Why Do Coonhounds Hunt Raccoons? 

Coonhounds, also known as coon dogs, are a lesser-known species of dog and have something unique about them – they are great at hunting raccoons. Coonhounds are common to the southern US, where raccoon hunting is still quite prevalent. 

But why do coonhounds hunt raccoons, and how come they’re so good at it?

Coonhounds target animals that like to hide in trees, which makes them especially adept at hunting raccoons. Coonhounds are a type of scenthound, which means they can effectively track their prey by smell instead of sight. They’ve been bred and trained over several generations to hunt raccoons.

In the rest of this article, I’ll elaborate on the ideas discussed above and explain to you why coonhounds are such excellent hunters of raccoons. I’ll also discuss whether or not coonhounds make good house pets.

Coonhounds Have a High Prey Drive

Alright. So why exactly do coonhounds hunt raccoons?

It all boils down to instinct. See, canines are natural-born hunters that hunt and kill all sorts of prey smaller than themselves. 

A dog’s desire to hunt prey is called its prey drive. Some dogs have a low prey drive, whereas others have a high prey drive. This is largely determined by their breed and genetics. 

And, as it happens, coonhounds have an exceptionally high prey drive. They naturally feel very motivated to chase after smaller prey. 

The urge to give chase is hard for them to resist – but they usually don’t have to. Because…

Coonhounds have been bred and trained to hunt raccoons for the better part of the last century.

Once we put these two facts together, it begins to make a lot of sense why these dogs love the sport so much. 

If you have a coonhound, don’t be surprised when you see it run down a raccoon or other similar animal. 

What Makes Coonhounds So Good At Hunting Raccoons?

Coonhounds are a type of scenthound. Simply put, they rely strongly on their sense of smell to track down prey. 

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This is particularly beneficial when it comes to hunting raccoons, as raccoons are agile, stealthy, and quick-witted animals that use their surroundings to conceal themselves. 

Additionally, coonhounds can track and pursue targets on trees. 

When a prey climbs a tree to escape, most dogs don’t know what to do. The majority of dogs can’t climb trees, so there’s no way for them to pursue the prey any further.

On top of that, most dogs will also lose the prey’s scent when it escapes into the green vegetation up top, meaning the hunter won’t be able to do much either. 

Coonhounds not only retain their target’s smell through dense foliage but can also climb trees themselves. This gives them a competitive edge over other hunting dogs. 

Thirdly, coonhounds are independent hunters. They don’t need to be supervised and watched over constantly. This works well for hunting raccoons and other small fry animals since they present little danger to the dog.

Lastly, coonhounds have gone through generations of breeding and training for this exact purpose. Pups begin to receive training when they’re a mere six months old. 

You should know that coonhounds are great at hunting almost all types of game. Like I said earlier, they have a high prey drive, so they can be trained to hunt pretty much any other animal. 

They’re even used in bear hunting, although less commonly. 

Why Hunt Raccoons in the First Place?

Hunting raccoons, also known as coon hunting, remains a popular sport in the southern US. 

Its popularity can be attributed to the following factors. 

  • Food. Raccoon meat is a high-protein food option for hunters. It can also be sold in local markets. Raccoons are much bigger than your average rodent, so each kill can yield a sizeable chunk of meat. 
  • Pelts and fur. Raccoon fur pelts are used to make clothing. These pelts don’t have remarkable value but will fetch a fair dollar. 
  • The sport. Raccoon hunting has been a part of south American culture for decades. There are even organized events. In many cases, raccoons are simply ‘treed’ by coonhounds in the spirit of competition and then left to live. 
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Much of the southern US is still a rural area. The locals are able to make good use of the food and clothing obtained through raccoon hunting, especially in the winter. 

Coonhounds as Pet Dogs

Coonhounds aren’t very popular housepets. There’s nothing wrong with keeping one as a housepet; it’s just that they perform much better out on the hunting grounds. And it’s what they love doing too. 

Coonhounds are active dogs that need physical and mental stimulation. If you want to keep one as a housepet, you need to be ready to satisfy its needs. Daily walks, hikes, and playtime are all on the menu. 

You also need to be very cautious with where you let your Coonhound roam. Since they have a high prey drive, coonhounds can resist the urge to chase animals smaller than them. This can lead to some sudden and problematic developments at any time. 

Learn more about the Coonhound here


To summarize: Coonhounds hunt raccoons because of their high prey drive. They’ve also been trained to hunt raccoons for generations, so they are by far the most effective raccoon hunters out there.

That about wraps it up for this article. What do you think about coonhounds? Would you keep one as a house pet?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section down below. 

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!