I originally posted this in August of 2015, and received some lovely comments and emails from people who had known Plott Hounds. I was reminded of this post last week when I got to meet a puppy that looked just like Felix, but was only two months old.
Felix is 16 years old now, but as you can see in the photo above, he can still get on the couch.
In 2006 my daughter adopted a 3 year-old dog from the Humane Society in Spokane, Washington. Don’t worry, this isn’t a eulogy. Felix is very much alive and spry enough to jump over the back of the couch when he hears his leash jingle.
Felix in action indoors. Photo: Cathy Hanson
The Humane Society listed Felix as a pit bull/labrador retriever mix. We always assumed there were some other things mixed in there, especially because he has brindle coloring. But we never thought much about it because he was just Felix. His pedigree was unimportant.
Felix in action outdoors. No boars or bears in sight. Photo: Cathy Hanson
Then one day we ran into someone walking a dog who looked almost exactly like Felix. She had also originally been told that he was a pit bull mix, but then someone told her they were sure he was a Plott Hound. We still didn’t care about Felix’s pedigree, but couldn’t resist learning about a new breed.
Plott Hounds during walk time in Halifax. Photo: Mw2bonn at Wikimedia Commons
Most of the information available about Plott Hounds concerns their physical attributes and conformation requirements for showing. But even dogs have histories, so enjoy the information below.
Another example of a Plott Hound. Photo: James Emery at Wikimedia Commons
- Johannes Plott first brought Plott Hounds to America from Germany in 1750.
- Plott hounds were bred for strength and stamina to hunt wild boar. There weren’t that many wild boar in the area where Plott settled, so they used the hounds to hunt bear. Yes, bear.
- It’s possible that while still in Germany Plott used the Hanoverian Hound and the Weimaraner to create this hardy and distinctive breed.
- Johannes supposedly kept this new breed entirely pure.
- They are named for the family that still maintains the breed.
- Since 1989, the Plott Hound has been the official state dog of North Carolina.
- There is an American Plott Association and a National Plott Hound Association, which don’t agree on all issues about the breed, especially regarding brindle coloring.
- Plott Hounds were first registered as a breed with the United Kennel Club in 1946.
- Plott Hounds were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2006.
- In 2008, Plott Hounds were finally exhibited as part of the Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show.
- They have a distinctive high-pitched bark.
- There is a North Carolina State Historical Marker noting that Plott Hounds are the state dog and that the breed was refined in the 1800s by Henry Plott and family.
- The Road author Cormac McCarthy hunted with Plotts in Canada.
- In his 2008 Slate.com article “Great Plott! The toughest dog on the planet makes its debut at Westminster”, Richard B. Woodward calls Plotts “the ninja warrior of dogdom”.
Even in dogs that are unquestionably Plott Hounds, there is a lot of variety in terms of brindle and color, and some of those dogs do look like Felix. Felix doesn’t have a high-pitched bark, but he can howl on command. There aren’t a lot of wild boars in Southern California coastal communities, but he does love to chase flies. Is our Felix part Plott Hound? It still doesn’t matter, but now that I know more about these fearless dogs I will pay more attention to that group next time I watch Westminster.
Felix today, believing that if he doesn’t see the camera, then it’s not there. Photo: Cathy Hanson
What about you, readers? Have you ever met a Plott Hound? Do you care about your dog’s lineage?