What To Know About Bluetick Coonhounds


In this Article

  • Characteristics of Bluetick Coonhounds
  • Caring for Bluetick Coonhounds
  • Health Problems to Watch for With Bluetick Coonhounds
  • Special Considerations for Bluetick Coonhounds
  • History of Bluetick Coonhounds

Bluetick coonhounds are intelligent hunting dogs in the hound group. They’re very loving with family members but determined when they’ve caught a scent. 

These dogs like to bay and bark while they’re on the run and can be unwieldy without proper training. They’re not right for everyone, but their fans firmly believe that they’re some of the best companions around. 

Characteristics of Bluetick Coonhounds

Body size. Bluetick coonhounds are medium-to-large-sized dogs. The usual bluetick coonhound size is larger for males than females. 

Males are an average height of 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder. Females are an average of 21 to 25 inches tall. Healthy males weigh anywhere from 55 to 80 pounds depending on their height. Healthy females can weigh anywhere from 45 to 65 pounds. 

Talk to your veterinarian if you’re concerned that your pet is too far under or overweight. 

Body shape. Bluetick coonhounds are shaped for a balance of speed and stamina. They have muscular legs that end in rounded, cat-like feet. They have well-arched toes and tough pads. 

Other bluetick coonhounds traits include broad heads and long muzzles. Their ears are set low on their skulls and are long enough to reach their noses if pulled forward. 

Their tails are set slightly below the end of their spines. Tails are usually carried high up in a half-moon curve. 

Lifespan. The bluetick coonhound’s lifespan is normal for their larger size. They live an average of 11 to 12 years. This means that you should plan for just over a decade with your dog before choosing to bring one home. 

Coat. Bluetick coonhounds have short, smooth coats. They look sleek and glossy when well-groomed. 

The dogs can come in two different color combinations, either blue ticked or blue ticked and tan. They may or may not have black spots. 

Eyes. These dogs have large eyes that are set far apart in the skull. They’re round in shape and brown in color. According to the breed standard, the darker the brown, the better. 

Personality. The bluetick coonhound personality is different when they’re at home compared to when they’re out hunting. They’re highly affectionate pets and are loyal to their families.

When they’re hanging out at home, they’re sweet and charming dogs.  

On the trail, the bluetick coonhound temperament becomes ambitious and determined. They have a strong prey instinct and can stubbornly follow one scent for hours, even days. 

Caring for Bluetick Coonhounds

Grooming. Bluetick coonhounds have simple grooming needs. They do shed a bit. Brush them with a soft brush or grooming glove about once a week to remove dead hairs and keep their coats shiny and healthy. 

Give your dog an occasional bath. They need one whenever they’re too dirty or smelly for your liking. 

Trim their nails regularly and brush their teeth on a daily basis to complete their grooming routine. 

Feeding. Make sure that your pet has access to clean water at all times. 

Your bluetick coonhound needs high-quality dog food. Try to find a brand that your pet enjoys. Make sure that the nutritional requirements are specific to their stage of life, like puppy and senior-specific foods. 

You need to consult your veterinarian before choosing to make an at-home blend for your dog. Making your own food can be complicated and time-consuming. You need to specifically meet all of your dog’s nutritional needs to keep them healthy. This requires a precise food blend. 

Also make sure that you know what human foods are safe for your dog to eat before feeding them anything from your kitchen. 

Exercise and mental stimulation. Bluetick coonhounds were bred to be active hunting companions. This means that they need a decent amount of exercise every day. 

You can take them on long walks or play with them in a fenced-in yard. But keep in mind that they have a strong prey instinct and are likely to take off after every squirrel. Don’t let them off-leash or leave them unsupervised in an area with a low fence. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to track them down. 

They need a moderate amount of mental stimulation. Playing games with you or getting involved in doggy sports are great outlets for their excess physical and mental energies. Examples include tracking and agility activities or hunting and field trials. 

Veterinary visits, medications, and immunizations. Talk to your veterinarian for the best vaccine recommendations for your dog. There are core vaccinations that all dogs will need as well as some that are region or lifestyle specific.   

Some necessary core vaccinations include:

  • Canine parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus
  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Rabies

It’s safe for your dogs to start these vaccinations as early as six weeks old. 

Dosages for flea and tick medications are based on your dog’s weight and used as needed. Oral and skin-based applications are available from your veterinarian or other distributors.

Many of these medications can be effective against a variety of pests and parasites, so talk to your veterinarian to figure out the best one for you. Heartworm medication is recommended year-round in all parts of the U.S.

Health Problems to Watch for With Bluetick Coonhounds

Bluetick coonhounds are an athletic, healthy breed. But your pet could still have a number of problems that you should watch out for. 

Bluetick coonhound health issues include: 

  • Gastric torsion or bloat. This is when there’s twisting in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract, specifically in the stomach. Your dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or liquid and then twists, creating a sudden and life-threatening situation. Signs include an enlarged abdomen, retching, and drooling. It’s typically treated with emergency surgery.
  • Coonhound paralysis. This is a temporary condition where your dog’s leg or entire body quickly becomes paralyzed and can’t move. It’s possibly caused by the dog’s immune system reacting to raccoon saliva from a bite. But it can also happen without a raccoon bite. Your dog can slowly regain its normal function with intensive treatment and rehabilitation.  
  • Cataracts make the lenses in your dog’s eyes opaque. They eventually lead to blindness. You can choose to treat them with surgery but older dogs also adjust to the condition with relative ease. 
  • Orthopedic issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is where the ball and socket of your dog’s hip do not fit or develop properly as they grow. Instead of sliding smoothly, the bones grind against each other, wearing down and eventually making it difficult for your dog to move. Your veterinarian can evaluate your dog’s joints and see how likely they are to cause problems throughout your dog’s life. Elbow dysplasia is a comparable condition at the elbow joint. 
  • Patellar luxation. This is a common cause of lameness in dogs that’s due to problems with your pet’s knee joint. They could be born with it or develop the problem from an injury. The treatment will depend on how severely your dog is affected, but could include surgery.
  • Thyroid problems. A common problem is hypothyroidism where your dog’s body can’t make enough thyroid hormone. Signs can include dry skin, hair loss, and behavioral problems. Your veterinarian should screen for this condition on an annual basis and treatment is usually in the form of a pill to replace the hormones.
  • Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL). This is a nerve disease that shows its first signs between the ages of one and three years. The main first sign is weakening rear limbs. Currently, there isn’t a cure. Bring your dog to the veterinarian if you start to notice problems with any of their limbs.   

Special Considerations for Bluetick Coonhounds

There are a few important details to keep in mind before bringing a bluetick coonhound home with you. They’re only moderately good with young children but can be great with older kids. The kids just need to be large enough to handle the dog’s enthusiastic personality and prey instincts.

They may take time to warm up to strangers but aren’t protective enough to make great watchdogs. 

They rarely drool but their bark could be an issue for some families. Bluetick coonhounds don’t bark like normal dogs. They have loud, baying, bawling barks. They constantly call out in long, bell-like tones when they’re on the hunt. The bark becomes shorter and choppier when they’ve cornered their prey but it still doesn’t stop.

If your dog is left alone too often or never given a chance to run off their energy, then they’ll likely develop problematic behaviors. For example, they could start baying all night at your neighbors. 

History of Bluetick Coonhounds

Like all coonhound breeds, bluetick coonhounds were created in the U.S. This breed specifically comes from Louisiana. 

The coonhound lineage traces back to before the U.S. was even a country. George Washington received a pair of French staghounds from his friend the Marquis de Lafayette. These dogs were bred to English foxhounds and other dog breeds to create the coonhound lineage. 

American foxhounds and black and tan Virginia foxhounds were likely involved in the bluetick coonhound’s breeding as well.  

These dogs are nocturnal hunters. They were bred to excel at tracking warm-blooded game by its scent. 

Bluetick coonhounds were fantastic companions for frontiersmen as they trailed raccoons through the wilderness. They’re so good at scent-tracking that they can follow trails that are days, even weeks, old.  

Although they’re mostly bred to hunt alone, blueticks can be trained to work as a pack as well. Together, they’re capable of taking down much larger game including:

  • Bears
  • Lynx
  • Cougars
  • Wild boar

There’s one variation of this breed, a subgroup called the American blue Gascon. These dogs are also known as old-fashioned blueticks because they’re larger, heavier, and more houndy-looking than the standard breed. They also have a slower tracking style that’s still very effective. 

Bluetick coonhounds were added to the United Kingdom’s Kennel Club in 1946 and the AKC in 2009. These dogs have been referenced throughout popular culture, including roles on TV and in film. Bluetick coonhounds have been the sports mascot for the University of Tennessee since 1953.  

Show Sources

Photo Credits:

1. Avondell / Getty Images


The American Animal Hospital Association: “2017 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines.”

American College of Veterinary Surgeons: “Canine Hip Dysplasia.”

American Heartworm Society: “Heartworm Medicine for Dogs.”

American Kennel Club: “Bloat (Or GDV) in Dogs – What It Is and How It’s Treated,” “Bluetick Coonhounds,” “Official Standard of the Bluetick Coonhound.” 

Europetnet: “Bluetick Coonhound.” 

Southside Veterinary Center: “Bluetick Coonhound.”  

UC Davis Veterinary Medicine: “Fleas.”

Veterinary Medicine: Research and Reports: “Patellar luxation in dogs.”}.

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