The English Coonhound, also referred to as the American English Coonhound (by the American Kennel Club only) or the Redtick Coonhound, is a breed of coonhound that originated and is typically bred in the Southern United States. It is descended from hunting hounds brought to America by settlers during the 17th and 18th centuries, resulting in the dogs known as the "Virginia Hounds". The breed's first recognition came from the United Kennel Club in 1905 as the English Fox and Coonhound. Further recognition has been granted in recent years by the American Kennel Club, first in the Foundation Stock Service and in 2011 as a fully recognized member of the hound group.
The breed is of medium height and proportionate weight, and their coats come predominantly in three types, redtick, bluetick and a tricolor tick pattern. They have a high prey drive and are used in various roles in hunting, primarily coon hunting but any sport including treeing. Health issues that the breed suffers from include overheating while out on summer hunting expeditions.
Male English Coonhounds measure between 22–27 inches (56–69 cm) at the withers, with females being slightly smaller at 21–25 inches (53–64 cm). The weight of a Coonhound should be in proportion to the dog's height. Their coats come in three distinct colors and patterns. The most common is the "redtick" pattern (like the dog pictured above), while others include tricolor markings with ticks, and a "bluetick" pattern. Members of the breed in the bluetick pattern can be confused with Bluetick Coonhounds. The coat itself is short to medium in length and hard to the touch.
Unlike the other breeds of coonhounds, a variety of colorations is acceptable to meet English Coonhound breed standards. Coloration can be redtick, bluetick, tricolored and tricolored with ticking. However, red markings are predominant and "Redtick" is a common euphemism for English Coonhounds. Some people believe this lack of emphasis on specific coloration has allowed breeders to focus breeding programs on traits such as intelligence and hunting ability rather than superficial concerns like coat standards. Color variations are common even amongst pups from the same litter of English Coonhounds, indicating high levels of DNA diversity in the breed.
English Coonhounds tend to be quiet in the house, and require regular exercise to keep in prime condition. English Coonhounds love to nest and usually make good house pets. They have a high prey drive, and will go after small animals unless trained otherwise. Because of this, they are not usually recommended for households with small pets unless they have been raised around small animals. They are generally good with children and tend to be very loyal dogs that feel the need to please their owners. Like most puppies they can be quite inquisitive and destructive therefore needed training early on is highly recommended.
Like all coonhounds, English are generally good natured and very sociable dogs. Skittishness or aggression is considered a defect according to UKC breed standards. They are strong willed, if not stubborn, and require more patience in training than other breeds. Young dogs are usually extremely active and playful and desirous of human attention in addition to requiring plenty of exercise. English Coonhounds are incessant nesters and should be avoided by people who do not wish to have dogs on couches and beds. They make excellent family pets as they have been bred for hunting purposes to coexist amiably within a pack. English Coonhounds also make adequate watch dogs as they possess extremely loud hound mouths characterized by melodious, drawn out bawls and short, explosive chops.
The breed has proven popular with coon hunters, and have a powerful nose which enables them to track of both small and large game including, raccoons, cougars and bears. One of the types of hunting that the breed is used for treeing, where the dogs are used to force animals that naturally climb up into trees, where they can be shot by hunters.
While known for their ability in this type of hunting, they can lose their ability to pace themselves and on occasion can stand their ground when they believe that they have chased their prey up a tree, even if they haven't. They can have a one track mind while hunting, and tune everything else out. Against cougars and bears they can keep the larger game in position while the hunters arrive. They have become a favored breed in coon hunting. They have a tendency to bark when caged.