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Breed Spotlight: The Treeing Walker Coonhound

The Treeing Walker Coonhound began development in early colonial America from crosses of English Foxhounds. John W. Walker and George Washington Maupin, two breeders from Kentucky - then part of Virginia - are given credit for the breed's initial development. The dogs they bred were referred to as Walker Hounds and were used to hunt raccoons.

In the 1800s, a stolen black and tan dog named Tennessee Lead was crossed into the Walker Hound. Tennessee Lead was of unknown origin, but he greatly influenced the further development of the Treeing Walker Coonhound. The breed wasn't recognized by the United Kennel Club until 1905 as a deviation of the English Coonhound breed, at the request of TWH breeders. The name was later changed to Treeing Walker Coonhound, and it was fully recognized as a separate breed in 1945. It was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in January 2012, making it the AKC's 174th recognized breed.

Treeing Walker Coonhounds are affectionate, intelligent, confident, and enjoy interacting with their humans. They make excellent companion dogs for an owner who understands the characteristics of the breed and is willing to work with their in-bred nature as a hunting dog. When they pick up a scent they are relentless. Training should involve the incorporation of this characteristic and not efforts to overcome it (remember: if a breed characteristic is undesirable to you, then that isn't the breed for you). In the home (as long as they are properly exercised), they are typically mellow, sensitive, sweet, and even a bit lazy! They get along fabulously with other dogs and with respectful children. Like most scent hounds, they are even-tempered and difficult to annoy or drive into aggression towards people or fellow dogs. With training, they will coexist with small animals such as cats and parrots, despite their nature as a small-game hunter.

The Treeing Walker Coonhound's strong tracking instincts make it popular as a hunting companion. It is especially common on the East Coast of the United States, primarily in the Appalachia region, and is most frequently used for hunting bear, mountain lion, and bobcats, as well as small prey like raccoons and squirrels. They are efficient hunters, whether utilized in packs or as an individual. Individual hounds may be most adept at catching the smaller prey.

Because of their speed, Treeing Walker Coonhounds may be used as deer-hunting dogs in states where hunting of antlered animals with dogs is legal.

It is one of the most popular because it is famous for this speed, but also because of its cold nose, intelligence, and also for not having as much potential for being aggressive like some other hunters, such as the Plot Hound. Their cold nose and intelligence make them much better for bobcat and cougar hunting, since these animals are normally harder to track than a bear or raccoon. When hunting in a routine forest, Treeing Walkers have been known to be proficient problem solvers - finding ways to manipulate their prey to specific areas and even specific trees that they seem to think are preferred by their human counterparts.

If you are on the search for a puppy, be very sure of what your intended purpose is. Most buyers utilize them for the purpose that was bred into them (hunting), but there are increasing numbers of people who acquire them as family pets. While having a Treeing Walker as a non-hunting companion is perfectly acceptable, and potentially extremely rewarding, it is very important that you accept them for the strong-willed scent-slaves that they are. That adorable puppy will very quickly be an adult that will disappear past the tree line in the blink of an eye and be gone for a day or two, if precautions are not in place. Finding fun ways to expend their energy and work their brains is vital to your success if you are to bring one into your home. Participating in activities such as all-breed lure coursing events (these are usually called "fun runs" and do not result in any titles but are just for fun for dog breeds ineligible to actually compete for Lure Coursing titles), AKC Fast CAT, and Barn Hunts are wonderful ways to get them out of the house and doing something fun and special!

Being increasingly common comes with a big downside; an incentive for people who are open to irresponsible breeding in order to maximize profit. It is very important to seek out ethical breeders and not just the closest and or cheapest. Ethical breeders often charge more than unethical breeders, but that is due to the tremendous expense that goes along with breeding dogs the correct way (vet costs, health testing and health certification of parents, etc.).

This really is a wonderful breed - a celebrity among hunters, and a little-known treasure for the rest of the world - that stands out from the scent hounds, distinguished and steeped in tradition and American history. If you are a good fit for one and you decide to take the leap, it's likely to be a leap you never regret.


Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation

  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

  • Thyroid Evaluation

The above health tests are easy to verify. Any breeder who health tests will be eager to show you proof of health testing, usually by sending you a link to the parent's profiles on the OFA website. Any breeder who gets cagey about health testing or says they did the tests but didn't send them in to OFA for certification is not on the up-and-up and should be avoided.

Note: This article contains an original painting by artist Kim L Powers. This painting can be viewed and/or purchased here.



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