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The Plott is a medium to large purebred developed in the US but with a German background. It was bred to hunt in packs boar and other large game like bear, and despite being North Carolina’s state dog it is one of the least known American breeds. It is a dog best suited to country life and as well as still being used for hunting today also does well in tracking and other canine sports. Unlike other coonhounds the Plott is not descended from the foxhound and is used for big game rather than coon hunting by many owners.
|The Plott Hound at a Glance|
|Other names||Plotthund, Plott Hound, Plott Cur|
|Origin||Germany, United States|
|Average size||Medium to large|
|Average weight||40 to 65 pounds|
|Average height||20 to 25 inches|
|Life span||11 to 13 years 14|
|Coat type||Fine, medium, thick, short, dense|
|Color||Black, brown, red, blue and black and tan|
|Popularity||Not that popular – ranked 158th by the AKC|
|Intelligence||Average – not the brightest breed but certainly not the slowest!|
|Tolerance to heat||Very good – can live in hot climates just not extreme heat|
|Tolerance to cold||Moderate – does not like the cold|
|Shedding||Low – not a lot of hair around the home if any|
|Drooling||Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool|
|Obesity||Average – can gain weight if over fed and under exercised but not prone|
|Grooming/brushing||Low maintenance – brush once a week|
|Barking||Occasional – does bark sometimes, training to control may be needed|
|Exercise needs||Very active – needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation if it is not being kept for hunting|
|Trainability||Moderately easy – listen well and inclined to obey|
|Friendliness||Very good with socialization|
|Good first dog||Low – not good for first time owners, needs experienced owner|
|Good family pet||Very good with socialization|
|Good with children||Good but need socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Excellent with socialization|
|Good with other pets||Moderate – socialization essential, high prey drive|
|Good with strangers||Good but need socialization|
|Good apartment dog||Low – not an apartment dog, needs a home with space and a yard or land|
|Handles alone time well||Moderate – prefers not to be left alone for long periods|
|Health issues||A healthy breed, most issues come from injuries out in the field. A few things though might include bloat, hip dysplasia and ear infections|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance|
|Food expenses||$270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$245 a year for basic training, license, miscellaneous items and toys|
|Average annual expenses||$1000 as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$500|
|Rescue organizations||Several including Wayward Plotts and Plott.rescueme.org|
|Biting Statistics||Attacks doing bodily harm: 10 Maimings: 1 Child Victims: 0 Deaths: 0|
The Plott’s Beginnings
The Plott or Plott Hound is the only coonhound that does not have a British background and out of the seven breeds registered with the UKC this one has the most certain known history. In 1750 two German men, Jonathan Plott and his brother, came to America and brought with them five Hanoverian Hounds, these were dogs that were used to hunt boar in their native Germany. His brother died but Jonathan came to North Carolina where he bred his dogs to a mix of Curs and Bloodhounds.
For 200 years the Plott family bred dogs in the mountains of western North Carolina and they were called Plott’s Hounds. The dogs were used for hunting large game like bear and boar in packs and also for hunting other prey like wildcats, wolves and smaller prey like racoons. Because the family did not often sell their dogs the breed was very rare outside of the South and still today are not a well known breed out of their state of origin. Plotts were bred to be hardy, persistent, strong with great hunting abilities. While they could be great family companions back then they were rarely kept as such, being needed to help hunt for food. They were also used in other roles including driving livestock and as guard dogs.
New Lease on Life
Then in 1946 the UKC recognized the breed and in 2006 were then recognized by the AKC. In the 1960 Japan’s emperor had to bring in some experts to help with a problem some villages had with bears. Those experts brought with them 10 Plotts. In 1989 it was made North Carolina’s official state dog. While it is still kept as a hunting dog by many in more rural parts of the country, some also keep it as a show dog. It is also used in other ways such as in search and rescue, tracking cougars for wildlife agencies and as companions. It was ranked 158th in popularity by the AKC.
The Dog You See Today
The Plott is a medium to large sized dog weighing 40 to 65 pounds and standing 20 to 25 inches tall. It is a powerfully built dog clearly developed for endurance, stamina and speed. It has a long tail and its feet are strong with toes that are webbed. The head is flat and it has a muzzle that is moderate in length with flews. The nose and lips are black and its eyes are prominent, hazel or brown in color and have black rims. Its ears hang down are broad at the base and are medium length. It has a single coat usually but in fact sometimes it can happen that one comes along with a double coat. The coats are smooth and glossy, fine and short to medium in length. It does not have loose skin like the Bloodhound. Common colors would be black, buckskin and shades of brindle such as red, yellow, brown, tan, maltese, grey and black. In show dogs a small amount of white is okay on its feet and chest but not anywhere else.
The Inner Plott
This breed is very alert and makes a great watchdog who will bark to let you know of any intruders. It is also known to have strong protective instincts, more so than many hounds, so will act to defend you and the home and will be brave and fearless against any aggressors. This is not a good breed for new owners, it is a bold, intelligent and independent breed and can be aggressive so needs experienced owners who can remain in control. It barks occasionally so training may be needed to control it but its bark is not deep like other coonhounds, rather it is high pitched and sharp.
It is a very sensitive dog so needs owners who are calm, even tempered and not prone to screaming at it or each other. With the right owners it is kind, even tempered, loyal, eager to please and makes a great companion. As well as being a determined and brave hunter it can be an affectionate and wonderful companion too. It needs to be active though so is not suited to any home. It is a very curious breed, it loves to explore and to dig, it needs lots of attention as well as stimulation. It can be wary of strangers at first but tends to become friendly towards them quite quickly.
Living with a Plott
What will training look like?
Training the Plott is moderately easy for those with experience who know how to handle them. It is inclined to listen to commands, it is smart and eager to please and in many cases it will actually take less repetition to train it in basic obedience commands than many other breeds. It does have a strong stubborn side though and it is a dominant dog. That occasionally can mean it becomes more willful and this is where the experience is really essential. Be firm and remain in control at all times, sticking to the rules you have set at all times. Be patient and calm remembering it does not respond well at all to scolding or physical punishment, and it has a long memory so will hold that against you should you lose control. Use positive reinforcement, treats, rewards, and encouragement. Make sure you practice often but keep it short and fun.
As with all dogs early socialization is just as important as training. Offer it a chance to get used to different places, people, animals, children, sounds and situations. It will grow up to be a more well rounded and confident dog, and you will feel a lot better about bringing people home or taking it out.
How active is the Plott?
The Plott is a very active breed so will need a lot of regular physical activity along with mental stimulation to be happy, well behaved and healthy. It is not a breed best suited to apartment living, it is a dog best for people with larger homes who have a large yard or land for the dog to explore and roam on. This is not a city dog, it is a country dog, and if you are not keeping it for hunting be prepared to put in extra effort to keep it well behaved. It absolutely needs a safe place to run off leash daily, if there is no land to run on take it to a dog park. As this breed has no road sense if you are near roads when out walking make sure it stays on a leash. That leash is also needed so that it does not take off after small animals. As well as getting off leash run time it will need a couple of long walks a day and keep in mind it was developed to have a lot of stamina. If it gets enough stimulation and exercise it will be quite calm indoors. Make sure a yard is well fenced in and remember that it likes to dig.
Caring for the Plott
Plotts do not require a lot of time or effort put into their maintenance and grooming. Its short coat means it is easy to care for, just give it a weekly or twice a week brush with a rubber curry brush or hound mitt. Plotts that have a double coat are going to shed more than those with a single coat and will need brushing a bit more too. Single coated Plotts shed a low to average amount so not a lot of hair in the home from them. As with many scenthounds though this breed does have a musty odor that you will have to get used to. Bathing does help but bathing too often can dry out its skin so it is something you need to live with.
Other needs will include checking its nails, its ears and cleaning its teeth. Some dogs who are very active will naturally wear down their nails. However if your dog’s nails are clicking on the floors as it walks that means they are too long and need a trim. There are proper dog nail clippers to use and it is something you can do yourself, just take the time to check where you can cut to. If you go too far it will go through nerves and vessels that will cause bleeding and pain. Have your vet show you how, or if you prefer have them or a professional groomer do it for you. Its ears should be checked for infection once a week, look for redness, irritation, selling, wax build up or discharge. Give them a weekly wipe clean using a dog ear cleanser and cotton ball or a warm damp cloth, but never insert anything into the ear. That can cause serious damage and hurt your dog a great deal. Finally but still important you need to look after its teeth and gums by brushing its teeth at least two to three times a week.
Feeding a Plott will take about 2 ½to 3 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. Plotts are very possessive of their meals and their bowls and will attack other pets if they try to take them. Include some training with this when it is young to prevent something from happening. How much a dog eats can vary from one to another depending on their size, health, age, level of activity and rate of metabolism.
How is the Plott with children and other animals?
When raised with them and with socialization the Plott is great with children and makes an excellent playmate, getting up to mischief together, running around and playing but also being loving and affectionate towards them too. Ideally though they are best with older children who know how to deal with dogs best. Make sure you teach the children as they grow how to touch and be kind to the dog and not to mess with its food bowls! If there are young children around keep them away from the dog’s food.
Plotts can get along with other pets, even cats when raised with them and with good socialization, but some are less able to, it really does vary from one dog to another. You will also find that often there is a difference depending on whether it was bred to hunt large game or smaller, with large game hunting dogs being more aggressive. It gets along well with other dogs in its home, it is used to being part of a pack. However there may be some dominance issues between itself and other strange dogs of the same sex if they have not been fixed.
What Might Go Wrong?
The Plott has a life span of about 11 to 13 years and is a very healthy breed. A few things to be aware of though include bloat, ear infections, injuries when out hunting and hip dysplasia.
In reports that record dog attacks that caused bodily harm over the last 35 years in Canada and the US, the Plott has been involved in 10 incidents. 1 of those was a maiming meaning the victim was left with permanent scarring, loss of limb or disfigurement. None were children and there were no deaths. Over a long period of 35 years that averages at just one attack every 3 years or so. While this puts the Plott in the top 30% of dog attacks against people in fact this does not amount to a large number of incidents and there were no deaths. While it is true some breeds are more aggressive than others, the fact is any dog can have an off day but there are things a good owner can do to to lessen the chances. That means early socialization, training, giving it enough stimulation and exercise and enough attention.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
A Plott puppy will cost around $500 for a pet quality dog from a good breeder, but will cost more for a top breeder and for show quality dogs. Avoid turning to less qualified and decent options like puppy mills, back yard breeders or pet stores, these are not places you want to give money to and the health of your dog and its background is in question. If you are interested in giving a dog a new home and you do not mind if it is an adult you can look at rescues and shelters. Adopting such a dog will cost around $50 to $400 but you may be looking at a mixed breed rather than a purebred.
Initial costs as well as the cost of the dog itself will also need to cover things it will need. At home some items you need to have include things like a crate, carrier, bowls, leash and collar and those will come to around $240. It should be taken to a vet as soon as possible for some tests and an examination. Blood tests, check up, shots, deworming, micro chip and spaying or neutering will cost another $290 or so.
Ongoing costs are another factor. You need to be able to keep your pet in good health, have basics covered like flea and tick prevention, check ups, shots along with pet insurance to cover illness or emergencies and that will cost about $485 a year. Feeding the Plott will cost around $270 a year for dog treats and a good quality dry dog food. Then other miscellaneous costs will come like toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license for $245 a year. This gives an annual starting figure of $1000.
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The Plott is for the most part a hunting dog, fierce, brave, tenacious and cunning. However it can be a good companion too, being affectionate, loyal, spirited and protective. Unless you are prepared to put in a lot of activity each day it is not best suited to be just a companion dog though. It can get along with children and other pets when raised with them and socialized but does better with older children. It is not a dog to put in the yard or outside and ignore, it needs companionship and attention.
Featured Image Credit: Purino, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The Plott’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Plott
- Living with a Plott
- Caring for the Plott
- How is the Plott with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag