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Robin Burkett, Animal Photography
The Bluetick has the classic pleading expression common to hounds, which makes them so appealing. Blueticks become especially close to their people and love going for car rides with them and sleeping at the foot of the bed, especially when thunderstorms are in the area.
The Bluetick can be found in various forms of pop culture. Emmylou Harris mentions a Bluetick named Gideon in her song “Red Dirt Girl,” the University of Tennessee mascot is a Bluetick Coonhound named Smokey, and a Bluetick stars in a commercial for Miracle Whip.
Good looking, intelligent, sensitive and loving: you might think you’re reading a personals ad, but that description also applies to the Bluetick Coonhound. Originally a color variety of the English Coonhound, the breed stands out for his dark blue, thickly mottled color with black spots on his back, ears and sides. But there’s more to the Bluetick than his color. Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in acquiring one of these friendly, interesting dogs.
Blueticks are generally friendly and happy, but like all dogs, they are individuals. Some can be bashful while others are wary of strangers. They are good friends to children, but if you have toddlers, consider adopting an adult Bluetick, who will be less rambunctious than a puppy. Blueticks can get along well with other animals, cats included, but they love hunting squirrels in the backyard. Their exercise needs are met with a couple of long walks daily. They’ll also appreciate the opportunity to run in a safely enclosed area once or twice a week. Remember that a tired Bluetick is a good Bluetick.
Always walk your Bluetick on leash to ensure that he doesn’t run off after an interesting scent. He also needs a securely fenced yard to keep him contained when you’re not home. He loves to hunt and will go off on his own if given half a chance.
Blueticks can adapt to living indoors or outdoors, but they appreciate soft furniture and air conditioning just as much as anyone else. They also love their people and will pine without human companionship. There’s no point in having a Coonhound if you’re just going to stick him out in the backyard all by his lonesome.
A Bluetick needs plenty of companionship and activity to be happy. Even if you don’t hunt him, consider getting involved in tracking or search and rescue. He’s also a great hiking companion if you don’t mind going at a slow pace so he can follow a trail now and then. And at least one Bluetick has made a name for himself in the obedience ring, so don’t rule him out if obedience is your sport.
Depending on gender, with females being smaller, the Bluetick stands 21 to 27 inches tall and weighs 45 to 80 pounds. Blueticks have a smooth, easy-care coat. They need only a weekly brushing with a rubber curry, plus regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and tooth brushing.
Be aware that scenthounds such as the Bluetick have what is often described as a musty scent. Regular baths can help keep the odor under control, but it’s something you should be prepared to live with.
The drawbacks? Blueticks can be loud and stubborn. Keep in mind that one of the characteristics of this breed is a “big bawl mouth.” Unless you live about five miles from your nearest neighbors, they’re going to hear your Bluetick when he gets excited about finding a good scent. Begin training early and use positive reinforcement techniques. The Bluetick especially appreciates food rewards.
Before he became a breed in his own right, the Bluetick Coonhound was considered a color variety of the English Coonhound. Both breeds were developed in the southern United States in the 18th century from imported English and French hounds.
The United Kennel Club began registering English Coonhounds (then called the English Fox and Coonhound) in 1905. The Bluetick was declared a separate breed in 1946. The American Kennel Club recognized the Bluetick as a member of the Hound Group in 2009. He currently ranks 119th among the breeds registered by the AKC.
You might first be drawn to the Bluetick because of his striking coloration, but it’s his goofy personality that will win your heart. A Bluetick is the perfect buddy to ride shotgun in the front seat of your pickup truck. Blueticks love their families and become strongly attached to them. In addition to being great hunting dogs, they usually pull double-duty as house dogs and companions.
As long as they get plenty of daily exercise, Blueticks can be adaptable when it comes to their living quarters, but before you decide to move one into your apartment, remember that these dogs are known for their “big bawl mouth” -- that is, a long, drawn-out bark. Because of it, Blueticks are best suited to rural homes where they won’t disturb the neighbors as they announce to one and all that they’ve found a great scent.
A Bluetick is not the easiest dog to train, but even when he’s being naughty, he’s awfully cute. Try to stifle your laughter at his antics, and be firm and consistent in your training. Like most hounds, Blueticks respond well to praise and food rewards.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Bluetick, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Bluetick Coonhounds are generally healthy, but a few have been diagnosed with hip dysplasia and lysosomal storage disease. They may also be prone to bloat.
Blueticks that hunt may sustain injuries in the field. It’s not unheard of for raccoons to do some damage to a dog. And with their floppy ears, Blueticks can be prone to ear infections. Check the ears weekly, clean them if necessary, and keep them dry to eliminate the warm, moist environment in which yeast and bacteria thrive.
Choose a breeder who can provide you with written documentation that both of a puppy’s parents had hip radiographs (x-rays) that received scores of fair, good or excellent from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. A bonus would be a clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Having dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
Weekly brushing with a hound mitt or rubber curry brush will keep your Bluetick’s handsome coat clean and shiny. He’ll shed some -- all dogs do -- but regular brushing will remove dead hair so it doesn’t land on your floor, furniture or clothing.
Bathe your Coonhound as needed. He may have a bit of a “houndy” odor, which some people love and others hate. Bathing can help reduce the smell if you don’t like it, but it won’t take it away completely or permanently.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails every few weeks. Keep those droopy ears clean and dry so bacterial and yeast infections don’t take hold. Brush the teeth for good overall health and fresh breath.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as is possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than in making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life. For more information about the Bluetick, or to find a breeder, contact members of the Bluetick Coonhound Breeders of America and the American Bluetick Hound Association.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Many reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Bluetick might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Bluetick in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Blueticks available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Bluetick. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Networking can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Blueticks love all Blueticks. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Dixie Coonhound Rescue's rescue retwork can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Bluetick rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Bluetick home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Bluetick, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Bluetick to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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