The Plott Hound’s history dates back to 1750, when a sixteen-year-old German immigrant named Johannes (Johnathon) Plott brought five German-bred brindle and buckskin hunting dogs to the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina and Tennessee. These dogs had been used to hunt wild boar in their homeland; in America, they quickly became known for their exceptional hunting skills not only on wild boar, but also on bear, deer, mountain lion, bobcat and raccoon. Johannes Plott passed his prized pack of hunting hounds to his son, Henry Plott, in 1780. His contribution is described as follow, in the words of John R. Jackson, of Boone, North Carolina: “In the mountainous western section of North Carolina lay the frontier, then a virtual game-laden paradise. Deer hides, especially, and other animal pelts could be harvested in great quantity. It was here to this wilderness area (now Haywood County) that Henry Plott settled and concentrated his efforts in establishing a highly successful big-game dog, a dog especially adept at hunting bears. Exactly what Plott integrated with his father’s original stock is unknown. Be that as it may, however, breedings were carefully maintained, accounting for the best trackers, fighters, and tree dogs available.”
Henry Plott’s dogs possessed an uncanny ability to cold-track, fight and tree the American black bear. By the middle of the 1800s, Plott Hounds were well-known throughout North Carolina and in neighboring regions as smart, all-around hunting dogs with keen instincts and exceptional tracking, trailing and treeing skills.
Henry Plott selectively bred his dogs and guarded the purity of their pedigree for more than 30 years. Allegedly, only one outcross happened in two hundred years, that being to a “Leopard Spotted Bear Dog” from Georgia in the early 1800s. Local folklore claims that Henry Plott was visited by a hunter from Georgia who claimed to own the finest hounds in the country. The two men became friends and hunted together – each with his own dogs - for several years. Plott eventually loaned one of his males to his Georgian friend so that he could cross it with his own hound bitches. When he returned that male, Plott’s friend also gave him a male puppy from one of his litters. Plott so fancied that puppy that he incorporated it into his pure Plott Hound line. Some breed authorities claim that this is the only so-called “impurity” in the breed, while others suggest that Bloodhounds, Black-and-Tan Coonhounds and perhaps other breeds contributed to the size, strength and stamina of the modern Plott Hound. G. P. Ferguson, a neighbor of the Plott family around the year 1900, kept, hunted and bred Plotts for many years. Mr. Ferguson carefully studied the Blevins line of hounds and the Cable hounds that also were developed in the Smoky Mountains. It is suspected that he incorporated their bloodlines into his own line of Plotts.
Despite the Plott family’s tight rein on their dogs, the breed gradually became known beyond the Smoky Mountains. The Plott Hound is one of the purest – if not the purest - of all coonhound breeds. The United Kennel Club recognized the Plott Hound in 1946. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2006, as a member of the Hound Group. Today’s Plotts excel in big game competition, as their bear-hunting skills are entirely intact. They are excellent, loyal companions and are friendly to almost all two-legged creatures that they meet.
The Plott Hound’s life span is 12 to 14 years. He occasionally may be predisposed to bloat (gastric dilatation and volvulus).