The official state dog of Tennessee, the Bluetick Coonhound is a natural hunting dog. Bred from the French Staghound and English Foxhound, the Bluetick was created for slow and steady hunting. Named after their blue coat with small black ticks, these dogs loves to hunt raccoons and other small animals. Cold-nosed dogs, these pups are in need of a working man’s schedule. Overview
Like many Coonhounds, the Bluetick gets its name from its coat, which is covered in black hairs that give it the mottled, or “ticked” pattern for which it is named. This is a medium-sized, sturdy, athletic animal that was bred to trail and tree raccoons and other small game. Today, in addition to its hunting talents, the Bluetick Coonhound is competitive in the conformation and performance show rings and excels in many active outdoor canine sports. It also has become a beloved family companion. The American Kennel Club admitted the Bluetick Coonhound for full registration in 2009, as a member of its Hound Group. Other Quick Facts
The Bluetick is one of the breeds that can claim to be “made in the USA.”
A bluetick coat is a thickly mottled dark blue with black spots on the back, ears and sides. The head and ears are mostly black, and there are tan markings above the eyes and on the cheeks, and dark-red ticking on the feet, lower legs, chest and beneath the tail.
The Bluetick is a cold-nosed dog, meaning he’s good at finding and following an old, or “cold,” trail.
The Bluetick’s bark on the trail is described as a bawl.
AKC group: Hound
UKC group: Sighthound
Average lifespan: 11 – 12 years
Average size: 45 – 80 pounds
Coat appearance: Short and glossy
Coloration: Blue, blue with black ticks
Other identifiers: Stout, muscular body; dark brown, round, wide-set eyes; squared muzzle and broad head; black, cold nose; thin, low ears. high, curved tail with straight athletic legs
Possible alterations: Possible tricoloration, short howl Comparable Breeds: Black and Tan Coonhound, American Blue Gascon
The Bluetick Coonhound, which originated in Louisiana, was developed from the Bleu de Gascogne hound of southwest France, as well as the English Foxhound, the cur dog, the American Foxhound, and the Black And Tan Virginia Foxhound. Originally, Bluetick Coonhounds were registered in the United Kennel Club under the English Foxhound and Coonhound, but were recognized by the club as a separate breed in 1946.
Bluetick Coonhounds are also recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council and the New Zealand Kennel Club. In April 2009 the breed was accepted by the American Kennel Club and in December 2009 they became eligible to compete in AKC coonhound events. The American Blue Gascon is a subgroup of Bluetick Coonhounds that is larger, heavier, and more “houndy” looking than the standard Bluetick. American Blue Gascons are often referred to as “old-fashioned” Blueticks. This is due to their appearance and “colder” nose, or slower style of tracking, compared to other modern coonhound breeds.
Bluetick Coonhounds are bred to be hunting dogs. They are athletic, hardy, and need a full-time job or activity such as hunting, obedience, or agility to stay happy. They can be challenging to train and they should be monitored around cats or other small animals. They are, like their hound counterparts, very intelligent breeds, with an uncanny knack for problem-solving.
Once trained, the members of the breed are very mindful of their owner. Something first time owners should be aware of is the daunting task of “voice-training” these dogs. They tend to be relentlessly loud barkers and/or howlers. If properly socialized from a young age, they can make a great family pet. These dogs were bred to be working/hunting dogs.
In normal conditions, this dog is excellent around children. They are mindful and friendly dogs. However their noses will keep them in trouble, so food and garbage should never be left out unattended. The breed is often mistaken for being aggressive as the breed will “greet” strangers with its signature howl and will sniff the subject until satisfied. Usually, this is just the way the breed gets to know its subjects. Since Blueticks are driven by their strong sense of smell, they make excellent hunting/tracking dogs. If allowed, they will tree almost any animal smaller than them. Blueticks are generally easier to handle in the field than some other coon hounds.
The Bluetick Coonhound is a fairly healthy breed, but it is prone to hip dysplasia, cataracts, and Krabbes disease.
The coat of the Bluetick Coonhound is fairly easy to care for. They only require an occasional brushing to keep their coats clean and glossy. Blueticks are not heavy-shedders. Their large, long ears should be cleaned and checked regularly for any signs of infection. They only need to be bathed when dirt or odor become especially noticeable.
The Bluetick is not recommended for apartment life. They are relatively inactive indoors and will do best with at least a large yard. Do not let this breed run free off of its lead unless in a safe, secure area. Coonhounds have a tendency to follow their noses, and if they catch wind of a scent, they may wander off for hours following it.
The Bluetick Coondog is a hunting dog, so expect some challenges in the training and housebreaking department. Always following its nose, the Bluetick Coondog is easily distracted by smells. Be firm when training, as this breed will ignore you if you are too lenient and gentle.
But remember – the Bluetick Coonhound is sensitive to harsh words, so being firm can prove to be difficult. Don’t be discouraged because this breed is intelligent and perform trailing exercises very well. If you are not a seasoned pet owner, the Bluetick Coonhound will be a bit difficult to navigate, training wise.
Get off the couch, because your Bluetick Coonhound needs daily vigorous exercise. If your Bluetick Coonhound doesn’t get a long, brisk daily walk, it may become high strung and destructive. Bred for physical exercise, the Bluetick Coonhound is an anxious and energetic dog. Natural hunters, the Bluetick Coonhound has a tendency to run off and hunt if it is not kept in a fenced-in area.
Weekly brushing with a hound mitt or rubber curry brush will keep your Bluetick’s handsome coat clean and shiny. He’ll shed some -all dogs do – but regular brushing will remove dead hair so it doesn’t land on your floor, furniture or clothing.
Bathe your Coonhound as needed. He may have a bit of a “houndy” odor, which some people love and others hate. Bathing can help reduce the smell if you don’t like it, but it won’t take it away completely or permanently.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails every few weeks. Keep those droopy ears clean and dry so bacterial and yeast infections don’t take hold. Brush the teeth for good overall health and fresh breath.
Is this breed right for you?
Especially good with older children, the Bluetick Coonhound will do well with a family that lives on a larger piece of fenced-in land and enjoys to hunt. An athletic dog, hunters like his sturdy body and loyal personality. Alert and attentive, this breed works well in all terrains and weather, and has especially good vision at night.
Famous Bluetick Coonhounds
Smokey, the mascot of the University of Tennessee, is a Bluetick.
A Bluetick Coonhound named Tet was the companion of Stringfellow Hawke, the main character of the popular 1980s television show Airwolf.
Old Blue, a Bluetick Coonhound, was in the 1960 Elia Kazan film, Wild River.
Old Blue was a Bluetick Coonhound belonging to the Pritchard boys in the novel Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.
A female Bluetick Coonhound is mentioned in the George Jones song “Ol’ Red” which was later covered by Blake Shelton.
Huckleberry Hound is a Bluetick.
Savage Sam, the sequel to Old Yeller, is about a Bluetick Coonhound.
Lillian’s dog, Gideon, is a Bluetick Coonhound in the song “Red Dirt Girl” written by Emmylou Harris.
A Bluetick Coonhound is referenced in the song “Long Haired Country Boy” written by Charlie Daniels.
A Bluetick hound is referred to in the 2016 song “Church Bells,” written by Zach Crowell, Brett James and Hillary Lindsey, and sung by Carrie Underwood.
Did You Know?
The Bluetick can be found in various forms of pop culture. Emmylou Harris mentions a Bluetick named Gideon in her song “Red Dirt Girl,” the University of Tennessee mascot is a Bluetick Coonhound named Smokey, and a Bluetick stars in a commercial for Miracle Whip.
A dream day in the life of a Bluetick Coonhound
Up bright and early with his owner, the Bluetick Coonhound is ready for a hard day’s work. On the trail, regardless of the weather, he’s in search of prey. Likely to jump into a river or climb a tree if need be, he’ll get whatever he’s been tasked with. Back home, he’ll chow down on dinner and be ready for another run outside. He enjoys being part of the gang and will follow his family wherever they go, from sun up to sun down.