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Articles > Dogs

Plott Hound History and Temperament

Topic: American Hounds

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Tags: Plott Hound, Bloodhound, Scent Hound, Weimaraner

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The Plott hound has a very interesting history and is one of the few southern American breeds of dogs that have been almost exclusively developed by one family. Not surprisingly that family's name was Plott. The earliest ancestors of the Plott hound line came over from Germany with two brothers, and were actually Hanoverian Hounds with at least one possibly a Hanoverian cross Weimaraner hunting dogs. The brothers actually brought five dogs with them, two buckskin and three brindle, with many Plott breeders believing that the dogs were, in fact, only purebred Hanoverians.

For those that are unfamiliar with this old world breed of dog they are a moderately heavy hound, similar in size and physical appearance to the modern Bloodhound. They have a unique brindle coat pattern which the modern day Plott hound still displays, although it is not an absolute requirement of the breed. The Hanoverian Hound is still bred today and is considered to be an outstanding scent hound that is both stoic as well as steadfast, a true working dog that has tireless ability to track animals by scent over the most difficult of terrain.

The Weimaraner, on the other hand, is a smaller sized German dog used for hunting and companionship. They were considered dogs of royalty in Germany and were rarely exported from the county except when they bred with local hunting hounds and mixed breed litters unsuitable for purebred breeding were produced. The exact mixture of Weimaraner in the original pack brought over by the Plott brothers is somewhat controversial; however it is possible that there was some breeding with Weimaraners in one or more of the dogs.

The ship ride over from Germany in 1750 was very difficult and risky and one of the Plott brothers became ill on the trip. He did not survive to breed the dogs, but his brother, Johannes George Plott, took possession of the dogs and brought them with him to North Carolina where he homesteaded and married. The hounds used in the crosses with the Hanoverian or Hanoverian Weimaraner crosses were reportedly kept as pure, breeding within the five is all that Jonathan allowed, at least until his death in 1780. They were used for hunting boar and even bear in the wild mountainous areas of North Carolina.

In 1780 Henry Plott, Johannes's son, inherited the pack of dogs and reported maintained the relatively pure breeding lines brought over from Germany. The Plott Hounds were considered to be family dogs and were rarely sold and were largely unknown outside of the Smokey Mountain area of North Carolina. However, there were other brindle colored hounds that also occurred in the area which also became known as Plott Hounds, even though they may not have been from the original breeding line.

After approximately 200 years of fairly intensive monitoring of the hounds, a determination was made that genetic additions had to be added to keep the breed health and viable. In the 1920's a breeder by the name of Gola Ferguson studied hounds in the area looking for a suitable match that would keep the Plott hound temperament, appearance and color, while still ensuring an outstanding hunting dog for bear, wild hogs, raccoons and other game. He selected the Blevins Hound, which was another strain of black and tan hounds that were selectively bred in the area. Using this type of hound in breeding infused new genetics, adding to the health and soundness of the Plott Hound breed.

The Plott Hound was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2006, but has been a staple hound in hunting throughout the American south since the early part of the 1950's when they were more widely bred by individuals outside of the Plott family.

The modern Plott Hound is still very much a hunting dog although some are kept as companion pets. They have a unique and very calm personality when not on the hunt and are surprisingly easy to social with other animals including cats and other dogs in the family. They are extremely gentle and loving towards children of all ages and have an incredible patience with children. They are good indoor dogs and are calm and sedate in the home, typically finding a quite place to rest. They love attention and will thrive on lots of human contact, however they can tolerate being left alone and tend to be good dogs for outside stays during the day in appropriate climates.

The Plott Hound is naturally intelligent but is not a sneaky or demanding type of dog. Those that are used as hunting dogs may be slightly more high strung than the companion pets but both easily make the transition to companion dogs. In areas where the dogs are used for hunting they are typically kept in packs and they do get along well with other dogs with very little routine socialization necessary once they have been socialized. The Plott Hound, like any dog, needs routine obedience training but loves to please, making them a good temperament for first time dog owners that can be firm, consistent and positive in their training routines.

The Plott Hound on the trail is a completely different animal. They are tenacious and aggressive with their prey, actively holding larger game until the hunters arrive or treeing and holding raccoons if use for this type of hunting. The Plott Hound has a very high pain tolerance and seems to be almost invincible when they are actively on the hunt. They do bark while on the trail and they have a distinctive higher pitched type of bark that ends with chop or abrupt stop, making them a unique sounding hound while hunting.

Like all hounds the Plott needs a lot of exercise and routine time outside to be happy and well adjusted dogs. They will need to be in a fenced yard as they will take off on a track or a scent trail and literally follow it to its end. While on the scent they are highly focused and may be impossible to call back, even with lots of training and practice with off-leash work. Highly athletic, these hounds can run for miles after a scent and are outstanding swimmers and jumpers.

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