What Is The Plott Hound? North Carolina’s State Dog
Of the dozens of breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, only a handful originated from the United States rather than Europe or elsewhere. And one of those breeds was actually developed in the mountains of North Carolina: the state dog – the Plott Hound.
According to the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, the foundation stock for the dogs that became Plott Hounds came to America with Johannes George Plott in 1750. Department officials say a family story indicates five dogs were a gift from Plott’s father, Elias, a gamekeeper near Heidelberg, Germany. Elias Plott bred the animals to be multipurpose workers.
“They were developed to be your good allaround farm dog,” says Dr. Susan Lloyd, a Beaufort County veterinarian who has raised Plott Hounds for several years. “Up in the mountains, they would hunt small game and big game. They’d play with the kids. They’d heard the horses. They’d protect the farm. They would retrieve. They basically would be the all-around dog.”
After the Plott family moved around the state from what is now Warren County to Cabarrus to Lincoln to what now is Haywood County in the early 1800s, state historical records say that’s when the dog breed really took off. The family refined the animal’s temperament and performance, and word spread about the dog’s superior working and hunting talents, as well as its courage and tenacity.
In 1998, the American Kennel Club recognized the Plott Hound as a distinctive breed. But it was nine years earlier that legislation started by former N.C. Sen. Bob Swain worked its way through the General Assembly to make the Plott Hound the state dog. Both chambers then passed the measure on Aug. 12, 1989.
Part of the legislation reads, “It is generally known that the dog is mankind’s best friend. The Plott Hound is a legendary hunting dog known as the most courageous fighter and tenacious tracker, as well as a gentle and loyal companion to the hunters of North Carolina. The State of North Carolina is fortunate to have the Plott Hound.”
“Plotts, sometimes people get them confused with Labrador retrievers, especially if you’ve got a really dark one without a lot of brindle on it,” says Lloyd, who also is president-elect of the N.C. State University College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Association.
“They’ll look at them and ask, ‘What is that dog?’ There are lots of people in North Carolina who don’t know what it is. Folks should know what our state dog is,” Lloyd adds.
Beyond the General Assembly’s recognition, the Plott Hound also has some other noteworthy presence in Haywood County. Two years ago, the department of cultural resources erected a historical marker recognizing the dog at the corner of Plott Creek Road and U.S. 23 southwest of Waynesville.
Also located at the marker site is Hazelwood Elementary School, whose mascot is the Plott Hound.
Plott Hound Facts
- The Plott is AKC’s 154th breed.
- At the May 2006 AKC Board Meeting, the Plott became eligible to compete in the Hound Group, effective Jan. 1, 2007.
- In Germany, where the hunter’s honor code demands that all game wounded or killed must be found, the Hanoverian Schweisshund (bloodhound), or ancestor of the Plott, in this specific case, is respected for its ability to locate a wounded animal even though the trail is a week or more old.
- The Hanoverian, a brindle or red big game tracker, was developed by crossing an ancient, huge trailing hound much like the St. Hubert with a lighter and faster hound, and it is still a favorite with German gamekeepers. The Hanoverian is the ancestor of the Plott.
- The Plott is named after a family of German immigrants who moved to North Carolina, and the breed was created in America.
- The Plott was a mountain breed, raised and trained to hunt animals such as bear and wild boar.
- The Plott descends from a cross of Hanoverian and the Blevin (a black and tan hound).
The Plott is capable of speedily traversing diverse types of terrain and water in all seasons and is a bold, aggressive trailer with an open, unrestricted voice.
Courtesy of the American Kennel Club.