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A Black and Tan Coonhound with a typical soulful expression A Black and Tan Coonhound with a typical soulful expression

A Coonhound is a type of scent hound and a member of the hound group.

Coonhounds are an American style of hunting dog that was developed for the unique quarry and working conditions found in the United States.

In the colonial period, foxhounds were imported for the popular sport of foxhunting. Various breeds of foxhounds and other hunting hounds were brought in from England, Ireland, and France, making up the initial composition of the dogs that were later to be called Virginia Hounds.

Foxhounds were found to be inadequate for hunting animals that didn't "go to ground", but instead took to the treetops to escape, such as raccoons, oppossums, bobcats and even larger prey like cougars and bears. They were often confused or unable to hold the scent when this occurred, and would mill about.

Treeing dogs were developed, chosen for a keen sense of smell, the ability to track, chase and corner any manner of animal independent of human commands, and, most importantly, to follow an animal both on the ground and when they take to the trees. A good coonhound will bark and keep their prey treed until the hunters arrive. Bloodhounds specifically were added to many coonhound lines to enhance their ability to track. Some dogs have webbed toes to deal with the rivers and swamps so common in their hunting grounds.

Coonhounds can be hunted individually, or as a pack. Generally, hunters don't chase their quarry along with the hounds, unlike organized foxhunting, but wait and listen to the distinctive baying to determine if a coon or other animal has been treed. Besides raccoons, coonhounds are excellent at handing all manner of prey if trained properly.

Besides hunting, Coonhounds are wonderful family dogs that are known to be good with children. They also make good watchdogs with an impressive loud bark.

There are several individual breeds of Coonhound:

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