Let’s Talk Breed Education!
By Amanda Alexander
he Plott is the only coonhound that is not a descendent of the fox- hound. Keeping this in mind while judging them and not compar-
ing them to the other coonhound breeds. ey are of German descent and were bred in North Carolina by the Plott fam- ily. Th ey were originally bred to hunt big game such as bear and wild boar and still do this day. A lot of hunters use them on raccoons also since they have a natural ability to track and tree game. Plotts of today compete in bench shows, water rac- es, field trials, nite hunts, aggression test and conformation shows. When judging the Plott your impres- sion should be of an athlete with moderate bone structure that can hunt night after night and for hours at a time. Plotts are striking with an intimidating look rather than a soft hound expression. Th ese are fearless hunters willing to risk it all to keep a boar or bear bayed until the hunters come in. Th ey are very alert and are always aware of their surroundings. Some are aloof with strangers as they typically have one “mas- ter” that turns them loose on game. Th is is a pack animal and works with other dogs, not to say there isn’t competition amongst the dogs themselves but they typically work together. One of the characteristics that sets the Plott apart fromthe other coonhoundbreeds is their color. Th ey are the only breed that comes in brindle. Several di ff erent shades of brindle is acceptable along with a black sad- dle and brindle legs. Plotts come in “buck- skin” which is also a fawn and “maltese” which is a blue coloring but is required to have a brindle base. Plotts can also be solid black. Th eir ears are set moderately high to high and should not have a pendulous look to them. It’s a disqualification if their ears go past their nose when checking length. Th ere’s nothing about a Plott that gives
you an impression of “houndiness”. Th eir head should neither be square or narrow but moderately flat skull with roundness at the crown. Muzzle is medium length with equal plains with the skull. Flews should not be excessive. Topline is level slopping from withers to hip slightly and tail set is below the croup. Th eir tail should always be carried up as this is in our standard and it shows temperament. A fearless, determined hunter as the Plott is does not hunt with their tails tucked but up and proud as they track game. Plotts feet are very important just as any hunting or performance breed. Th ey are the shock absorbers and a flat, splayed foot causes problems the whole way up the leg. Th is is a disqualification in the breed to have such feet and hunters
take this into consideration. All parts of the Plott are developed to accommodate rough terrain, and able to handle the impact of hunting day or night. Th eir coat can either be short and smooth but thick enough for protection or a double coat that has a softer under coat and a sti ff er outer coat for pro- tection. In my experience I have seen the Plotts that are mostly used on coon with a short smoother type coat and the big game hounds tend to have the thicker, harsh type coats with more brush on their tails. Plotts should cover ground e ff ortlessly when they are turned loose on game so they need to have proper reach and drive as an endur- ance hunter not a speed hunter. Th ey work by scent and use their voice to communi- cate with the hunter to let them know when
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they have reached their game. To bay is to hold their game in an area and keep it there till hunters arrive and to tree is to keep the coon up the tree by barking at it till hunt- ers come. Plotts are very pleasing dogs and with plenty of exercise and their attention directed can make wonderful pets. Always keeping in mind these dogs are prey driv- en so not all can cuddle on a couch with the cat. Some hunters choose to use freeze branding as a method of identification so some Plotts encountered could have white hair with initials or numbers that the ken- nel owner uses to identify his pack. Some of these dogs are worth a lot of money and to keep track of each other’s dogs at night its easier at times to see the white markings than a darker dog. No coonhound should
be penalized for scars, ripped ears as this is very much a working breed and should remain that way. BIO Amanda Alexander has been involved in coonhounds for 15 years with her fam- ily. Her father hunted and trapped for fur back in the 70s and 80s when fur was worth much more than what it is now. He had his favorite dogs that, night after night, proved to be outstanding dogs. When those dogs eventually passed away, he was left with a feeling he would never find dogs of their caliber and gave up the sport and since the fur price declined he didn’t have a desire to hunt. Eventually her father couldn’t go on without having
coonhounds around so Amanda took over the love of the breed and continue to hunt, show and raise all six breeds of coonhounds with him. Together, they have been in Plotts for 12 years now. Amanda is the current pres- ident of the Plott Association of America which is the parent club of AKC. She has been involved in all aspects of the breed, including owning a “Big Game Dog of Th e Year” in UKC and she owned the top win- ning Plott in AKC, BIS GCH CCH CNC CH Black Monday. Amanda currently shows his son--the top winning breeder/ owner/handled Plott in AKC. She has won the breed at Westminster six years in a row. Amanda plans to continue to promote the dual purpose show and hunting Plott.
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History of the Plott By Erma Alexander Plotts
Peter Hildebrand was born in 1655 in the Palatine region in southwest Germany. In 1690, along with his wife Mary and three sons, Peter left Germany and traveled by ship to New York. A few years later, the Hildebrands would move to Lancaster county Pennsylvania. This while not the start of German immigration to the New World was a Bavarian crumb trail, which would eventually lead to North Carolina. In 1764, the ship Hero docked in Philadelphia, PA. Onboard, Conrad Hildebrand I, grandson of Peter. Conrad would move on to North Carolina where he became an extensive landowner. It is said that state land grants gave him all land located between Henry River and Jacob’s Fork River. Conrad flourished as a businessman and would later own a grist and powder mill which would help Americans fight the Revolutionary war. With land in what is now Mecklenburg, Catawba and Burke counties, it is hard to imagine that young Johannes (George) Plott did not come into contact with the Hildebrands as he made his way across North Carolina. The Palatinate region in Germany was a highly contested piece of property. Romans ruled it as well as the German monarchy however it had been besieged by both the French and British during the 1600 and 1700s. In fact, the area was at war from 1618-1648 during the 30 year war. King Louis XIV even threw his hat in the ring from 1689-1697. This was a war torn land that the Hildebrands and later the Plotts would leave. Why they left is pure conjecture and speculation but I like to think it is a combination of personal safety, financial security and religious free- dom that would see these two German families immigrate to a great unknown land. The Hildebrands would bring with them business sense and savvy while the Plotts great carry-on baggage would be five of their families best dogs. If you could search on Google Earth 1800, the area that the Johannes (George) Plott left in the Black Forest area of
Germany would look remarkably like the land that his family would eventually settle in the mountains of western North Carolina. The Black Forest, given its name by Romans for its perpetual darkness, even in daylight, averages between 2000-4000 feet in elevation with a highest point near 5000 feet. Tall pine trees nearly blocked out the Sun by day much like my home in North Carolina. Certainly in Johannes Plotts memories there was a resemblance. The area around Waynesville, NC is gor- geous. The mountains are tall, the gorges are deep and the abundance of game is unrivalled. This was both a dream come true for a hunter as well as a nightmare. In the Garmin friendly days of today it is absolutely astonishing that anyone ever made it home from these celebrated bear hunts. This land is unforgiving both to man and dog and it is no wonder the leg- end of the Plotts both family and dog grew exponentially from the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s.
share a slight difference of opinion as to what the perfect Plott is, John and Von also had differences. In reading Bob Plott’s book, Strike & Stay- The Story of the Plott Hound , one will quickly see the dif- ferences in the style of dogs these brothers hunted. Von’s hounds were in fact hounds. Longer, low set ears and heavier boned bodies were at the end of Von’s leash while his brother John had the higher set, short- er ear of a cur. This is just a guess but I bet around the Thanksgiving table the conver- sation went like this: Von: “Whew doggie that was a race. Ole Happy struck a trail so cold that his nose near fell off from frostbite. That ole bear’s tracks must have been a month old but Balsam and Link put him up a tree.” John: “I heard that race Von. I couldn’t tell if you was on a bear or someone had escaped from the prison again.” You see John Plott was said to adhere more strictly to his father’s taste in Plotts. Cur-like features and grit to spare. In time, the official Plott standard would be writ- ten in favor of John’s ideal Plott but as breeders and judges you will still see the effects of both of these great houndsmen. Let’s dive into the standard for a minute. I want to cover some portions of the standard because they are the basic defining points of the breed. Granted, no one trait is a “Plott” it takes all but these two pieces really set them apart from the other five coonhound breeds. As I like to say at my seminars, the Spinone is the hound of the sporting group and the Plott is the sporting dog of the hound group. What I mean by this is that a Plott is not
The Plotts of yesterday and today show very little change. In fact, I can find you a dozen real live Plotts today that we can match to photos from yesterday. The biggest changes in the breed type itself actually occurred within the Plott family itself. John and Vaughn (Von) Plott were brothers and the sons of Montraville Plott. Just as many of today’s Plott breeders
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History of the Plott
By Erma Alexander
hound-like when compared to the Bloodhound, the Black & Tan Coonhound or the other scent hounds for that matter. It is far more like a German Shorthaired Pointer than a Bloodhound. While the Plott is NOT a “head breed”, the head- piece does distinguish it from the other coonhound breeds. From the Plott stan- dard, “ Ears- Medium length, soft tex- tured, fairly broad, set moderately high to high. Hanging gracefully with the inside part rolling forward toward the muzzle. ” The standard goes on to give a length range that unlike the old black and tan standard, does not promote length of ear but lack thereof. In fact, in an effort to remove the “hound-like” appearance in some Plott strains, a disqualification was added. “ Disqualification- Length of ear extending beyond the tip of the nose OR hanging bloodhound like in a long, pen- dulous fashion .” None of us today know the exact mixture that made a Plott. What we do know are the important traits that our Plott forefathers thought a Plott should have. As long as we breed for a bal- ance of these traits we will keep “Plott”ing along however if we place more weight on one trait over others we end up with prob- lems. For example; we really want a dog that aggressively engages the bear, hog or lion. We breed for a terrier-like tenacity that will eventually lead to a lot of injured or dead dogs. On the other hand, if we con- tinuously breed for scenting abilities we may end up with dogs that will not active- ly engage the game which in turn either gets other dogs injured or killed or loses the game being hunted. These traits are all well and good but do they translate to physical characteristics? The high-eared, almost terrier-like look of some Plotts give them an aggressive look that to me denotes that very trait, while a Bloodhound-like long ear look suggest a softness and ability to track. John Plott wanted a more medium type nose and high set, medium length ears to go with it. Eventually, this is what made it into the breed standard. These observations of mine do not mean that a shorter eared dog can’t strike, trail and tree a cold track in no way shape or form. What I want you to
focus on is the look. A Bloodhound LOOKS like it can smell into tomorrow if it wanted to. An Airedale Terrier LOOKS like it would tear the hide of a bear, boar or sofa if given the chance. Whether they will, can or do is not up for debate. The desired look of these Plotts, have with- stood the changes in hunting and sport for the breed and are basically the same today as they were in John Plotts day. As I stat- ed earlier, the Plott is NOT a head breed although when judging for breed type the head-piece will and should play an impor- tant role.
taste however, I find white extending beyond the chest and up the throat very offensive. Even with that, I would not let color be my final point of judgment. While on the topic of color, you may see Plotts or other coonhound breeds with freeze brands on their flanks. These are for iden- tification purposes only and should not count against the dog. If they obscure your ability to judge the dog in question have the handler turn it around as they are typ- ically on one side of the dog. This mark- ings allow the owners to quickly separate packs when gathering the dogs after a hunt and they discourage theft of dogs that sell for large sums of money. The most important part of the Plott breed standard is the general appearance. When a Plott walks into the show ring, or pops out of your dogbox on a leash this is what I expect to see: “ A hunting hound of striking color that traditionally brings big game to bay or tree, the Plott is intel- ligent, alert and confident. Noted for sta- mina, endurance, agility, determination and aggressiveness when hunting, the powerful, well muscled, yet stream-lined Plott combines courage with athletic ability .” The temperament of the breed can seem aloof but they should never be fearful. Many times in my seminars I use the phrase, “if it looks wrong, it probably is wrong.” I naively assume that the judges I see are dog people and I will continue to err on that side of things. Maybe you have been hunting with dogs before and maybe you have not. You need to picture the Plott doing its job and then say, can that dog right there do that job? If the answer in your mind is yes, then you are looking at a Plott. A great reference tool for this breed can be found in Strike & Stay, The Story of the Plott Hound, by Bob Plott. It is a very informative book on the Plott family and I believe it can be purchased at www.bob- plott.com . If you are just a hound person it is a must have for your library. If you are a Plott person it is a fair and comprehen- sive history of your breed. If you are a hound judge or a potential hound judge it is a photographic bible in learning the desired look of this breed.
The tangible hallmark of the Plott breed if there is one, is the color. That is a big IF since there are so many variations to the color that are acceptable. I say tangi- ble because anyone can point to a beauti- ful brindle hound-like dog and assume Plott. It is easily recognizable although the true hallmarks of this exciting breed are mostly intangible. Their courage, tenacity and versatility have no limits and no means to easily measure. Color we can work with. “ Any shade of brindle (a streaked or striped pattern of dark hair imposed on a lighter background) is pre- ferred. ” This means if two equal dogs are exhibited, the one with brindle should place over the one without. I hope we all know that there is no such thing as two equal dogs and the color should seldom have impact on judging. The AKC standard thankfully allows the solid black and solid buckskin colored Plotts. “ Some white on chest and feet is permissible as is a gray- ing effect around the jaws and muzzle .” I suppose “some white” is highly subjec- tive and better left to your own personal
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