Treeing Walker Coonhound
A male Treeing Walker Coonhound
|Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
The Treeing Walker Coonhound is a breed of hound descended from the English and American Foxhounds. The breed originated in the United States when a dog known as "Tennessee Lead," was crossed into the Walker Hound in the 19th century. The Treeing Walker Coonhound was recognized officially as a breed by the United Kennel Club in 1945 and by the American Kennel Club in 2012.
The Treeing Walker Coonhound was bred primarily to hunt raccoons, but it is also used on other game such as deer, bear or mountain lion. The breed is vocal with a distinctive bay that allows its owner to identify their hound from great distances. It has a clear, ringing voice that changes to steady chop at the tree. Walker hounds are gentle, calm, friendly dogs who make great house pets.
The Treeing Walker Coonhound was developed in the Colonial era from crosses of English Foxhounds. Two breeders from Kentucky, John W. Walker and George Washington Maupin, 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 Walker. The Walker Coonhound, Treeing, was first recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1905 as a part of the English Coonhound breed, at the request of 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.
The Treeing Walker Coonhound should give an impression of a working dog. According to the UKC standard, it may stand 20 to 27 inches high at maturity, with weight in proportion. The common weight range is 50 to 70 pounds, with males being larger than females.
The skull should be broad, with a long muzzle and long, hanging ears. Eyes are dark and have a soft expression. All four legs should be straight when viewed from the front or back, with cat-like, compact feet. In conformation shows, blindness or deafness is a disqualification. The smooth coat is fine and glossy and comes in a tricolor and a bi-color pattern. Tricolor, white with black and tan markings, is preferred, although bicolor dogs, black and white or tan and white, are acceptable.
The Treeing Walker Coonhound has a clear bay on trail, which should change to a distinct "chop" when treed. Its temperament should be kind but fearless and courageous on the hunt. The Treeing Walker Coonhound is bred primarily for mouth, looks, and ability. It is first and foremost a hunting dog, although it may be kept as a pet. It is described as affectionate and good with children, but its energy requires an outlet and it must be trained. The Treeing Walker Coonhound lives an average of 12 to 13 years. 
Treeing Walker Coonhounds are loving, intelligent, confident, and enjoy interacting with humans. They make good 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. On the scent, they are tireless, alert, and intense. At home they are mellow, sensitive lovers of comfort: they adore having their heads in the laps of their masters and being petted and fed treats. A Treeing Walker Coonhound is happiest living indoors with his family with a nice soft place to snooze on the couch, a master that appreciates the dog's loud joyful barking when master returns home, and a firm hand that insists he is not permitted to steal snacks off the table because this breed has a very powerful sense of smell that makes Christmas buffets seductive and irresistable without obedience training.
Treeing Walker Coonhounds get along well with other dogs and with children. Like most 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, despite their nature as a small-game hunter.
The Treeing Walker Coonhound's strong tracking instincts make it popular as a hunting dog, primarily for raccoons. Hunting solo or in packs of two or more, they are used to track and tree raccoons, bobcats, cougars, and bears. Individual hounds may be adept at catching small rodents such as squirrels, roof rats, opossums, and skunks.
Because of their speed, Treeing Walkers may be used as deer dogs in states where hunting of antlered animals with dogs is legal.
Although the Walker is best known as a coonhound, it is not as cold-nosed[a] as other coonhounds. It is the most popular hound for competition coon hunts, since it will forego an older track for a fresher one, thereby upping the number of raccoons caught in a shorter amount of time.
- In hunting terminology, a fresh track is "hot" and an older track is "cold".
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