Article written by Judie Amyot for The Suburban
Say what? Yes, this is a real dog breed and were I not a volunteer at Animatch, I might never have discovered this interesting canine. We have had a few of this breed at our centre recently, all of whom are now happily living in their new homes.
The Treeing Walker Coonhound is a breed of hound descended from the English and American foxhounds and was bred primarily to hunt raccoons, hence the name coonhound, but is also used for other game such as deer, bears, bobcats or cougars. “Treeing” comes from chasing its prey until it runs up a tree and “Walker” comes from the Walker family of Kentucky, who were instrumental in developing the breed that was recognized as unique in 1945.
It is a vocal dog with a distinctive bay that allows each owner to identify it from great distances. It is known for its hunting prowess — specifically for treeing game — and whose clear, ringing voice changes to a steady “chop” at the tree. Not your average “woof”!
This breed is smart and social, making it a good candidate for a family pet as long as it’s well exercised. It is a medium-sized breed that is muscular and built for the hunt with powerful hind legs and well-muscled thighs, but it’s those floppy ears and large, brown eyes with a soft pleading expression that will undoubtedly melt your heart.
The Treeing Walker Coonhound is usually tri-coloured in white, black and tan. It may be mostly white with black markings and tan trim, or black can be the predominant colour along with tan trim and white markings. The average weight of this breed is 48-76 lbs. with a height of 20-27 inches. Its lifespan can range from approximately 10-13 years.
The first thing on the mind of this breed is hunting and it can take off at a moment’s notice to follow its prey. Fair notice has to be given to neighbourhood squirrels and anything else that dashes around, so your Walker should always be kept on a leash or in an enclosed area at all times. It has a stubborn, independent streak, which can sometimes make training a challenge, but its high intelligence allows it to quickly grasp commands and excel in obedience training. The Coonhound tends to be friendly and courteous with people and its amiable temperament make it typically good with children and other pets.
As with any dog, it’s important to monitor the amount of food and treats you give your Coonhound since as domestic pets, they are not out hunting and may be prone to weight gain as they age. Your veterinarian can advise you as to appropriate nutrition and feeding guidelines.
This breed has a short, smooth coat that is easy to care for and because it repels mud and dirt, occasional bathing or wiping with a damp towel is sufficient to keep the coat shiny. Weekly brushing will also remove any loose hair. Regular dental care, including at home teeth brushing and professional cleanings, is essential for maintaining good dental hygiene and overall long-term health. It is generally a healthy breed but can be prone to certain health issues such as hip dysplasia and ear infections.
As for exercise requirements, these energetic “Walkers” not only need walks but also plenty of opportunities to partake in runs in enclosed areas and hikes with their people.
This breed is not typically what potential adopters ask us for at Animatch. Some applicants are easy going and just want a family pet while others have requirement lists so long, we can rarely find them exactly the right match. Whether we get another abandoned Treeing Walker Coonhound at our centre is anyone’s guess, but if this breed seems like the right fit for you, make sure it doesn’t chase you up a tree!
Judie Amyot is a volunteer with Animatch, a non-profit dog adoption service. For more information, visit www.animatch.ca