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Plott Hounds: The State Dog of North Carolina

By Jessica Pratt, Curator of Education Outreach

Photo: In 2009, Lucky the Plott Hound attended the Tar Heel Junior Historian Annual Convention at the museum and received lots of love.

"No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."

--Louis Sabin

Perhaps Johannes Plott was thinking something along the lines of the above quote when he came to America from his home near Heidelberg, Germany in 1750, accompanied by five dogs. Plott eventually made his way west across our state, moving from present day Warren County to Cabarrus County and eventually settling in Lincoln County in 1784.  Johannes changed his name along the way to George; he raised a family and continued raising and breeding dogs as his own father had done in Germany. George’s son Henry moved to current day Haywood County around 1800, and the Plott descendants continued to refine the breed that would become known as the Plott hound. The dogs are known for their tracking and hunting skills and are recognized for being fearless, even in the face of bears and wild boars. The reputation of these working dogs spread to neighboring counties and eventually surpassed the boundaries of our state.

The Plott became the official state dog of North Carolina in 1989, after state senator Bob Swain from Buncombe County proposed the legislation (see below). The American Kennel Club, which recognized the Plott Hound as its own distinctive breed in 1998, describes the dog as “The Plott, a hound with a curious name and a unique history, is a rugged, relentless hunting dog who is a mellow gentleman at home but fearless, implacable, and bold at work. This eye-catching scenthound is North Carolina's state dog.” The Plott is one of only a handful of breeds recognized by the club as originating from the United States. In 2008, Plott Hounds first competed in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The Plott Hound breed was greatly influenced by and well suited for the terrain and game of Western North Carolina, and in turn greatly influenced the livelihoods of their owners and families in North Carolina and beyond. We are one of only thirteen states to recognize an official state dog breed. August 26 is National Dog Day, a great time to reflect on what the Plott and all the other dogs that call North Carolina home can teach us. Today may we all follow the courage and stamina of the Plott Hound and may you strive to be the person your dog thinks you are!

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA

SESSION 1989

S 1

SENATE BILL 832

Short Title: State Dog. (Public)

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Sponsors: Senators Swain; Guy, Marvin, Plyler, Tally, Ward, and Winner.

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Referred to: Rules.

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April 10, 1989

  1. A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
  2. AN ACT TO ADOPT THE PLOTT HOUND AS THE OFFICIAL STATE DOG.
  3. Whereas, it is generally known that the dog is man's best friend; and
  4. Whereas, the Plott Hound breed originated in the mountains of North
  5. Carolina in 1750 and is the only breed known to have originated in this State; and
  6. Whereas, the Plott Hound is a legendary bear dog known as a most
  7. courageous fighter and tenacious tracker as well as a gentle and extremely loyal
  8. companion to the hunters of North Carolina; and
  9. Whereas, the Plott Hound is regarded as having the most beautifully colored
  10. coat of any hound and a spine-tingling, bugle-like call; and
  11. Whereas, the State of North Carolina is fortunate to have the Plott Hound,
  12. which is one of only four breeds known to be of American origin; Now, therefore,
  13. The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
  14. Section 1. Chapter 145 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new
  15. section to read:
  16. "§ 145-13. The State dog.
  17. The Plott Hound is adopted as the official dog of the State of North Carolina."
  18. Sec. 2. This act is effective upon ratification.

 

Photo: The author and her Springer Spaniel, Sghetti, who thinks that every day is National Dog Day.