Treeing Walker Coonhound

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Treeing Walker Coonhound

A medium-sized scent hound, the Treeing Walker Coonhound is one of six coonhounds that were developed in America, originating from English and American Foxhounds. Initially bred to hunt raccoons, they are used today to track down and tree a wide variety of animals.

Their dazzling personality has meant that they are a popular breed of dog, with owners appreciating their placid, happy-go-lucky nature. While mild-mannered when inside, once let outside to work they become a different dog: tenacious and brave, hunters all over America can’t get enough of the Treeing Walker Coonhound.

About & History

While there are six recognised coonhound breeds, the Treeing Walker Coonhound is by far the most popular of all within its native America, with some estimates suggesting that every one in two coonhounds is, in fact, a Treeing Walker Coonhound.

Both the English Foxhound and American Foxhound contributed to the genetics of the Treeing Walker Coonhound. The name ‘Walker’ comes from the surname of the Kentuckian breeder, John W. Walker, who founded them, while the word ‘Treeing’ is a reference to the method of hunting the dog employs: forcing the prey into a tree where it can be shot by the hunter, who is attracted to the location by the characteristic barking of the coonhound.

While the word ‘coonhound’ might make you think that this breed is only good for hunting raccoons, this is far from the truth, and, in fact, the Treeing Walker Coonhound is a prolific hunter, able to pursue a wide variety of game, including mountain lions, squirrels and deer. They are strong trackers and often hunt alone or in small packs.

In 1905, the Treeing Walker Coonhound was classified under the English Foxhound breed by the UKC, but by 1945, they had separated from the Foxhound and became established as a scent hound breed in their own right. The AKC currently recognises the Treeing Walker Coonhound within their Foundation Stock Service.

Appearance

Treeing Walker Coonhound Large Photo
Kingkong954 / Wikipedia.org

With a similar appearance to their relatives the Foxhounds, it can be difficult to tell them apart at first. The Treeing Walker Coonhound tends to be a little taller, with males measuring between 56cm and 69cm and females reaching heights of 51 to 63cm. Dogs weigh between 23-32kg.

Their body should be balanced and well-proportioned, allowing for athletic and agile movements. Their head is not overly large, with a square muzzle, ears that hang down to the muzzle and wide, expressive eyes. Their chest should reach their elbows and their back should slope very gradually from shoulders to hips. Their limbs are long and muscular, while their elegant tail should curve upwards.

The short coat of the Treeing Walker Coonhound is shiny and ought to be tri-coloured (black, tan and white). However, it is acceptable for breed members to be white and tan or white and black. Their fur should be dense enough to offer protection when outside and working.

Character & Temperament

There’s a reason that the Treeing Walker Coonhound is the best-loved coonhound, and that surely has to be their superb temperament. Prized by hunters for their stamina, competitive attitude and enthusiasm when working, they are known to be intelligent and devoted workers.

Importantly, they have the ability to switch off after a day’s work and fit right in as a family pet. Loving and gentle, the Treeing Walker Coonhound gets on well with young children and enjoys play-time as much as they do. Very tolerant, it would be rare for a Treeing Walker Coonhound to show aggression, especially towards a family member. Equally trustworthy with other animals, they get on particularly well with other dogs. While they have a strong hunting instinct, they can be taught to co-exist with cats and other small animals, as long as they have been trained to do so from a young age.

Trainability

Undeniably a hound dog by nature, the Treeing Walker Coonhound is not typically the easiest dog to train. They can be independent and sometimes their intelligence will work against you. However, they do live to please, and if they are provided with an experienced trainer who is used to working with hound dogs, they can make very good students. Training sessions ought to be short and fun, and good behaviour should be rewarded with lots of praise and a tasty treat or two.

When it comes to hunting, the Treeing Walker Coonhound rarely needs much in the way of instruction, instinctively knowing how to perform the job they were bred to do. Unfortunately, this holds true even when not on the job, and it can be mighty difficult to control a Treeing Walker Coonhound that has caught a scent when out on a walk with their owner. Due to this, any off-lead activity needs to be strictly monitored.

Health

Generally a hardy dog, there are a number of health conditions that owners and breeders of the Treeing Walker Coonhound should be aware of, including:

Hip Dysplasia

Abnormally developed hip joints will result in gait abnormalities and discomfort throughout the life of an affected Treeing Walker Coonhound. Poorly articulating hips are often a cause of progressive osteoarthritis in later life. Hip Scoring of breeding parents should be performed to ensure offspring are free from this condition.

Ear Infections

Pendulous ears are a magnet for ear infections, particularly in dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors and in water. Cleaning ears weekly is recommended, and a trip to the vet is needed if an infection sets in. While most infections will clear up after a short course of medication, some can be persistent and may need intensive therapy until they are fully eliminated.

A vet may perform a ‘culture and sensitivity’ test to determine if the infection is resistant to certain antibiotics or anti-fungal medications before initiating any treatment.

Hunting Injuries

A hazard of the job, injuries such as traumatic stick wounds, lacerations and bites are more commonly seen in working dogs than companion animals. When the Treeing Walker Coonhound is in ‘work mode’ they may not register the injury, and it is usually only after the hunt is over that the dog will show any signs of pain.

Polyradiculoneuritis

Colloquially known as Coonhound Paralysis, this is a progressive neurological disease that typically develops in dogs after exposure to raccoons (though this is not always the case). Supportive treatment, often in a hospital, is needed for a good recovery. The prognosis varies from patient to patient and can be difficult to predict.

Blastomycosis

Likely due to increased exposure, it has been demonstrated that the Treeing Walker Coonhound is predisposed to developing the systemic fungal infection, known as Blastomycosis. Symptoms will vary depending on where the infection has spread to, but can include coughing, lethargy, pyrexia and enlarged lymph nodes. Anti-fungal medication is the mainstay of treatment, and duration of therapy can be prolonged, frequently given over several months.

Robertsonian Translocation

This is a rare chromosomal disorder that has been described in the Treeing Walker Coonhound and can result in infertility. Affected dogs should live a normal life, without any impact on their health.

Renal Amyloidosis

Another rare genetic disease that has been reported within the breed, Renal Amyloidosis is a condition that results in amyloid being deposited within the kidneys, leading to impaired function.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A dog who loves to run and be active, the Treeing Walker Coonhound is ideally suited to someone with an outdoor lifestyle who wants a buddy to bring along on hikes and runs. They also love to play and will willingly participate in a game of fetch or Frisbee with the family.

Access to a garden is appreciated but it must be secure, as the Treeing Walker Coonhound will be gone at the first scent of a prey animal.

Grooming

The Treeing Walker Coonhound is a moderate shedder that should be lightly brushed once a week to remove dead fur and distribute their natural oils along their coat. After a hunt or a long walk outside, owners should routinely check the ears and paws of the dog to ensure they are free of debris.

The long, floppy ears of the Treeing Walker Coonhound need to be kept dry and clear, and if they are prone to waxy build-ups, will benefit from weekly cleaning using a prescription ear cleaner.

Famous Treeing Walker Coonhounds

Walker the Coonhound is a Treeing Walker Coonhound that lives in New York and has a large Instagram following who love to see the different hats, goggles and collars he and his canine buddies wear each day.

Cross-Breeds

There are no mainstream examples of Treeing Walker Coonhound crosses just yet.

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