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The bluetick or blue tick hound is a breed of hound which originated in the Southern United States. These working hounds have been bred to track an assortment of animals, especially raccoons. As hunting dogs, blue tick hounds are persistent, loyal, and extremely intelligent. They are also remarkably beautiful, with distinctively patterned coats and unique “voices” which emerge when they are on the hunt.
The breed appears to have originated in Louisiana, and it is probably derived from English hunting dogs which were brought to the United States by early settlers. By 1946, an association of breeders had formed to create a breed standard for the blue tick hound, and the American Kennel Club had recognized the dogs as a distinct breed. The blue tick hound is uniquely adapted for the varying terrain of the American South, with a sturdy, muscular build and a great deal of stamina. Southern hunters developed the dogs specifically for hunting and treeing raccoons, which is why they are sometimes called bluetick coon hounds or coon hounds, although they will hunt an assortment of other animals as well.
The “blue” color of a bluetick hound comes from the distinct ticking on the dog's coat. The hounds have an under layer of white fur which is overlaid with dark black specks. Many blue tick hounds also have dark splotches of fur on their coats. The breed also has the characteristic sad eyes and floppy ears of the hound breed, with muscular hindquarters to power the dogs while they are on the trail.
Some hunters work with a single blue tick hound, while others may have a pack. Competitions for the dogs are sometimes held at night so that the dogs can demonstrate their excellent eyesight and tracking abilities. Foxhunters in the United States may also ride with specially trained blue tick hounds, especially in the South..
Like many working breeds, these dogs do not usually make suitable pets. They are extremely intelligent and they love solving puzzles, which means that they can be frustrated by an environment without enrichment. A blue tick hound will also take off in pursuit of interesting smells, and the dogs will hunt smaller dogs, cats, and other animals because this is what they have been bred to do. Ideally, a blue tick hound should be worked as a hunting dog, and provided with plenty of exercise and a rich environment with lots of stimuli.