“The Black and Tan,” as owners know her, is an American-bred scenthound whose initial purpose was to hunt of raccoons, bobcat, cougar, deer, elk, wild boar and even bear. Her job in colonial America was literally to put food on the table. Today she can live either as a working dog or as a family pet.
The Black and Tan Coonhound has been bred to hunt game that is active primarily at night. When she picks up a scent, she may begin baying loudly to alert her handler. Each coonhound has her own distinctive baying voice that becomes instantly recognizable to her owner.
Today, she is the most popular of all the American coonhounds.
The Black and Tan Coonhound is thought to to descend from three British dogs that were imported to America: the Bloodhound, the Talbot Hound, and the Foxhound, all brought to the states by wealthy landowners during the colonial period. In contrast, the Black and White Coonhound appears to be have been bred and perfected by working-class game hunters.
The Black and Tan Coonhound was recognized by the AKC in 1945. She continues to be used as a hunting dog, but is just as eager to participate in obedience and conformation activities as well as walking, jogging, agility and other forms of exercise. The Black and Tan requires a moderate amount of exercise (all dogs enjoy daily walks) and will be even-tempered and well-behaved as long as she gets that exercise.
Males generally stand 25 to 27 inches from ground to shoulder; females, 23 to 25 inches. Males generally weigh 50 to 75 pounds, while the range for females is 45 to 60 pounds.
Coat color is primarily black, with tan markings above her eyes; on the sides of her muzzle; and on her chest and legs. The breed standard allows some touches of white, but none to extend longer than one inch in any direction. Feet can show flecks of black. Please remember, though, the breed standard is primarily of interest to people who show dogs. Many purebred dogs that don’t conform to the standard, as well as Black and Tan Coonhound mixes, make terrific pets!
Why choose a Black and Tan as a pet? Well, although bred for hunting outdoors, she’s just as comfortable sharing the hearth and home. She’s been described as friendly and laid-back when indoors. When it’s time to sleep, the Black and Tan may develop “lap dog syndrome” and force herself into the tiniest possible position close to her owner to prepare for sleep.
Most Black and Tans are good with children. They are shy with strangers and may wail upon meeting them, but this behavior recedes the better the dog gets to know the new person.
Outdoors, the Black and Tan needs a firm hand if the day’s activities do not include hunting. If she picks up a scent, she will try to follow it as fast as she can, often pulling at (and possibly becoming separated from) her leash. In unsecured outdoor situations, she needs an alert handler with enough upper body strength to keep her firmly attached to her leash.
Black and Tan Coonhounds are generally healthy and generally can be expected to live 10 to 14 years. They have been know to develop hip dysplasia, ear cancer and other problems of the ear and eye. Consult your veterinarian about ways to watch for and prevent these health issues in your dog.
Black and Tans shed year round, with major sheds coming in the fall and spring. This is controllable with the right amount of personal care that you and your dog will enjoy more than a constant running of the vacuum cleaner.
A hound glove is helpful with this breed. The glove is especially designed to loosen and remove dead hair and debris, but it’s less harsh on your dog than a wire brush, and it protects your hands from the oil in her hair. The glove is available at pet stores. As to brushing, your Black and Tan should require it only once or twice a week. Bathing can be done only as needed, as the Black and Tan needs the oils in her hair to fend off dryness and allergies.
Like many hounds, the Black and Tan has long, droopy ears that do not allow air to circulate; this makes the dog prone to ear irritation and infection. Get in front of this problem by purchasing an inexpensive ear cleaner from your vet or pet store and using it weekly. The dog will not necessarily be happy with this arrangement, but it’s less painful than treating an ear infection.
The American Black & Tan Coonhound Rescue caters to owners of Black and Tans, as well as Bloodhounds, across the U.S. They are happy to help connect potential adopters with Black and Tans in need, and also to work with people who feel they need to rehome a Black and Tan. Their website (abtcc.com) has a rescue link as the first step in getting in touch.