No other dog fits the description of North Carolina’s very own dog better than the Plott Hound. One of only four officially recognized dog breeds to have originated in the United States, it is the only one to have been developed in this state. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1998, but the Plott Hound (or just plain Plott) was adopted as the state dog in 1989.
The breed is unique in a number of ways, from its ancestry to its history. Unlike the rest of the coonhound breeds, the Plott is descended from German “Hanover hounds,” rather than the more typical English Foxhounds. The breeds’ ancestors were brought to North Carolina in 1750 when Johannes Plott immigrated to the US. He and his family moved around in the state, finally settling in the mountains. Everywhere they went, so too did Johannes’ dogs. The dogs were used to protect shooting preserves and livestock from bears, boars, and wolves. Therefore, the dogs had to be fearless and smart.
After Johannes’ death, his son John continued to develop the breed through selective breeding practices and by the mid- to late 1800s, people were traveling to Haywood County to procure these dogs from the Plott family.
The breed is prized for its temperament and performance, chief among them its tenacity. The dogs were bred especially for stamina, something still noted in the AKC’s breed standard. This tenacity made the dogs especially valuable to big game hunters. The dogs are noted scent hounds and have been known to track quarry for days when necessary.
The breed’s physical standards describe medium-sized a dog at 20-25 inches tall, that weighs 40-60 pounds. It has a long tail, and wide, medium-sized ears. Its legs are strong and muscular for speed and agility, assets for hunting. It may have white, black, or even red nails. The coat is short and smooth, in black, brown, or any shade of brindle.
Owners and breeders of Plotts are passionate about their dogs, and as with any passion, there will be disagreements. Since the dog was first recognized as a distinct breed by the United Kennel Club in 1946, there have been arguments over what constitutes a “true” Plott. Arguments center around coat color and how much outbreeding is permissible before a dog is no longer considered a Plott.