Like all the Coonhound breeds, the Bluetick Coonhound was developed in America, primarily to hunt raccoon. The name comes from the colored ticks in its coat. They could also work in packs on more dangerous targets like bear, wild boar, lynx, and cougar.
In the early 20th century, Fred Gipson, author of “Old Yeller,” wrote about a line of famous Blueticks: “In this breeding they’ve got 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.”
This is a calm affectionate breed that enjoys human company, and likes to have something to do. This is one of the 6 Coonhound breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. The others are the American English Coonhound, the Redbone Coonhound, the Treeing Walker Coonhound, the Black and Tan Coonhound, and finally the Plott Hound.
Bluetick Coonhound Temperament
This is a gentle and affectionate breed that does well with other dogs. However its hunting background and high prey drive means that it cannot be trusted with small pets like gerbils, guinea pigs and rabbits, for example.
The Bluetick is calm around children, and loves playing with them. Of course, they should always be supervised around small children, as the dog may knock a child over by accident due to being boisterous.
They have a very strong sense of smell, and will detect any food left out or unsecured garbage cans. They also use this sense of smell when greeting new people, which may be disconcerting for some who do not expect a full investigation!
With their hunting background, the Bluetick Coonhound will tend to chase any other animal smaller than itself, and try to drive it up a tree. It’s best to keep the dog on a leash when out for a walk, or it may take off after an interesting smell.
Their breeding also gives them a distinctive bark, which is more of a deep-chested bawl. When they are chasing an animal, and got it up a tree, they bawl loudly to alert the hunter to their location. This habit of bawling is deep-rooted, and not easy to train out of the dog for domestication.
These dogs also tend to drool, so it’s best to keep them off any nice furniture!
The need for exercise for up to 2 hours a day means that they do well in competitions for tracking and agility, as well as running events like Canicross.
Bluetick Coonhound Breed History
The Bluetick Coonhound originated in America, in Louisiana. The dogs used to develop this breed include the English Foxhound, the American Foxhound and the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, a breed from South-West France.
The aim of the breeding was to produce a dog that had a superb sense of smell, the physical endurance and determination to follow a scent for 24 hours or more, and the courage to chase almost anything. The dog was also bred to have a distinctive bawling bark during the hunt.
The main prey at that time was the raccoon, which was plentiful in those days, and represented a valuable source of food and fur for the hunters and settlers. But the dog proved to be brave enough in a pack to give chase to other, bigger, animals such as wild boar, bears and cougars.
The first breed standard was written in 1946, the same year the United Kennel Club (UKC) of England registered the breed. The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the breed in 2009.
Height; 22 – 27 inches (male), and 21 – 25 inches (female)
Weight; 55 – 80 lbs (male); 45 to 65 lbs (female)
Lifespan; 11 to 12 years
Colors; Blue ticked, Blue ticked and Tanned.
Ease of Training
These are not easy dogs to train. They are head strong, independent, and easily distracted by an interesting scent which will command their attention. The key is to start basic training EARLY, as soon as you bring your new puppy home.
Start indoors, to reduce distractions, and try to make a game out of it. As a puppy, 5 minute sessions are probably best. Remember to reward the puppy every time it does something right. This is so important.
On the flip side, it is also important to ignore the wrong behavior. Just turn your back on the puppy for 10 seconds, so that it realizes it did not do the right thing. After basic lessons, it’s a good idea to take the young dog to puppy training classes, to introduce other dogs, sounds and smells in a controlled environment.
Once over around 6 months, consider getting a few one-on-one sessions with a professional dog trainer. This will accelerate and consolidate the dog’s training, making for a happier life for both dog and owner.
Grooming is pretty straightforward with the Bluetick. They have a short, dense coat that does not shed much. A weekly brushing with a hound glove should keep the dog looking good.
You only need to bath this dog if it gets particularly muddy when out on a hunt, or if it starts to develop a ‘doggy’ smell. The ears should be checked weekly for any signs of foreign objects, injuries, or infection such as redness, swelling or a bad smell.
The claws should be checked each week and trimmed if they are getting long, to prevent painful cracking and splitting.
The Bluetick Coonhound is wary of strangers, and will use its booming, bawling bark to alert its owner that something unusual is happening. This makes them a great watch dog, and the bark may even deter a would-be intruder.
However this breed is not edgy nor aggressive, and they are unlikely to do much more than bark. This means they are not good guard dogs, if extra protection is what you are looking for.
Generally a very healthy breed, they tend to have few health issues. However, there are a few conditions to be aware of;
- Bloat, a dangerous condition also called gastric torsion.
- Hip dysplasia
- A neurological condition called Krabbe disease.
Famous Bluetick Coonhounds
Smokey, the mascot of the University of Tennessee, is a Bluetick Coonhound. This breed has also been used in numerous films and television series, such as Airwolf, Wild River and Homeward Bound II.