The state dog of Tennessee, the Bluetick Coonhound has a lot to offer as a pet, especially for owners who are avid hunters. Their prey drive is off the charts, and they actually thrive when given the job of hunting and tracking. With their droopy ears and adoring eyes, they’re easy to fall in love with and make a great pet for the right home. If you have a large yard where a Bluetick is free to explore all the scents of nature and if your lifestyle matches that of this curious nature-loving hound, it might be the perfect dog for you. Here’s everything you need to know about the Bluetick Coonhound.
Bluetick Coonhounds are medium to large dogs, with a muscular, sleek body. As for their height, males tend to reach between 22-27 inches high, and females reach between 21-25 inches. Males can weigh between 55-80 pounds, while females weigh between 45-65 pounds. The “blue” in their name comes from the way their mottled black “ticking” appears against their white coat in a way that actually makes the black look blue in color. While white and black are the main colors you’ll notice in this dog, some might have brown as well, especially at the head and ears.
There are 32 dogs in the “hound” group, according to the American Kennel Club, and each of them are unique in their own way. Nonetheless, the main commonality is that hounds were bred to hunt. Some hounds are sighthounds, meaning they have a keen sense of sight that helps them hunt. Examples of sighthounds include Greyhounds, Afghan Hounds and Whippets, among others. Some hounds are scent hounds, meaning they can follow a trail of scents in order to locate their prey. Bluetick Coonhounds are scent hounds, as are Beagles, Dachshunds and Basset Hounds.
Bluetick Coonhounds were initially bred in America, stemming from the French Staghounds that were gifted to George Washington. Those dogs were then bred with English Foxhounds and other hound breeds that had strong endurance and an amazing sense of smell. While initially used to pursue raccoons, they also worked in packs to hunt more dangerous animals, such as wild boar, bears and cougars. They may not have the same job duties today, but they’re the same brave, loyal dog with a great nose for hunting.
The Bluetick Coonhound doesn’t have any specific nutrition requirements other than ensuring their diet is appropriate for their age. However, some are prone to being overweight, especially if they don’t get enough exercise. Your vet will be able to help you determine whether your Bluetick is overweight and whether you should alter their diet. Treats should be given in moderation. Additionally, as with any dog, giving table scraps to a Bluetick Coonhound should be avoided. Giving this dog human food can not only encourage begging and weight gain, but also tempt them to engage in unwanted behavior like counter surfing, which the breed is notorious for.
Bluetick Coonhounds are affectionate, devoted and love attention from their owners. They may seem perfectly happy lounging outside on the porch, that is until they see a squirrel or any other type of prey. Once this happens, it is difficult to pull them off the scent and get them back to their relaxed state of mind.
In order for blueticks to be mentally stimulated, they need their prey drive entertained or daily exercise to give them an outlet for their energy. Without a job to do or an outlet for their prey impulses, they can have behavioral issues, just like any dog. For Bluetick Coonhounds, a notorious way for them to act out is by engaging in their loud howling, which doesn’t make them a good neighbor.
Since they’re also very strong-willed, especially when they pick up on a scent, they may seem disobedient. They’re notorious for escaping from their confines when they’re determined to find out what’s behind any new scents they pick up on. But they’re friendly to new dogs and people and enjoy all sorts of company. They may even be friendly to cats and other pets but should be raised with them so they don’t see them as prey.
The coat of the Bluetick coonhound is short and glossy. They don’t shed very often, and when they do, it is likely seasonal. They could benefit from a weekly brushing despite their short coat, which also helps with any shedding. Bathing should just be done occasionally or when the Bluetick follows its nose to a messy environment. Nail trimming is also important, like it is with any breed. Untrimmed nails can make walking painful, to the point where the dog doesn’t want to get any exercise.
Since they were bred for hunting, Bluetick Coonhounds need a decent amount of exercise. That can mean going for walks or playing fetch in a fenced-in yard (remember, they’re hunters with a strong prey drive, so any rabbit, squirrel or scent they notice is an attractive excuse to bolt). Hunting drills are a perfect way for the Bluetick to release some energy, as are other canine sports like agility training, or scent-tracking activities.
Hiking is another great activity for the Bluetick Coonhound, no matter how challenging the trail. This allows them to not only get exercise, but to take in new scents. Providing they get enough exercise, Bluetick Coonhounds should be calm and obedient at home, although apartment life is not ideal.
Bluetick Coonhounds are typically healthy dogs. Nonetheless, they’re deep-chested, meaning they’re more susceptible to bloat, which is a sudden condition when the stomach can twist and cut off the supply of blood to important organs. Knowing the symptoms of bloat can help owners recognize when it is occurring and get the dog medical assistance as quickly as possible.
Since the Bluetick also has low-hanging hound ears that easily trap moisture, they should be checked regularly for signs of infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly, like with any other dog breed. The average lifespan of a happy, healthy Bluetick Coonhound is 12 years.