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Bluetick Coonhound

Introduction | History & Health | Temperament & Personality | Breed Standard

Bluetick Coonhound

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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.

History & Health


The Bluetick Coonhound is a fairly new dog breed. It was developed in the southern United States in the early 1900s, for the specific purpose of hunting raccoons and other small wild animals. Its ancestors include the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, the Staghound and other French hounds that were brought to America during the early days of colonization. Traders, dog dealers and other people traveling through isolated rural areas of the deep South could not help but notice those beautifully–voiced hound dogs, which contributed to most of the present Coonhound breeds. American hunters found the French hounds to be too slow on the tracking trail. However, when they crossed them with American hounds, they found that the offspring had better cold-nosed trailing abilities and improved endurance. (Having a "cold nose" refers to a dog's ability to follow an old trail left by whatever animal is being pursued.) Combinations of French hounds, English Foxhounds, Bloodhounds and a number of American dogs of unknown ancestry led to today's Bluetick Coonhound, which is now recognized as a breed in its own right.
In the early days of their development, different strains of Blueticks were known by the various geographical regions where they were bred and lived. The most well-known of these were the Ozark Mountain, Sugar Creek, Old Line, Smokey River and Bugle lines. The Bluetick Coonhound was first registered by the United Kennel Club (UKC) under the name "English Coonhound". However, Bluetick breeders wanted to retain and promote the larger size, colder nose and slower hunting style of their dogs, rather than lumping them together with the hotter-nosed, fleeter and less stoic English hounds. In 1945, American Bluetick breeders formally rejected the UKC's "English Coonhound" designation and directed their efforts toward establishing their breed as the Bluetick Coonhound, for once and for all. The United Kennel Club officially recognized the Bluetick Coonhound as an independent breed in 1946. For a short time after that, Coonhound puppies with blue ticking were called Blueticks, and those with red ticking were called English Coonhounds. This practice stopped as each different variety of Coonhound gained its own staunch supporters and became independently recognized as separate breeds. In 2009, the American Kennel Club accepted the Bluetick Coonhound for full registration as a member of its Hound Group.

Health Predispositions

Bluetick Coonhounds are a fairly healthy, hardy breed. Their average lifespan is 10 to 12 years. Their large, pendulous ears are prone to becoming infected and should be checked and cleaned regularly. This breed has an increased risk of developing a neurological condition called polyradiculoneuritis, which is similar to Guillain-Barre Syndrome in humans. It usually presents as a sudden, progressive paralysis in all four legs. Most dogs spontaneously recover from this condition slowly over time. Some dogs are thought to develop polyradiculoneuritis as a result of being bitten by raccoons, which is why the disorder is also sometimes referred to as "Coonhound Paralysis." However, many dogs that develop this condition have no history of exposure to raccoons or raccoon saliva.

Temperament & Personality


Bluetick Coonhounds are smart, easygoing dogs that are affectionate, loyal and uniformly devoted to their owners. While they have a tremendous amount of natural energy, Blueticks also enjoy relaxing at in front of the fire, at their owners' feet or on the couch, when they are not tracking and treeing raccoons or other animals. Blueticks are fond of children and make wonderful, trustworthy family members.

Activity Level

Bluetick Coonhounds are extremely high-energy animals that definitely need a job to do to stay happy, fit and focused. This breed loves to hunt and also enjoys participating in obedience, tracking, utility, agility and almost any other active outdoor canine sport. Without vigorous daily exercise, Blueticks can become bored and potentially destructive.


Bluetick Coonhounds are smart, sensible and stable. They also are unusually sensitive. As a result, kind, consistent, positive training methods work best with this breed, as they do with most others. Because Blueticks can be a somewhat stubborn, their owners should start obedience training and socialization at a very young age. It is not difficult for dedicated Bluetick owners to train and socialize their dogs. It just will take a bit of time and patience, on both parties' parts. Repetition and consistency are the hallmarks of training this breed successfully.

Behavioral Traits

Bluetick Coonhounds are known to have what is referred to as "the good hound-dog bawl." This refers to their unique musical vocalization skills. These are intelligent, ambitious, fearless hunting dogs that will work tirelessly to track and tree their targets. Blueticks have the ability and natural endurance to stay on the oldest and most delicate of trails for hours or even days on end, which makes them terrific companions for active hunters and sporting households. Bluetick Coonhounds are considered to be "free-tonguers," which means that they periodically make a medium-loud, melodic bugle when on the hunt. The American Kennel Club standard for the breed describes that the Bluetick "should be a free tonguer on trail, with a medium bawl or bugle voice when striking and trailing, which may change to a steady chop when running and a steady coarse chop at the tree." Blueticks should not be trusted off-leash in wide-open areas, because their keen noses are likely to lead them astray. This breed has a strong prey drive and is naturally inclined to chase and pounce on anything that is smaller than them and that moves. This includes children and small animals. Fortunately, if they are well-socialized with pets and kids from an early age, Blueticks can accept them and overcome their prey instincts. They seem to love being in the company of other dogs and typically adore children, once they get to know them.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Bluetick should have the appearance of a speedy and well-muscled hound. He never appears clumsy or overly chunky in build. He has a neat, compact body, a glossy coat and clear, keen eyes. In motion he carriers his head and tail well up.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Height at withers for adult males, 22 to 27 inches. For adult females, 21 to 25 inches. Weight for males 55 to 80 pounds, females 45 to 65 pounds. Proportion (measured from point of shoulder to base of tail and withers to ground) is square or slightly longer than tall. DISQUALIFICATIONS: Males under 22 inches or over 27 inches. Females under 21 inches or over 25 inches. (Entries in puppy class are not to be disqualified for being undersize.)

The head is broad between the ears with a slightly domed skull. Total length of head from occiput to end of nose is 9 to 10 inches in males and 8 to 9 inches in females. Stop is prominent. Muzzle is long, broad and deep, square in profile with flews that well cover the line of the lower jaw. Depth of foreface should be 3 to 4½ inches.

Eyes – rather large, set wide apart in skull. Round in shape and dark brown in color (never lighter than light brown). Eye rims tight and close fitting. No excess third eyelid should be apparent. Expression is a typical pleading hound expression, never wild or cowering.

Ears – set low and devoid of erectile power. Should be thin with a slight roll, taper well towards a point, and reach well towards the end of the nose when pulled forward. Well attached to head to prevent hanging or backward tilt.

Nose – large with well-opened nostrils. Fully pigmented, black in color.

Teeth – scissors bite preferred, even bite acceptable. Undershot or overshot are disqualifying faults. Disqualifications: undershot or overshot.

Neck, Topline, Body
Neck – muscular and of moderate length, tapering slightly from shoulders to head. Carried well up but not vertical (goose necked). Throat clean with only a slight trace of dewlap.

Body – the body should show considerable depth (extending well down toward the elbow), rather than excessive width, to allow for plenty of lung space. Forechest is moderate, fairly even with the point of the shoulder. Girth of chest for males is 26 to 34 inches, for females 23 to 30 inches. Ribs are long and well-sprung, tapering gradually towards a moderate tuck-up. Back is muscular and topline slopes downward slightly from withers to hips. Loin is broad, well-muscled and slightly arched.

Legs are straight from elbows to feet, well boned and muscular, with strong, straight, slightly sloping pasterns. Legs should appear straight from either side or front view. Length of leg from elbow to ground is approximately one half the height at the withers. Shoulders are clean and sloping, muscular but not too broad or rough, giving the appearance of freedom of movement and strength.

Hips are strong and well muscled, not quite as wide as ribcage. Thighs have great muscular development for an abundance of propelling power. Breeching full and clean down to hock. Hocks are strong and moderately bent. Dewclaws are removed. Rear legs are parallel from hip to foot when viewed from behind (no cowhocks).

Round (cat-like) with well arched toes and thick, tough pads.

Set on slightly below the line of the back, strongly rooted and tapering to a moderate length (in balance to the overall length of the hound). Carried high with a forward half-moon curve. Well coated but without flag.

Medium coarse and lying close to the body, appearing smooth and glossy. Not rough or too short.

Preferred color is a dark blue, thickly mottled body, spotted by various shaped black spots on back, ears and sides. Preference is to more blue than black on body. Head and ears predominately black. With or without tan markings (over eyes, on cheeks, chest and below tail) and red ticking on feet and lower legs. A fully blue mottled body is preferred over light ticking on the body. There should be more blue ticking than white in the body coat. No other colors allowed. Disqualifications: Any color other than that described in the standard. Albinism.

Active and vigorous, with topline carried firmly and head and tail well up.

Active, ambitious and speedy on the trail. The Bluetick should be a free tonguer on trail, with a medium bawl or bugle voice when striking and trailing, which may change to a steady chop when running and a steady coarse chop at the tree.

Males under 22 inches or over 27 inches.
Females under 21 inches or over 25 inches.
(Entries in puppy class are not to be disqualified for being undersize.)
Any color other than that described in the standard.
Undershot or overshot.

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