Disney has brought over 2,100 animated characters to life since its inception in 1923. Characters such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Pluto, and Goofy are so ubiquitous they are instantly recognizable to every generation alive today. Many of the characters’ animal identities are easy to discern. Mickey and Minnie are mice. Donald and Daisy are ducks. It’s right there in their names, after all. Pluto is quite obviously a dog. No one questions that. But what about Goofy?
The debate is surprisingly divided (and passionate!) among Disney fans. While most insist Goofy is a dog, others are certain he is not a canine at all. Rather, they claim Goofy must be a cow. The cow apologists point to Goofy’s romantic interest, Clarabelle Cow, as evidence that he is a bovine instead of a canine.
Goofy Is a Dog
However, there is ample proof that Goofy is not a cow but rather an anthropomorphized dog. Goofy’s film debut came in Disney’s 1932 animated short, “Mickey’s Revue.” Goofy appears in the audience, but his character at the time was named Dippy Dawg. (His name would officially be changed to “Goofy” in 1939, with the release of the film “Goofy & Wilbur.”) So, while the name was different, it seems pretty definitive that the character is a dog. But what kind of dog? That opens up a whole new debate among Disney animation aficionados.
While Walt Disney himself made it clear Goofy is a dog in his creation of Dippy Dawg, he was mum about the breed. Bill Farmer, Goofy’s voice actor since 1987, refuses to get into the fray of the breed debate. He suggested that maybe Goofy is a canine breed all his own. Canis goofus, as Farmer put it.
But, while neither Disney nor Farmer identifies a specific breed, one consensus answer is more widely accepted than all the others among Disney fans and dog breed experts.
Goofy is a black and tan coonhound.
Clearly, as an animated, humanized dog, Goofy will only loosely resemble many traits of an actual black and tan coonhound. Most real black and tan coonhounds don’t wear turtlenecks, pants, and hats, for example. Strict adherence to the literal is needfully set aside in such considerations. As we explore the details of this breed, you can judge for yourself how well Goofy stacks up against real-life black and tans.
The black and tan coonhound is a crossbreed of the black and tan Virginia foxhound and the bloodhound. It is one of the few truly American breeds, developed in the southern United States in the late 18th century. These dogs were originally bred to track raccoons (hence the breed’s name) and opossums, but they have also been used to trail much larger animals. These dogs have been utilized in tracking deer, mountain lions, and even bears.
Size and Appearance
The black and tan coonhound is a large breed. Females can grow 21-26 inches tall and weigh 40-65 pounds. Males can reach 23-27 inches in height and weigh 50-75 pounds.
The breed features a black coat with tan points above the eyes, often referred to as “pumpkinseeds.” The dog also features tan colors on the sides of the muzzle, as well as on the chest and legs.
These hounds have long, floppy ears, although the length varies among individual dogs. Some black and tans have ears so long that they drag the ground as they are sniffing out a trail.
The black and tan coonhound’s coat is short and dense. It features a fairly long, thin tail that tapers at the end. When the dog tracks a scent, its tail will perk up.
Training and Temperament
This breed is intelligent, but that intelligence comes with a stubborn streak. It is a rather difficult breed to train, so training and socialization need to begin as soon as puppies are weaned. Training needs to be firm and consistent. Owners who do not have experience with the breed should likely defer to a professional dog trainer.
While the black and tan’s stubbornness does make for more difficult training, it can also be one of its most wonderful traits. The black and tan coonhound is stubbornly loyal to its human family. These happy-go-lucky dogs are loving and friendly. They are excellent family pets and are wonderful with older children. As with all large breed dogs, they should be monitored around small children. This breed is not aggressive, but these hounds can inadvertently injure a small child through boisterous play.
As with most hounds, black and tans are natural-born trackers. Their sense of smell is so acute that they are known as a “cold nose breed,” meaning they can find and follow an old trail with barely any scent left to it.
Black and tan coonhounds are sometimes known as “trail and tree hounds.” These dogs are relentless in trailing their quarry and can put it up a tree once they catch up to it.
This innate desire to follow a scent means owners are strongly advised to keep these dogs leashed when out and about. Often, if a black and tan coonhound picks up a scent they want to track, the dog will ignore all commands from its owner. These dogs are focused and unwavering when they are on the trail of a scent. This is one reason why training is critical, but even a highly-trained black and tan coonhound should be leashed in public. Their natural tracking instinct is so strong that it can sometimes override even the best training.
Black and tans are a healthy breed overall, with few chronic health conditions.
Black and tans have a naturally musty odor. Regular bathing can significantly minimize the smell, but it may still be slightly noticeable, even on a recently-washed dog. The breed also has droopy jowls that hang down off its muzzle, so some drooling is to be expected.
As with all hounds, black and tan coonhounds require regular exercise. These dogs were bred to track quarry for miles, not to be cooped up in a house. A couple of short walks or jogs per day are needed to help black and tans burn off excess energy and remain healthy. They also are great hiking dogs, especially if you are not on a rigid schedule. If you can allow your black and tan the time to sniff around and even follow some scent trails, you will have one happy pooch on your hands.
Fun Facts About Black and Tans
Black and tans are commonly used in law enforcement today. Their keen sense of smell makes them perfect for detecting drugs, explosives, and other contraband. The breed’s friendly nature also makes it popular for use in drug awareness programs for children.
Back to Goofy
Now that we’ve gotten to know the black and tan coonhound, you can decide for yourself how Goofy both resembles and differs from the breed.
Maybe you noticed that Goofy has long, floppy ears, like those of a black and tan coonhound. Maybe you also noted that both the animated character and the real-life dog breed are black and tan.
But there are also many differences. The black and tan coonhound has a long, thin tail. Goofy wears pants, so his tail is anyone’s guess. Also, the black and tan coonhound is highly intelligent, while Goofy is… Well… You know… Kind of goofy!
But both dogs, animated and real, are happy, friendly, and loyal companions. In the end, isn’t that what really counts?
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