Bluetick Coonhound

Fast and muscular, with a tenacious spirit; these are the terrifying traits a raccoon must deal with when going up against the Bluetick Coonhound.

Yet, when the Bluetick comes home and nestles up to his master, a different dog arises. A dog that is compassionate. A dog that loves affection. Above all, this is a breed that devotes itself to family in and outside of the home.

So what is it that makes this breed such a great find?

Here is what you need to know about the Bluetick Coonhound.

History

Bluetick Coonhounds are relatively new. They descend from English Foxhounds, French Staghounds and other breeds of hounds

The latter years of the 17th century, and much of the 18th century in the United States saw the emergence of “coon hunting.” At that time, hunters were using Foxhounds and other breeds to handle this task. However, those breeds weren’t up to snuff with what these hunters were looking for.

There are a couple of reasons hunters chose to create the Bluetick Coonhound. First and foremost, the breed could track down raccoons at ease and that’s what hunters were looking for. But they were also bred for bigger game such as wild boar, lynx, cougar and beer. 

Hunting raccoon and fox would require a breed of dog with excellent scent tracking skills. How excellent? A Bluetick Coonhound has the ability to track old scents from hours to weeks, in what hunters call, “Cold noses.”

Moreover, the Bluetick has the ability to sniff out for long distances until its nose brings itself to the tree where the raccoon is. Foxhounds have “hot noses,” which is essentially picking up on recent scents.

Coon hunting was once a big industry in the southern region of the United States. So much, that hunters and breeders began creating coonhounds. At the turn of the 20th century, six new types of coonhounds from the south would emerge.

Many historians believe the Bluetick Coonhound comes from the Louisiana bayous and the Ozark Mountains. Some reports indicate that the United Kennel Club began registering Blueticks in the early 1900s.

However, the UKC would register this breed under the English Foxhound name. It was 1946 that the Bluetick Coonhound became official with the United Kennel Club under their own name.

In America, where the breed hails from, the Bluetick would finally get recognition by the American Kennel Club in 2009. Although coon hunting isn’t the sport it once was, coonhounds are still an on-demand breed in the south. While they are excellent scent hounds and track hunters, many people use them as companions.

Today, the Bluetick Coonhound is the 121st most popular American Kennel Club breed, just nearly beating out one of their six counterparts, the Black and Tan Coonhound.

Size

The Bluetick Coonhound is part of the large dog breed. According to the American Kennel Club standards, a male should stand between 22 to 27 inches. Yet, a female should range between 21 to 25 inches.

A male can weigh between 55 to 80 pounds, while a female should weigh around 45 to 65 pounds.

Personality/Temperament

The first thing to remember with this breed, and it should be hard to forget, is that the Bluetick is a hunting dog. In New Zealand, they use this breed to hunt pig and possum. Today, the breed is still actively haunting the dreams of raccoons. Why is this a big deal? They tend to have high prey drives, essentially chasing anything smaller by instinct.

This can be problematic for adult Blueticks when they aren’t socialized. That said, this is a dog that plays nice with other dogs. In fact, they may even play nice with the kitten. Early socialization and steadfast training is key.

True to form, this breed is agreeable with training. It requires a great deal of patience, a steady and firm hand, with plenty of positive reinforcement. Once they learn, they pick up on things quickly. This is why the breed is so ideal in hunting circles. 

Naturally, this breed wants to be outside and exploring. They may become wanderlust at times. Keep an eye out for that. 

Blueticks are fine with children, but may not have the same amount of patience that other breeds have. That said, you will need to supervise them around smaller children due to their size and power.

A Bluetick Coonhound shouldn’t be shy or aggressive with its owners. They may be a little timid with strangers, but they do make wonderful guards. This is a breed that will protect their family when they sense a threat.

Inside the family domain is a lazy pet, that loves to shower their master with attention and devotion. They like to lie around and relax. Once they hear the whistle to go out and hunt, however, the hunter emerges. Expect a meticulous and careful hunter in return. The Bluetick is no slouch when it comes to tracking, in fact, they are probably one of the best breeds for the trade.

In summary, this is a brave and outgoing dog that has loads of courage. The great thing is they can dial it down when need be. 

Health

Even though the Bluetick Coonhound is a very healthy breed, there are some health concerns to be weary of. There are things you can do to reduce the chances of a unhealthy dog. For instance, if you buy from a reputable breeder, who can provide you with the proper documentation and health clearances. And secondly, routine visits to the veterinarian will help coordinate a plan to keep your dog’s health in good standing.

A Bluetick Coonhound has a life expectancy rate of 11 to 12 years. 

One of the most prominent diseases or complications this breed encounters is Krabbe Disease. This disease is rare but fatal. You’ll see it in breeds like the Beagle, Basset Hound, and Poodles. In this case, Krabbe Disease is a mutation of the dog’s DNA. It attacks the dog’s neuromuscular system, leads to loss of appetite, causes behavioral changes, and dementia. Large breeds show signs from the ages of 18 months to 4 years, while Terriers show symptoms between 1 and six months.

Issues with the eyes may become a problem with the Bluetick Coonhound. Entropion, which is when the eyelid rolls into the socket and cause irritation leading to scar tissue and ulcers. Entropion is at times found with this breed. 

Ectropion is the opposite, where the eyelid rolls outward. Cataracts or the cloudiness of the crystalline lens can lurk in this breed as well. 

There is a chance that your dog may suffer from Elbow Dysplasia, although the chances are better with Bluetick Coonhounds to inherit Hip Dysplasia. This form of dysplasia can cause arthritis, pain and a great deal of discomfort.

Finally, you should watch how frequent you feed your dog so they don’t encounter Bloat. This is a breed more prone to suffer from Gastric Torsion or Bloat. Bloat is simply a build up of gas or air. The stomach twists and it can become very painful for the dog, sometimes even fatal.

Care

Early and constant socialization is an absolute must with the Bluetick Coonhound. Their high amount of prey drive can be a dangerous thing for smaller animals especially pets. While they seemingly get along with other dogs, they may find the need to chase cats or birds. As a puppy, you should teach them social habits you want them to exude as a family pet.

They do need plenty of exercise, if not, at least give them a job. 45 minutes to an hour is suffice to avoid the breed from boredom. Boredom can lead to destruction, which nobody wants. Obviously, they love to hunt and will graciously go along for the expedition if you offer. Field trials, tracking, agility, etc.

Wanderlust may be a concern for this breed. Their sharp instinctive scents can get them curious and may trail off if they smell something of interest to them.

This is an indoor dog, that should have access to the outside. They aren’t meant for apartments or city life.

Feeding

The Bluetick Coonhoud isn’t just fast on its feet, but can gulp down food like nobody’s business. This can be problematic if you’re trying to avoid bloat. That said, what your dog eats may differ from others. Factors like age, metabolism, and activity rate play a huge role in how often and much a dog eats.

Most Bluetick Coonhound owners cite success feeding their dogs 2.5 to 3.5 cups of dry kibble per day. Of course, this should be of high quality and a meat first ingredient. Protein for working dogs and large breeds in general is important. 

So isn’t the proper supplemental nutrients. Look for Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and Omega 3. Each will help build and promote better joint health. This, of course, is crucial if you have a dog putting a great deal of stress on their body as a working breed. Antioxidants are also important in neutralizing free radicals from hurting the dog’s body cells. Taurine will help with the heart.

Whole food lamb or chicken is great for your Bluetick. You can also feed them turkey, venison, eggs, cheese and duck.

If you have a typical 45-55 pound male or female Bluetick, then they should get around 1200-1400 calories. Obviously, the more the dog weighs the more calories you’ll need to replenish.

Working dogs from light to heavy duty at 80 pounds need from 2000 to 4100 calories per day. Feeding your Bluetick Coonhound twice or three times a day will greatly reduce the chances of Gastric Torsion.

As always, you should provide your dog with fresh drinking water.

Coat

The coat of a Bluetick Coonhound is close to the body, coarse but shouldn’t be rough or too short. In essence, your Bluetick should have a smooth and elegant looking coat. 

According to the American Kennel Club, there are two standard coat colors: blue ticked, blue ticked and tan. There is one standard marking that the AKC allows and that is black spots.

Weekly brushing will do the trick with this breed and an occasional bath. This is an easy to groom breed that shed moderately.

Fun Bluetick Coonhound Facts

  • A song by Carrie Underwood, “Church Bells,” mentions the breed as part of the story. Blueticks also appear in the Emmylou Harris song “Red Dirt Girl.”
  • The sequel to Old Yeller, “Savage Sam,” is about a Bluetick Coonhound.
  • This is the 162nd breed to join the American Kennel Club.
  • Blueticks are the official mascot for the University of Tennessee. 
  • One of six types of Coonhounds from the United States.
  • Wilson Rawls, “Where the Red Fern Grows,” is about the life of raccoon hunting and features a Bluetick Coonhound.

Closing Words

The Bluetick Coonhound may not be as popular as the Bloodhound or the Beagle, but they can still run a fox and raccoon with the best of them. In fact, at one point in American history, Coonhounds were just as important as any breed.

These days, the Bluetick goes under the radar with little to no fanfare. But for those who know the breed,  the Bluetick Coonhound is truly unique, with a heart of gold and determination that make them such a wonderful dog to own.

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