With a name like Bluetick Coonhound, you may be expecting a humble hunting dog. But with a sleek coat, courageous demeanor, and ties to a Founding Father, the breed is anything but ordinary.
Blueticks trace their ancestry back to French staghounds gifted to George Washington by his friend Marquis de Lafayette. Bred to be hunting companions, early Blueticks used their incredible noses and endurance to track down racoons, as well as far more fearsome quarry like bears, wild boars, and cougars.
A member of the hound group, the breed standard notes that the brown-eyed Bluetick has the “typical pleading hound expression,” and their long, floppy ears add to their endearing charm. The first part of their name stems from the characteristic black-on-white speckles (ticking) that appear blue from a distance on their short, glossy coats. However, they commonly sport tan markings as well.
Caring for a Bluetick Coonhound
Despite their history as hunters, Bluetick Coonhounds can thrive as family pets—if their humans properly accommodate for their size, exercise needs, and vocal tendencies.
Blueticks are large dogs. Males can be as big as 80 pounds and 27 inches tall, while females max out at 65 pounds and 25 inches. Dogs of this size need space—and dogs of this size with the near-boundless energy of a Bluetick need lots of space.
While you can take the Bluetick out of the hunt, you can’t quite take the hunt out of the Bluetick. The breed was built to use their brain while traversing great distances, so prospective owners should be prepared to provide extensive mental stimulation and physical exercise every day. And because Bluetick Coonhounds have an insatiable instinct to follow their noses, this exercise needs to take place either on a leash or within a securely fenced area.
Blueticks might also need extra space for another reason: They have a reputation for baying—a loud howl that sounds more like a yodel. It is a wonderfully useful and unique form of communication scent hounds like Blueticks use when hunting. The deep, booming sound is less popular, however, just about everywhere else.
Training can help keep the baying at bay (as well as its better-known companions, howling and barking). But to be on the safe side, it’s best if you don’t have close neighbors or can be home to keep the hound’s hollering to a minimum.
Bluetick Coonhound Health Issues
Bloat in dogs occurs when gas and/or food cause the stomach to expand. Sometimes, bloat progresses into a condition called gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), in which the dog’s stomach twists and cuts off blood flow to and from the stomach and the spleen, preventing food from passing into the intestine. In severe cases, the stomach can rupture.
GDV is incredibly painful and is a life-threatening emergency, and all cases of bloat need immediate care to determine severity. Medication and fluids can treat minor cases of simple bloat, but GDV requires surgery.
Any dog can experience bloat, but it’s more common in large and deep-chested breeds. Eating large amounts of food and water too quickly, exercising right after eating, eating from elevated food bowls, and eating one meal a day are other risk factors.
Signs of bloat include:
Retching or dry heaving without vomiting
Sudden anxiety, pacing, or inability to get comfortable
Downward dog position (dog’s front half is on the ground and back half is raised)
Panting and drooling
Tachycardia (racing heartbeat)
If you notice any of these symptoms in your Bluetick, seek veterinary care immediately.
The Bluetick’s characteristic long, floppy hound ears are prone to infection. Foreign bodies can easily become trapped, and bacteria and yeast can thrive in the warm, moist setting provided by their fur-covered flaps.
The ultimate cause of infection will determine the treatment, but topical cleansers, as well as topical and oral medications, are common.
Signs of ear infections in dogs include:
What To Feed a Bluetick Coonhound
No two Bluetick Coonhound pups are totally alike, so you’ll need to partner with your veterinarian to develop a feeding plan that’s nutritionally complete and balanced for your pup’s age, size, and health history.
How To Feed a Bluetick Coonhound
Most adult dogs should eat two meals a day, once in the morning and again in the evening. Breaking up feedings can also help protect against bloat. If your dog has a habit of snarfing their food (another risk factor for bloat), try a slow-feeder bowl, food-dispensing toys, snuffle mats, or even just scattering their food across the floor so they have to move around to nab each bite of kibble.
Because Bluetick Coonhound puppies have a higher metabolism than adult dogs, it’s generally best to add a midday feeding, for a total of three daily meals.
How Much Should You Feed a Bluetick Coonhound?
The nutrition label on your dog’s bag of food will include a recommended daily feeding guide that gives you a general idea of how much to feed your Bluetick, based on their weight. For a more accurate amount, ask your veterinarian. A vet will tailor their recommendation not only to your dog’s weight, but also to their body condition score, lifestyle, and health needs.
Nutritional Tips for Bluetick Coonhounds
If your Bluetick Coonhound is eating a complete and balanced diet of dog food approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), they shouldn’t need anything extra. However, nutritional supplements and even prescription diets are sometimes used to treat or prevent certain health conditions.
Talk to your veterinarian before adding anything new to your dog’s diet.
Behavior and Training Tips for Bluetick Coonhounds
Bluetick Coonhound Personality and Temperament
As you would expect with a dog bred to track quarry like bears and cougars, Bluetick Coonhounds are ambitious, active, and smart dogs that need a job to thrive (although this doesn’t need to involve a wild boar hunt, thankfully). But when given adequate mental and physical stimulation, these hounds are happy to curl up and take a well-deserved nap.
Though affectionate and devoted companions, Blueticks may be better suited for older children, and experienced pet parents who know how to train and manage a dog with their intelligence and strength. If your Bluetick picks up on a scent they’d like to follow, it can be hard to divert their attention. Blueticks also tend to enjoy the companionship of other dogs, a trait that has served them well when hunting in packs.
Bluetick Coonhound Behavior
While training can help keep their howls and bays to a minimum, prospective pet parents should be prepared for a louder-than-average dog. And because Blueticks can be relentless in their pursuit of a scent that intrigues them, leashes and fenced yards are a must.
Bluetick Coonhound Training
All dogs go through a critical development period from birth to around 16 weeks of age. During this socialization window, they learn how to interact with humans and other animals. Talk to your Bluetick Coonhound breeder about how they approach socialization. If done well, it can pay dividends in adulthood.
Bluetick Coonhounds are highly trainable thanks to their bright intellect and desire to please. Keep training fun with a rewards-based approach as opposed to using punishment. Consistent, positive reinforcement training carries the added benefits of building the human-animal bond while providing mental and physical exercise.
Fun Activities for Bluetick Coonhounds
Long walks (with some freedom to follow their noses)
Bluetick Coonhound Grooming Guide
The Bluetick Coonhound’s characteristic short, glossy coat is a breeze to care for, though be prepared for moderate shedding.
Bluetick Coonhounds don’t require any extra skin care. However, if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, it’s a good idea to regularly check their skin for ticks. Your dog should also be kept on monthly flea and tick preventatives.
The Bluetick’s short fur needs only a once-a-week brushing to control shedding. How often you bathe your hound will depend on how they spend their time outdoors (and where their nose leads them).
Blueticks aren’t predisposed to any eye conditions, but it’s still a good idea to regularly check their eyes for signs of problems, like redness and cloudiness. If you notice any changes in your pup’s eyes, talk to your veterinarian.
Ear infections are common thanks to the Bluetick’s long, thin, floppy ears. Talk to your veterinarian about how and how often you should clean your dog’s ears. If you notice signs of infection (such as pain, shaking, foul odor, or redness), schedule a vet appointment.
Considerations for Pet Parents
Here are some questions to consider before adding a Bluetick Coonhound to your family:
Do I have the time and energy to provide a dog with extensive mental and physical exercise every day?
Do I live in a home where a dog could howl or bay without being a neighborhood nuisance?
Can I keep a dog on a leash or within a securely fenced area?
Can I give a dog daily companionship?
Do I have the skills and patience to train a dog using positive reinforcement?
Am I financially prepared to provide veterinary care?
Can I provide a dog with a loving home for his lifetime, which could be 12 years or more?
If you can answer these questions with an enthusiastic “Yes!” you might be ready for a Bluetick Coonhound.
Bluetick Coonhound FAQs
Do Bluetick Coonhounds make good house pets?
Bluetick Coonhounds can be great house pets as long as their needs are met. Prospective pet parents should be prepared to provide daily mental and physical outlets to exhaust their large energy reserves, as well as close companionship.
With their impressive stature (up to 80 pounds) and talent for howling and baying, apartment dwelling could prove problematic. The ideal home would provide these scent hounds with plenty of space to play and communicate without fear of bothering the neighbors.
Do Bluetick Coonhounds have separation anxiety?
Bluetick Coonhounds were bred to work alongside humans and still prefer companionship to solitude. When left alone for long periods, Blueticks can experience separation anxiety and engage in unwanted destructive behaviors like chewing.
Are Bluetick Coonhounds good for first-time pet parents?
Bluetick Coonhounds are generally not recommended for first-time pet parents. These intelligent, tenacious dogs typically do best with experienced people who know how to channel the breed’s energy and instincts into safe, appropriate activities.
What’s the difference between a Bluetick Coonhound and a Redtick Coonhound?
Starting with the most obvious difference, Blueticks have a characteristic blue hue in their short coats, while Redtick Coonhounds (also known as American English Coonhounds) have red and white ticking and medium-length fur. And though Blueticks trace their ancestry back to France, Redticks are descendants of the English Foxhound.
Featured Image: Mary Swift/Royalty-free via Getty Images
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