Bluetick Coonhound – General Description
The Bluetick Coonhound is a type of coonhound typically bred in the southern United States.
Classification and Standards
- AKC Hound (FSS)
- ANKC Group 4 (Hounds)
- NZKC Hounds
- UKC Scenthounds
Coonhounds are an American style of hunting dog developed for the quarry and working conditions found in the United States. Coondogs are highly valued.
In the colonial period, foxhounds were imported for the popular sport of foxhunting. Various breeds of foxhounds and other hunting hounds were imported from England, Ireland, and France, making up the initial composition of the dogs that were later known as Virginia Hounds.
Foxhounds were found to be inadequate for hunting animals that did not hide near the ground, but instead took to the treetops to escape, such as raccoons, opossums, bobcats and even larger prey like cougars and bears. The dogs were often confused or unable to hold the scent when this occurred, and would mill about.
The name is derived from their original use in hunting raccoons.
Treeing dogs were developed, chosen for a keen sense of smell, the ability to track, chase and corner any manner of animal independent of human commands, and, most importantly, to follow an animal both on the ground and when it takes to the trees. A good coonhound will bark and keep its prey treed until the hunters arrive. Bloodhounds specifically were added to many coonhound lines to enhance the ability to track. Some dogs have webbed toes to deal with the rivers and swamps so common in their hunting grounds.
Coonhounds can hunt individually or as a pack. Generally, hunters do not chase their quarry along with the hounds, unlike organized foxhunting, but wait and listen to the distinctive baying to determine if a raccoon or other animal has been treed. Besides raccoons, coonhounds are excellent at handing all manner of prey if trained properly.
Other Coonhounds include:
- American Black & Tan Coonhound
- English Coonhound
- Plott Hound
- Redbone Coonhound
- Treeing Walker Coonhound
Character & Temperament
Bluetick Coonhounds are gentle with children and loyal, loving pets, but they can be challenging to train. They are the breed least likely to be aggressive to people, but they should not be trusted around cats or other small animals. They are, like their hound counterparts, very intelligent breeds, with an uncanny knack for problem-solving. This can be particularly problematic if they are confined to a household or too small a yard, and one should give this breed plenty of space. Once trained, the breed is very mindful of its owner. Breed will drool occasionally. They are very loud, constant, and howling barkers. They are bred to be working hunting dogs and can be a challenge to lazy pet owners.
In normal conditions the dog is excellent around families and children. Once trained, they are mindful, friendly dogs. However, their noses will keep them in trouble, so food and garbage should not ever be left out unattended. Often mistaken for aggressiveness, 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. They will tree any animal that is small and handle the best of the coon hound breeds.
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. Breeders have started the process of obtaining recognition from the American Kennel Club, and Blueticks are now 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. The picture here appears to be of a female American Blue Gascon.
Size & Appearance
The overall body style of the Bluetick Coonhound is muscular and speedy, not chunky or clumsily built. The head is carried well up and the tail carried over the back, without signs of fear or nervousness. The Bluetick coat should be moderately coarse and glossy. The Bluetick Coonhound gets its “blue” coloring from black/white mottling which gives the impression of a navy blue color. This mottling covers the body and can be interspersed with variously-shaped black spots on the back, ears and sides. Preference runs to more blue than black on the body. Black should predominate on the head and ears. Bluetick Coonhounds should have tan dots over the eyes and on the cheeks with dark red ticking on the feet and lower legs below the body line, on the chest, and below the tail. Red can be eliminated, as well as the tan head coloring. Blue mottling on the body is preferred to lighter ticking. Blue ticking should be predominant over white in the body coat. Off colors are not allowed, but almost solid black with just some ticking on the feet and chest is permitted. Also most blue ticks can have gray at the end of the tail.
The Bluetick Coonhound has low-set ears which reach at least to the nose. The muzzle should be square, not narrow or snipey, and slightly shorter than the depth of skull. There should be a prominent stop, and the skull should be slightly domed. The lips and flews should well cover the lower jaw. The blueticks eyes should be large and set wide apart. Coloring light brown to dark brown, with a close fitting eylid. The neck of the Bluetick should be arched and muscular, of moderate length and without excessive dewflap.
Male coonhounds should be 22 to 27 inches (56 to 69 cm) at the shoulder and weigh approximately 55 to 80 pounds (25 to 36 kg). Females are considerably smaller, being 21 to 25 inches (53 to 64 cm) at the shoulder and weighing between 45 to 65 pounds. The body should be higher at the shoulder than the hips, and when measured from the withers to the base of tail it should be slightly longer than tall. Blueticks (as they are known by fanciers) should have a deep chest with well sprung ribs, curving into the belly rather than having an extreme tucked up look.
Feet should be cat-like, rounded with well-arched toes. Their paws are larger than nearly all other breeds of dogs. Rear legs should have a moderate bend at the hocks. All legs should be straight when viewed from the front or rear.
Gascon blues are larger than standard blueticks, with males a minimum of 27 inches (69 cm) and a maximum of 30 inches (76 cm). See the American Blue Gascon Coonhound Association’s breed standard: http://www.abgha.org/standard.htm
Health & Maintenance
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.
Daily vigorous exercise is needed, which includes a long, brisk daily walk. Coonhounds who do not receive enough mental and physical exercise may become high strung and even destructive. This very anxious and energetic dog has been bred for severe physical exercise. Coonhounds are born natural hunters, so they have a tendency to run off and hunt if they are not kept well-fenced while exercising on their own. They have no road sense at all, so they must be kept in a safe environment.
Life Expectancy is about 11-12 years.
They are prone to hip dysplasia, cataracts, and Krabbes disease.
In Movies, TV, & Print
A Bluetick Coonhound named “Smokey” is the official athletic mascot of the University of Tennessee.
A Bluetick Coonhound named Tet was the companion of Stringfellow Hawke, the main character of popular 1980s television show Airwolf.
Neil Young has stated that his song “Old King” is a tribute to a deceased Bluetick Coonhound he once owned.
An unnamed Bluetick Coonhound is featured in Blake Shelton’s hit single, “Ol’ Red”. The song relates an escape plan of a man convicted of a crime of passion when he murdered his wife and her lover. He devises a plan to have a female Bluetick lure the prison’s male Bloodhound Ol’ Red away from the narrator (Shelton) instead of tracking him as he heads in the opposite direction. The closing lines of the song are: “Now there’s red-haired Blueticks all in the South, / Love got me in there and love got me out.”
Coonhounds are featured in the book Where the Red Fern Grows. However, the two main dogs are Redbone Coonhounds.
Emmylou Harris sings about her friend Lillian’s “Bluetick hound dog, Gideon” in her song Red Dirt Girl.
Charlie Daniels mentions that he is “kinda like my old Bluetick hound/I like to lay around in the shade” in his song “Long Haired Country Boy.”
David Allan Coe mentions a Bluetick hound in his song “Cum Stains on the Pillow.”
A Bluetick was featured in a Miracle Whip television commercial. After making a sandwich, the dog discovers the owner is out of Miracle Whip. (Jeff Gorman Films – Man’s Best Friend Makes a Sandwich; Animal Makers animation)
Ken Kesey, in his novel, “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”, used a Bluetick Coonhound as a symbol for his main character Chief Bromden.
In Savage Sam, the sequel to Old Yeller, the title character is a Bluetick Coonhound. He is meant to be the son of Old Yeller, despite Old Yeller having been a Blackmouth Cur.
Justin Moore’s song “Backwoods” features a line “Bluetick coonhound you know where I’m found out in the…”
In Chappelle’s Show the dog in the opening credits is a Bluetick Coonhound.
- American Kennel Club (2009), AKC Gazette, 126, American Kennel Club, Inc.
- Mark Riordan releases image into the [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
- EddieG5 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
It is most likely that the Bluetick is principally descended from the quick foxhounds of England with some introduction of the blood of various French hounds which were used for hunting big game. The French dogs were known as being very cold nosed. George Washington received five such French hounds from General Lafayette.
Blueticks were originally registered with UKC as English. In 1946, at the request of the Bluetick fanciers, UKC began registering Blueticks as a separate breed.
The Bluetick Coonhound should have the appearance of a speedy and well-muscled hound. He has a neat body that is well proportioned; not clumsy or chunky in build. He has a glossy coat, and clear, keen eyes, with a typical pleading hound expression, never wild or cowering. As a Scenthound, the Bluetick’s natural position of the head and tail in motion is parallel to the ground; the tail is not curled over the back or dropped between legs.
The Bluetick is active, ambitious and speedy on the trail. It should be a free tonguer on trail, with a bawl, squall, chop or bugle voice when striking and trailing, with a distinct changeover on tree of bawling, chopping, or combination of both, and be willing to be hospitable to both men and dogs which are around them.
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. The stop is prominent. The muzzle from the stop to the end of the nose should be well proportioned in width with the skull, with depth of flews well covering the lower jaw. Depth of foreface should be 3 to 4½ inches.
EYES – Rather large, set wide apart at the stop. Round in shape, and dark brown in color, but not lighter than light brown. Eyelids are tight and close fitting. No excess third eyelid should be apparent. Expression is a typical pleading hound expression, never wild or cowering.
TEETH – A scissors bite is preferred; an even bite is acceptable.
NOSE – Fully pigmented, bIack in color; with well-opened nostrils.
EARS – The ears are attached slightly below top of skull, but set low enough on head to be 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.
MUZZLE – From stop to end of nose should be square, well proportioned in width with the skull, with depth and flews well covering the lower jaw. Depth of 3 to 4½.
Muscular and of moderate length, rising with a slight taper from shoulder to head that allows the head to be carried well up but not vertical (goose necked). Throat clean, with only a slight trace of dewlap.
Shoulders clean and sloping, muscular, but not too broad or rough, giving the appearance of freedom of movement and strength.
FORELEGS – The forelegs are straight from shoulders to feet, well boned, and muscular, with strong straight pasterns. Forelegs should appear straight from either side or front view.
The chest should show considerable depth (extending well down toward the elbow), rather than excessive width, to allow plenty of lung space. The forechest is moderate fairly even with the point of the shoulders. Girth of chest for males 26 to 34 inches, for females 23 to 30 inches. Ribs are long and well sprung, tapering gradually toward a moderate tuck-up. Back is muscular and firm, slightly lower at hips than at withers. Loin is broad, well muscled and slightly arched. Proportion (measured from point of shoulder to base of tail and withers to ground) is square or slightly longer than tall.
Hips are strong and well muscled, not quite as wide as rib cage.
HIND LEGS – Hind legs are straight from hip to foot when viewed from behind. The hocks strong and moderately bent when viewed from the side. Thighs have ample muscular development for an abundance of propelling power. Breeching full and clean down to hock.
Round (cat-like), with well-arched toes. Pads are strong, hard and thick. The size of the feet should be proportionate to the size of the dog.
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. Well coated but without flag. Carried gaily, slight curve or parallel to ground, but not turned forward over the back or dropped between legs.
Medium coarse, and laying close to the body, appearing smooth and glossy. Not too rough or too short.
A smooth lithe gait is essential. The action of the Bluetick Coonhound is a strong, driving, smooth gait. The over-all appearance in motion should be that of effortless power, endurance, speed, agility, smoothness and grace.
When viewed from the front, the front legs must reach well out in front in straight lines, with pasterns strong and springy as if to pull in the ground. Hackneyed motion is not desired, nor is paddling or weaving.
The rear legs follow the front legs, which give forceful propulsion, thus the Bluetick moves in a straight pattern forward.
When viewed from the side there should be a noticeable drive, with a ground-covering stride.
HEIGHT AND WEIGHT
Height at withers for adult males, not less than 22 inches or more than 27 inches. Height at withers for adult females, not less than 21 inches or more than 25 inches.
Ideal weight for males 55 to 80 pounds; females 45 to 65 pounds, to be in proportion to the size of the hound
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 predominantly black. With or without tan markings (over eyes, on cheeks, chest and below tail), and red ticking on feet and lower legs. Red may be eliminated as to the desire of the breeder, as well as the amount of black on the body and the tan head coloring.
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.
(A dog with an Eliminating Fault is not to be considered for placement in a bench show/conformation event, nor are they to be reported to UKC.)
Males under 22 inches or over 27 inches. Females under 21 inches or over 25 inches. (Entries in Puppy Class are not to be eliminated for being undersize.)
(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a bench show/conformation event, and must be reported to UKC.)
Undershot or overshot. Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Viciousness or extreme shyness. Albinism. Deaf. Blind.
Note: Spayed and neutered dogs may compete in all UKC Licensed Coonhound Events, including bench shows, nite hunts, water races and field trials.
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