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The Plott Hound is a great addition to most families, however they are not always a good match for all families. This is not unusual for the breed and is rather consistent within the hound group. Their natural hunting and tracking instincts as well as their need for lots of exercise can make them challenging for several different types of families and living situations.
In reality the Plott Hound is not a good dog for small spaces. They adjust poorly to living in apartments or in houses with small yards where the dog is inside more than he or she is able to be outside. Some Plott Hounds can adjust and do well in these types of conditions, but typically this only occurs when the owners are home more than they are away and they take the dog out frequently for longer walks throughout the day. A Plott Hound that is not properly exercised and doesn't have his or her outdoor play and exploration needs met can become a problem chewer or barker and they can become destructive in a house.
In the city a Plott Hound also can be a challenge because of their hound like tendency to bark and bay. Unlike the deep voiced Bloodhounds and Basset Hounds, the Plott Hound has a higher pitched bark that ends on a distinctive chop or immediate stop. This makes them easy to identify when out hunting but not necessarily a good dog in a crowded city neighborhood. The Plott Hound, like all coonhound breeds, does mouth or bay while on the trail and they can develop this habit in the city as well, especially if they are bored or unattended and left outdoors alone for long periods of time during the day or night.
This breed is also no different from any hound and does require a strong fence to stay in the yard area. They will roam for miles if they get outside of a yard or on the trail of prey, plus they are so focused they will walk or run out on the road in front of cars, which often leads to tragic results. The Plott Hound does have an outstanding homing instinct and will typically return home unless they tree or corner whatever they are tracking. Plott Hounds can be extremely tenacious and may stay for several hours or even days at the base of a tree if the prey animal doesn't get away.
Although most Plott Hounds are still kept as hunting dogs, there are more and more Plotts being kept as companion dogs and pets. These dogs still need a lot of time outdoors to exercise and also need off-leash time to explore and just investigate. Since they are non-aggressive with other dogs once properly trained and socialized they are typically a good match for off-leash parks and doggy play areas. Ensure the area is fenced and monitor the dog for any signs of aggression with other dogs. Always have a few treats available and work consistently with the hound to return on call even in the off-leash area. This reinforcement will help in managing the dog as well as having them return on command, something that is a bit challenging for most hound breeds.
Training a Plott Hound needs to start early in the hound's life. They are very intelligent and easy to train, plus they are highly affectionate towards humans and will work to make their owner's happy at every opportunity. They are a very courageous dog and they can be aggressive, although not typically towards other dogs. A Plott Hound that is not socialized and obedience trained early can be a real concern for owners as they have a high pain tolerance and are almost impervious to pain when they are in their aggressive or hunting mode, meaning they may continue to fight other dogs until they are seriously injured.
Training should consist of basic obedience work with a high focus on having the dog adjust to working on a lead. Hounds are naturally geared to work ahead of the owners in the hunt, so working from a young age on heeling and close work is essential. With routine training a Plott Hound can be a good dog to work off-leash in the right environment, but this should not be in the city or around roads and traffic areas.
A Plott Hound is not a dominant breed by nature but they do need consistent, firm and positive types of training. Everyone in the house has to work with the dog in the same fashion or the dog may become confused or willful about whom he or she responds to. Unlike some of the hound breeds the Plott Hound is great with children of all ages and kids should be encouraged to work with the dog both in obedience and even with scent training and play interactions. The Plott Hound is extremely good natured and patient even with small children which makes them a good addition to homes with kids of any age. Some Plott Hounds may be shy around toddlers and each dog needs to be carefully evaluated around toddlers to determine if the combination is safe for the child as well as the dog.
Grooming a Plott Hound is very simple. A medium to soft bristle brush is all that is required and they rarely if ever need bathing. As a breed they are very healthy with very few genetic health issues, similar to most of the American developed breeds of hounds. The one concern with the breed is bloat, which is typically of any of the deeper chested types of dogs. Feed several small meals a day, ideally three but at least two, and avoid any exercise for at least one hour after meals. In addition it is important to carefully watch your dog and see if he or she tends to gulp their food rapidly, as this is often a factor in leading to problems with bloat. If a dog does gulp food it may be important to feed much more frequently in very small amounts or to slow their food consumption down by only feeding small amounts at a time during the feeding period.
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