Years ago, most coon hunters who owned a red dog of unknown ancestry, but proven ability in tracking and treeing raccoons, called his dog a “Redbone”. Then a few serious breeders who were devoted both to the breed and the sport began a campaign of selective breeding to produce a hound with the necessary characteristics to make a superior coonhound that would breed true to type in color and conformation.
The foundation stock of the modern day Redbone came from George F.L. Birdsong of Georgia, who was a noted foxhunter and breeder. He obtained the pack of Dr. Thomas Henry in the 1840’s.
As is the case with most of the other coonhound breeds, the ancestors of the Redbone were foxhounds. A Bloodhound cross is said to have been made, and it’s also said that the blood of the Irish hounds was introduced later. This latter cross is said to account for the white chest and feet markings which still occasionally show up in Redbone pups today.
The first dogs were commonly called “Saddlebacks”. The background color was red, and most of them possessed black saddle markings. By selective breeding, the black saddle was bred out and the solid red dogs became known as Redbone Coonhounds.
The Redbone was the second coonhound breed to be registered with UKC, the first one being registered in 1902, two years after the American Black & Tan. Today, of the seven coonhound breeds, the Redbone is probably the most uniform as to type and size. They are coon hunting specialists but also proficient in trailing and treeing bear, cougar and bobcat. Often times, when used on big game, Redbones are hunted in packs.