Treeing Tennessee Brindle

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Treeing Tennessee Brindle
Samhelper /

In the 1960s, a man named Reverend Phillips took an interest in a brindle variant of Cur dog that was taking the hunting community by storm with its impressive sense of smell, speed and treeing ability. Later, alongside many owners of these brindle dogs, Reverend Philips created an organisation to preserve the breed that is today known as the Treeing Tennessee Brindle.

This dog has a short, brindle coat and a medium-sized, robust body. As well as their well-established hunting ability, they are also respected as watch dogs and companion animals. Often hunting in packs, they enjoy the company of other canines but do not extend this welcome to smaller pets, which will undoubtedly be seen as prey.

About & History

While the early origins of the Treeing Tennessee Brindle are open to debate, we do know quite a lot about its more recent history. This breed is thought to have descended from the many Cur dogs that lived in the southern states of America and became its own breed in the middle of the 20th century when Reverend Phillips began researching the brindle Curs. He wrote about them in a hunting dog magazine, and soon these ‘black tiger-striped’ treeing canines became recognised in their own right. The Reverend Phillips contacted the owners of these dogs, who all spoke highly of their abilities, to encourage them to form a club. Not long after, in 1967, within the state of Illinois, the ‘Treeing Tennessee Brindle Breeder’s Association’ was formed.

It is known that the original dogs hailed mainly from the Ozarks (an area of land that exists within the states of Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas) and the Appalachian Mountains (a vast range of mountains that runs along the east of North America), as well as the land in between. In fact, the founder of the breed, Rev. Phillips himself said, "Our original breeding stock came from outstanding brindle tree dogs from every part of the country".

The Treeing Tennessee Brindle breed has been recognised by the AKC as a Coonhound within their foundation stock service since 1995, and by the UKC within their scent hound group since 2017.


Treeing Tennessee Brindle Large Photo
Hummelong /

One should not confuse this dog with the Plott Hound, a larger brindle dog that has more expansive ears. A medium-sized dog of sturdy build with good muscling, the Treeing Tennessee Brindle should look like the athlete it is. Their ears are one of their many endearing features; flopping lazily to the side of their face and being set high up on their head. Their dark brown eyes give the dog a gentle expression. Their black, shiny nose is wide, occupying a large proportion of the front of their face. They have a deep chest and a flat back. Their medium length tail tapers and may end in a curve. Their limbs should be straight and strong and their feet are cat-like, allowing for good elasticity. Overall, they have a fast and elegant gait.

The male dog reaches heights of between 46cm to 61cm at the withers, while the more petite female will stand at 41cm to 56cm when fully grown. The males of the breed will weigh from 16 to 23kg and the females typically weigh a few kilos less, at 14 to 18kg.

As one may deduce from the name ‘Treeing Tennessee Brindle’, their coat may be either brindle or black with brindle trim. A small number of white patches of fur are permitted in the breed standard.

Character & Temperament

Best known for their hunting ability, this dog has mainly been bred for its working prowess rather than its appearance or even its general temperament. A keen hunter with good endurance, the Treeing Tennessee Brindle has an unparalleled sense of smell and the ability to hunt smartly and efficiently. Always alert, their quarry has little to no chance of getting by them unnoticed. Most importantly, they must have the ability to tree game. They are celebrated for the bays and barks they use when working.

Generally of a good disposition, the Treeing Tennessee Brindle gets along nicely with other dogs and children it knows. Due to their strength and the exuberance they may show when excited, children should be supervised when in their company. Of course, this dog will naturally long to chase smaller creatures, such as rabbits and ferrets, so should not be expected to live alongside smaller pets.

While they can have a territorial attitude, the Treeing Tennessee Brindle is not usually thought of as being aggressive or hostile enough to make it as a guard dog. They can, however, make excellent watch dogs and will never fail to let their master know when someone new has entered the property.


Oftentimes described as ‘sensitive’, more so than many other Cur dogs, the Treeing Tennessee Brindle benefits from a patient and kind master. They thrive on positive reinforcement training techniques and typically do poorly with harsh methods. Rather than punishing bad behaviour, this dog learns best if good behaviour is rewarded.

It is sensible to socialise the Treeing Tennessee Brindle from when they are young, exposing them to the situations they are expected to cope with when older, such as social gatherings and dog encounters in the park. An intelligent hound, an experienced trainer should not face much difficulty with this breed.


As with other Cur hounds and many other working dogs, the Treeing Tennessee Brindle is a notably healthy breed. It will typically live to around 11 years of age, and while it will rarely require medical intervention, an owner should keep the following health conditions on their radar:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia (HD) is a debilitating and progressive orthopaedic condition that is a result of the hip joints never forming as they should have. Imaging tests, such as X-rays and CT scans, can diagnose the condition. The reason HD is so essential to know about, is that it has a genetic component, so a breeding parent with HD is likely to pass it on to its offspring. Responsible owners will only allow dogs with good quality hips to breed.


Bloat can potentially become a life-threatening emergency in a matter of hours. A dog’s stomach will overfill, putting pressure on nearby organs and leading to the development of shock. Affected canines appear obviously ‘bloated’ in the abdomen and will usually pace around and retch unproductively. Without prompt veterinary intervention, there is a high chance an animal will pass away.

Otitis Externa

Ear infections occur most commonly in those dogs with droopy or pendulous ears. Owners may notice that the skin within the ear is red and there might be a brown or yellow discharge inside the canal. Dogs tend to shake their head or scratch the outside of the ear to signal discomfort. Most infections can be quickly treated with prescription ear drops.


If a Treeing Tennessee Brindle is allowed to over-eat and does not receive sufficient exercise, they are likely to put on weight quickly. Obesity in dogs is known to shorten their lifespan and reduce their quality of life dramatically. An overweight dog should be put on an immediate diet and exercise plan.

Exercise and Activity Levels

A dog that benefits from plenty of exercise in the great outdoors, the Treeing Tennessee Brindle needs more than an hour’s worth of exercise every day. Not only should they be encouraged to track and hunt, they should also have the opportunity to hike, climb, swim and play alongside other dogs. They enjoy having outdoor access, so would best be suited to a home in the countryside with a large garden that they can roam around in.

It almost goes without saying that the Treeing Tennessee Brindle is just not a good option for city living. They need acres of space and may become destructive if confined to a small area.


The Treeing Tennessee Brindle rarely needs a bath, though may be given one if they get extremely muddy or find something particularly foul-smelling to roll around in. Their short fur may be brushed once a week or so but requires little more intervention than this. If walked along pavement or hard ground, it is unlikely that they will need claw clipping, though as dogs get older they do sometimes need regular trims, as their claws get thicker and wear down less.

Famous Treeing Tennessee Brindles

There are no ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’ Treeing Tennessee Brindle dogs just yet.


While some owners may elect to cross their Treeing Tennessee Brindle with another breed of dog, there are currently no well-established mixes in existence.

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