distrust is normal– a temporary situation. You can coax your dog into feeling loved and safe again. Be gentle during this adjustment period, and be sure to treat your dog kindly. Introduce them slowly to the other members of your family; this helps to reduce timidity. You will find your Redbone back to their happy and playful selves in no time at all.

As Family Pets

  • Redbones are talented hunting dogs.
  • This makes them a good choice for families who hunt as a hobby.
  • Redbone Coonhounds are very affectionate.
  • They love their families dearly, and as such may be prone to separation anxiety.
  • This breed gets along great with children and other dogs.
  • Smaller animals are a bigger risk, and should be avoided.
  • Redbones bark and bay a lot, so they will not be suited for apartment life.
  • The breed requires a lot of exercise, and prefers an active family.
  • They need adequate mental stimulation to stay happy.
  • Play games with them, and give them plenty of toys to use in their downtime.
  • Redbones prefer more moderate weather, and should avoid extremes.
  • This breed does shed, but this is easily managed with regular brushing.
  • They are easy to groom and will only need a bath once a month or so.
  • Redbones are prone to a few different illnesses, so be sure to screen for health.

Final Thoughts

By now, you should have all the information you need when it comes to adopting a Redbone Coonhound. You  may find yourself challenged when raising a new dog; know that this is normal and does not take away from the pleasure and privilege of owning such a fantastic animal. Equipping yourself with the knowledge necessary to handle your various trials will help you weather them with little issue.

We believe that your dog is more than worth the trouble, and we’re certain that you will agree! Redbone Coonhounds have plenty of love and devotion to give you, so it’s only right to return that with the best care they deserve. This will help you enjoy all the time you have together since you are giving them their very best life.

This adventurous hound will be more than happy to accompany you on every journey that you may take. They are more than happy to be your furry friend, so make that friendship as incredible as you can! With the knowledge from this guide, your life together is sure to be a happy one.


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