Plott Hounds

The Plott Hound is a cunning and confident big-game hunting dog with a fierce and tenacious nature on the trail but an even, affectionate and loyal temperament in the home. He hails from the mountains of western North Carolina and is the only coonhound breed not descended from the Foxhound. He stands out for his speed and spirit. If you want a dog that can hunt anything from raccoon to bear, the Plott is for you. If you want just a pet, he might be a little more than you can handle. Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in acquiring one of these dogs.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The Plott is first and foremost a hunting dog, but if those instincts are fulfilled, he's happy to spend the rest of his time being a protective and affectionate family dog. He generally gets along well with other dogs and children --although a puppy may be too rambunctious around toddlers. If Plotts are brought up with cats, they can get along with them, but they may view outdoor cats as something to chase up a tree.

Bear in mind that the Plott is more gung-ho than some other Coonhound breeds. He'll need a couple of long walks or runs daily. He'll also appreciate the opportunity to run off leash in a safely enclosed area once or twice a week. Remember that a tired Coonhound is a good Coonhound.

Always walk your Plott on leash to ensure that he doesn't run off after an interesting scent. He also needs a securely fenced yard to keep him contained when you're not home. Plotts can adapt to living indoors or outdoors, but the most important thing to know about them is that they need human companionship. There's no point in having a Coonhound if you're just going to stick him out in the backyard all by his lonesome.

A Plott needs plenty of companionship and activity to be happy. Even if you don't hunt him, consider getting involved in tracking or search and rescue. He's also a great hiking companion with a high level of endurance and the ability to navigate any type of terrain. You'll be ready to stop before he is.

Depending on gender, with females being smaller, the Plott stands 20 to 25 inches tall and weighs 40 to 60 pounds.

Many people are attracted by the Plott's distinctive coat, which can be any shade of brindle, black with brindle trim, solid black, or bucksin, an unusual coloration that can be red fawn, sandy red, light cream, yellow ochre, dark fawn or golden tan. Some Plotts have a double coat, with short, thick hairs serving as insulation beneath a longer, smoother and stiffer outer coat.

The smooth but thick coat is easy to care for, needing only a weekly brushing with a rubber curry to keep it gleaming. The only other grooming the Plott needs is regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and tooth brushing.

Be aware that scenthounds such as the Plott can have what is often described as a musty scent. Regular baths can help keep the odor under control, but it's something you should be prepared to live with.

The drawbacks? For one, Plotts can be loud. Unless you live about five miles from your nearest neighbors, they're going to hear your Plott's loud, staccato, ringing bark.

As far as training, all hounds are independent thinkers and like to do things their own way. Plotts, in particular, are legendarily stubborn. That said, they are amenable to training and can learn many different tasks. For best results, begin training early, keep training sessions short, and use positive reinforcement techniques, never force.

Because the puppies are extremely appealing, be on the lookout for puppy millers and irresponsible breeders. They'll be very happy to cash your check or run your charge card, but not so happy to answer your questions about health testing and temperament in their dogs.

Health Issues Common to Plott Hounds

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Plott Hounds are generally healthy, but they have some health conditions you should be aware of. With their deep chest, they can be prone to bloat, or gastric torsion, what Plott breeders call "twisted gut." Some Plotts have been diagnosed with hip dysplasia. But for the most part, the biggest risks to Plotts are injuries incurred in the field.

Hunting big game is dangerous, and even raccoons are capable of doing some damage to a dog. Dogs with floppy ears can be prone to ear infections, so check the ears weekly, clean them if necessary, and keep them dry to eliminate the warm, moist environment in which yeast and bacteria thrive.

Choose a breeder who can provide you with written documentation that both of a puppy's parents had hip radiographs (x-rays) that received scores of excellent, good or fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. A bonus would be a clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation and an OFA cardiac clearance. Having dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Low $1,500-$6,000
Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat) Low $1,500-$7,500

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Plott Hound Puppy

Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Plott Hounds aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Plott Hound can live to be 10 to 15 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Plott Hound to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, and in particular to watch out for the early signs of diabetes and skin problems, including ear infections.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing, and any breeder who says her lines are free of problems, or that they're not a concern, is either lying or knows almost nothing about Plott Hounds. Look for your puppy elsewhere.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Plott Hounds

Pet insurance for Plott Hounds costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Plott Hounds are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Plott Hounds are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your hound is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.