Black and Tan Coonhound Breed Magazine - Showsight

Black and Tan Coonhound Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard for the Black and Tan Coonhound General Appearance: The Black and Tan Coonhound is first and fundamentally a working dog, a trail and tree hound, capable of withstanding the rigors of winter, the heat of summer, and the difficult terrain over which he is called upon to work. Used principally for trailing and treeing raccoon, the Black and Tan Coonhound runs his game entirely by scent. The characteristics and courage of the Coonhound also make him proficient on the hunt for deer, bear, mountain lion and other big game. Judges are asked by the club sponsoring the breed to place great emphasis upon these facts when evaluating the merits of the dog. The general impression is that of power, agility and alertness. He immediately impresses one with his ability to cover the ground with powerful rhythmic strides. Size, Proportion, Substance: Size measured at the shoulder-Males 25 to 27 inches; females 23 to 25 inches. Oversized dogs should not be penalized when general soundness and proportion are in favor. Penalize undersize. Proportion -Measured from the point of shoulder to the buttocks and from withers to ground the length of body is equal to or slightly greater than the height of the dog at the withers. Height is in proportion to general conformation so that dog appears neither leggy nor close to the ground. Substance -Considering their job as a hunting dog, the individual should exhibit moderate bone and good muscle tone. Males are heavier in bone and muscle tone than females. Head: The head is cleanly modeled. From the back of the skull to the nose the head measures from 9 to 10 inches in males and from 8 to 9 inches in females. Expression is alert, friendly and eager. The skin is devoid of folds. Nostrils well open and always black. The flews are well developed with typical hound appearance. Penalize excessive wrinkles. Eyes are from hazel to dark brown in color, almost round and not deeply set. Penalize yellow or light eyes. Ears are low set and well back. They hang in graceful folds, giving the dog a majestic appearance. In length they extend naturally well beyond the tip of the nose and are set at eye level or lower. Penalize ears that do not reach the tip of the nose and are set too high on the head. Skull tends toward oval outline. Medium stop occurring midway between occiput bone and nose. Viewed from profile the line of the skull is on a practically parallel plane to the foreface or muzzle. Teeth fit evenly with scissors bite . Penalize excessive deviation from scissors bite. Neck, Topline, Body: The neck is muscular, sloping, medium length. The skin is devoid of excess dewlap. The back is level, powerful and strong. The dog possesses full, round, well sprung ribs, avoiding flatsidedness. Chest reaches at least to the elbows. The tail is strong, with base slightly below level of backline, carried free and when in action at approximately right angle to back. Forequarters : Powerfully constructed shoulders. The forelegs are straight, with elbows turning neither in nor out; pasterns strong and erect. Feet are compact, with well knuckled, strongly arched toes and thick, strong pads. Penalize flat or splayed feet. Hindquarters : Quarters are well boned and muscled. From hip to hock long and sinewy, hock to pad short and strong. Stifles and hocks well bent and not inclining either in or out. When standing on a level surface, the hind feet are set back from under the body and the leg from pad

to hock is at right angles to the ground. Fault-Rear dewclaws. Coat : The coat is short but dense to withstand rough going.

Color : As the name implies, the color is coal black with rich tan markings above eyes, on sides of muzzle, chest, legs and breeching, with black pencil markings on toes. Penalize lack of rich

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tan markings, excessive areas of tan markings, excessive black coloration. Faults-White on chest or other parts of body is highly undesirable, and a solid patch of white which extends more than one inch in any direction is a disqualification. Gait: When viewed from the side, the stride of the Black and Tan Coonhound is easy and graceful with plenty of reach in front and drive behind. When viewed from the front the forelegs, which are in line with the width of the body, move forward in an effortless manner, but never cross. Viewed from the rear the hocks follow on a line with the forelegs, being neither too widely nor too closely spaced, and as the speed of the trot increases the feet tend to converge toward a centerline or single track indicating soundness, balance and stamina. When in action, his head and tail carriage is proud and alert; the topline remains level. Temperament: Even temperament, outgoing and friendly. As a working scent hound, must be able to work in close contact with other hounds. Some may be reserved but never shy or vicious. Aggression toward people or other dogs is most undesirable. Note-Inasmuch as this is a hunting breed, scars from honorable wounds shall not be considered faults. Disqualification: A solid patch of white which extends more than one inch in any direction.

Approved December 11, 1990 Effective January 30, 1991



“T he Black and Tan Coon- hound is first and fun- damentally a working dog; a trail and tree hound, capable of withstanding the rigors of winter, the heat of summer, and the dif- ficult terrain over which he is called upon to work.” Thus spoken by the founders of our breed nearly 70 years ago, when our standard was first written and the breed entered into the AKC. As a member of our Judges Education Committee, I stress the first paragraph of our standard from which this sentence is taken—unchanged since 1945—as the foundation upon which the evaluation of the breed should be based on. The old adage of “No Foot, No Horse” has a ring of truth to it here as well, although it is important to recognize that all things are connected and interde- pendent, from the foot to the hip as well as the shoulder blade. The Black and Tan standard refers to gait and soundness on three different occasions and has its own separate sec- tion dedicated to gait. Our breed found- ers recognized the importance this played in both the formation and preservation of the breed, and placed the appropriate value and emphasis on it. Again, quot- ing from paragraph one of our standard: “He immediately impresses one with his ability to cover the ground with powerful rhythmic strides.” Once we have estab- lished the importance that gait, struc- ture, and stamina play in the formation of the ideal Black and Tan, how do we go about selecting those qualities that tend to support those all-important charac- teristics within the somewhat limiting parameters of the show ring? Firstly, we must look at overall condition and bal- ance. The hound should appear fit and in proper condition to do the job for which it was created. Substance is directly con- nected to this, as a hound not carrying the proper degree and quality of bone

Correct Low Reach and Drive




Great Expression

This all paints a picture that’s pret- ty easy to understand and apply, right? Assuming the judge has a proper working knowledge of canine gait and structure, one would hope so. This brings us to the next, more elusive, portion of understand- ing the Black and Tan Coonhound: Type. Head and overall expression define breed type in many breeds, as does the body outline. Both of these are most help- ful in learning to identify the correct Black and Tan. The head is a unique feature of the B&T. And although it is immediately recognizable as a scenthound and apparent kin to both the Bloodhound and Basset, chiefly through the ears and ear set, there are key differences that make it unique. Starting with the ears, the B&T gives up nothing to either of the aforementioned breeds in this regard. Low set (at eye level or lower) well back on the head, hanging in graceful folds and naturally extending well past the tip of the nose. (Author’s italics.) Along with this, we want to see flews that are well developed with a typical hound appearance. So far, so good... Changing up the game a bit, we conversely do not want to see “excessive wrinkle,” and the skin should be “devoid of folds.” On top of that,

will not have the substance upon which muscle may form, attach, and develop to its optimal advantage. Secondly, we look at how the pieces form together to create a whole. Our standard calls for a “muscu- lar, sloping, medium length” neck flowing into “powerfully constructed shoulders.” “Forelegs are straight… pasterns strong and erect.” “Feet are compact, with well knuckled, strongly arched toes and thick, strong pads.” Moving on to the hind- quarters, we want “Quarters well boned and muscled. From hip to hock, long and sinewy, hock to pad, short and strong.” “Stifles and hocks are well bent… When standing on a level surface, the hind feet are set back from under the body and the leg from pad to hock is at right angles to the ground.” Putting all of these descrip- tive terms into play, we move on to address gait, which states: “When viewed from the side, the stride of the Black and Tan is easy and graceful, with plenty of reach in front and drive behind.” Descriptive terms used in evaluating movement coming and going include “effortless, soundness, converge, balance and stamina.” While doing all of this, the head and tail carriage is “proud and alert; the topline remains level.”

Great Profile





we want to see an “almost round” and “not deeply set” eye, ranging in color from hazel to dark brown. No mention or reference is made as to the presence of visible haw or lack thereof, although most hunters would prefer a hound without a drooping haw for simple eye maintenance reasons. The head is cleanly modeled and the muzzle and skull should form equal parts, creating a balanced picture. The stop is moderate, and in profile, displays practically paral- lel planes between skull and muzzle. The skull forms an oval outline, and I interpret this as when viewing the skull from above. Common head faults include broad, coarse heads and deep, chiseled stops, often going hand in hand with high set, short ears. Color and markings are given consider- able latitude, ranging from a very deep mahogany to a lighter, clearer tan. Hounds completely lacking in markings where called for are to be faulted, as are hounds with excessive amounts of tan, most often seen running high up the legs, complete- ly covering the feet, and presenting as a solid broad patch of tan across the chest

or across the bridge of the nose. Hounds lacking the correct markings are most often seen on the head or face through the absence of “pumpkinseeds” over the eyes or missing in other areas. A unique feature of markings includes “black pencil mark- ings on the toes.” Our only DQ is a “Solid patch of white which extends more than one inch in any direction.” It is important to note that scars resulting from honorable wounds are not to be faulted and that the resultant hair growth in these areas typi- cally grows back white. Another area where a fair degree of latitude is given is size. Our standard calls for bitches to be from 23-25" at the with- ers and dogs 25-27". However, we do not penalize hounds that are oversized when general soundness and proportion are in favor. We do, however, penalize undersize. North America is a very big landmass, with a vast multitude of terrain and conditions. This has resulted in hunters preferring a larger or smaller hound to pursue the game they are hunting. Our standard takes this into consideration and allows for it.

In summary, overall proportion calls for a hound that is equal in size from the withers to the ground as it is from the point of shoulder to the buttocks, or slightly longer. Taking into consideration the resulting outline, given proper angu- lation (bend of stifle behind, presence of forechest in the front), we see a slightly off- square profile of a hound that “stands over plenty of ground.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Robert Urban has been around hunting hounds since he was a youngster. He has been active with AKC Black and Tans since 1981. He is a Life Member of the American Black and

Tan Coonhound Club and has served on the Judges Education Committee since 1990. He also serves as the Club’s AKC Delegate.




By Edith S. Atchley Rockytop Black & Tans


lack and Tan Coon- hounds are very good family dogs. Th ey are very laid back and will be equally happy taking a walk with their own-

may not endear them to the competitive “nite hunter”, they can excel as a pleasure hunting hound, giving free voice with a deep “bawl” as they work to unravel the path that their quarry has taken. Th is type of hound has the added benefit of picking up their lessons thoroughly, once learned and seldom need refreshers in the field to remind them of what they are there for. Th ey tend to be easy hounds to handle and call in, seldom requiring high tech gadgetry such as GPS tracking collars and the like to keep tabs on their whereabouts while in the woods. As with many hounds, they can be jealous and possessive at the tree and may attempt to “own it”, to the exclusion of other hounds that that they may have been cast with.” I would like to present a couple of exam- ples of notable obedience coonhounds. Th e first was CH McDaniel’s Sugarfoot UDT who was owned and trained by Jim McDaniel. Sugarfoot earned her UD in 1981 and became the first Coonhound to earn a UD, the first AKC Champion Coonhound to earn a UD and the first Coonhound to earn OTCH points. She earned at least 1 High In Trial at an all- breed obedience trial along the way. Another Coonhound to earn the UD title was Schudaben Kodies Kid UD, “Ben” who was owned and trained and hunted by Mable Ziegler. While Ben was not an AKC champion, he was actively hunted proving that one dog can do both

er or keeping the owner company while watching TV. Being a hunting breed, Black and Tan Coonhounds do equally well living in the house or living outdoors in a fenced area. Th eir short, dense coat requires minimum maintenance. Th ey can be vocal if you have squirrels in your yard, or if your neighbor has cats that tease them. If they are not kept in a fenced area, they will tend to follow their nose which can get them into trouble. Black and Tan Coonhounds are a versatile breed devel- oped primarily for hunting raccoons. However, their desire to work with man makes them suitable for companion events such as tracking, obedience and agility. Bob Urban states, “ Th e traditional “Old Fashioned” AKC Black and Tan typically has a distinctive hunting style that is di ff erent from that of the “hot- ter nosed”, foxhound-based coonhound breeds. Th ey tend to be more deliberate in their scenting style and are not typically the type of hound that “hits the ground running”. Th ey are willing and capable of working an older (colder) track and stick- ing with it to its conclusion, even to the point of passing up fresher (hotter) tracks they may run across. While this tendency

hunt and compete in obedience. In 1995 Ben was invited to AKC’s first National Invitational Obedience Championship which was held in St. Louis on June 17 & 18, 1995. Ben placed 3rd overall in the Hound group at this event. Karen Winn states, “Rally Obedience is an ideal way to start competing with a Black & Tan Coonhound. Th e introduc- tory level, Rally Novice, is all on leash, and has simple obedience exercises that any well behaved dog should be able to do  heeling at various speeds, turning, circling, sitting and staying, lying down on command, and so on. In Rally Novice


competitions you can talk to your dog, pat your leg, and clap your hands to keep their attention, making it an ideal way to initi- ate the dog into obedience competition.” Two Black and Tan Coonhounds have completed the AKC Master Agility Cham- pion (MACH) title. Th ey are MACH Indigo Mark V Spitfire MXB MJS and MACH Sloopy MX MXS MXJ MJB. Teresa Locatelli who is currently compet- ing in agility writes, “If you want to spend some fun time with your coonhound, try agility. Even if you don’t want to compete, training is fun.” She continues by saying, “Your first obstacle is to find a trainer that realizes a coonhound is not a border collie. Unlike the herding dogs and terrier in my agility class, I can’t send my coonhound through the weave poles three times in a

row. If she does it right the first time, she doesn’t get the point of repeating the same thing and she will get slower the second time and shut down on the third time.” I emphasize the history of the Black and Tan being trainable in both obedi- ence and agility so that people will real- ize that these dogs make excellent family pets. Th ey are excellent with children. Since Black and Tans were bred to hunt raccoons, they are a bit impervious to pain. Th is means that a toddler or small child who accidentally hurts a coonhound is not likely to get snapped at. Samantha, my youngest daughter started showing dogs in fun matches at the age of six. I gave her one of my grown Coonhounds, CH Rockytop Mountain Moonshine CDX to handle. Samantha had to reach

under Shine to set his legs that were not next to her because she could not reach them over his back. She took first place at one fun match—she was the smallest junior with the biggest dog. Shine was very patient with his young handler! Th ey are also excellent watchdogs, alerting you (and the rest of the neigh- borhood) when there is a stranger in the vicinity. I lived in Huntsville for 13 years and I thought we just lived in a good sec- tion of town. Th ere was never any crime on our street. About a month after we moved to Gurley, Alabama several of the cars up and down our former neighborhood were broken into. My coonhounds, who lived in the back yard, kept the neighborhood safe all that time by causing the burglars to find quieter neighborhoods to vandalize.

“Since Black and Tans were bred to hunt raccoons, THEY ARE A BIT IMPERVIOUS TO PAIN.”




N ow that coonhounds are in AKC conformation shows, it is becoming increasingly important that we focus on the correct structure that our hounds need to do the job they were bred for. With the coonhound, one needs to especially concentrate on structure and balance. As you know, the back is divided into four sections; the withers, back, loin, and croup. Behind the withers is the back, then the loin, then the croup, and the vertebrae go back all the way to the end of the tail. In certain coonhounds today, more in some breeds than in others, we’re seeing a short rib cage and a long loin on a regular average-backed dog. The dog might be the right length in the back, but if the rib cage doesn’t go back far enough into the loin, it’s not going to have enough cavity that it needs for the heart, the lungs, and all the organs. A short back, combined with a long loin, makes a coonhound weak and unable to run long distances. In coonhounds especially, strength over the loin and lung space are needed. Many of the top-winning Treeing Walkers are sadly lacking in shoulder angulation and would never make it in the field. What’s really important about the shoulder blades is not just the layback; not just the way the blades are angled. The shoulder blades are angled at 45 degrees , as is the upper arm, forming a perfect 90-degree “L.” A good shoulder is oblique, the way a bone curves back into the curvature of the body. The shoulder bone cannot stick straight up, out of the dog’s back, and be efficient. They’ve got to come back together a little bit, lay back, and curve back into the body. Another important point regarding the shoulder assembly is the point of the elbow. The point of elbow is directly under the withers, right under the top of the shoulder blade, in a perfectly straight line. You could run a plumb line and drop it right where the shoulder blades meet and it will come straight down through the elbow to the floor, right behind the foot. I’ll guarantee that you won’t see many dogs made like this. What you’ll see is a shorter upper arm, or an upper arm pitched at an angle that forces the elbow in front of the shoulder. That combination leads to bad action on the front. So, look at the front assembly very carefully. Visualize a big circle, with a straight line dropping through it, cutting it in half, meeting the elbow, meeting the ground. It will be the focal point on a well-made dog. There’s a good reason for this. The heart, lungs, and all of the organs that make them run are right there. They better have that depth, that balance. Look at how this dog’s chest (far left) comes down and meets his elbow. There must be enough depth of brisket for lung capacity. There are many dogs whose elbows are too far below their brisket line.

Great Head Planes and Ear Set

left: Excellent Front and Shoulder Layback center: Excellent Front and Muscling, right : Too Straight

Sources from 2001 Winter Classic Judges Seminar



The same is true about the hindquarters. The dog in this photo (below right) shows the relationship between the length of the two bones and the angle formed by them. We can’t see through to the bone, but look at the width of the thigh. I’ve never seen a coon- hound that had too much width of second thigh. In coonhounds, we’re also losing some angle from the stifle joint to the point of the hock. We’re getting too many dogs that look unbalanced, especially if they’re straight in the shoulder and straight in the hindquarter assembly. Look for second thigh, width of thigh. You have to observe this with your eyes and your hands to make sure they are correct. And remember that the tail is an extension of the spine. A tail that goes straight up may affect the pitch of the pelvis. Up front, you can really see and feel the shoulder blades. Again, balance is the key . If you see this in action, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You’ll say, “Now I get it. That is side gait.” That’s something we don’t look for enough when we judge. A dog can look pretty standing there with a handler posing them, but when you gait them on the ground there is nothing that can be done to make them look good. You can’t do it with the lead. What you see is what you get. And don’t let markings fool you—easy to do with a Treeing Walker’s markings especially. As a result, his shoulders might look different, but when you get your hands on him you will see where his shoulder blades are. Don’t be afraid to get your hands on those blades, to feel them. If you run your hands down the blades, and down the upper arms to the elbows, you can visualize what the angles are. The feet and pasterns are very closely tied together and they should be in balance with each other. You’ll hardly ever see great pasterns with bad feet, or the other way around. It’s usually a pack- age. We get to the point in coonhound shows that we’re looking for such tight feet that we might be getting a little carried away some- times. A great cat foot with a straight pastern is pretty to look at, but it doesn’t offer any shock absorbers to the force coming down through the shoulders. You’ve got to have a little spring, a little flex- ibility, to the slightly sloping pastern. Coonhounds are a scenthound and the tail carriage will be up. You want to see a dog that can extend its front, that can push behind, show balance, propulsion and locomotion movement with ease, and cover ground. Withers-back-loin-croup is all you need to remember. Four basic parts that better work together. If the withers are too steep, the shoulders aren’t laidback enough; there’s going to be a basic, functional problem. If the back’s too long or too short, there’s going to be a basic, functional problem. If the ribs don’t go back into the loin far enough, or deep enough, there’s going to be a basic, functional problem. Other problems to be aware of include a weak loin and a roach back. The croup’s got to have some pitch and some length. If a croup is too short and steep, it will affect the tail set. I hope that this will help in the judging of our coonhounds. They are a movement dog with good reach and drive. Coonhounds give meaning to Form=Function. “You want to see a dog that can extend its front, that can push behind, show balance, propulsion and locomotion movement with ease, and cover ground.”

left: Puppy—Good muscling, right: Older dog—Good muscling

left: Adult male—Good Inner and Outer Thigh, Great Muscling, center: Too Straight, right: Excellent Rear Angles

Figure 1.

Figure 2. Dog 1. Correct Hind Angulation: Note the 30-degree slope of the pelvis. This provides the most power. Just as important is the perfect 130-degree angle of the back joint, providing the leverage to push the dog forward. Dog 2. Incorrect Hind Angulation. The pelvic slope of 10 degrees promotes the overly-straight stifle joint shown here. The back joint is also overly- straight at 148 degrees.




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