Coonhounds are an American creation, much like baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie. When the colonists from Europe landed in America, they brought their dogs with them. They had foxhounds, which were used to chase foxes and deer, because there were no tree-climbing animals in the Old Country. Many creatures found in the New World posed a challenge to their dogs because the animals were able to escape by climbing into trees. Hunters had difficulty hunting animals like raccoons, opossums, bobcats, mountain lions, and bears. But as the old saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” In other words, the settlers needed to capture these animals as food for the table and furs for clothing and trade, so they trained their foxhounds to catch them. To do this, the dogs had to use their noses to find the tree the animal climbed and stay there, barking until their owner came to take the animal. Individual dogs which developed this ability called “treeing” were bred, and as time passed, dogs began to have the instinct to “tree.” Today, treeing is a natural behavior for coonhounds, like retrieving is to a Labrador, or pointing a bird is to a pointer. To this day, all coonhounds “tree” their game.
There as six recognized breeds of coonhounds, all of which came from the European foxhounds except one, the Plott which originally came from Germany. You can learn a lot about each of the breeds by reading the breed standards for each. Breed standards give descriptions of what the breed should look like, how it should move, and for what purpose it was bred.
Black and Tan Coonhound
American English Coonhound
Treeing Walker Coonhound