There’s no single breed of hunting dog that is perfect for every situation, but with a little knowledge about the breeds you’re considering, you can narrow your search for your next hunting partner. This series will offer a primer on the most popular breeds of hunting dogs. Today, we discuss the treeing Walker coonhound.
Outdoor Life has declared the treeing Walker coonhound “perhaps the best all-around hound” due to the dogs’ drive, speed, voice and versatility. Walkers have been known to successfully chase everything from raccoons and squirrels to deer and even bears. And no matter how far away their trek takes them, you will hear them once the prey is cornered.
But it’s when hunting raccoons that the Walkers truly shine. While any coonhound worth its vest will tree a raccoon, and wait at the bottom for the hunter to find them, Walkers will sometimes get impatient and physically climb the tree. If the tree is at virtually any angle but straight up, a Walker can run it. A useful talent to have!
One of the largest breeds of coonhound, the Walker averages between 50 and 70 pounds and anywhere from 20 to 27 inches tall at the shoulders. They generally live 12–13 years, and the American Kennel Club considers their shedding to be seasonal.
While their big floppy ears are useful for tracking down all manner of varmints, they’re also prone to infections and need to be cleaned regularly. Give those floppies a thorough check every time they come in from outside, because they’re great hiding places for ticks. Otherwise, Walker coonhounds are relatively low maintenance. They don’t require frequent bathing, but without regular baths, they tend to get that “hound-dog funk.”
Any coonhound is a high-energy dog who will wear out its handler if the handler doesn’t wear them out first. They love extended walks and are perfect companions for runners, hikers or adventurers. It’s vital to keep the dog on a leash, however, because if they see prey, they will chase prey. They’re just so eager for the hunt that it’s often hard to talk even the most trained coonhound out of it once they get the scent.
Walker coonhounds are incredibly smart and therefore incredibly trainable. The American Kennel Club says that “the treeing Walker coonhound is very intelligent and eager to learn. They love to please their people, but they also have a stubborn, independent streak. This can make them seem difficult to a trainer who doesn’t understand the coonhound brain.”
Walkers pick up commands quickly, but that doesn’t mean they’ll always choose to follow them. Often, if they’re bored or just feeling saucy, you’ll see them start to obey a command and then decide differently. It can be frustrating! But if you remember that they’re actually eager to learn and highly motivated by food or prey, you can get over the hump and end up with an ideal hunting companion.
Walkers are high-energy dogs and as such need a high-energy dog food. Caution is advised, however, if they’re not working regularly. A Walker coonhound can easily become overweight if they’re eating a high-energy food but not exercising regularly. In extended periods of downtime, it’s recommended that calories be counted and weight watched.
If you’re looking for a friendly, intelligent hunting partner who loves being around people, a treeing Walker coonhound can be ideal, but there are conditions where it might be better to choose another breed. Walkers love to talk, and they are easily excitable and not shy about letting you know it. Their loud, baying yowl may not be the best for apartment dwellers or people with sensitive neighbors. You will know when the mail has arrived, and so will everyone else on the block. They’re also not huge fans of being alone, so keep that in mind if you aren’t home very often.
Walkers require patience when training and room to run, but they’re friendly and loyal, and when they have the scent, there is no better hunting partner to have.