PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on Sep. 24, 2009

The Plott is bred to bring big game to bay or tree. It is intelligent, alert and confident, with striking color and a classic, streamlined shape. The Plott has also been the official state dog of North Carolina for nearly two decades.

Physical Characteristics

The Plott has a streamlined, powerful, and agile body that is made for a lot of endurance. This dog has been bred to swiftly follow cold trails, through rough terrain and even water, no matter what kind of weather conditions prevail. It has the ability to wrestle with bear and large animals. Once on the trail the Plott is confident, brave, and is not deterred by challenges.

Its coat is short or medium in length, brindle in color, and the texture is medium-coarse or fine. The Plott also has an unrestricted and open voice, often bellowing loudly like a bugle.

Personality and Temperament

Being a very courageous breed, the Plott can become headstrong at times. Unlike other hounds, however, it is very social with other dogs but can become furious fighters when required. And though some Plotts are sometimes suspicious of strangers, they befriend them quickly.

For many generations, these dogs were bear and raccoon hunters, and thus it is natural for them to sniff up a trail and keep moving until they reach the end. In spite of their hunting instincts, they make good, loyal, family dogs that are eager to please.


This breed requires minimal coat care and it can be easily kept by a dog lover, provided there is a safe, fenced yard. A Plott requires both human and canine companionship. It loves swimming and is very happy with occasional woodland hikes and hunting expeditions.


The Plott, which has an average lifespan of 11 to 13 years, is not prone to any major health concerns. However, some Plotts do succumb to canine hip dysplasia (CHD). To identify this condition early, a veterinarian may recommend hip exams for this breed of dog.

History and Background

Officially recognized as the state dog of North Carolina, the dog's history is rooted in Germany, where people valued Hanoverian Schweisshunds for their quality to hunt wild boars and locate injured game by a week-old trail.

In 1750, a teenager named Johannes George Plott carried five Hanoverian Schweisshunds to his residence in the Great Smoky Mountains. These dogs, as well as their descendents, were excellent cold trailers of bear and large animals. They not only found large bear, but could also trap them.

For seven generations, the Plott family bred these cold-trailing dogs and as the family grew, the dogs were distributed throughout the Smoky Mountains. Some people believe that other mountain residents then crossbred the dogs developed by the Plotts with their own dogs. While others believe the dog was a result of an early cross-breeding with a "leopard-spotted bear dog." And still others assert that the dog was crossed with cur dogs.

Whatever the case, it was in the early 20th century that the Plott strain was improved by crossing them with dogs of other lines. Cola Ferguson used Blevins or Great Smokies, which were black-saddled hounds, to cross with his Plotts. The results were known as "Boss" and "Tige," two talented hounds which were mixed with the line used by the Plott family, lending a black-saddled brindle design to the breed. Nearly all modern Plotts can be traced back to these dogs.

Plotts were originally used mainly for hunting mountain lions, bear, and boar, but they were also experts in cornering raccoons. Thus, they suited the needs of raccoon hunters more than those of bear hunters.

The breed was officially named the Plott Hound in 1946, when the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized it. The Plott is the only coonhound breed recognized by the UKC, which has its roots in foxhounds.

In 1989, the dog’s was official designated as the state dog of North Carolina, and in 1998 the breed was admitted into the Miscellaneous class of dogs by the American Kennel Club.

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