“Coonhounds and Foxhounds Are Only Good for One Thing… HUNTING!”
The Secret’s Out: They Make Great Pets!
There’s a myth still circulating about coonhounds and foxhounds: They are only good for one thing — hunting. But anyone who’s ever shared home and hearth with one quickly learns that they make great pets too.
Bred to work as full partners, out of sight of their human hunting buddies, they are also about the most loyal, affectionate dogs around, closely attuned to the wishes of their handlers and eager to please.
I’ve been rescuing hounds, mostly Treeing Walkers, for over 30 years. Almost all of mine have been exceptional companions. Not only are they affectionate by nature, they are rarely quarrelsome with other dogs. Coonhounds are bred to team up, hunting with dogs they’ve never met before, so they’re good at making friends with strangers.
Coonhounds and foxhounds are really beautiful dogs, too. They come in a wide variety of rich coat colors and patterns -- red, “blue” (mottled black and white), black, brindled (striped), tri-colored like a beagle -- with such endearing features as tan “almonds” over the eyes, black “pencil lines” on the toes, and perfect spots for kissing on the top of the head, to say nothing of those long silky ears. Hounds have a short, dense coat which is easy to keep clean. Ninety-eight percent of the Walkers I’ve rescued over the years lived long, healthy lives, with none of the health issues (hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, hypothyroidism, cancer, etc.) that seem to plague so many of the more popular breeds.
One of our Walkers, a male named “T.J.,” lived to the ripe old age of 17, with clear eyes, no skin or ear problems, and cancer-free. Without a doubt, he was the finest example of a well-bred coonhound I’ve ever known. Breed longevity is a bonus for any dog lover, but longevity and good health is the ultimate “package” deal. Of course, T.J. was exceptionally long-lived, but 12-14 years is not unusual for a coonhound or foxhound that hasn’t met an unnatural death in a “shelter” or crossing a road, intent after game.
So the next time you visit a shelter, rescue, or animal control facility and see one of those “only good for one thing” hounds, please consider adopting it and giving it a chance to be your beloved pet. Chances are it will be a great companion. Perhaps some hunter had too many dogs to feed, the hound is gun-shy, or your candidate came into the shelter as a stray after it went too far afield, lost its tracking collar, and couldn’t find its way home. Kill shelters in almost every southern state are brimming with unwanted coonhounds and foxhounds, which are usually near the top of the euthanasia list at public shelters, outranked only by pit bulls and owner surrenders. The myth about coonhounds and foxhounds is so widespread that I believe that only one in five shelters in the South even attempts to find rescue for them. When shelters do reach out, the few rescues willing to take hounds are often full to capacity. I know. I’ve turned down too many needy hounds myself, although I always try to help if I possibly can.
Director, Etosha Rescue and Adoption Center
The opinions expressed in this guest blog are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Coonhound and Foxhound Companions.