Leader of the Pack: When it comes to following a trail, Treeing Walkers set the pace.
Just as the English pointer dominates modern pointing dog field trials, the Treeing Walker coonhound dominates today’s coon dog trails. The modern Walker is a fast trailer and very quick to tree – a valuable trait when contests are determined by the number of treed raccoons.
Two Kentuckians, George Washington Maupin and John Walker developed the Walker foxhound, a regional refinement of President George Washington’s versatile Virginia foxhound. In the 19th Century, an outcross to a hound from Tennessee – Tennessee Lead – a fast hound with a clear chopping bark, left a lasting mark on the Walker line.
Because of their speed, courage, endurance, and intelligence, pure Walkers and Walker crosses are also favored by mountain lion hunters who want their packs to bay cats quickly. Walkers bred primarily for mountain lion or fox hunting are often called “Running Dogs.”
While traditionalists who prefer the slower, cold trailing, bugle-mouthed blueticks and English coonhounds find the Walker’s fast style and higher-pitched voice less pleasing, practical hunters are willing to sacrifice mouth and cold nose for quick results. Several years ago, I asked legendary Texas mountain lion hunter Henry McIntyre his dog preference. “I like a Running Dog,” he said.
“Anything that slows the race is not helping catch that cat.”
- Get to know experienced hunters and breeders before buying a pup
- Attend a few hunts or trials to watch good Walker hounds and their handlers.
- Instill basic obedience. Like all hounds, Walkers are quite independent.
- Confuse show ring championship with working credentials. Very few AKC registered hounds are bred for hunting.