Relentless in the pursuit of game, yet sweet and affectionate in the arms of his family, the Bluetick Coonhound is a delightful combination of working hound and devoted pet. This loyal hunter is an American native, some say tracing back to George Washington’s stag hounds. Although originally bred to track racoon on the frontier, these dogs were also used for pack hunting for larger game to fill the family larder. Although still a fixture in the Southern United States, these dogs have become recognized for their value as steadfast companions, rather than simple hunting dogs.
Bluetick Coonhound Appearance
At about 27 inches and 80 pounds for a large male, with females coming in somewhat smaller, Bluetick Coonhounds are compact, muscular dogs. Often noted for their sleek physique, they are most easily recognized by the mottled pattern of blue-black, the “ticking” of their short haired coat. Some breed individuals may have tan on the legs or underbelly. The tail is slim and often held up proudly. The low hanging, black, droopy ears make these dogs, especially puppies, irresistible with their charm.
Although these dogs are noted sweethearts, caution needs to come into effect when Bluetick Coonhounds are around smaller pets. Their innate prey drive can cause friction with cats or other small pets in and around the home.
These active hunters need to be kept busy. Their prey drive has been called “off the charts” and must be directed. If they are family pets and not actively being used for hunting, they will need an outlet for their energy. Otherwise, the dog may get bored, which can lead to trouble. A bored Coonhound may bark incessantly, sharing their trademark bay with the neighborhood! In addition to plenty of exercise, interactive toys can help keep a pup busy.
As mentioned previously, Bluetick Coonhounds make excellent family dogs. They are noted as attention loving and eager to gain affection from anyone willing to give it, including children. With a lifespan of 10-12 years, they will quickly become a loving member of the family.
Caring for the Bluetick Coonhound
Like all breeds, the Bluetick Coonhound has unique attributes that determine its care. While hunting dogs and household pets are often cared for in different manners, there are some basic needs that should be met in either situation.
There is not necessarily a specific type of food that Bluetick Coonhounds should be on, but a high quality dog food that is veterinarian approved is key. It is important to ensure that the food is appropriate for the dog’s age (puppy, adult, senior). Some individuals of this breed can be prone to becoming overweight, so it is a good idea to monitor food intake and weight over time, adjusting as necessary. Treats should be high-quality and used in moderation, such as to assist in training. Clean, fresh water should always be available.
These voracious hunters are capable of running for hours at a time. While they are still content to spend some time sleeping on their favorite bed, they will need some daily time to expend energy. Play and walks should be in a fenced in area or on leash, due to the scent drive of these dogs. Otherwise, their owner may find themselves the tracker!
These pets are still used for hunting in many parts of the country. Owners can also get their pets involved in field trials, agility, or other athletic-based competitions to aid in channeling extra energy.
Bluetick Coonhounds are generally agreeable and open to training, especially when it is started early in life. However, their prey drive will need to be constantly managed. There are dog trainers that specialize in hounds, and those that work specifically with training dogs to coon hunt that can aid owners in their educational efforts. If one plans to hunt with their Coonhound, training for such should begin early, as should basic obedience.
These dogs are naturally social, with both humans and other dogs. This can be both helpful and sometimes a headache when it comes to training, but it is important to keep in mind.
Like any pet, Bluetick Coonhounds should see a veterinarian annually for an exam and vaccinations, and as needed for illness or concerns. In addition, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind. The first is the long, drooping ears the breed possesses. The ears should be checked regularly, even daily, for signs of infection, as the shape of the ears can leave dogs more prone to yeast, bacterial, and fungal illness. It is also important to note that deep chested breeds such as the Bluetick Coonhound are more susceptible than most dogs to bloat, an illness in which the stomach and other digestive organs can become distended, twist, and cause an emergency. Bluetick owners should familiarize themselves with the signs of this illness, including a distended stomach, restlessness, and foaming around the mouth. If any of these symptoms are noted, the dog’s veterinarian should be contacted immediately.
There are five other hunting breeds developed in the early United States that share several characteristics with the Bluetick Coonhound. While they share a passion for hunting and a proud history, each breed as its own attributes and loyal admirers.
- Plott: These flashy brindle dogs are unique from the other American hunting dogs in that they are descended from German imported dogs rather than English.
- Black and Tan Coonhound: A little larger than the Bluetick, the Black and Tan is another American Original that is devoted on the trail of raccoons, but content to lay by the fireplace as well.
- Treeing Walker Coonhound: These tricolored dogs are noted as smart and sensible hunters, and are often called “The People’s Choice” for hunting dogs.
- Redbone Coonhound: These eager to please, muscular hounds; like the others discussed here, alternate between lazing around the family home and tearing up the night in pursuit of game.
- American English Coonhound: Small and lean, these dogs are determined, but like the Bluetick, mellow family dogs.