- Breed group — Hound group (American Kennel Club)
- Height — 21-27 inches
- Weight — Females 45-65 pounds, males 55-80 pounds
- Coat length & texture — Shiny, thick coat
- Coat color — Coats are blue ticked, sometimes with tan and white. Markings are different shapes and sizes of black spots and dark red ticking on the lower legs and feet. Ticking doesn’t begin to show in puppies until they are 4 months old, and adult coloring is fully present at 8 months.
- Exercise needs — High
- Intelligence — Average
- Barking — Frequent howling
- Life span — 11-12 years
- Temperament — Active, loyal, and affectionate
- Hypoallergenic — No
- Origin — United States
Bluetick coonhound fun facts
- Bluetick coonhounds have been used to hunt large game. In addition to hunting raccoons, the breed would travel in packs to accompany early American frontiersmen in pursuit of large game like bears, wild boars, and cougars.
- They’re an American breed. The bluetick coonhound of today originated in Louisiana and remains a staple of Southern culture. They were developed from the French Grand Bleu de Gascogne, the now-extinct English cur dog, and several hound breeds.
- They can sing (you read that right). The breed’s bark is a loud, bawling howl that becomes shorter and choppier as they near their prey. While a useful tool for hunters, neighbors may have a few complaints.
Bluetick coonhound temperament and characteristics
Bluetick coonhounds are affectionate dogs who love attention and will reward those who give it with loyalty. Because the dogs can play a little rough, they make a great fit for families with older children who are active and will help the dog burn energy. While playful, they also have an intense prey drive stemming from their roots as hunter companions, and may use these instincts on cats and smaller breeds. Bluetick coonhounds can be wary around strangers, but with proper training and socialization, they will warm up to them more easily.
Due to their high energy level, they are not recommended for apartments and will fare best in larger units with ample outdoor space to meet their exercise needs. They are excellent jumpers and climbers, so a tall and sturdy fence is necessary to keep them from taking off after birds and other critters.
Common bluetick coonhound health problems
While bluetick coonhounds are considered a generally healthy breed, they are prone to several health issues. Here are some conditions that owners should look out for:
- Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV). Bluetick coonhounds are deep-chested dogs, making them susceptible to bloating. Gas buildup can cause the dog’s stomach to twist on itself, cutting off blood flow to organs, which can threaten their life.
- Ear infections. The breed’s long, droopy ears makes them prone to ear infections and pathogens. Bluetick coonhound owners should clean their dog’s ears continually and keep an eye out for scabs or pus.
- Hip dysplasia. This hereditary condition occurs when the joint between the head of a dog’s femur bone and their hip socket is unstable. Medication and possibly surgery may be necessary to avoid arthritis later in the bluetick coonhound’s life.
- Autoimmune thyroiditis. Lethargy, weight gain, and hair loss are all symptoms of this disease in which a dog’s immune system attacks their thyroid. The condition can lead to other ailments, including hypothyroidism.
Cost of caring for bluetick coonhound
Those looking to bring home a bluetick coonhound should consider enrolling early in a health insurance plan to reduce out-of-pocket veterinary expenses. Budgeting for a pet savings account is another good idea to ensure you have money set aside in the event of an emergency. While every dog is different, bluetick coonhound owners can expect to spend anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000 caring for their pet.
History of the bluetick coonhound
While bluetick coonhounds were developed in Louisiana, their story begins shortly before the United States was officially formed. In 1785, French military officer Marquis de Lafayette gifted George Washington seven Grand Bleu de Gascogne hounds. The bluetick coonhound was bred by mixing the French hounds with the English foxhound, American foxhound, black and tan Virginia foxhound, and the cur dog.
The breed would assist frontiersmen in detecting game with their “cold noses,” a term used to describe breeds that can follow scents left behind hours – and even days – earlier. Upon finding prey, bluetick coonhounds let out a loud howl, and then chased game up a tree where the hunters could get a clear shot. While they were primarily used to track down raccoons, the dogs would also travel in packs to help hunters take on large game such as boars, bears, lynx, and cougars.
Though they’ve been around for quite some time, bluetick coonhounds were only recognized by the American Kennel Club as recently as 2009. The breed has been referenced in novels such as Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, songs such as “Church Bells” by Carrie Underwood, and movies such as Homeward Bound II. The University of Tennessee’s mascot “Smokey” is also a bluetick coonhound.
Caring for your bluetick coonhound
Before bringing home a bluetick coonhound, owners should prepare by puppy-proofing their home, planning their first trip to the vet, scheduling vaccinations. Because the breed has an intense prey drive, owners will need to exercise caution outside of the home to ensure their dog doesn’t take off after small animals like birds or squirrels. Signing up for FidoAlert provides your dog with a free Fido ID and tag in the event they go missing.
As much as the bluetick coonhound loves a good couch snuggle, they are also a high-energy breed that will need at least an hour of exercise a day. If they’re not physically and mentally stimulated, the dog will resort to destructive behaviors and their famously loud, drawn-out baying. As natural hunters, the breed enjoys activities like hiking and long walks that allow them to track scents.
Owners should keep their dogs leashed to make sure they don’t run off after a small critter. Caution should also be exercised at the dog park if the fence is low or easy to climb. Although they have thick coats, bluetick coonhounds are short-haired and will need a warm coat in cold weather. On the flip side, they tend to overheat in hotter climates and require water and shade to prevent overheating.
The bluetick coonhound is considered relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming. They have short hair that doesn’t shed a whole lot and will only need a weekly brush to remove loose fur. Unless they get especially dirty playing outside, the dog’s should only require one bath a month. Because they are prone to ear infections, it’s important to clean and check their ears frequently and take them to a vet if you see any crusting or discharge. Their nails also grow fast and will cause them pain while running if not trimmed once or twice a month. As with any dog, weekly teeth cleaning is essential to avoid plaque build up and infections in the teeth and gums.
Diet and nutrition
All bluetick coonhound owners should consult with their vet to determine how much they should feed their dog relative to their weight and other health conditions. Because the breed is susceptible to bloating, the dogs should avoid playing and eating at least an hour before and after eating to avoid disrupting their digestive routine. Slow-feed bowls and puzzle feeders are a great way to reduce the amount of air your bluetick coonhound swallows as they eat. While every dog is different, the breed will typically need 2.5 to 3 cups of high-quality dry food divided over two meals.
Training your bluetick coonhound
There’s a t-shirt that pokes fun at bluetick coonhounds for their stubbornness when it comes to training. The shirt depicts a diagram of the dog’s response to “sit,” “down,” “fetch,” and “stay” commands. For the first three, the dog ignores the command and continues standing. For the “stay” command, the dog is nowhere to be seen.
As with any dog, it’s best to begin training the bluetick coonhound when they’re a puppy before they begin learning unwanted behaviors. Because of their keen sense of smell, the breed is easily distracted during training sessions. The dog is food-motivated and loves attention, so owners should rely on reward-based training methods and positive reinforcement.
Bluetick coonhounds are also athletic by nature, and canine sports are a great way to stimulate the dog both physically and mentally. The breed excels in activities that rely on scents such as tracking and obedience.
Breeds similar to the bluetick coonhound
Not quite sure that a bluetick coonhound is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:
- Basset hound. Are long, floppy ears your favorite dog quality? Well, they don’t get longer or floppier than basset hounds, a large breed that takes advantage of their short legs to track scents close to the ground.
- Beagle. Looking for all the love and affection a bluetick coonhound has to offer but in a smaller breed? The playful and attention-loving beagle may be your answer.
- Dalmatians. This beautiful breed gained notoriety in Disney’s 101 Dalmations. Loyal, active, and sweet-natured, they make a great addition to any family.
Frequently asked questions
Do bluetick coonhounds bark a lot?
Bark may not be the right word, for the sound these dogs emit is more of a loud, melodic howl that can be heard from great distances. If not properly exercised, the breed will resort to this “singing” bark — especially when left alone — that the neighbors may not appreciate.
Are bluetick coonhounds difficult to train?
Because of their strong sense of smell, bluetick coonhounds are easily distracted and may have trouble focusing during training sessions. Start training them when they’re young and use reward based methods that take advantage of their food motivation.
At what age do bluetick coonhounds start to calm down?
While the breed is always considered a high energy dog, the bluetick coonhound will usually lose some of their puppy energy around age 2.
How often should you groom a bluetick coonhound?
The bluetick coonhound doesn’t shed a lot and will only need to be brushed once weekly and bathed once monthly. Because they are prone to ear infections, owners should clean their ears as often as possible and keep an eye out for scabs, pus, or foul odor.
Do bluetick coonhounds like to cuddle?
Despite their high exercise needs, bluetick coonhounds are incredibly affectionate and love cozying up with their humans.