Information about the Treeing Walker Coonhound
The Treeing Walker Coonhound is a dog that origintated in the US. It is used to this day to hunt raccoons and opossums. They are great family pets and love children, but they are very energetic.
The Treeing Walker Coonhound is a breed of dog descended from the English Foxhound, first recognized as a separate breed in 1945. The breed began when a stolen dog of unknown origin, known as “Tennessee Lead”, was crossed into the Walker Hound in the 19th century. Thomas Walker had imported the English Foxhound to Virginia in 1742.
Treeing Walker Coonhounds are extremely fast, agile, and tireless in the pursuit of game. They are extremely vocal with a distinctive bay that allows their owners to easily identify their dogs from great distances.
While very affectionate they are best suited to a life of action outdoors, and will suffer from being cooped up. While generally not considered suitable for apartment dwelling, Treeing Walker Coonhounds can do well in that setting, provided they are given plenty of opportunities for exercise outdoors.
The Treeing Walker Coonhound has powerful, mobile shoulders. The ears are large compared to the head. The upper lips hang well below the lower jaw. The forelegs are long, straight and lean. The smooth coat is fine and glossy and comes in a tri-color and a bi-color pattern. (Tri-color is preferred by breeders.) Although they come in tan and white, they must never be called “red,” to distinguish them from the Redbone Coonhound. They are bred for mouth, looks, and ability.
If run consistently, “Walkers” are mellow, content dogs at home – bordering on sappy at times – a stark contrast to their intense, alert, tireless behavior when on scent in the field.
Treeing Walker Coonhounds are great with children and get along well with other dogs. Like most hounds, they are even-tempered and difficult to annoy or drive into aggression towards people or other dogs. They are, however, energetic, and have a tendency to stand up on their hind legs to pursue their curiosity about a young child or small dog that is picked up by a person, which can be alarming to people that are fearful of dogs. It is highly unusual to see these dogs display aggression towards other dogs or humans in particular. They can be highly focused and idiosyncratically attracted to certain toys, locations, people, sounds, or objects. They love to nest and cuddle. Getting a Walker hound out of a bed, off a couch or away from a fireplace will be a feat in itself. They love to sleep after a long day, and are the perfect dogs for watching television. They are very sensitive and it is very easy to hurt their feelings. When people hurt their feelings they look miserable. In addition, they seem to mature slower than most breeds, they do not “grow up” until they are approximately 2 years of age. They make excellent pets if well exercised.
This breed is smart but can be stubborn to train. Conventional training may not work as expected, spanking them can damage their trust and they can easily become shy and frightened. These dogs are often dumped in shelters by owners unwilling to take the time to properly train them. In shelters they become frantic and start barking and jumping on the kennel or they become depressed. It is very common for them to quit eating and become emaciated.
Training must be consistent, as Walker hounds are extremely intelligent and will take full advantage of loopholes in the training regimen. These hounds have been known to use objects as levers/tools and often manipulate their environment to accomplish a task (e.g., moving furniture to climb over gates, using household objects to manipulate kennel mechanisms, etc.). They will attempt to steal attractive items, and may maintain several caches of licit and illicit items.
Because they are eager to please, loving, intelligent and confident, they make a splendid companion dog for an owner willing to give them proper exercise. Because this breed requires intense exercise to match its energy levels, Walker hounds cannot settle for mere walks in the neighborhood.
Most Walker hounds are capable of scaling fences in excess of 6 feet (1.8 m), so a proper yard system whether fence or electric fence is a must. They bury bones and dig if they are on scent. In general, they are oblivious to commands when trailing a scent, much like a beagle or basset hound, so it is imperative for a Walker hound to have serious training and a safe running area free of cars or other potential dangers. They have strong tracking instincts, which is why they are popular as hunting dogs. They can be quite adept at catching small rodents such as squirrels, roof rats, opossums, and skunks. They are also known for their ability to tree raccoons, bobcats, cougars, and bears when hunting in packs of two or more. Carnivore researchers have had success using a single Walker and handler team to locate cougar-cached carcasses up to several months after the kill date.
Walker dogs were best known for being coon hounds however the walker hound is not as cold nosed as other coonhounds therefore making it an ideal dog for competition hunts because they only have the ability to smell a hot track. While pleasure hunting on the other hand the walker hound is not the ideal hound because they lack the ability to work a cold/old track. A typical hunt starts with getting the dog from the kennel. Since it has been in the pen all day, it is ready to run. Hunting is a hunting dog’s exercise. The dog is taken to a truck and is checked over for being healthy, it is put into the truck. The handler then goes to the area where they plan to run the dog. This is typically next to or within a woods or forest. When the dog is let out of the box, it runs off happy to be free to run and excited to find a raccoon to chase. When it smells a track, a coon dog typically begins to bawl a long, carried out, groaning bark. The colder/older the track is, the less frequent and more of a crying, carrying out bawl. As the track gets warmer the excitement causes the dog to speed up the bawl.
The dog then follows this track and eventually ends up at a tree. The dog literally follows the track up the tree, stands on its hind legs, rolls over a big whiny bawl as a “locate”, and begins a chop bark (a “woof, woof, woof”) bark. Meanwhile the handler is standing where he turned the dog loose, listening to all of the different barks, and understanding what the dog is doing and where the dog is going. Once the dog is “treed” with a solid chop the handler walks to the dog’s location, looks for the game, and rewards the dog as necessary. This is repeated throughout the night.
Some dogs track and do not tree. Other dogs tree and do not track. So, some handlers have one of each and hunt both at the same time. Other dogs do both and can be hunted by themselves. These types of dogs are hunted with other independent dogs, and handlers can also compete against one another, with objectives such as first dog to open bawl on track, first dog to tree, most raccoons found, etc.