Solid red coonhounds have been documented in the United States since the 1700s. In the latter half of the 18th century, red foxhounds were brought to North America by Scottish immigrants. Other red scenthounds were imported from Ireland around the same time, just before the start of the Civil War. Combinations of those dogs, primarily orchestrated by breeders in Georgia and Tennessee, formed the foundation of what later became today’s true-breeding Redbone Coonhounds. Early-on, no real attempt was made to develop red hounds that consistently bred true to type. Eventually, a small group of fanciers in the southern United States started a selective breeding program to develop a stable line of solid red hunting hounds that had hotter noses and were faster than other American coonhounds. The first few generations of these red scenthounds were called “Saddlebacks,” because they often were born with a black, saddle-like patch over their backs. Selective breeding eventually eliminated the black patching, leaving a rich, solid red coat on a hound that consistently breeds true to type. The Georgian foxhunter, George L. F. Birdsong, is said to have owned some of the foundation stock of this breed.
There are two theories about the origin of the Redbone Coonhound’s name. One is that the Redbone got its name from an early fancier and Tennessee coonhound breeder named Peter Redbone. Other enthusiasts believe that the breed was simply named for its distinctive, deep red coat color.
Today, the Redbone Coonhound has an established following well beyond its area of origin in the deep South. It is popular not only in America, but also in Canada, Mexico, South America and even Japan. The Redbone Coonhound continues to be an extraordinarily talented scenthound and treeing dog, known for its exceptional agility, speed, athleticism and swimming ability. It also is developing a presence in the AKC conformation show ring.
The average life span of the Redbone Coonhound is 12 to 14 years. This breed matures more slowly than most, both mentally and physically. Breed health concerns may include eye problems, hip dysplasia and obesity.