The Origins Of The Black & Tan Coonhound
Black and Tan Coonhound Sometime around 1750, colonial Virginians undertook to tailor a specialized breed of dog for the sole purpose of trapping raccoon and in opossum hunting. The Black and Tan
Coonhound is founded upon the early Virginia Foxhound (similar, too, of the present-day American Foxhound), with generous mixtures of Bloodhound stock. The Foxhound may have begun his long tenure on these shores as early as 1541, for the Spanish explorer DeSoto had “hounds” with him when he discovered the Mississippi River in that year.
The Black and Tan Coonhound was developed specifically for tracking down and treeing raccoon and opossum. These are both nocturnal treeing animals indigenous to North America, whose names derive from the pictorial Algonquian language: Arakunem (“hand scratcher”), and Apasum (“white animal”). Raccoons are to be found throughout the forested regions of the United States, in southern Canada, and in northern Mexico. There palates crave a variety of foods: freshwater fish and crustaceans; birds, frogs, and poultry; eggs of all sorts; nuts, fruit and maize. The small gray ring-tailed raccoon, with its dainty white paws and comical harlequin masks, seems harmless enough – but when poultry disappears from the hen house and eggs are siphoned hollow, it's time for a coonhunt! That's when a proper coondog is needed.
In 1650, Robert Brooke brought a pack of Foxhounds to Maryland. He became the first Master of Foxhounds in the colonies. Foxhunting found instant acceptance among the more affluent members of that society. In fact, owning a pack of hounds soon became a social must. Excellent Foxhounds were imported for hunting and for breeding. Records at the University of William and Mary disclose that a member of England's finest bloodhounds were imported in 1607 by the Jamestown colonists. These animals were to be used, not for hunting game, but to protect the settlers against Indians and absurd job for these animals. They track, it is generally conceded, better than any other canine, but their value as attack dogs is questionable.
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A story is told of a Bloodhound who was put on the trail of the elusive criminal; he dropped his nose to the ground and set forth. Across fields, through the woods, and into towns he went, taking every detour made by his quarry. When finally he sniffed out the cowering fugitive, he wagged his tail in greeting and licked the
criminals face, as if to thank him for laying such an interesting trail.
Black and Tan Coonhound By 1750 the Virginia Foxhound was a distinct breed and Bloodhound purity remained intact. Conditions were ripe for the development of a new variety, one especially designed for coonhunting. Foxhounds of proven ability were used to breed to the best of the Bloodhounds. From the start, selective breeding (with occasional crosses back to Bloodhound or Foxhound stock) ultimately resulted in the Black and Tan Coonhound we know of today.
Black and Tan Coonhound in Virginia Foxhound has bequeathed its many virtues (pack instinct refined to teamwork; endurance; determination; and spirit). Bloodhound influence can also be seen in the Black
and Tan's size, weight, coat, color, voice, ears, stance, and gait. Six coonhound varieties are recognized by the United Kennel Club: Black and Tan; Redbone; English Coonhound; Bluetick; Treeing Walker; and Plott. The Black and Tan is the only variety with Bloodhound heritage, and the only coonhound recognized by the American Kennel Club.
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Raccoons may seem lazy, they may look cute, and they do tend to sleep in trees all day. However, when its time for venturing forth at dusk in search of food, they become a great challenge of prey. They are thoroughly at home in the water and have been known to drown inexperienced dogs four times their size. When a pursuer closes in, they seek refuge in trees, out of reach of the enemy. The Black and Tan Coonhound dog to use against them must have special attributes:
- He will track entirely by scent.
- Will be a willing and vigorous swimmer.
- Able to withstand extreme cold without ill effect.
- He will be powerful, capable of going the distance, whatever that may be.
- He will be brave but not foolhardy.
- He will give voice while tracking.
- And when the quarry is treed, he will continue to give voice until the hunter arrives. From start to finish he will cooperate with this pack mates, backing up any dog that gets into trouble along the way.
For the Black and Tan Coonhound I recommend foods that contain lots of rice blended with beef or horse meat, corn, wheat, and beet pulp. However, you should avoid feeding a Black and Tan Coonhound any
fish or lamb. Native food supplies for this breed would have been the same as for the early Carolina colonists. This area provided meats from deer, bear, wild boar, and turkey. Rice was a larger commercial crop than tobacco or cotton in the Carolinas before the Civil War and therefore would have been a staple of this breed's diet. The other native vegetable crops of soy bean and flax are the reasons this breed developed its requirement for high amounts of dietary vegetable oil.