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.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The strikingly colored Bluetick has the classic pleading expression common to hounds, one of things that 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. 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 are generally friendly and happy, but like all dogs, they are individuals. Some can be bashful while others are wary of strangers. 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.

Because the puppies are extremely appealing, be on the lookout for puppy millers and irresponsible breeders. They'll be very happy to cash your check or run your charge card, but not so happy to answer your questions about health testing and temperament in their dogs.

Health Issues Common to Blueticks

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, luxating patellas and autoimmune thyroiditis. They may also be prone to bloat, or gastric torsion.

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 and an OFA thyroid evaluation. A bonus would be a clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation and an OFA cardiac clearance. Having dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Low $1,500-$6,000
Patellar Luxation Low $1,500-$3,000
Bloat Medium $1,500-$7,500

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Bluetick Puppy

Finding a good breeder is more important than 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 possible.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Bluetick Coonhounds aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Bluetick can live to be 10 to 12 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Bluetick to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, and in particular to watch out for the early signs of diabetes and skin problems, including ear infections.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing, and any breeder who says her lines are free of problems, or that they're not a concern, is either lying or knows almost nothing about Bluetick Coonhounds. Look for your puppy elsewhere.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Blueticks

Pet insurance for Blueticks costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Blueticks are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat. Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Blueticks are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Bluetick is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.