Bluetick Coonhound

Height: 21-27 inches
Weight: 45-80 pounds
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Colors: Blue, brindle, fawn
Suitable for: Hunters, active families
Temperament: Energetic, loyal, intelligent, hard-working, headstrong

The Bluetick Coonhound is as all-American as any dog gets. Originating in Louisiana, these dogs have become an important part of Southern culture, regardless of whether they’re used for hunting.

And they love to hunt! They will chase anything that’s willing to run away, and they’ll chase it until they either run it down or put it up a tree. It’s not something that you can train out of them, so you’d better be okay with that aspect of their personalities from day one.

Even though any small animal will be viewed as a potential quarry, these dogs make fantastic family pets. You will have your hands full during the training process, though, and they’re better suited for backyard living than apartment life.

If you’d like to know more about these wonderful, unique dogs, the guide below will fill you in on all the pertinent details.

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Bluetick Coonhound Puppies — Before You Buy

Energy
Trainability
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

Bluetick Coonhounds are hunting dogs. That doesn’t mean that they’re always acquired for that purpose or that they don’t make fantastic pets, but they have a deep desire written in their genetic code to chase down smaller animals.

So, even if it’s not your intention to do so, you should realize that you’re bringing home a hunting dog when you adopt one of these pets. If you’re not prepared to deal with that, then you’re better off going with another breed entirely.

That said, these dogs make great pets — you should just know what you’re getting into ahead of time. This is the best way to make sure both you and the dog are good fits for one another.

What’s the Price of Bluetick Coonhound Puppies?

If you want a purebred Bluetick Coonhound, you’ll probably have to go through a reputable breeder. However, in many parts of the American South, you’ll find Bluetick Coonhound mixes all over the place, so if you’re not a stickler about bloodlines, check the pound first.

If you do go through a breeder, expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1,000 for a purebred pup. Of course, those numbers can go much higher if you’re shopping for premium bloodlines, but that’s a good ballpark figure for a regular dog.

One of the issues about finding a breeder in an area where these dogs are ubiquitous is that there are quite a few puppy mills out there. Don’t buy a puppy until you’ve seen the breeding facility, and check the breeder’s references thoroughly.

A Bluetick Coonhound pup should be active, alert, and inquisitive. They may not be friendly right off the bat, but they shouldn’t be scared or intimidated.

If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a breeder but still want a purebred dog, then you might consider checking to see if there are any Coonhound rescue groups in your area.

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3 Little-Known Facts About Bluetick Coonhounds

1. These Are Vocal Dogs

A Bluetick Coonhound is bred to chase a small animal (usually a raccoon) into a tree, where it can then be shot by hunters. That chase often causes these dogs to get way ahead of their humans — far out of eyesight range.

So, how do these dogs let their owners know where to find them? They bay, of course. That rumbly howl can be heard for long distances, which is great for hunting, but not ideal for making friends at your apartment complex.

With training, you can limit how much these dogs bay. Just know that the temptation to unleash a guttural cry will always be bubbling underneath the surface. The good news, however, is that this ability to unleash a torrent of sound makes them great guard dogs.

2. A Bluetick Coonhound Is the Official Mascot of the University of Tennessee

These dogs are such an important part of Southern culture that the University of Tennessee has adopted them as their mascot. “Smokey” is the official canine representative of the university, and he makes an appearance at every football game.

The dogs are just as tough as the players on the field too, as evidenced by the time that one of the Smokeys stood up to Baylor’s mascot — a live bear.

3. They’re Renowned for Having “Cold” Noses — But That Doesn’t Mean What You Think

The Bluetick Coonhound’s nose feels the same as about any other dogs, and it’s not any colder to the touch. So, why is having a cold nose considered such a prized attribute of these dogs?

The phrase refers to their ability to pick up on and follow old scents. While many breeds can follow a fresh trail, Coonhounds are one of the few that can track an odor that’s several days old or more.

bluetick coonhound close up

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Bluetick Coonhound

Perhaps more than many other breeds, a Bluetick Coonhound’s temperament will depend in large part on how well they’re socialized as a puppy.

If socialization is done well, these dogs will make goofy, loving companions that are fiercely devoted to their owners and guarded yet welcoming toward strangers. If done poorly, you’ll have a dog that’s suspicious of everyone and isn’t likely to become too attached to any one person.

They’re incredibly intelligent, although they often have a hard time focusing on a single person or object for a great length of time. They’re easily distracted by whatever scent may be present in the area, so you’ll always have competition for their attention.

This can make training difficult, but they’ll learn quickly when they’re focused on you. In fact, Blueticks often do well in obedience competitions, so the extra effort is well worth it.

Fortunately, they seldom use their formidable intelligence to undermine their owners, and they’re not prone to rebelliousness. You’ll just have to be more interesting than all the smells in your backyard.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

If properly socialized, Blueticks make fantastic family pets. They’re loving and patient with children, and they love nothing more than to clown around with little ones in the backyard.

Just be careful with these dogs around small children. While they’re not prone to aggression, they are prone to rambunctiousness, and they can easily bowl over a toddler without meaning to. You should also be careful around elderly family members, especially if they have balance or mobility issues.

Older kids should love them, though, and you may need their youthful exuberance to tucker out these dogs. However, assuming that they get enough exercise during the day, these pooches are likely to enjoy curling up by the couch and binge-watching Netflix with you.

They’re protective of their families, which makes them fantastic guard dogs. They won’t just let you know that there’s an intruder downstairs — they’ll alert the whole neighborhood.

Of course, if you can’t get their vocalization under control, you’re not likely to make friends with the neighbors, so they may be better suited for families in rural areas.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

Again, so much depends on socialization in this regard. If you raise a Bluetick Coonhound with other small animals from the time they’re a puppy, they can be taught to accept others without issue.

Generally speaking, though, you don’t want to mix a Coonhound with any smaller animals that could be perceived as prey. That could end poorly for the other pet.

They’re usually tolerant of other dogs; they’re bred to hunt as part of a pack, after all. However, you may see some jostling for rank, so it’s important not to let that get out of hand.

bluetick coonhound
Image Credit: bark, Wikimedia, CC 2.0

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Things to Know When Owning a Bluetick Coonhound

While these dogs are common in the South, that doesn’t mean that they’re well-understood. Below are important tips on properly caring for these pups.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

This is an energetic breed, and as a result, they need a food that will provide enough fuel to power them through their day. This typically means protein.

Look for a kibble that lists real meat as its first ingredient and has no less than 25% protein. Avoid animal by-products, as they’re usually made from low-grade meat.

Carbs are also important, but you need to feed your dog the right carbs. That means complex grains and high-quality fruits and veggies. Avoid cheap fillers like corn, wheat, and soy. As a general rule of thumb, if the food’s healthy for you, it’ll probably be healthy for your dog; ingredients like cranberries, spinach, and fish are all excellent.

While these dogs are active, that doesn’t mean they can’t get fat, so exercise proper portion control. Feed them one or two meals a day, and don’t let them free-feed. Also, avoid giving your dog too many treats or scraps.

Bluetick Coonhounds are prone to bloat, so don’t let your dog scarf down their food, and limit their activity after mealtimes. You may even need to buy a special bowl to slow them down as they eat.

Exercise 🐕

These dogs are bred to be distance runners, so they’ll appreciate any and all exercise you can give them. If you don’t give them enough stimulation (about an hour a day), you could start experiencing behavioral problems.

However, that doesn’t mean that they’re going full-blast all the time. Once you give them the necessary exercise, they’re relaxed animals. They love to watch TV after a good workout.

They do well in obedience competitions, as that taxes both their minds and bodies. Similarly, they thrive in agility sports, so it may be worth installing poles, ramps, or tunnels in your backyard.

Mental stimulation is critical as well. Instead of handing them a puzzle toy or a stuffed Kong like you would with other breeds, though, you need to tax their noses. Consider hiding food around the house and letting them sniff it out.

Training 🎾

Training a Bluetick Coonhound is extremely important. It can also be extremely frustrating.

It’s not because the dogs are rebellious or stupid — it’s just that they’re endlessly distracted. You’re competing with every smell in the world for their attention, and you’ll often lose.

If you can hold their focus, though, you’ll find that these dogs love to learn, and they can be taught to do just about anything.

One of the best ways to train these dogs is to incorporate their sense of smell as much as possible. Many trainers try to get them to obey visual commands, but using their noses is much more effective. For example, let them smell the treat you’ll use as a reward rather than just showing it to them.

In addition to proper training, socialization is key. Introduce them to as many people, places, and animals as you can while they’re puppies. If you can make them comfortable around smaller animals while they’re young, it will save you grief once they’re fully grown.

 

Grooming ✂️

Bluetick Coonhounds are low-maintenance dogs in terms of grooming. They have short, slick coats that aren’t especially prone to shedding, so all they need is an occasional brushing.

Bathing isn’t often needed, either, unless the dog finds something disgusting to roll in outside (and they will). They do love to trample through brush, so you should check them for thorns, burrs, and other foreign objects and be sure to keep their paws and ears clean. It’s also essential to use a quality flea-and-tick repellent.

You’ll need to brush their teeth once a week, and trim their nails as needed (they usually file them down on their own, however).

Health and Conditions 🏥

Bluetick Coonhounds are healthy dogs in that they’re not prone to a wide variety of illnesses. However, they’re quite prone to a select few, such as:

Minor Conditions
  • Patellar luxation
Serious Conditions
  • Bloat
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia

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Male vs. Female

Males are significantly larger than females, and they’ll often have a few inches and as much as 20-30 pounds on their feminine counterparts.

Females generally mature more quickly, and as such, they can be easier to train. Males are often goofier and more playful.

Opinions are split as to which sex makes for a better hunting dog. Some hunters believe that males are more tenacious, while others think that females are more single-minded (meaning, they won’t stop to pee on every tree). Ultimately, though, this likely comes down to how the dog is trained more than anything else.

Also, it should be noted that all the characteristics above can be affected by spaying or neutering the dog as a puppy.

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Final Thoughts

Bluetick Coonhounds are the quintessential Southern dog, and while they’re excellent hunting companions, they make great family pets as well. They can be loving, loyal, and ridiculous, but they’re all business when it matters.

You’ll need to be confident in your training abilities, though, as these dogs have difficulty focusing on anything beyond what’s happening inside their nostrils. They have high prey drives too, so they might not be suitable for homes with small animals.

Overall, though, these are fantastic pups, and they’ll quickly ingratiate themselves into your family. Best of all, if you have a tree in the backyard, there’s a good chance that they’ll have a new surprise waiting up there for you every day.


Featured Image: bark, Wikimedia Commons, CC 2.0