The Redbone Coonhound is not the only type of coonhound in existence. Indeed, at the moment there are six officially recognized coonhound breeds registered with the United Kennel Club, including the Redbone; the only coonhound officially recognized by the American Kennel Club is the Black and Tan Coonhound, while the Redbone has been acknowledged and is currently awaiting recognition. Coonhounds are scent hounds, or dogs that use their keen sense of smell to track or chase prey in order to help hunters; they are an American class of dogs that was created when hunters realized the inadequacy of foxhounds for the novel hunting conditions in the New World. Indeed, foxhounds were baffled when prey climbed up and hid in trees and would often lose the scent. New hounds were developed, which had all the qualities of the traditional scent hounds, but with a superior sense of smell, an independent nature and a natural "treeing" instinct; these dogs were bred to chase animals up trees and hold them there, hence the birth of the coonhound.
While there are general traits that characterize coonhounds as a group, each breed is unique and slightly different from the Redbone. The Black and Tan Coonhound, for example, is most likely the result of crossings between the Virginia Foxhound and the American Foxhound; some Bloodhound may have been thrown in as well. It tends to be larger boned and have longer ears than the other breeds; it is also renowned for its cold nose. There is also the Bluetick Coonhound, whose ancestors were most likely English Foxhounds and different French foxhounds. These dogs have a medium bugle or bawl (the howling bark that is typical of the coonhounds, and of the Bluetick in particular), though at times they can get very loud. There is also the English Coonhound, which traces its ancestry to the English Foxhound; this type of coonhound was originally used to chase fox more than any other animal. They have an excellent bawl and are skilled hunters on various types of terrain. Indeed, it was an English Coonhound that won the first important Coonhound Field Trial.
Some say the Plott Hound is the odd dog out, being the only Coonhound to not descend from the foxhound; the Plott hound traces its ancestry to wild boar hounds imported from Germany. Since there were no wild boars in the US, the ancestors of the Plott hound were used to hunt bear, initially in North Carolina. A few crosses were made with bear dogs and possibly with Blevins hounds and Cable hounds. What we know today as Plott hounds are renowned for their endurance, stamina and courage. They excel at open trailing and treeing, they are very aggressive with game and are good water dogs. Finally, there is the Treeing Walker coonhound, which traces its ancestry to the English Walker Foxhounds. These dogs have a very clear, ringing voice and extreme grace both when at rest and when hunting game. They have an incredible amount of endurance and a highly developed intelligence and sense of hunting, treeing and trailing.