Coonhound Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
Coonhound Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
There are a number of coonhound breeds, the most popular being the Black and Tan Coonhound, Bluetick Coonhound, Redbone Coonhound, Plott Hound, Treeing Walker Coonhound, English Coonhound, and American Leopard Hound.
These dogs are first and fundamentally working dogs – they hunt large and small game. Though good-natured and easygoing, these hardy hounds are so in need of hard physical exercise that they belong with an owner who will take them hunting, jogging (on dirt or grass, not concrete), hiking, and/or swimming.
The problem with providing exercise is that, unless well-trained for hunting, it is a major risk to allow coonhounds off-leash. They are inveterate explorers who will follow their nose over hill, over dale, through the woods – and onto the highway. An enclosed dog park is probably your safest option.
When well-exercised, coonhounds are calm and undemanding dogs, apt to sprawl and snore in front of the fire. Without exercise, on the other hand, a coonhound can be a rambunctious handful.
Coonhounds get along very well with other dogs, though some can be dominant and pushy as they test each other for favorable positions in the pecking order.
Befitting their predator ancestry, coonhounds may stalk smaller pets, though they may get along fine with the family cat (as long as he doesn't run!).
It is in a coonhound's nature to constantly figure out ways to outwit his prey, so he often does the same with people. In other words, following commands blindly is not part of a coonhound's genetic makeup. Put yet another way.... coonhounds can be very stubborn! Consistent leadership is a must, and obedience training must be upbeat and persuasive (include occasional food rewards).
If you want a dog who...
- Is medium to large and about as athletic as you can get!
- Has a short easy-care coat
- Is energetic and loves to hunt and work outdoors
- When well-exercised, is easygoing and laid-back indoors
- Is good-natured with people and other dogs
A Coonhound may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Vigorous exercise requirements
- Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
- Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
- Strong instincts to chase other living creatures that run
- "Selective deafness" whenever his tremendous nose and exploratory instincts send him running after adventure
- LOUD baying
- Shedding and a houndy odor
A Coonhound may not be right for you.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Coonhounds have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Coonhound to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
More traits and characteristics of the Coonhound
If I was considering a Coonhound, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise. These large hounds require plenty of running exercise. With enough exercise, Coonhounds are content to sprawl and sleep. Without such exercise, they will become rambunctious and bored, which they usually express by baying and destructive chewing. Bored Coonhounds are famous for chewing through drywall, ripping the stuffing out of sofas, and turning your yard into a moonscape of giant craters.
Coonhounds were never intended to be simply household pets. Their working behaviors (following scents, chasing things that run, exploring, baying) can be a nuisance in a normal household setting. Trying to suppress these "hardwired" behaviors, without providing alternate outlets for their energy, can be difficult and is not fair to the dog.
- Chasing smaller animals. As hunting hounds, Coonhounds have strong instincts to chase small fleeing creatures.
- Stubbornness. Again, as hunting hounds, Coonhounds are independent thinkers who don't particularly care about pleasing you. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. Read more about Coonhound Training
- Noise. The deep voice of a Coonhound is extremely LOUD and carries a LONG way – it has to, so the hunter can locate him in the woods. But his baying will have your neighbors calling the cops to report the nuisance or quietly letting your Coonhound out of his yard so he'll wander away.
- Shedding and houndy odor. Coonhounds shed more than you might think for such a shorthaired dog. Also note that Coonhounds tend to have a strong "doggy" odor that some people find distasteful.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.