Plott Hound

Plott Hound
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Plott Hounds originated in North Carolina around 1750 where they were used mainly for big game hunting. This is actually how they got quite the reputation for their stamina, work ethic, keen nose and fierceness during a hunt.

Breed characteristics 

AdaptabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group:Hound Dogs
Height:20-25 inches tall at the shoulders..
Weight:40-60 lb.
Life Span:12 to 14 years

Despite being the official breed of North Carolina since 1989, the Plott Hounds are one of the lesser known breeds in the United States. They are considered fairly rare and uncommon which means it’s extremely difficult to find a reputable breeder. Even if one found a breeder, chances are they would be put on a lengthy waiting list.

Today, the breed can be found in show rings, search and rescue organizations, as a cherished hunting partner and a loyal companion. They are a great addition to the right family who can keep up with their exercise needs and strong personality.

They thrive on the company of other dogs and get along with cats and other animals as well as children as long as they have been properly socialized and raised together. The Plott Hounds are eager to please and easy to train for the right person. They are loyal, protective, friendly, intelligent and kind.

Main Highlights
  • The breed originated in North Carolina, the United States in 1750.
  • They were developed for big game hunting such as bear, boar and mountain lion, although they are also known to hunt small game such as raccoons.
  • The breed is fairly rare and hard to find.
  • They are not suitable for apartment dwelling, a fenced acreage will be their ideal home where they can safely roam and run around.
  • The breed is not the best choice for novice or inexperienced owners as they have a strong dominant personality and need an assertive handler who is just as stubborn and firm.
  • They are pack dogs and thrive on dog companionship. They will do best in a home with other dogs and animals.
  • The breed needs plenty of socialization and proper training — without it, they can develop dominance and aggression issues.
  • The Plott Hounds are better suited for homes with older children.
  • They are a fairly vocal breed, especially when bored, something to consider if you have neighbors nearby.
  • They have no road sense and have a tendency to wander off after an interesting scent, therefore it is highly recommended to have them leashed when they are not in a safe and secure area.
  • They are excellent guard and watchdogs but they should live indoors with their families.
Breed History

They are the only Coonhound breed that hasn’t been developed from a Foxhound. The breed originated in North Carolina and is descendant from the Hanoverian Schweisshund, a type of a German Bloodhound which was brought to North Carolina in 1750 by Johannes Georg Plott, who is considered the main developer of the Plott Hounds and after whom the breed was also named.

They were well known throughout the Smokey Mountains for their stamina, keen nose, work ethic and determination. They were used for boar, mountain lion, raccoon and bear hunting, as well as guard dogs and driving livestock.

In the 1900’s they were further crossed with black and tan Hounds to achieve the black saddled brindle pattern as well as further development of their scent skills.

They officially became North Carolina’s breed in 1989, and can still be found today mostly in the Smokies and the Mountains of Appalachia. Despite that, they are one of the least known breeds in the Unites States.

The Plott Hounds were officially recognized by the AKC in 2006 and rank 150th most popular breed according to the AKC. Today, they are considered fairly rare and are found in show rings, search and rescue, hunting and wildlife agencies to track cougars for tagging.


The males measure 20-25 inches tall at the shoulders and weigh 50-60 lb on average. The females are usually smaller and measure 20-23 inches tall at the shoulders and weigh 40-55 lb.

Personality and Character

The Plott Hounds are amazing hunters and have great stamina and they will make a fantastic addition to the active family that can keep up with their exercise needs and strong personality. Plotts are loyal and more protective than the other Hound breeds, which is why they make great guard and watch dogs and will fearlessly defend their humans and homes.

They are also a friendly and kind breed who gets along with most people, although tend to be more suspicious of strangers. They will do better in a home with other dogs as they are a pack breed and thrive on dog companionship.

They also get along with cats if they have been raised together as well as children. The breed can live outdoors but does better being a part of the pack and being involved with the family’s daily activities. If you are looking for an outside dog, perhaps a different breed is a better choice as the Plott Hounds love human companionship and thrive on it.

The breed is athletic, courageous, fearless, but can also be stubborn. Their strong character might develop into aggression without extensive socialization and proper training. The breed is intelligent, eager to please and is fairly easy to train for the right individual. When raised and trained properly, they are kind, energetic and bright.

Health and Potential Problems

The Plott Hounds are considered the sturdiest of the Coonhounds, although some individuals are more predisposed to certain conditions than others. Here are the main conditions you should be worried about:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A common condition among dogs, occurs when the femur doesn’t fit snugly into the hip socket. Symptoms may include lameness, pain and arthritis in advanced age. It is usually treated with pain medication or surgery in severe cases.
  • Elbow Dysplasia: A common hereditary condition among large breeds, caused by the different growth rates of the bones making up the elbow. The condition may cause pain and lameness and can be managed with pain medications, weight management or can be surgically corrected in severe cases.
  • Bloat: A potentially life-threatening condition without immediate vet intervention. It is fairly common in large breeds and occurs when the dog has been exercised right after a meal or consumed food or water too fast. Air or gas gets trapped in the stomach causing it to twist on itself. Symptoms may include excessive drooling, lethargy, retching without throwing up and restlessness.
  • Hyperthyroidism: A condition which occurs when the body is unable to maintain proper thyroid hormones levels. Symptoms may include weight gain, dry skin and baldness and are usually managed with medications.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease: A condition found in both humans and dogs and interferes with the clotting process. There is no cure but it can be managed with medications.
Care Features

The Plott Hounds require plenty of socialization, just like any other breeds, to grow up to be a well-rounded and emotionally balanced adult. They are suspicious towards strangers and have a strong independent personality that might develop into dominance issues without proper training and plenty of socialization.

The process of introducing them to new people, children, animals, various environments and different scenarios should begin as soon as possible. Inviting friends and family to stop by for a visit, taking them on car rides and running errands as well as visits to the dog park once they are fully vaccinated will help them explore and get used to the big world properly without feelings of anxiety and fear.

Enrolling them in puppy kindergarten is also highly recommended, where the introduction and socialization are done under professional supervision and guidance.

Their strong and sometimes stubborn character requires a handler with a natural air of authority who can set up boundaries and rules and be consistent and firm about reinforcing them. They don’t do well with harsh treatment or training, and react with even more stubbornness and sulky attitude to it.

They are not a suitable breed for meek or passive owners, which they will take advantage of to see how far they can push. The Plott Hounds are not a recommended breed for novice and inexperienced owners. They need someone who can establish themselves as a worthy pack leader and prove that they are worthy of following.

For the right person, the Plott Hounds are easy to train and eager to please, they are intelligent and love learning new things. They learn best by repetition or example by following the lead of a more experienced dog. To get the best out of them, keep training sessions short, challenging and interesting, avoid harsh corrections and reward with plenty of praise and lots of treats.

The Plott Hounds tend to follow their noses and may wander off after an interesting scent. They should be leashed at all times when they are not in a safe and secure area to avoid dangerous situations for them and others.

They should also be provided with identification means in case they did manage to get lost for a safe and quick return, such as a microchip or tag with up to date information of the owner such as a current address and a phone number.

They are fairly calm indoors but active outdoors and need daily exercise to be happy and leveled dogs. They need lots of space to roam around and run so a fenced acreage is an ideal home for them.

Daily walks, hiking and hunting would make sure they get the exercise they need as they can go long distances in rough terrains, have great stamina and high energy levels when they are on a trail. Involving them in sports such as tracking and search and rescue will keep their brains thinking and paws moving as well.

Feeding Schedule

The recommended amount of daily consumption for the Plott Hound is 2-3 cups of high-quality dog food. However, each dog’s daily food consumption is individual and depends on their age, size and activity levels. For instance, puppies eat more than adult dogs to accommodate for their fast growing and development, and active dogs consume more than couch potatoes or senior dogs.

There are many choices of diets on the market, and the options can be overwhelming. Opting for a high quality, free of corn and grain and rich in meat protein will go a long way in providing your companion with healthy bones, skin and coat as well as mental and physical vitality and longevity.

The Plott Hounds love their food, which is why it is highly recommended to divide their daily consumptions into 2-3 meals to help them maintain a healthy weight for their size.

Like many other large breeds they are prone to bloat, a condition that can be fatal without a vet intervention. The condition usually occurs if the dog consumes water or food too fast or is exercised right after a meal. Many pet stores carry special dishes that are specifically designed to slow down the consumption and potentially prevent bloat.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The smooth and glossy coat is fairly easy to maintain and only requires weekly brushing or combing to eliminate the amount of hair floating about. The Plott Hounds are average shedders. The common colors are any shade of brindle which comes in a variety of colors and typically a black saddle or a buckskin pattern.

The floppy ears require regular maintenance. Because of the shape of the ear, they are more prone to ear infections as without air circulation, it makes it easier for debris and moisture to get trapped in the ear canal.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

A loyal and fierce protector, the Plott Hounds are affectionate and get along with children. However, they are probably better suited for homes with older children who understand dog boundaries better.

The Plott Hounds are friendly and have the energy levels to keep up with children and never refuse a game of fetch in the yard. The breed is especially possessive of their food dishes and does not take kindly if someone tries to take their kibble away.

The foundation of mutual love and respect should be laid down before introducing the Plott Hound to the family. Children need to be taught proper boundaries and dog handling etiquette. Any tail or ear pulling as well as any form of teasing should be discouraged immediately. Play time between children and dogs should be supervised by an adult at all time. An alarming number of canine companions are being abandoned, surrendered to shelters or put down yearly because of the adults’ failure to educate the younger members of the family.

The Plott Hounds are pack dogs and do well if not better in a home with other dogs. They get along with the family cats as long as they have been raised together and properly socialized. They might still attempt to tree or chase the stranger neighborhood cats.

There are similar traits in every breed but each dog should be treated as an individual. Their character, behavior and manners strongly depend on multiple factors such as breeding, socialization, training, environment and handler.

The Plott Hound has quite a reputation for being a fantastic hunting partner. Fearless and courageous they were bred to hunt big game, but they also make a great companion for the right family.

They require plenty of socialization and training as well as plenty of exercise and opportunities to vent their energy. They were known for their stamina which allowed them to remain on the trail for hours at the time in rough terrain.

They have a mind of their own and sometimes the owner needs to prove they are a pack leader that is worthy of their following. They are a complex breed but they also loyal, protective, friendly, intelligent and affectionate.

The Plott Hounds are fairly rare today and chances are it would be a long wait until you get to bring your puppy home, but they are well worth the wait. As long as you can establish yourself as a pack leader, they are a beautiful companion who is bright, courageous, and devoted. They also get along with children, dogs and cats as long as they have been raised together and properly socialized.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.