Plott Hound: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Plott hound

 

spotsygirl / Getty Images

The Plott hound is a medium to large dog originally bred to hunt big game, like bear or wild boar, but over time came to be used more often to hunt raccoons. In fact, the Plott hound is one of several coonhound breeds (some others are the black and tan coonhound, redbone coonhound, and the treeing walker coonhound).

The Plott hound is a scenthound, which is a type of dog bred to hunt using its incredible sense of smell. They have a melodious bay—in hunting terms, it's called “voice." Plott hound aficionados find that voice beautiful, but your neighbors might disagree. Plott hounds love hunting, but can also make excellent family companions as long as you provide enough outlets for their abundant energy. Daily, vigorous exercise is a must to keep this breed happy and well mannered at home.

Breed Overview

Group: Hound

Height: 20 to 25 inches at the shoulder

Weight: 40 to 60 pounds

Coat and Color: Smooth, fine, glossy and short coat in any shade of brindle (darker streaked or striped pattern on a lighter background), such as yellow, buckskin, tan, brown, chocolate, liver, orange, red, gray, and blue. May also be solid black. May have a saddle pattern on the back or other markings.

Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Characteristics of the Plott Hound

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability Medium
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Plott Hound

In the mid-1700s, Johannes Plott immigrated from Germany to North Carolina and brought his five Hanover Hounds, an ancient breed descended from bloodhounds. Mr. Plott hunted bears in the mountains with his dogs, and his Hanover hounds bred with local dogs. These offspring came to be known as Plott’s hounds, and later, simply Plott hounds.

Today, the breed is part of the American Kennel Club Hound Group, where it's known as the Plott. It’s also recognized by the United Kennel Club as the Plott hound, where it’s part of the Scenthound Group. The Plott hound is the official state dog of North Carolina.

Plott Hound Care

The Plott hound’s short, smooth coat requires minimal care. Weekly brushing with a soft bristle brush, rubber curry brush, or hound glove will remove loose hair, revealing a glossy shine. Plott hounds can sometimes develop a bit of an unpleasant odor, but occasional baths will keep them smelling sweet. Lift the pendulous ears regularly to look inside. Normal ears are free of wax and debris, and are not red, inflamed, or bad smelling. Ask your vet to show you how to properly clean your Plott hound's ears with a special cleanser that prevents excess wax buildup. Inspect the nails regularly and trim as needed.

If your Plott hound spends a lot of time outdoors hunting or just playing, be sure to use a monthly flea and tick preventive, and inspect your dog for ticks after it has been in grassy or wooded areas.

In order to do the job they were bred to do—hunting alongside their human companions—Plott hounds have to be athletic and powerful. They're bred for endurance, which means that Plott hounds that don’t hunt need daily outlets to expend all their energy. Daily runs, long walks, or opportunities to run or play fetch in a safely fenced area are an absolute must for the Plott hound. Never trust a Plott hound off leash—they're too prone to following tempting scents or chasing small critters. They may even run right into traffic or another dangerous situation. Always keep your Plott hound on a leash when exploring outdoors.

High energy levels combined with intelligence mean the Plott hound needs mental stimulation. They're also big, powerful dogs, so start training at an early age. Plott hounds are smart, but they can be stubborn, so training takes patience, creativity, and persistence. Short, frequent training sessions using reward-based positive reinforcement training will get the best results. Luckily, Plott hounds are highly motivated by food—tasty treats will go a long way toward encouraging a Plott hound to do what you want.

Jumping plott hound, Easton, Pennsylvania, USA
Brian Huneycutt / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

The Plott hound is typically healthy, with few genetically linked health conditions. Some of the breed's most common health challenges include:

  • Hip dysplasia: Like many large and giant breeds, they may be prone to hip problems. Reputable breeders have their Plott hounds' hips X-rayed prior to breeding so they don’t breed dogs with poor hips.
  • Ear infections: Their medium-length ears can be prone to ear infections, so it’s important to keep them clean and dry. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you notice any redness, a foul odor, or excessive wax and debris.
plott hounds as pets illustration
Illustration: The Spruce / Emilie Dunphy

Diet and Nutrition

The Plott hound does best on a high-quality commercial dog food or complete and balanced, home-prepared diet. Like most hounds, Plott hounds love to eat. It’s important to avoid overfeeding them or they will become overweight. Obesity is a major contributor to common canine health issues like hip dysplasia and diabetes.

Feed your Plott hound measured meals (using an actual measuring cup rather than a large plastic cup) at scheduled times. Don’t leave food out all day long as your dog is not able to regulate its own intake and will likely overeat. Ask your veterinarian to advise you on the proper amount of food to feed your Plott hound daily to keep him at a lean and healthy weight. The actual amount might vary depending on the type and brand of food you choose to feed.

Pros

  • Smart and trainable

  • Great with other dogs

  • Personable and loving

Cons

  • Requires rigorous exercise

  • Not suitable for apartments

  • Can't be trusted off leash

Where to Adopt or Buy a Plott Hound

If you think you'd like to adopt a Plott hound, start by contacting one of the following organizations:

These knowledgeable groups will be able to connect you with local breeders or rescues in your area. Fostering a Plott hound on a temporary basis is another way to test if the breed is a good fit for you and your family.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Plott hounds are confident, determined, and powerful. These characteristics, combined with their abundant energy and large size, mean this breed is not the best for the inexperienced dog owner. In the right home, though, the Plott hound can be both a wonderful hunter and loving family companion. If you like the Plott hound, you can also check out similar breeds, including:

Otherwise, check out all of our other dog breed articles to help you find the perfect dog for you and your family.