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The term treeing may appear unusual, after all, what do trees have to do with dogs?

 Well a whole lot when we discover what treeing dogs precisely do and their roles as working partners.

 Turns out, not all dogs are born for the task and it takes a certain talent to excel in the art of treeing. 

Indeed, there are several dog breeds that were selectively bred with the task of treeing in mind, so let's discover more about the art of "treeing" and what it exactly entails.

A dog treeing

A dog "treeing"

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Treeing dogs, as the name implies, involves both dogs and trees. Treeing is a hunting method where the dog's main task is chasing animals up a tree so that they can be easily spotted by hunters. 

The task doesn't end here though. In order to make good treeing dogs, the dogs must be willing to bark, bark and continue to bark after the animal has escaped up the tree.

This barking is what allowed the hunters on foot to successfully locate the dogs so that they could shoot the treed animal. However, not always the animals hunted in this matter had such a dire ending! Indeed, treeing can also be used so that the animal is radio-tagged for tracking purposes.

Did you know? If you ever wondered where the famous saying "barking up the wrong tree" came from, well, here you have it, the famous idiom stems from this practice!

The Elite Team 

As mentioned, there are certain dogs specifically bred to bark up trees. While foxhounds excelled as hunters when it came to tracking quarry, they were found to be inadequate in hunting animals that climbed up trees such as raccoon, opossums, bobcats and large prey such as bears and cougars.

The foxhounds ended up feeling confused when they were unable to hold scent while these animals took for the treetops. So a special type of scent hound was needed for the task and the first treeing dogs were born to fill the vacancy spot.

These dogs had a keen sense of smell, strong tracking skills and an independent streak which allowed them to hunt at a distance from their hunters without specific guidance or directions. 

What dogs though excelled in these tasks?

Introducing The Coonhounds

A redbone coonhound

A redbone coonhound barking up a tree.

Many coonhounds were employed as treeing dogs due to the fact that these fellows had a good ability to alert the hunters of the whereabouts of treed animals with their distinctive baying until the hunters arrived. 

Bloodhound blood was sometimes added to their lines so to increase their ability to track.

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A breed specifically bred for the purpose is the Treeing Walker Coonhound, which was responsible for tracking and treeing wild raccoons.

 Other breeds commonly used for treeing include the black and tan Coonhound, the bluetick coonhound, the American English Coonhound, the redbone coonhound and the plott hound.

Feist treeing

An example of a Buckley Mountain Feist engaged in treeing

Introducing The Feists

Another type of hunting dog used for treeing animals is the feist, a small low-maintenance hunting dog used in the rural southern United States for the purpose of locating, chasing and treeing squirrels. The term "feist" refers to small, noisy dogs.

As coonhounds, they'll circle the tree and bark loudly once the squirrel is treed. Unlike coonhounds though they are rather quiet hunters when they track, limiting their barking to only once the animal is treed. 

Despite their furious chasing, which often involves wading through streams, leaping over logs, and running across roads and fields, these dogs rarely get to the squirrels.

Feists, which are often misidentified as Jack Russells, are mixes of various hunting breeds. According to the United Kennel Club, treeing feists are the result of generations of crosses between hunting hounds and terriers.

Curs are used for hunting and are produced in the Southern United States

Curs are used for hunting and are produced in the Southern United States

Introducing the Curs

Curs are several types of mixed dog breeds which are generally known for being closely related to several North American treeing hounds. 

They are similar to feists, but the term feist refers to small dogs, while curs are large.

 Curs have a history of being versatile multipurpose farm dogs capable of herding, hunting and treeing small and large game. 

The treeing cur is currently recognized by the United Kennel Club and is know for its ability to tree squirrels, raccoon, opossum, wild boar, bears, mountain lions and bob cats.


  • Wikipedia: Treeing, retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 3rd, 2016.
  • Wikipedia: Coonhound, retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 3rd, 2016.
  • Wikipedia: Feist, retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 3rd, 2016.
  • Wikipedia: Curs, retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 3rd, 2016.
  • United Kennel Club: Treeing Feist, retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 3rd, 2016.
  • United Kennel Club: Treeing Cur, retrieved from the World Wide Web on February 3rd, 2016.

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