Let’s Talk Breed Education!
COAT COLOR OF THE BLUETICK COONHOUND T he Bluetick Coon- hound is a beautiful and focused member of the Hound Group. Its BY AMY THOMAS, PRESIDENT BLUETICK COONHOUND ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
essence is found in its athletic body, exuding substance, a well-boned skeletal structure, and of course, the trademark blue ticking. Expounding on the color specifi- cally, the ticking patterns can come in several variations—but ticking must be evident. The canvas of the body may be a black background with white flecking or a white back- ground with blue flecking, both of which create the necessary tick pat- tern. The preference is for a blue- ticked body with variously shaped black spots, with more blue ticking than black or white. Tan markings may or may not be present on the feet and lower legs, over the eyes, on the cheeks, chest, and below the tail. Sol- id blue Blueticks with no tan mark- ings also correctly meet the breed standard for color. Please examine the attached photos, and if you have specific questions, please contact the National Bluetick Coonhound Association through their website at: https://nationalblueticks.com
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BLUETICK COONHOUND GENERAL APPEARANCE OF THE
BY AMY THOMAS, PRESIDENT BLUETICK COONHOUND ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
T he Bluetick Coonhound is a smart and active breed that thrives in an environment where they have a job. They are full of person- ality and are quickly gaining popularity as a companion, coming out of years of their traditional work of trailing game. With the gain in popularity comes heightened interest in the breed and opportunity for newcomers to enter and present them to judges nationwide. Clarification for judges on the General Appearance of the Bluetick is neces- sary, as many judges encounter the breed for the first time in their ring. When casting your eyes upon the Bluetick Coonhound for the first time, the overall impression would be of an athletic hound with bone and sub- stance that has the ability to hunt long distances over a variety of terrain. The Bluetick is neither sloppy nor loose in the body. He is built to run and he is well-boned proportionally to the overall size of the hound. In profile, the Bluetick is square or slightly longer than tall. At a glance, the head, bone, and body style all depict that of a hound. Upon closer inspection, the Bluetick has a broad head with parallel planes, a prominent stop, and ears set on near eye level. The ears reach to nearly the end of the nose, and the muzzle is deep and square. The chest is medium in width when viewed from the front, giving strength to handle rough terrain. When viewed from the side, the chest extends down toward the elbow. The topline is strong and level when viewed in motion and is never high in the withers or rear. The rear has ample width of thigh for strength in pursuit of wild game and is balanced with the angle in the shoulder. A promi- nent feature of this breed beyond the athleticism, bone, and substance is the well-sprung rib cage. As noted in the standard, the spring of the ribs should be wider than the width of the hips when viewed from the rear. Finally, in motion, the tail can be carried out parallel to the ground or in a half moon position. It is never held tightly over or extending down toward the back, or tucked between the legs. Balance is key, with all parts coming together to form the whole. For more information regarding the Bluetick Coonhound, please visit the parent club’s website at https://nationalblueticks.com.
“THE BLUETICK IS NEITHER SLOPPY NOR LOOSE IN THE BODY. HE IS BUILT TO RUN AND HE IS WELL-BONED PROPORTIONALLY TO THE OVERALL SIZE OF THE HOUND.”
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THE MODERN DAY BLUE TICK COONHOUND
By Susan Lloyd
he modern day Blue Tick Coonhound can trace its origins to an importation of Grand Bleu de Gascognes from the Marquis de Lafay-
ette to George Washington in 1785. Th ese French Hounds where crossed on Wash- ington’s hounds which descended from hounds brought to America in 1650, by Robert Brooke. One Grand Blue owned by George Washington was recorded as giv- ing birth to 15 puppies, and Washington likened their musical voices to the “bells of Moscow”. Th e Grand Bleu was too slow on the trail to please the American hunter but, when bred to American hounds, it increased their cold-trailing ability and their endurance. In the beginning of the 20th century all hounds of Bluetick, Redtick and Walker type where all lumped into a group known as English Coonhounds. It is thought this was because they still resembled their heavy boned English ancestors, and where recognized by UKC as one breed as Eng- lish Fox and Coon Hounds. Th e Bluetick breeders of the day proud of their larger, cold-nosed and resolute, if slower hounds wanted to keep their old style of hunt- ing. Fearing this faster is better trend; the Bluetick Breeders of the ‘40’s pulled away from English Coonhound. Th ese breeders
The head is broad between the ears with a slightly domed skull, prominent stop with a long broad deep muzzle, square in profile with flews well covering the lower jaw.
o ffi cially broke away in 1945 and estab- lished the Bluetick Coonhound Breed. Th ere is a common misconception that the coonhound breeds have been sepa- rated by color alone. Th is is farthest from the truth. Th e currently recognized coon- hound breeds have been bred to make the most of the individual hunting style. Now that the Bluetick has been rec- ognized by AKC, there is a trend toward
rewarding smaller hounds. It seems that there is some confusion in the choice of wording of the general appearance descrip- tion in the standard. General Appearance “ Th e Bluetick should have the appear- ance of a speedy and well-muscled hound. He never appears clumsy or overly chunky in build. He has a neat, compact body, a
“HE NEVER APPEARS CLUMSY OR OVERLY CHUNKY IN BUILD. He has a neat, compact body, a glossy coat and clear, keen eyes.”
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“The body shows DEPTH OF CHESTALLOWING FOR PLENTY OF LUNG SPACE.”
glossy coat and clear, keen eyes. In motion he carriers his head and tail well up”. Please remember that speedy is rela- tive and racy has a di ff erent meaning all together. Th e bluetick may be considered more “speedy” than a Blood hound, but rarely more “speedy” than a Treeing Walk- er or English coonhound. Racy would bet- ter describe the whippet-like hound. Th e bone and substance of the Bluetick must be considered relative to hunting style. Th e farther a hound is from the game the colder the trail, therefore a cold-nosed hound has the ability to find and work an older tract. But working an older trail takes time and a dog that is determined and strong willed. Cold-nosed hounds typi- cally have heavier heads with a prominent stop and longer ears with no erectile tissue, as well as deeper flews which help them hold scent. Th ey also tend to be heavier bone and carry more substance. To put it in to perspective, some examples of cold- nose hounds that we all know are Blood- hounds and Black and Tan Coon hounds. Th e body shows depth of chest allow- ing for plenty of lung space. Th e body is either square or slightly longer than tall. Th e strong well muscled back with the top line gently sloping down from the withers to the hips gives the hound a strong base to move through the woods methodical- ly trailing the game and treeing it at the end of the track. Th e tail attached slight- ly below the level of the back with a half
moon curve is used as a rudder for balance when trailing or swimming To allow these hounds to work hard cold trails the legs must be correctly angled with well developed muscle at the shoulder and hip to stifle for strong reach and drive. Th e shoulders should be clean and gently sloping, the hips are not quite as wide as the ribcage. Th e fore leg length is approxi- mately one half the height at the withers. Tight rounded feet with thick tough pads under slightly sloping pasterns finish the “running gear” So the entire package together makes the Bluetick coonhound we breeders and hunters strive for. Th ose of us who follow these grand hounds in the woods love the entire hound from the toes to the nose and the huge beautiful voice in between. Pleasure hunters who prefer Blueticks tend to be in less of a hurry than others, enjoy- ing time listening to the song the Bluetick sings. Very laid back and happy to be around people, they take their time and consistently get the game they are trailing. Many will start a fire, turn the dogs loose and just listen until the coon is treed. I have been involved with the Bluetick coon- hound for close to 20 years. Th ey are by far my favorite of the 6 coonhound breeds. I did spend 2005 traveling on the circuit hunting in the Purina Outstanding Coon- hound of the Year race with my Plott, but my heart will always follow the King of the Coonhounds, the Bluetick Coonhound.
,n the mature hunting hound, the chest will Ee slightly broader than the hips due to the treeing position up on the side oI the tree.
BIO Dr. Susan Lloyd, DVM, holds a BS in zoology, and is a DVM from North Caro- lina State College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Lloyd, did her Internship at NCSU CVM in 1994, and is the past Pres CVM Alumni Society 2011 and current presi- dent of the American Bluetick Coonhound Association. Dr. Lloyd owns Live Oak Veterinary Hospital, located in Beaufort, NC, and in her free time hunts the swamps in and around Beaufort with her beloved Blueticks and Plotts. Dr Lloyd has raised, trained and finished multiple duel cham- pion coonhounds and is the only woman place in the top 5 of the Purina Race hunt- ing her own dog.
“Very laid back and happy to be around people, THEY TAKE THEIR TIME AND CONSISTENTLY GET THE GAME THEY ARE TRAILING.”
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Coonhound FORM EQUALS FUNCTION STRUCTURE
BY NANCY WINTON, DRY RIVER KENNELS
N ow that coonhounds are in AKC conformation shows, it is becoming increasingly important that we focus on the correct structure that our hounds need to do the job they were bred for. With the coonhound, one needs to especially concentrate on structure and balance. As you know, the back is divided into four sections; the withers, back, loin, and croup. Behind the withers is the back, then the loin, then the croup, and the vertebrae go back all the way to the end of the tail. In certain coonhounds today, more in some breeds than in others, we’re seeing a short rib cage and a long loin on a regular average-backed dog. The dog might be the right length in the back, but if the rib cage doesn’t go back far enough into the loin, it’s not going to have enough cavity that it needs for the heart, the lungs, and all the organs. A short back, combined with a long loin, makes a coonhound weak and unable to run long distances. In coonhounds especially, strength over the loin and lung space are needed. Many of the top-winning Treeing Walkers are sadly lacking in shoulder angulation and would never make it in the field. What’s really important about the shoulder blades is not just the layback; not just the way the blades are angled. The shoulder blades are angled at 45 degrees , as is the upper arm, forming a perfect 90-degree “L.” A good shoulder is oblique, the way a bone curves back into the curvature of the body. The shoulder bone cannot stick straight up, out of the dog’s back, and be efficient. They’ve got to come back together a little bit, lay back, and curve back into the body. Another important point regarding the shoulder assembly is the point of the elbow. The point of elbow is directly under the withers, right under the top of the shoulder blade, in a perfectly straight line. You could run a plumb line and drop it right where the shoulder blades meet and it will come straight down through the elbow to the floor, right behind the foot. I’ll guarantee that you won’t see many dogs made like this. What you’ll see is a shorter upper arm, or an upper arm pitched at an angle that forces the elbow in front of the shoulder. That combination leads to bad action on the front. So, look at the front assembly very carefully. Visualize a big circle, with a straight line dropping through it, cutting it in half, meeting the elbow, meeting the ground. It will be the focal point on a well-made dog. There’s a good reason for this. The heart, lungs, and all of the organs that make them run are right there. They better have that depth, that balance. Look at how this dog’s chest (far left) comes down and meets his elbow. There must be enough depth of brisket for lung capacity. There are many dogs whose elbows are too far below their brisket line.
Great Head Planes and Ear Set
left: Excellent Front and Shoulder Layback center: Excellent Front and Muscling, right : Too Straight
Sources from 2001 Winter Classic Judges Seminar
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COONHOUND STRUCTURE: FORM EQUALS FUNCTION
The same is true about the hindquarters. The dog in this photo (below right) shows the relationship between the length of the two bones and the angle formed by them. We can’t see through to the bone, but look at the width of the thigh. I’ve never seen a coon- hound that had too much width of second thigh. In coonhounds, we’re also losing some angle from the stifle joint to the point of the hock. We’re getting too many dogs that look unbalanced, especially if they’re straight in the shoulder and straight in the hindquarter assembly. Look for second thigh, width of thigh. You have to observe this with your eyes and your hands to make sure they are correct. And remember that the tail is an extension of the spine. A tail that goes straight up may affect the pitch of the pelvis. Up front, you can really see and feel the shoulder blades. Again, balance is the key . If you see this in action, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You’ll say, “Now I get it. That is side gait.” That’s something we don’t look for enough when we judge. A dog can look pretty standing there with a handler posing them, but when you gait them on the ground there is nothing that can be done to make them look good. You can’t do it with the lead. What you see is what you get. And don’t let markings fool you—easy to do with a Treeing Walker’s markings especially. As a result, his shoulders might look different, but when you get your hands on him you will see where his shoulder blades are. Don’t be afraid to get your hands on those blades, to feel them. If you run your hands down the blades, and down the upper arms to the elbows, you can visualize what the angles are. The feet and pasterns are very closely tied together and they should be in balance with each other. You’ll hardly ever see great pasterns with bad feet, or the other way around. It’s usually a pack- age. We get to the point in coonhound shows that we’re looking for such tight feet that we might be getting a little carried away some- times. A great cat foot with a straight pastern is pretty to look at, but it doesn’t offer any shock absorbers to the force coming down through the shoulders. You’ve got to have a little spring, a little flex- ibility, to the slightly sloping pastern. Coonhounds are a scenthound and the tail carriage will be up. You want to see a dog that can extend its front, that can push behind, show balance, propulsion and locomotion movement with ease, and cover ground. Withers-back-loin-croup is all you need to remember. Four basic parts that better work together. If the withers are too steep, the shoulders aren’t laidback enough; there’s going to be a basic, functional problem. If the back’s too long or too short, there’s going to be a basic, functional problem. If the ribs don’t go back into the loin far enough, or deep enough, there’s going to be a basic, functional problem. Other problems to be aware of include a weak loin and a roach back. The croup’s got to have some pitch and some length. If a croup is too short and steep, it will affect the tail set. I hope that this will help in the judging of our coonhounds. They are a movement dog with good reach and drive. Coonhounds give meaning to Form=Function. “You want to see a dog that can extend its front, that can push behind, show balance, propulsion and locomotion movement with ease, and cover ground.”
left: Puppy—Good muscling, right: Older dog—Good muscling
left: Adult male—Good Inner and Outer Thigh, Great Muscling, center: Too Straight, right: Excellent Rear Angles
Figure 2. Dog 1. Correct Hind Angulation: Note the 30-degree slope of the pelvis. This provides the most power. Just as important is the perfect 130-degree angle of the back joint, providing the leverage to push the dog forward. Dog 2. Incorrect Hind Angulation. The pelvic slope of 10 degrees promotes the overly-straight stifle joint shown here. The back joint is also overly- straight at 148 degrees.
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History of the Bluetick Coonhound By Cynthia Grooms B lu etick Coon h ou n d
For those new to the Bluetick Coonhound, I am hoping this will give you a better insight to how and why the Bluetick came to be. Historical information for the Bluetick Coonhound is difficult to find prior to the 1920’s back to the time of George Washington. It is believed that General LaFayette brought 5 French hounds and gave them as a gift to General Washington. These hounds are believed to be the French Stag hounds that were pop- ular at the time. There were 2 types of stag hounds known during this time, a white hound: Grand Gascon Saintogeois and a blue hound: Grand Bleu de Gasconge. Gen. Washington probably used them for small game hunting and in packs. During this time and into the years that followed, several crosses were made with English Foxhounds in the Virginia area probably trying to get a faster, hotter-nosed hound. Big game hunters were more interested in a hound that could run a cold track (a track that is several days or weeks old) and come up with the game at the end. They wanted a more resolute (maybe slower) and colder nosed dog than was being bred at the time. This desire helped to begin the movement to separate the Bluetick from the English Coonhound. The Bluetick Coonhound was original- ly classified as an English Coonhound.
considered a separate breed from the Bluetick Coonhound. There are several theories of how the modern Blueticks came to be. Some of these theories are discussed below. The first theory is that the Grand Gascon Saintogeois and the Grand Bleu de Gasconge were bred together and then selectively bred for the blue color and other traits that were prized by hunters. These include: drive, fast-tracking, cold- nosed & hard hunting ability. These are some traits that are still bred for in the Bluetick today. There were some French hounds brought into the US via Florida and Louisiana as well. These were the French Tri-Colors, Porcelains, and Gasconges. Again, selective breeding to get the desired hunting traits and the blue color remained a top priority.
Bluetick and Redtick puppies were born in the same litter. The blue ones were classi- fied as Bluetick and the red ones were clas- sified as English. A group of breeders got together and in 1946 created the first breed standard and petitioned UKC to offi- cially recognize the Bluetick Coonhound as a separate breed. A select group of men are considered the foundation of the Bluetick Coonhound that we know today. Some of these breeders include: Bill Green, the Lee brothers, O.O. Grant, Henry O. Smith, and Elbert Vaughn among others. Bluetick breeders wanted larger, cold- nosed and more resolute dogs. They con- tinued to breed for the type they were looking for while maintaining the blue color. Blueticks were mainly used to put food on the table or hunt for hides. Because of the origins of the Bluetick Coonhound is not very clear until the 1920’s and later, the popular belief is that the modern day Bluetick is descended from the Grand Bleu de Gasconge. The Gasconge hound is still bred today and is Won the Paris dog show 1863, 1st prize.
A hound hunting today.
Another theory on the early breeding is that another cross was made with the Grand Gascon Saintogeois (the white hound) rather than the Grand Bleu de Gasconge (blue hound) during a period from 1934-1948. Thus began another series of selectively breeding for the blue color and the desired hunting traits. As years passed and more emphasis was put on hunting for raccoon, the size and shape of the Bluetick became more refined and sleeker than those that are considered the foundation stock. There are some breeders that want to try to get back some of the larger hounds of yesteryear. In order to do this, they are breeding high quality Bluetick stock with the Grand Gascon Saintogeois in an attempt to recreate the original line of Blueticks. ■
A modern day pack of Grand Gasgon Saintogeois.
Some of Bill Green’s dogs, foundation.
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Judging the Bluetick Coonhound By Cynthia Grooms B lu etick Coon h ou n d
One of the most important things to remember when judging the Bluetick Coonhound is that it is not a “head”, “leg”, or “foot” breed. Rather it is a combination of all the parts as a whole to obtain the ideal specimen of the breed. A specimen that, on any given night, can be turned out and perform the function for which it’s named: to hunt coon (or raccoon). Given that the Bluetick (as well as the other coonhound breeds) is still a working breed and continues to hunt (whether it’s coon, bear, boar, big cat, or deer) is of the utmost importance to the breeders and fanciers of this and other coonhound breeds. It is the job of the judge to make sure the dog(s) that is chosen best repre- sents the breed and its ability to do its job in the woods once it’s in the conformation ring. I’ve always heard that first impressions are the most important and that you should strive to be and show your best when you meet someone. Well, it’s no dif- ferent when showing dogs. Handlers dress up a little more, give the dogs a bath, do some spit and polish work and shine them up, all to give the best first impression. A judge’s first impression is literally several seconds with a total of 2-3 minutes per dog. So it’s very important to make sure what is on the other end of the lead will impress them in some way. When a Bluetick walks into the ring, he should give the appearance of a speedy, well-muscled hound. He should have a neat, compact body. He should NOT appear clumsy or chunky in build. His coat is glossy and has clear, keen eyes. When he moves he carries his head and tail up, how- ever as speed increases, the head and tail will lower. Everything about the hound should work together. The proportion of the Bluetick is to be square or slightly longer than tall. This is measured from point of shoulder to base of tail and from withers to ground. This is a natural stance measurement. Height of males is 22” – 27” with weights of 55-80 pounds. Females are slightly smaller with
heights of 21” – 25” with weights of 45-65 pounds. The head, being the first thing the judge sees is broad between the ears with a slightly domed skull. Total length of head from occiput to end of nose is 9”-10” for males and 8”-9” for females with a promi- nent stop. The muzzle is long, broad, deep, and square in profile with flews that well cover the line of the lower jaw. Depth of foreface should be 3”-4 1/2”.
depth (extending well down towards the elbow), rather than excessive width, to allow for plenty of lung space. Forechest is moderate, fairly even with the point of the shoulder. Girth of chest is 26”-34” for males and 23”-30” for females. Ribs are long and well-sprung, tapering gradually towards a moderate tuck-up. Back is mus- cular and topline slopes downward slightly from withers to hips. Loin is broad, well- muscled and slightly arched. The legs are straight from the elbows. They are well-boned and muscular with strong, straight, slightly sloping pasterns. Legs should appear straight from either side or front view. Length of leg from elbow to ground is approximately 1/2 the height at the withers. Shoulders are clean and sloping, muscular but not too broad or rough, giving the appearance of freedom of movement and strength. Hips are strong and well muscled, not quite as wide as the ribcage. Thighs have great muscular development for an abun- dance of propelling power, breeching full and clean down to hock. Hocks are strong and moderately bent. Dewclaws are removed. Rear legs are parallel from hip to foot when viewed from behind (no cowhocks). Feet are round (cat-like) with well arched toes and thick, tough pads. Tail is set slightly below the line of the back, strongly rooted and tapering to a moderate length, in balance to the overall length of the hound. It is carried high with a forward half-moon curve and is well coat- ed but without flag. The coat should be medium coarse and lying close to the body, appearing smooth and glossy. It is not rough or too short. The preferred color is a dark blue, thickly mottled body, spotted by various shaped black spots on back, ears and sides. Preference is to more blue than black on body. Head and ears are predominately black. Dog may be with or without tan markings (over eyes, on cheeks, chest and below tail) and red ticking on feet and
The eyes are rather large and round, set wide apart in the skull, and dark brown in color. They should never be lighter than light brown. Eye rims are tight and close fitting with no excess third eyelid appar- ent. Their expression is a typical pleading hound expression, never wild or cowering. The ears are set low and devoid of erec- tile power. Although most will be able to lift them slightly when their interest is peaked! They should be thin with a slight roll, taper well towards a point and reach well towards the end of the nose when pulled forward. They should be well attached to the head to prevent hanging or backward tilt. The nose, the workhorse of the dog, is large with well-opened nostrils, fully pig- mented and black in color. A scissor bite is preferred but an even bite is acceptable for the teeth. Undershot or overshot are disqualifying faults. The neck is muscular and moderate length, tapering slightly from shoulders to head. It is carried well up but not vertical (goose necked). The throat is clean with only a slight trace of dewlap. The body should show considerable
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