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plott hound

Originating in North Carolina, the Plott Hound is descended from German Hannover hounds, and is one of the 6 Coonhound breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. The others are the Redbone Coonhound, the American English Coonhound, (also called the Redtick Coonhound) the Bluetick Coonhound, the Black and Tan Coonhound and finally the Treeing Walker Coonhound. The Plott is the official state dog of North Carolina.

A dark colored Plott Hound standing on green grass, wearing a red collarPlott Hound

Plott Hound
Temperament

This is a happy, amiable breed of dog that makes a great companion. They love being at home and around their owners, and seek human company. They do not do well if left alone for long periods, and may start to howl and bawl.

The Plott gets on well with other dogs, but can't be trusted alone with other smaller household pets. Their hunting background means they will tend to go after any animal smaller than itself, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils,etc.

This is a good breed around children, and they enjoy playing with kids. However they should be supervised around small kids, as they may knock one over by accident during play.

Bred to hunt in the woods for hours on end, the Plott has a lot of energy and stamina. They need a lot of exercise, such as a good long walk everyday, as well as a well-fenced big yard that they can run around in. They love chasing balls, sticks and frisbees. When outdoors on a walk, you should always keep the dog on a leash. As soon as they detect an interesting scent they will be off, oblivious to everything else, and may even run across roads through traffic.

Plott Hound
Breed History

The Plott Hound is the only one of the 6 AKC breeds belonging to the Coonhound group that is not descended from the English Foxhound. Instead, the foundation stock consisted of 5 German Hannover hounds that were brought from the Rhine Valley in Germany to North Carolina in the 1750s. They belonged to a man called Mr. Johannes Plott. His name was later anglicized to George Plott.

He set up home in the Smoky Mountains of N.C., and used his dogs for bear and wild boar hunting. His son Henry bred the family dogs with local hunting dogs to produce a line originally known as "Plott's Hounds".

Henry Plott bred his dogs for hunting, and wanted a great sense of smell, tenacity to follow a scent, bravery and endurance to see the hunt through. He was not bothered about breeding for a certain appearance for the show ring.

They became good general farm dogs, providing protection for their families and also the farm animals. They were good with the children, and were even used for herding at times. But their main job was hunting, mainly for mountain lion, bears and wild boar.

By the end of the 1800s, word had spread about these dog's abilities, and other hunters started enquiring about buying a Plott. As the breed became more popular, disagreements developed between the breeders.

Some breeders crossed their dogs with Cur dogs, giving the offspring a bluish-grey spotted coat. Other breeders rejected this result, and used local Blevin Hounds which were tan and black in color.

Over time they came to be used mainly for hunting raccoon. Like all coonhounds, they have a distinctive bark or "voice" that lets the hunter know where the dog is, and when it has cornered a raccoon up a tree. 

Surprisingly, the Plott Hound is not well known in the Carolinas; the breed was only officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2007.

Vital statistics

Height; 20" to 25" (males), and 20" to 23" (females)

Weight; 50lbs to 60lbs (males), and 40lbs to 55lbs (females).

Lifespan; 12 to 14 years

Colors;  Brindle, including Black, Brown, Grey, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Red, Chocolate and tan.

A Plott hound lying down on a rug indoors, looking over it's shoulder to the right.Plott hound

Ease of Training

This an alert and intelligent breed, and not especially difficult to train. As puppies they can be exuberant and excitable. They can also develop a bit if a stubborn streak if they get bored, and so need to be trained in short sessions to avoid losing the dog's attention.

Start off with 5 to 10 minute sessions, to introduce the puppy to the idea of training, and always use positive reinforcement for correct responses - lots of praise and a few doggy treats are the secret weapons here!

When the puppy is old enough to go out in public, look for some local puppy-walking classes. This will help develop the idea of training and also socialization, meeting other dogs and people in new settings.

Plott Hounds have a tendency to bolt when they detect the scent of a small animal, and part of the training for an adult dog is to get them to come back when called. This is the most difficult thing with this breed, and it is well worth getting the help of a professional dog trainer.

Grooming

The Plott's fine, smooth coat tends to repel dirt and mud, and usually just needs a weekly rub down with a hound glove or a fine bristle brush. They really only need bathing every few month, unless the dog gets particularly dirty, or develops a strong "doggy" smell.

The ears should be checked weekly for any foreign objects like twigs, and for signs of injuries or infection such as redness, swelling or a bad smell.

Teeth should be brushed daily with a small, soft brush and a dog-specific toothpaste, NOT a human toothpaste. The dog's claws should be checked weekly and trimmed if needed to prevent splitting and cracking.

Protection

With their loud voice and howling bark, the Plott will quickly let you know if something unusual is going on; they make for good watch dogs. But when it comes to deterring a would-be intruder, they lack the size and intimidation factor, and are basically just too friendly. They are likely to let a stranger through the front gate with some sniffing and a lick! So they are not good guard dogs. If you are looking for protection, I recommend you look at another breed.

Health Considerations

This dog breed was bred to be a useful farm dog and hunting dog in the mountains of North Carolina. Any puppies with health problems did not survive, and the result today is a sturdy, healthy dog with few genetic issues. The main problems to watch for are;

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eye problems.

Reputable breeders will have their stock checked by a vet to make sure there are no issues.

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