The Black and Tan Coonhound is thought to be the result of a cross between the bloodhound and foxhound and has been in use for approximately three hundred years. Recognized by its big floppy jowls and ears, and a sorrowful howl that carries for miles, the breed is also recognized as being one of the most proficient scenthounds in existence. Their ability to pick up scent trails is so superior that they have been known to find leads that were days and weeks old. Though typically used for hunting, this trait has made the breed extremely valuable in everything from drug sniffing dog programs to search and rescue operations.
The first thing many notice about the Black and Tan Coonhound is its characteristic droopy jowls and ears. While this gives the dog a somewhat forlorn look, the combination of the two features plays a large part in the breed's ability to sniff out leads. The breed standard indicates that the Coonhound's ears must reach past the end of its nose. Unbeknownst to many, this trait also helps stir up scents right up around the Coonhound's face as they sniff the ground. The droopy jowls and ears then trap the scent making it easier for the Coonhound to discern what he or she is looking for.
The nose of a Black and Tan Coonhound not only has a concentrated amount of scent receptors, it is rich in blood vessels and nerve endings that lead directly to the dog's olfactory center in the brain. So advanced is the olfactory center of the Black and Tan Coonhound that the dog can differentiate between scents, no matter how heavy. Tests have shown that even when an item is heavily saturated in coffee grounds or skunk spray, the Coonhound can still recognize the original scents underneath. This remarkable ability has sustained their value to those such as hunters and law enforcement for over three hundred years.
The need to track scents in the Black and Tan Coonhound is so strong that it is often recommended that an owner never let the breed off their leash. The Coonhound is one that will pick up a scent and follow it to its end, regardless of where it leads or how loudly their owner demands their return. They will need a strong fence with plenty of room. They will also need abundant opportunities to get out and do what they do best. Whether formally trained or not, the Black and Tan Coonhound will tree just about anything, given a chance. To help supplement this need, there are a number of organized activities that dogs can take part in that exercise the dog's agility as well as their ability to track scents.