Plott Hound

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Plott Hound

The Plott Hound is a medium-sized coonhound with a short, brindle coat. Developed in the 1800s for big game hunting, they are commonly seen on farm yards in North Carolina and neighbouring states. Their scenting skills, while essential when it comes to hunting, have also earned them a spot with the local law enforcement, who they help to track missing people and criminals within their native state.

Renowned for their courage, the Plott Hound is a tenacious worker that will never hesitate when on the job, often taking on animals much larger than themselves. When not working, however, they are a mild-mannered and good-natured pet that enjoys relaxing with family members and playing with the household children.

About & History

The Plott Hound is a direct descendant of the German Hanoverian Hound. Hanoverian hounds were scenting dogs used in Germany since before the 18th century for bear and boar hunting. It was in 1750 that the Plott family emigrated from Germany to America with several of their beloved working hounds.

Over the next few decades, within the state of North Carolina, the Plott family bred their dogs, producing respectable hunting hounds that were beginning to develop distinctive characteristics, setting them apart from the original Hanoverian Hounds. They kept detailed records that focused on both the animals’ physical appearances and their working abilities. These dogs are thought to have been impressive cold nose hounds (tracking scents long after the animal has gone), as well as fighters. They were renowned for never backing down from a challenge, even though they were often the obvious 'underdog', facing an angry, 80 kg boar.

Though the Plott Hounds continued to be line-bred for much of their early development, the Plott family recognised the importance of introducing new genetics to their stock. It is widely believed that a hunter from Georgia was allowed to crossbreed a female of his into the line, although what breed she was is unknown, with records simply referring to her as a 'leopard-spotted dog'.

Around one hundred years later, the Plott family once again sought out ‘fresh blood’ for their line, conscious of the negative impacts of long-term inbreeding. A local man called Mr. Ferguson, who also had an interest in hunting dogs, is said to have mated the Plott Hounds with local Belvin hounds, in the hopes that, in doing so, both their hunting abilities and health would improve.

While traditionally used to hunt bear and boar, a trend for raccoon hunting was sweeping America in the 1900s, and thanks to the versatility of the breed, the Plott Hound became a respected raccoon hunter and was grouped with the other five recognised coonhounds. In truth, he is more of a big game hound and many critics of this classification say it is not an accurate breed representation.

The Plott Hound is used by the police department in North Carolina to help locate both missing people and law-breakers. The Plott Hound was recognised within the Hound Group by the AKC in 2006 and is currently the official state dog of North Carolina.

Appearance

Plott Hound Large Photo
Plotthund / Wikipedia.org

A dog that required both strength and stamina to be a successful hunter, the Plott Hound should have an athletic, lean body, and should move with grace. Their eyes can be brown or hazel and should portray confidence, while their ears flop forwards and should be of a medium length. They should have a deep and well-sprung chest with a level back and a long, tapering tail. Their long limbs should be muscular and firm.

Males stand at 55 to 71cm, while the female Plott Hound measures 53 to 63cm. Males will weigh between 23 and 27kg and females typically weigh 18-25kg. The short, fine coat of the Plott Hound should be a distinctive brindle pattern (a dark colour on a light background), and may include various shades, such as yellow, tan, chocolate, liver, orange, gray, blue and black. A few white patches of fur are tolerated.

Character & Temperament

The Plott Hound is generally calm and level-headed when at home. However, when out on the hunt, he is a force to be reckoned with. It goes without saying that the Plott Hound has courage in spades; a fearless dog who will confidently take on large and intimidating prey. They will pursue their target over vast and varied terrain with a rugged determination, eager to get the job done.

Loyal to his owners he makes a devoted and affectionate pet. A good choice for a young family, the Plott Hound is tolerant of children and will thoroughly enjoy the attention they pay him. Equally, this breed gets along well with other animals, content to share their home if needed. Often housed in packs, they are accepting of other dogs, particularly if kept with them from puppyhood. An independent soul, the Plott Hound is not prone to separation anxiety and will gladly keep himself entertained, not reliant on human companionship for his happiness.

Trainability

The independent streak that the Plott Hound tends to have can make training trying at times. They require plenty of repetitive training and are not unknown to ignore commands that they are not interested in performing. When it comes to hunting, the Plott Hound needs little, if any, training, and will instinctively carry out their job to a high standard.

Owners must show their dog that they are the pack leader and should never be submissive. The Plott Hound appreciates a confident owner who knows what they are doing and is consistent and clear with their training methods. Some breed members may have a tendency to want to dominate (both humans and animals), so will need firm guidance as they mature to ensure they understand their place in the household. Barking can be an issue in this hunting dog; a trait that is necessary for them to adequately perform their job, so early training should be implemented that teaches the Plott Hound to only bark when necessary.

Health

GDV

Unfortunately, the deep chest of the Plott Hound predisposes it to developing gastric bloat and torsion, also known as GDV (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus). While veterinarians are unsure what exactly causes the condition, it is generally advised that dogs are rested directly after eating and are discouraged from eating their food rapidly (‘slow feeder’ bowls may help in this matter).

Clinical signs will become apparent quickly, and will include pacing, retching, panting and a visible enlargement of the abdomen. Dogs must be brought to the vet as an emergency for immediate treatment. Some surgeons will perform what is called a prophylactic ‘gastropexy’ in order to prevent a GDV from occurring.

Ear Infections

The flat ears of the Plott Hound predispose it to developing infections within the ear canals. The overgrowth of yeast or bacteria (or both) will result in local discomfort, copious discharge and a bad smell. Your veterinarian will demonstrate how to clean out the ear and will prescribe a course of ear drops to deal with the infection. Frustratingly, an animal that develops an ear infection is likely to suffer from recurrences throughout their lifetime.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Long walks and runs every day are essential to keep the active Plott Hound happy. They relish the opportunity to be outdoors in nature and, ideally, should be placed in a rural household with plenty of land. Any small animals on the Plott Hound’s territory are at risk of being hunted. Due to the dog’s tendency to follow its nose at all costs, the Plott Hound should not be walked off lead unless it is absolutely safe to do so.

It is likely that the Plott Hound will become high-strung and anxious if not provided with the large amount of exercise they require, so are not suited to an inactive or suburban household.

Grooming

The short fur of the Plott Hound does not need a lot of care, and only requires a weekly brush down. If the dog returns from a hunt, they should be checked over for any potential injuries or ‘stickers’ on their fur. It is essential that their ears in particular are checked for any grass awns or other debris.

Famous Plott Hounds

You could say that Boss and Tige were two of the breed's "forefathers", as when the UKC accepted the breed in 1946, all but two of the dogs registered at that time had bloodlines from these two famous Plott Hounds.

Cross-Breeds

There are no popular crosses of the Plott Hound.

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