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Michael Kloth, Alamy
Bruce Tanner, Alamy
The Treeing Walker is not an oversize Beagle, although his classic tricolor good looks often lead to that misconception. He descends from American and English Foxhounds and takes his name from the Walker family of Kentucky, who were instrumental in his development. His coat is a classic tricolor: white, black and brown.
Scenthounds such as the Treeing Walker can have what is often described as a musty scent. Regular baths can help keep the odor under control, but it’s something you should be prepared to live with.
The Treeing Walker stands out for his drive, speed, and competitive nature. If your goal is to win at coonhound events, this is your dog. If you want just a pet, he might be a little more than you can handle.
Always walk your Treeing Walker on leash to ensure that he doesn’t run off after an interesting scent. He also needs a securely fenced yard to keep him contained when you’re not home. Treeing Walkers can adapt to living indoors or outdoors, but the most important thing to know about them is that they need human companionship. There’s no point in having a Coonhound if you’re just going to stick him out in the backyard all by his lonesome.
A Treeing Walker needs plenty of companionship and activity to be happy. Even if you don’t hunt him, consider (overall health permitting, of course -- your vet can help determine that) getting involved in tracking or search and rescue. He can also be a great hiking companion with a high level of endurance. You’ll be ready to stop before he is.
Depending on gender, with females being smaller, the Treeing Walker stands 20 to 27 inches tall and weighs 45 to 70 pounds, although some breeders are selecting for larger dogs that weigh 75 or even 80 pounds.
The drawbacks? Treeing Walkers can be loud and stubborn. Unless you live about five miles from your nearest neighbors, they’re going to hear your Treeing Walker’s deep, carrying voice — described as a clear, ringing bugle or a steady, clear chop — when he gets excited about finding a good scent.
The Treeing Walker is an indoor/outdoor dog. He should have a yard, but it’s important for him to spend time with his people, too.
The Treeing Walker Coonhound descends from the early English Foxhounds brought to America in colonial times. From those dogs evolved the Virginia hounds and Walker Foxhounds, which in turn were the progenitors of the Treeing Walker. One dog who had a huge influence on the breed in the 19th century was Tennessee Lead. His looks weren’t typical, but he contributed game sense, drive, speed, and a clear, short voice.
Treeing Walkers were originally called English Coonhounds, but some breeders had a different kind of dog in mind. They began breeding for the qualities that were most important to them and called their new breed the Treeing Walker. The United Kennel Club began registering the dogs as Walkers (Treeing) in 1945, and later changed the name to Treeing Walker. The TW is not recognized by the American Kennel Club but is part of the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service, the first step toward AKC recognition.
Temperament varies in Walkers. Some are outgoing, some can be a little bashful, some make friends with one and all, and some tend to be protective. There are many different lines in this breed, and each breeder selects for different characteristics. Study the breeder’s other dogs to get an idea of what your Walker pup may grow up to be like. The amount of socialization a pup receives makes a difference as well. In general, however, this is a happy, smart, outgoing dog.
Treeing Walkers make nice companions and family dogs, assuming you don’t expect them to be content to just lie around on the front porch. They have a strong desire to hunt, and if you don’t help them fulfill that need, they’ll go off on their own to see what they can find. On the trail, this is a dog that hustles. He’ll find a track, push it and get to the tree before all the other dogs. Not surprisingly, he does well in coonhunting competitions.
The Treeing Walker generally gets along well with children — although a puppy can be too rambunctious around toddlers — and other dogs. If you have cats, rabbits or other small, furry pets, beware. The TW may view them as prey. Supervise his interactions with them in the home, don’t leave them alone together, and don’t let them out in the yard together.
Bear in mind that the Treeing Walker is more gung-ho than some other Coonhound breeds. Health permitting, he’ll enjoy a couple of long walks or runs daily. He’ll also appreciate the opportunity to run off leash in a safely enclosed area once or twice a week.
As far as training, hounds tend to be independent thinkers who like to do things their own way. They have a short attention span because their interest is always being captured by a scent they’d like to check out. Assume that if your Walker’s nose is down, his ears are closed. He is more sensitive, tractable and amenable to training than many hounds, however. For best results, begin training early, keep training sessions short, and use positive reinforcement techniques, never force. The Walker especially appreciates food rewards.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from an Treeing Walker, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Walkers are generally healthy, but a few have been diagnosed with hip dysplasia. More likely, they may sustain injuries in the field while hunting. Raccoons are capable of doing damage to a dog, so be on the lookout for wounds. Treeing Walkers can be prone to ear infections. Check the ears weekly, clean them if necessary, and keep them dry to help eliminate the warm, moist environment in which yeast and bacteria thrive.
Choose a breeder who can provide you with written documentation that both of a puppy’s parents had hip radiographs (X-rays) that received scores of fair, good, or excellent from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. A bonus would be a clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation and an OFA cardiac clearance. Having the dogs vet checked is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Walker at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
This coonhound has a smooth, easy-care, tricolor coat that needs only a weekly brushing with a rubber curry. A bath every three months or as needed doesn’t go amiss.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every few weeks. Brush the teeth regularly (daily if you can) with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or who promote the dogs as being “good with kids” without any context as to what that means or how it comes about.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life. Look for more information about the Treeing Walker and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the Treeing Walker Breeders and Fanciers Association or the Southeastern Treeing Walker Association.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of a Treeing Walker puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Treeing Walker might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Treeing Walker in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Treeing Walkers available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Treeing Walker. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Networking can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. Most people who love Treeing Walkers love all Treeing Walkers. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. One of the Treeing Walker clubs may have a rescue network that can help you find a dog that may be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Treeing Walker rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a TW home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a dog. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Treeing Walker, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, take your Treeing Walker to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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