Where the Red Fern Grows Dog Breed? Explained

In the heartwarming classic novel “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls, we follow the unforgettable journey of a young boy named Billy Colman and his two faithful canine companions. 

The bond between Billy and his dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, is a testament to the enduring connection between humans and their four-legged friends. But what exactly were the breeds of these remarkable dogs? 

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the pages of this timeless tale to uncover the dog breeds that captured our hearts in “Where the Red Fern Grows.”

The Tale of Old Dan 

The character of Old Dan in “Where the Red Fern Grows” is portrayed as a courageous and loyal hunting dog. His remarkable skills and unwavering dedication to Billy make him a central figure in the story. 

So, what breed was Old Dan? Old Dan is described as a red-bone coonhound. This breed is known for its striking red coat and a distinctive bark that can be heard echoing through the forest. 

Red-bone coonhounds are renowned for their hunting abilities, particularly when it comes to tracking raccoons and other game. Their incredible sense of smell and determination in the field are key traits that made Old Dan such a beloved character.

Little Ann, the Heart of the Story 

While Old Dan steals the spotlight for his hunting prowess, Little Ann plays an equally vital role in the story. Little Ann is Old Dan’s sister, and her intelligence and loyalty complement her brother’s bravery. 

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But what breed is Little Ann? Little Ann is also a coonhound, more specifically, a treeing walker coonhound. Like her brother, she has a keen sense of smell and tracking abilities. 

The treeing walker coonhound breed is known for its elegant appearance and agility, making it an excellent choice for hunting in rugged terrains.

The Coonhound Connection

The choice of coonhounds as the canine protagonists in “Where the Red Fern Grows” was no accident. These breeds embody the spirit of adventure, loyalty, and the deep bond between humans and their dogs. 

Coonhounds are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them wonderful family pets as well. In addition to their friendly disposition, coonhounds are highly trainable and eager to please. 

This makes them suitable for a variety of activities, from hunting to obedience competitions. Their striking appearance and unique vocalizations also add to their charm.

The Legacy of Old Dan and Little Ann 

The enduring popularity of “Where the Red Fern Grows” has helped keep the memory of Old Dan and Little Ann alive in the hearts of dog lovers everywhere. 

Their story serves as a reminder of the special bond that can exist between humans and their canine companions. 

Old Dan and Little Ann are more than just characters in a book; they represent the timeless qualities that make coonhounds and dogs, in general, such cherished members of our families. 

Their unwavering loyalty, bravery, and love leave a lasting impression, reminding us of the incredible dogs we share our lives with.


In “Where the Red Fern Grows,” the red-bone coonhound Old Dan and the treeing walker coonhound Little Ann captured the hearts of readers with their incredible adventures and unbreakable bond with Billy Colman. 

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These breeds, known for their hunting skills, loyalty, and affectionate nature, perfectly embodied the spirit of the story. 

Whether you’re a fan of the book or simply interested in dog breeds, the legacy of Old Dan and Little Ann continues to shine brightly. 

Their story reminds us of the deep connections we share with our dogs and the profound impact these loyal companions can have on our lives. 

So, the next time you read “Where the Red Fern Grows” or watch the movie adaptation, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for the breeds that made this heartwarming tale possible. 

Old Dan and Little Ann, the red-bone coonhound and treeing walker coonhound, will forever be cherished as beloved characters in literature and in our hearts.