Hunters love this indefatigable tracker not only for his skills on the trail, but also as a laid-back family dog. They are energetic and need to be kept busy; they love to hunt and will begin following scents by themselves if not supervised.
Smokey, mascot for the University of Tennessee, is a Bluetick Coonhound. The breed received AKC registration in 2009.
The Bluetick is a truly American dog, having first been bred in Louisiana from an alphabet soup of American, French, and English foxhounds that had been brought to the U.S. during the colonial period. The Bluetick was bred specifically for hunting raccoons and other small game. American hunters found the new breed to have a pronounced “cold nose” compared to his French and English ancestors. (These hunters refer to the ability to pick up a scent that has long faded as a “cold nose.”) Bluetick owners prized these cold noses, as well as their dogs’ larger size and slower hunting method, and for years resisted the AKC’s efforts to lump their dogs in with the fleeter, hotter-nosed English coonhounds. This disagreement was the basis for the American Bluetick’s relatively recent acceptance to the AKC.
Adult male Blueticks should stand 22 to 27 inches at the withers; females, between 21 and 25 inches. Weight can fall anywhere between 45 and 80 pounds.
While the unique color of the hound’s ticking appears to be a dark blue, it is actually a tricolor intermingling of black, tan and white hairs. The dog’s build is muscular and he carries his tail fearlessly above his back. In judging, a heavily “ticked” dog is preferred over one with only a few markings, and there should be more blue than white along the body. The dog’s coat is glossy, sits close to the dog’s body and is moderately coarse to the touch.
You can’t begin a discussion of the Bluetick Coonhound without mentioning his love of the hunt. However, intensive training from a very young age must precede his first hunting excursion. Blueticks are both stubborn and sensitive, so the trainer must be prepared to be patient and to provide positive reinforcement. If you feel out of your element, a professional trainer can help you bond with your dog and teach him basic obedience that will help you control him on the hunting trail. The dog is not difficult to train, but he does require patience and love during the process.
Once on the hunt, your Bluetick will work tirelessly and without fear until he corners his quarry -- usually driving raccoons into a tree. He makes a musical baying sound when he’s on a scent; many times this can help the owner to keep up! The presence and quality of the Bluetick’s tracking voice is actually a show judging criterion!
That same success on the trail means you cannot leave a Bluetick unsecured outdoors. The whole world is his trail, and he will follow it until its end. Always have your Bluetick on a leash outdoors when not hunting.
They adore children, but need to be socialized to them at an early age. And because Blueticks have a strong prey drive, it is recommended that they not live in homes with cats or other small animals. With these cautions in mind, they are generally wonderful family members.
You can’t turn off a Bluetick’s sense of smell, and in domestic situations his nose will lead him astray. Make sure all garbage is removed or kept behind a closed door.
Bluetick Coonhounds can be expected to live 10 to 12 years. Although generally healthy, they carry a high risk for contracting a neurological condition called polyradiculoneuritis, which is similar to Guillain-Barre Syndrome in humans. The disease typically presents as a sudden, progressive paralysis in all four legs. The good news is that most dogs recover from this condition slowly, over time. Many Blueticks who develop this condition have not been exposed to raccoons or their saliva, so a direct link from raccoon to hound is unlikely, even though the disorder is sometimes referred to as “Coonhound Paralysis.”
As with most of the hound breeds, the bluetick has long ears that allow very little air to circulate within them, leaving the dog prone to ear mites and infections. Regular cleaning with an inexpensive product available from your veterinarian should keep your dog’s ears clean.
Blueticks are not big shedders and usually require only a once-weekly brushing to keep their coats tidy. They need bathing only when odors or dirt become bothersome.
If you’d like to rescue a Bluetick Coonhound or have one you feel you need to rehome, please reach out to http://bluetickcoonhound.rescueme.org. They even have a U.S. map showng the number of dogs available in each state!