By Elaine Waldorf Gewirtz
The latest member of the Hound Group, the American English Coonhound, or “English” as owners prefer to call this breed, makes an ideal hunting companion. Three are entered at the Garden this year.
This intelligent hound possesses the sound, powerful body of a super athlete and a sonic-boom voice that echoes for miles on the hunt. Sleek and flashy, the American English Coonhound tracks fox by day and raccoon and other nocturnal game come sundown.
Of all the coonhounds, this breed’s extreme scenting ability, passion for prey, and lightning-fast, effortless trot affords him multipurpose stature. As a plus, he’s capable of maneuvering over rough terrain and has the stamina for relentless pursuit of his quarry.
Males range from 24 to 26 inches at the withers, and bitches measure slightly less at 23 to 25 inches.
The breed standard explicitly spells out the traits necessary for a dog that appears capable of hunting all night. Speed and endurance are paramount, with a slightly off square, racy body, weight in proportion to height, a deep chest, and no exaggeration.
Apart from other coonhounds whose coat colors are specifically called out in the standard, the American English Coonhound’s medium-length coat comes in many combinations, including red and white ticked, blue and white ticked, tri-colored with ticking, red and white, and white and black. Red and red-tick shades seem most popular. The only color disqualification is tri-colored with no ticking, solid color with less than 10 percent ticking or any brindle color. Breeders seldom know what colors to expect in their litters, as puppies may be any color.
Although the breed’s country of origin is England and it traces its roots from the English Foxhound, this scent seeker was developed in the United States and dates back to George Washington’s Virginia hounds.
According to American English Coonhound Association president Curt Willis, as a home companion this active, intelligent breed with an alert, pleasing personality needs playtime and regular exercise. “Many are used in search and rescue and drug sniffing work, and get along well with other dogs if raised with them,” he said. “In the house the dog is generally quiet and doesn’t bark without a reason – usually feeding time or when the UPS truck comes.”
A longtime breeder, Willis finished the first AKC American English Coonhound champion in three days. “Twenty-five days after AKC recognition, Ginn, my 8-year-old bitch, CH Alexander’s Color Me Bad Ginn, went Best in Show at the Medina Kennel Club, breeder-owner-handled.”
For more information, check the AKC website, www.akc.org/breeds/american_english_coonhound