When discussing a Bluetick Coonhound, a few words and descriptions pop up repeatedly: lovable, loyal, charming, goofy, hard-headed, stubborn, and hard-working. These dogs are fierce hunters and trackers, putting their “cold noses” to work on the trail. (A ‘cold nose’ means the dog can detect scents from animals that passed through days before).
History of the Bluetick Coonhound
Blueticks are just one of the numerous coonhound breeds. All coonhounds are American-created breeds. The Blueticks can trace their lineage to before the founding of the United States. The story goes that George Washington received French staghounds as a gift from his close friend, the Marquis de Lafayette. Massive, energetic dogs, they were easy to follow on foot.
American breeders introduced English Foxhound into the bloodline, along with other hound breeds. The result ultimately was a meticulous hunter with a high-endurance and a sensitive cold nose. Early Blueticks tracked raccoon by the sides of their frontiersmen owners, as well as worked in packs to track and bring down dangerous prey such as cougars, bears, wild boars, and lynx.
Much of the breed’s early development happened in the bayous of Louisiana and the Tennessee Ozarks. The Bluetick, named for its distinctive markings, became a regular member of the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Hound Group in 2009.
In the early 20th century, Fred Gipson, author of the classic Old Yeller, described Blueticks this way:
“[They’re] a big, bell-voiced hound with a nose that can pick up a week-old trail, the endurance to run that trail 30 hours at a stretch, and the lusty courage that’ll make him tackle anything that won’t take a tree before he catches him.” – Fred Gipson
Appearance and Build
It’s the striking coat that initially sets Bluetick’s apart from other hound breeds. Bluetick coonhounds got their name from the ticking pattern and color that’s common of their coat. Their hair is short and coarse with a glossy sheen. The color of their coats vary from blue ticked to blue ticked with tan. Some in this breed may or may not have black spot markings.
Their large, round, soulful eyes are usually dark brown. A pleasant, pleading expression is characteristics of the breed. Their ears are set low, thin and tapered. Their tail is high and also tapers. A Bluetick’s legs are usually well-muscled to allow for good speed, agility, and endurance. The Bluetick coonhound is usually more strongly built than other coonhounds, and he may have a tendency to clumsiness as he’s growing, but in adulthood, he shouldn’t be overly awkward or have a chunky build.
Blueticks are compact, sleek but muscular, and fast. A male Bluetick range in height from 22 to 27 inches, while a female will range from 21 to 25 inches. Expect a weight of 55 to 80 pounds for a male and 45 to 65 pounds for a female.
These fast, muscular hunters excel at nighttime hunting. Their long, drawn-out bark and reverberating bellow result from their big mouths and floppy jowls. The unmistakable strong bawl of the Bluetick on the trail makes him a favorite for hunters. Bluetick Coonhounds remain a staple in Southern hunting culture today.
The lifespan for healthy Blueticks is around 11 to 12 years.
Temperament and Personality
Blueticks exude charm and their natural pleading expression is irresistible to dog lovers. They are fiercely loyal, willing to please, and completely devoted to their humans. Although they were originally bred for hunting, they can make excellent house dogs for a loving family.
These dogs are natural barkers and love to show off their voices. Blueticks love to bark and howl as a way of greeting visitors and will use their resounding voices to alert their humans if they perceive a problem.
Blueticks are hunting dogs, meaning the chase is in their blood. They are athletic and hardy and are passionate about the hunt. For these reasons, it isn’t wise to trust them around smaller house pets, such as cats, rabbits, ferrets, hamsters or gerbils. They are good with other dogs as permanent canine friends, however.
This breed of coonhound is tolerant of children and likes to play. They are high-energy dogs who can get over-excited, so monitoring them when playing with small children is a good idea. A Bluetick considers himself part of the family and gives his devotion and loyalty to all his family members who spend time with him.
Caring for Your Bluetick Coonhound
Because Blueticks are energetic, active dogs, they need lots of opportunities to exercise to be healthy and happy. Long walks on a leash are great but having areas in which he can run unhindered are ideal. Play sessions in a fenced yard can keep your Bluetick fit and mentally sharp.
If you welcome your Bluetick as a puppy, he’s going to need cuddling and handling by a variety of people in order to foster socialization. Gentle, pleasant, playful interaction with your puppy will instill a loyal bond that’ll last through his lifetime. You, along with other family members and friends, should hold the puppy, rub its feet and muzzle, and stroke its back and belly.
A Bluetick Coonhound does well on most any quality dog food, whether home-prepared or commercially manufactured. Make certain not to overfeed, as you don’t want your Bluetick to put on extra pounds that could impair his health. Your Bluetick will need plenty of fresh water available, too. They tend to love treats, especially when training, so be careful not to go overboard with the goodies.
Blueticks are low maintenance, physically. Give their coat a brushing once a week and bathe occasionally or as needed. Trim toenails as needed, also. Many prefer to have the dewclaws removed, but this is a personal choice for the owner. Because his floppy ears may be a magnet for dirt and insects, checks his ears and paws for insects and irritation frequently. This is especially important if your Bluetick goes into the woods or roams into unfamiliar areas. Clean the ears at least once a week as Blueticks are also prone to ear infections.
When considering a Bluetick, living accommodations should be a point of consideration. Opinions on Bluetick compatibility with apartment living vary, with many thinking an apartment life gives the Bluetick too much inactive time. Because they are such an active breed, an ideal living situation includes a large fenced yard. The breed’s natural instincts to hunt small animals makes them a risky venture into a dog park or other public park-style venue. If, however, you’re up for long, vigorous walks or jogs with your Bluetick on a daily (minimum) basis, your apartment may be a perfect place for him.
As with just about any breed, there are certain problems that tend to beset Bluetick Coonhounds.
- Hip dysplasia
- Coonhound Paralysis. This is a form of creeping paralysis that’s caused by a sudden inflammation along the nerves. It can affect a Bluetick that’s come into contact with or visited an area where raccoons reside.
- Lysosomal Storage Disease. This is a genetic disease caused by an insufficient quantity of enzymes necessary for metabolic functions to take place properly.
- Bloat. This condition may occur when your dog is digesting his food. Gas builds up in the stomach and cuts off the blood supply to and from the heart.
For any health care questions or for specific information on your dog’s health, call or visit your preferred veterinarian.
Training Your Bluetick Coonhound
Because they are intelligent but hard-headed hunting dogs, Blueticks can be difficult to train. You’ll need patience, persistence, and an abundance of treats. Once trained, however, your Bluetick will remain mindful of your directions.
Leash training is one of the most difficult aspects of the training process. Let your Bluetick wear the collar with a leash attached around the house for short periods to get used to it. Give him a treat now and then to help him associate leash training with food and fun. Practice walking inside before venturing out into the world.
Make your first incursions into the outdoors short. As your Bluetick learns how to behave on the leash, gradually increase the distance on your walks.
Remember that your Bluetick is, by nature, a dog that hunts by scent. That means he’s going to be easily distracted by smells. While training him to ignore these scents, you’ll get a good idea of why the Bluetick is often considered a stubborn breed. If you’re not confident in your abilities as a trainer, a professional trainer may be the best solution or at least a trainer experienced with strong-willed dogs.
Loyalty and Love
Blueticks are loving and loyal. If you give him the affection and attention he craves, you’ll find your fur-baby giving it back many times over. Care for your Bluetick, including regular vet check-ups. If cost is a concern, protect your pet with his own insurance. Get a quote on the best prices from Pet Insurance Quotes.