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Treeing Walker Coonhound: Breed Traits, Characteristics & More

MJ Shaffer

Last Updated: May 31, 2023 | 8 min read | Leave a Comment

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If you have an active lifestyle and seek a high-energy companion who loves everyone, consider the Treeing Walker Coonhound. With a long but descriptive name, this handsome hound may be the breed for you. With ultimate origins in the English Foxhounds first brought to the colonies, the Treeing Walker was bred, true to his name, to hunt raccoons.

Treeing Walker Coonhounds resemble traditional English and American Foxhounds. He’s as friendly a companion as he’s talented as a coonhound. It’s no wonder the Treeing Walker is called The People’s Choice. Even if you’re not looking for a top-notch treeing hound, this friendly pup loves the whole family.

Although Treeing Walkers were originally hunting dogs, they make great lure-coursing dogs. They track by sight as well as scent. Their natural athleticism and speed make them fun for competitors, although their stubborn streak may make training them a bit more challenging than more common breeds.

Treeing Walker Coonhound
    • weight iconWeight50-70 pounds
    • height iconHeight20-27 inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan12-13 years
    • color iconColorsblack, tan, and white tricolor preferred
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

Breed History

When English settlers came to America, they brought with them their sports.

In 1742, Thomas Walker of Albermarle County, Virginia, imported hounds from England. In 1770, George Washington, eventual President of the United States, imported English hounds to use on the fox hunt. This group of imported English Foxhounds became the foundation stock of the Virginia hounds, from which later were developed the Walker hound.

At least one cross to an outside breed helped make the breed what it is today, a stolen dog named Tennessee Lead. Although Tennessee Lead appeared different from the Virginia hounds, he was fast, had a short, clear mouth, and could read his quarry. Tennessee Lead was of unknown lineage, but legend says he was stolen from a deer hunt in Tennessee for his speed and ability to run a red fox. He was used as a stud dog in the area.

After Tennesee Lead and his progeny were crossed on various strands, three strains of hound began to emerge, the most famous being the Walker. Five years after Tennessee Lead was stolen, Jason Walker imported a handful of English hounds. The cross of Tennessee Lead on native hounds produced a dog named Spotted Top. Around 1870, the Walker brothers of Garrard County bought Spotted Top and founded the Walker line of hounds.

Eventually, dogs were selected for their ability to run and tree raccoons. The breed was first registered as the Walker Coonhound, Treeing, in 1905 and as the Treeing Walker Coonhound in 1945. This hound’s pleasant temperament and hunting prowess give him the nickname today of “America’s Favorite.”

Size & Appearance

The Treeing Walker is a dog of substantial size, standing between twenty and twenty-seven inches at the shoulder, with a difference between the heights of the smaller female and larger male. Weight also varies by sex, with females at fifty pounds towards the lower end of the range and males up to seventy.

Like most foxhounds, the Treeing Walker Coonhound has a classic face. His broad and entire cranial region tops a strong jaw and a muzzle that is medium length and rather broad. Dark brown almond-shaped eyes express his calm disposition, and his ears hang gracefully towards his muzzle. His sloping shoulder allows him a full stride. His ribcage is deep to house strong lungs, and his muscular hindquarters, with proper angulation, propel him at great speed.

Coat & Colors

Treeing Walker Coonhound laying down on the ground with Coat and Colors up close
The traditional tri-color white, black, and tan is the preferred pattern.

The Treeing Walker Coonhound’s color pattern reflects his English Foxhound heritage. He may have a white body with black markings and tan trim, or the pattern may be reversed with white and black changing roles, with tan remaining his trim color. Although less common, white as a base color with either black or tan spots only doesn’t disqualify him from registration with the American Kennel Club (AKC). Even the show ring respects this dog’s talent in the field, as working dogs aren’t penalized for scars from hunting injuries.

Although the Treeing Walker’s coat is relatively short, there’s a lot of him, and there’s a lot of hair. If you’re trying to minimize shed hair on surfaces in your home, you’ll have to limit this sweet hound’s time within it. His smooth coat is shiny and sleek but has to be dense enough to protect him from injury while crashing through the underbrush on a chase. He’s considered a medium shedder, but his coat is so easy to groom shedding in the home can be mitigated if not eliminated.

Living Conditions

Treeing Walker Coonhound sleeping on a sofa
While this coonhound is a high-energy hunting dog who excels in the field doing his historical job, he feels quite at home by the fireside after the hunt with his family.

His social nature prevents him from being an outdoor-only dog. He wants to be with his family. Easy to maintain between hunts, the Treeing Walker adores people and is good with children. However, his large size and exuberance make him too unruly to be unsupervised with smaller children.

Treeing Walkers chase their quarry up a tree and bark at a significant volume. A hound’s vocalization, called a bay, is so distinctive that a hunter can recognize his dog’s bay from another at a great distance. If you have a Treeing Walker at home, your neighbors may not appreciate how vocal your buddy can be. Provide a securely fenced yard. He loves running and will chase if he catches a scent. If he gets away from you, his tremendous speed and stamina mean he can get far away very quickly, so be sure to have him microchipped as well.

Training

Treeing Walker Coonhound Training jumping over agility course
Like most hunting dogs, Treeing Walkers are intelligent and driven to please people.

Like most hounds, however, they have a stubborn streak because they’ve been bred to track prey indefatigably. They respond well to positive reinforcement, but be patient with them and keep training sessions short and fun. Their strong prey drive and hunting instinct present a challenge with recall, but in most contained and indoor situations, they’re eager to please their family.

Health

Treeing Walker Coonhound with Health issues being comforted by woman
They’re more likely to be injured on the hunt than suffer from congenital health problems.

Treeing Walkers have fewer health problems than many pure breeds because their value is in their ability to hunt. They must have speed and stamina. Neither is possible with an unhealthy animal. Although the Treeing Walker is sometimes used to run fox or deer, their main quarry, the raccoon, puts up a particularly fierce fight when cornered. A few health problems Treeing Walkers see often are joint dysplasia, age-related cataracts, and ear problems due to how their long ears cover their ear canal.

Cataracts

Cataracts tend to appear with age, and Treeing Walker Coonhounds are prone to developing them. Surgery is an option for this disease that causes its signature cloudy appearance of the eye, but many older dogs adjust to blindness as long as their owner makes accommodations in the home. If you notice your typically high-energy buddy acting like his vision is compromised, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Ear Infections

Most ear infections are caused by an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast in the ear. The risk increases if a dog’s ears naturally fold down over the ear canal. Treeing Walker Coonhounds have long ears that lie close to their cheeks, so check their ears frequently for signs of infection. They also spend lots of time in dewy or damp brush. If there is discharge, swelling, redness, or odor, over-the-counter ear washes and drying powders are the first line of defense. If your dog continues to shake his head or scratch his ears, consult your veterinarian.

Elbow And Hip Dysplasia

TWCs may suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia, a painful condition in many breeds. Breeding dogs should have an Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or PennHIP Evaluation. Buyers should choose puppies from parents with good evaluation scores. Beyond genetic factors, nutrition plays a vital role in long-term soundness. Feeding your puppy for steady but slower growth may help avoid this painful condition. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a feeding program for your pup to maximize his chance for long-term health.

Nutrition

Treeing Walker Coonhound eating out of a human hand outside
Use his body condition to increase or decrease his daily caloric intake as an adult.

The average adult Treeing Walker will eat approximately two to three cups of food per day. How much you’ll need to feed your dog to keep him fit will depend on weight, age, and activity level. Please resist the temptation to feed your Treeing Walker pup for rapid growth. It will increase his risk of joint issues as an adult. Steady growth in his first year reduces the risk of joint dysplasia.

Choose a formula that meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards and matches your pup’s age. Complete diets keep this active breed healthy and reduce the need for expensive supplements. A high-quality kibble including meat protein, fiber, healthy carbs, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals will meet your buddy’s nutritional needs.

Grooming

Treeing Walker Coonhound outside needing Grooming
One of the most appealing features of this coonhound is its easy-care coat.

Hounds are notorious for their tendency to smell “doggy,” but the Treeing Walker enjoys any family time, so regular baths keep him fresh. This breed sheds more than some other hounds. His coat is thick enough to protect him from briars, but frequent brushing and baths reduce hair in the home.

Because Treeing Walkers have a coarser coat than some hounds, a rough curry in a circular motion will loosen hairs. A follow-up once-over with a short bristle brush that is easy to flick will gently stimulate healthy oils in the skin and remove hairs loosened by the curry. Work with your pup to accustom him to proper nail care, and introduce him to a soft veterinary toothbrush and pet-safe toothpaste. Regular toothbrushing should be part of his normal routine.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

For a purebred Treeing Walker Coonhound, you may expect to spend between $400 and $800. Find reputable breeders who use OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) to certify their breeding stock. If hunting is your primary goal with this pup, look for one from bloodlines proven in the field. The breed’s popularity means they’ll be relatively easy to find, but some breeders will be less selective in the parent stock they use.

Rescues & Shelters

Treeing Walker Coonhound at a Rescues Shelter
Check your local shelters for dogs known to be Treeing Walkers or contact rescues specializing in hounds.

Their energy level and surprising volume mean the occasional Treeing Walker Coonhound may enter a rescue or shelter situation. Dogs that fail in the field may be dumped at shelters and still make great pets. They are best suited to work with these breeds to help ease the transition to a new home. Consider rescues like Treeing Walker Coonhound RescueMe, which will direct you to local rescue organizations or Carolina Loving Hound Rescue for general assistance in finding a Treeing Walker who needs a new home.

As Family Pets

Overall, Treeing Walker Coonhounds are:

  • The most popular coonhound breed.
  • Easy-going in the home.
  • Healthiest with at least an hour total of daily exercise.
  • Good with children.
  • Moderate shedding.
  • Easy to groom.
  • Loud and very vocal.
  • Easy to find throughout the United States, especially in the South and Mid-Atlantic areas.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a companion who is as happy on a twice-a-day endurance run as enjoying a quiet evening on the couch with the family, he may be the one for you. With his distinctive tricolor easy-care coat, this friendly, eager-to-please breed suits a high-energy family with a well-fenced yard and noise-tolerant neighbors. A quick and tenacious tracker whose nose can drop an older scent for a newer one, this popular breed is the perfect country companion.

Golden Flatcoat

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