Traits, Personality and Behavior
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.
Temperament varies in Treeing 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 Treeing Walker pup will 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.
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. He'll need 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. Remember that a tired Coonhound is a good Coonhound.
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 getting involved in tracking or search and rescue. He's also 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. He has a smooth, easy-care, tricolor coat that needs only a weekly brushing with a rubber curry. The only other grooming he needs is regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and tooth brushing.
Be aware that 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 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 when he gets excited about finding a good scent.
As far as training, all hounds are independent thinkers and 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 Treeing 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 Treeing Walker especially appreciates food rewards.
Because the puppies are extremely appealing, be on the lookout for puppy millers and irresponsible breeders. They'll be very happy to cash your check or run your charge card, but not so happy to answer your questions about health testing and temperament in their dogs.
Health Issues Common to Treeing Walkers
All purebred 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.
Treeing Walker Coonhounds 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. And with their floppy ears, Treeing Walkers can be prone to ear infections. Check the ears weekly, clean them if necessary, and keep them dry to 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.
5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Treeing Walker Puppy
Finding a good breeder is more important than finding 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.
Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Treeing Walker Coonhounds aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Treeing Walker can live to be 10 to 13 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.
Puppy or adult, take your Treeing Walker to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, and in particular to watch out for the early signs of diabetes and skin problems, including ear infections.
Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing, and any breeder who says her lines are free of problems, or that they're not a concern, is either lying or knows almost nothing about Treeing Walker Coonhounds. Look for your puppy elsewhere.
Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Pet Insurance for Treeing Walkers
Pet insurance for Treeing Walkers costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Treeing Walkers are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Treeing Walkers are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Treeing Walker is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.