Bluetick Coonhound portrait with illustrated embellishments

Bluetick Coonhound

A regal and determined hound, the bluetick coonhound can be a wonderful hunting companion and gentle best friend wrapped into one shiny body. Needing an outlet for their “houndy” behaviors, these special dogs could amaze your neighbors with their ability to “sing”. Find out if this unique breed is a suitable addition to your lifestyle.
Bluetick Coonhound
Breed Group
Dog Size
Other Traits
Temperament
Bluetick Coonhound
height
  • 21–27 inches
weight
  • 45–80 pounds
life span
  • 11–12 years
breed size
  • large (61-100 lbs.)
good with
  • families
temperament
  • outgoing
  • playful
  • willful
  • gentle
intelligence
  • medium
shedding amount
  • normal
exercise needs
  • high
energy level
  • active
barking level
  • howler
drool amount
  • low
breed group
  • hound
coat length/texture
  • short
colors
  • blue
  • black
  • brown / chocolate / liver
patterns
  • flecked / ticked / speckled
other traits
  • good hiking companion
  • high prey drive

Shiny, sleek, and dignified, the bluetick coonhound is an adept hunting companion with quite an ability to make "music" by baying, howling, and barking when she finds it necessary (which might be often!). 

Bred to track and pursue large quarry like raccoons, wild boar, and even cougars by way of her nose, the bluetick is a large, active breed with an almost unmatched smelling ability. With male dogs reaching 27 inches tall and weighing up to 80 pounds (females are a little smaller), these pups don't do well being cooped up in the house all day. 

Smart and full of energy until they finally need a nap near your feet, the bluetick coonhound may not be the best choice for first-time dog owners or city dwellers, as they require lots of daily, creative ways to use their senses to keep them mentally and physically healthy. They need access to a large, fenced-in area and should experience daily adventures that allow them to follow their nose. The bluetick coonhound does best with an owner who understands that her amazing nose can quickly lead her to trouble.

Appearance 

Sleek and distinguished, the bluetick coonhound is considered a large breed. Males can grow to be 22–27 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 55–80 pounds. Females tend to be a few inches shorter and typically weigh 45–65 pounds.

bluetick coonhound standing outdoors tilting her head
With their speckled blue, black, and tan coat, bluetick coonhounds are easily recognizable hounds.
| Credit: Mary Swift / Adobe Stock

Bluetick coonhounds stand out, with their name coming directly from their coat pattern. They are a unique-looking breed with their black, blue, white, and sometimes tan coats covered in small black spots (called ticking). They are muscular but slender under their short, coarse coats. These dogs do shed moderately, but it's nothing a good weekly brushing can't handle. Although this breed does not require regular trips to the groomer, you may find that your bluetick often needs a good bath after they go on long excursions outdoors.

The long, darkly colored ears of bluetick coonhounds are charming, giving them a very "houndy" appearance. And their well-arched, catlike paws show how quick and efficiently they can pursue an enticing smell.

Temperament 

Determined and bright, the bluetick coonhound can be an amiable companion for a home that is prepared to meet her needs. These dogs were bred to be well-oiled scent hound machines, capable of tracking down even the most difficult of scent trails. When left without ample opportunities to use their keen senses, the bluetick coonhound is not a happy camper. This means it's imperative for bluetick owners to provide plenty of opportunities to get outdoors, including activities like hiking or daily runs with their owner. Athletic but also excellent nappers, the bluetick is an adaptable breed.

Any potential bluetick owner should understand these dogs are talented "crooners"—they will bay, bawl, bark, and howl when they feel the need, and this especially true if they are bored or underemployed. This "singing" is beautiful music to a hunter's ears. A "bay" is a vocal sound similar to howling, except bays can be more intense, with varying pitches and tones. This unique sound is key for notifying their human they've found a critter, especially if the human is a great distance away and needs to catch up to their hound.

"Coonhounds in general are also known for being quite vocal, and can be known to bay or bark when excited or curious," says Alicen Tracey, DVM at Den Herder Veterinary Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa, and a Daily Paws Advisory Board member.

bluetick coonhound standing in grass with his tongue out
Energetic and athletic, bluetick coonhounds can be star performers in dog sports including nose work, agility, and obedience.
| Credit: Mary Swift / Adobe Stock

Whether she is on a hike, roaming the backyard, or suddenly snoozing at your feet, the bluetick makes a sweet, affectionate companion in a home that has access to a large, fenced-in yard and ample green space to investigate. Because these pups can become easily focused on the sights, sounds, and smells of the world around them, they do best in a household that has active adults and older children prepared to guide them.

The bluetick coonhound may seem single-minded when it comes to following her nose and taking interest in strange creatures. Starting right away in puppyhood, and continuing through adulthood, the bluetick should be taught important necessary skills, especially walking on leash and coming when called. Extra care should be taken to socialize a bluetick coonhound puppy, making sure she meets all sorts of animals and people, visits many different locations, and experiences lots of new things before she matures.

The bluetick coonhound is a wonderful candidate for canine sports. Keen to investigate and experience the world, these dogs do well in competitive activities like tracking, rally, agility, scent work, and obedience, where they can put their super-strong sense of smell and sight to work for a purpose. As with all dog breeds, the bluetick does best when taught to navigate life via consistent positive reinforcement training.

Living Needs 

Affectionate and often silly, the bluetick coonhound is a sweet and devoted best friend. Because she is such a dedicated canine, she will not like being left home alone in a kennel all day, and doing so may make her want to express her thoughts through loud baying, howling, and barking. If you don't want your neighbors to get upset with you, make sure you provide a comfortable retreat for her (away from distracting windows) when you must be away. Giving her access to plenty of interactive toys will keep her preoccupied, too.

The bluetick coonhound is very adaptable but does require a home with a secure, fenced-in yard. These hound dogs can jump and are prepared to investigate trees, fence tops, and any other structure where a critter may be living. No ordinary fence will do, so be prepared to invest in a 6-foot privacy fence around your backyard. She will enjoy going for long walks, hikes, and romps in a big backyard, but then she needs to be allowed a comfy spot near you for rest and relaxation.

Apartment living may not be an ideal situation for a bluetick if you are the type of owner who finds long morning walks unpleasant or doesn't enjoy lots of trips outside every day. This large, sometimes bouncy breed can unknowingly wreak havoc in a small space. And, combined with their ability to track anything that moves, these dogs need an owner that is prepared to teach them life skills. Spending ample quality time each day venturing outdoors and playing stimulating games will go a long way in helping a bluetick feel more comfortable in any home space. 

When the bluetick decides something outside is extremely interesting, she may not notice small children or unprepared family members. Keeping her engaged while on leash is a good way to help prevent any mishaps, and potential pup parents should understand that the bluetick's uniquely exuberant nature makes her better-suited for households with older children and more active adults.

closeup of a bluetick coonhound with his mouth open
Credit: Mary Swift / Adobe Stock

Care 

The bluetick coat gives off a sleek and shiny appearance with her short, coarse hairs that require weekly brushing to help with shedding. Blueticks' coats don't provide much protection in cold winter months, so owners need to ensure their dogs have access to cozy spaces, plus cute sweaters and warm coats for outdoor trips. Just like with any breed, bi-weekly nail trims are crucial to keeping bluetick paws healthy and ready for action.

Although you don't need to spend lots of time and money at a groomer each month, you will need to invest in proper gear for quality exercise. This includes a body harness, long-line leashes, and lots of interactive and enriching toys, plus that 6-foot fence around your yard. These dogs can get carried away with their nose quickly, forgetting their surroundings (and even you!), so it's not a good idea to let them roam freely-off leash—especially in areas that are heavily populated with cars, other dogs, or humans.

"Due to the nature of their breed as a scent hound, they do tend to follow their nose, which can sometimes get them in trouble," Tracey says.

Health

The bluetick coonhound is a healthy, sturdy breed that lives an average of 11–12 years. Their size, activity level, and sometimes insatiable desire to smell out interesting things may make them susceptible to cuts, scrapes, and leg injuries or pesky particles finding their way into their noses. Caution should be taken to ensure your bluetick is safe and happy when out on an adventure.

bluetick coonhound in woods
Bluetick coonhounds are born and bred hunting dogs. They'll love working alongside their human or just going on a long hike.
| Credit: Taylor / Adobe Stock

Like many large breeds with deep chests, the bluetick coonhound is vulnerable to gastric torsion, also known as "bloat," which is a very serious and life-threatening condition. Care should be taken after a bluetick engages in extensive bouts of exercise to ensure they rest before drinking too much water or eating.

With their charming long ears, blueticks are also prone to getting ear infections, so owners should check and clean the ears regularly.

"Floppy ear dogs are prone to the development of ear infections—and these floppy ear dogs are no exception," Tracey says. "Ear infections can be caused by a variety of culprits including ear mites, yeast, or bacteria. It is important to distinguish between the three, as they require different types of medication."

Many breeds are prone to issues of the hip joint, specifically hip dysplasia, which is a degenerative joint disease, Tracey says. Owners should have their bluetick coonhound's hip checked by their veterinarian as they grow and age.

History 

Like all coonhound breeds, the bluetick coonhound is an American scent hound, but it is thought that the bluetick's breeding origins extend before the founding of the nation. The breed can be traced to the French Grand Bleu de Gascogne dog and the English foxhound.

bluetick coonhound puppy lying in field
Before bringing home a bluetick coonhound puppy, make sure you can give her all the exercise, training, and time outside she needs to thrive.
| Credit: Kiana Skojec / Shutterstock

As a scent hound, it's in the bluetick's nature to hunt and pursue prey with their powerful nose. With their amazing smelling ability, these dogs were bred to track the scent of quarry and would force the animal to climb a tree (called "treeing"), giving the hunter easier access to them. Early blueticks were a favorite breed by frontiersmen, and when not pursuing animals like raccoons, they accompanied their handlers on big hunts for large game such as black bear, lynx, and even cougars.

Breeders of the bluetick developed the dogs to have a "cold nose", meaning they can track a scent that is hours or even days old. This skill makes them well-suited for search-and-rescue and scent work.

A Southern favorite, the bluetick is the Tennessee state dog and has been the mascot of the University of Tennessee since 1953. The American Kennel Club recognized the bluetick coonhound in 2009.

Fun Facts

  • Author Fred Gipson, known for the long-time popular book-turned-movie Old Yeller, sums up the bluetick fabulously: "...they've got a big, bell-voiced hound with a nose that picks up a week-old trail, the endurance to run that trail 30 hours at a stretch, and the lusty courage that'll make him tackle anything that won't take a tree before he catches him." 
  • The main character dog in the Old Yeller movie sequel, Savage Sam, is also a bluetick coonhound.
  • The bluetick coonhound may be related to the "French staghound," a breed of dog that was gifted to president George Washington from Marquis de Lafayette, the French general.
  • The distinctive sounds of the bluetick coonhound are sometimes known as "singing," as these pups are capable of producing loud, sustained bays that were designed to carry over long distances during hunting expeditions with their owners.