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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Dog Breeds

by Joseph C. Porter, 2006

Several types of dogs are believed to have originated in North Carolina and SOne of the Plott's Plott Hounds, 1952, with a Plott little girl. From Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division Photo Files, North Carolina State Archives, call #: C&D 8623-E. outh Carolina and have been bred in these states for decades or even centuries, although they have generally gone unrecognized by official dog registries. Most of these breeds were developed during the colonial period to perform very special and necessary functions, such as driving flocks of turkeys to market or livestock to pasture. Like certain tools and weapons, dogs were developed to meet specialized needs in different locales or times.

The Plott hound, the state dog of North Carolina, is probably the best known of these "hidden" dog breeds. It was recognized in western North Carolina in the 1750s and reportedly named for Johannes Plott, who developed it as a hunting dog. The Carolina dog, on the other hand, is classified by experts as being of the ancient pariah type, descended from the original Native American canine breeds. It can still be found in the wild in South Carolina and along the Yadkin River near Salisbury, N.C. Carolina dogs are good hunters and, if properly socialized, can become wonderful companions.

One of the Plott's Plott Hounds, 1952. From Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division Photo Files, North Carolina State Archives, call #:  C&D 8623-C. The Boykin spaniel is another example of a dog breed unique to the Carolinas. It was developed in South Carolina for the challenges of turkey hunting, to fit into very small watercraft when the hunters were after waterbirds, or for other specific needs. The black mouth cur, also known as the southern cur or the yellow black mouth cur, is bred to hunt boar, raccoon, bear, and deer. It is a powerful dog with a deep bay and is excellent in treeing its quarry. The black mouth cur is also protective of children, and the males prefer women to men as companions. The leopard cur also has North Carolina roots. A big hound, it weighs from 45 to 77 pounds and has been used as a watchdog and for hunting game. It is usually a leopard-spotted merle color, although it can also be black and tan, dark brindled, or yellow. The leopard cur is a very hard worker and tends to be one-person dog.

Another "hidden" dog, recognized as the "dog of the Hunt Club of Pender County," was developed by the foxhunters of the Cape Fear region of eastern North Carolina to meet the challenges of the sport there. It is an excellent dog, and its antecedents go back to the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. Mention has been found of "scratch hall dogs" from the Dismal Swamp area of North Carolina, but very little can presently be verified concerning their heritage.

Image Credit:

One of the Plott's Plott Hounds, 1952, with a Plott little girl. From Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division Photo Files, North Carolina State Archives, call #: C&D 8623-E. Available from http://www.flickr.com/photos/north-carolina-state-archives/2345301681/ (accessed September 11, 2012).

One of the Plott's Plott Hounds, 1952. From Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division Photo Files, North Carolina State Archives, call #:  C&D 8623-C. Available from http://www.flickr.com/photos/north-carolina-state-archives/2346129474/ (accessed September 11, 2012).

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Comment: 

As a Tuscarora person. I've been interested in breeds of dogs bred or that lived with my people... Here is something a friend sent me from a book... (Trying to get the source) which concerns the scratch hall breed.

The earliest known settlement, named Scratch Hall, was founded in 1730s as the Tuscarora's numerical and cultural dominance subsided. The wild cousins of the poor whites of the southern countryside, the Scratch Hall folk were tawny or tan-skinned descendants of the Roanoke Old Settlers, and probably had a good deal of Tuscarora ancestry as well. They lived in the mixed swampland and pine barrens of the southern edge of the swamp. Guerilla raids on plantation that began in the area with the Tuscarora were continued by the Scratch Hall people, who harassed plantations by capturing horses, rustling cattle, and "committing other enormities." They were helped in these endeavors by reportedly ferocious dogs called the Scratch Hall breed, which they bred and trained with the specific purpose of hunting and herding animals like cattle and horses."

Comment: 

Dear Fix,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and especially for sharing this. That is a great question!

I have not been able to find anything conclusive about the "scratch hall" dog or the book that this came from, unfortunately.

One thought if you are tryingn to find out more about this dog might be to contact the Camden County Public Library -- http://www.camdencountync.gov/departments/library. They may know something or have knowledge of local lore related to the dog and it's relationship to the Dismal Swamp area. You may also want to contact the park headquarters for NC's Dismal Swamp State Park and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Great Dismal Swamp. Park interpreters and historians may know something as well.

http://www.camdencountync.gov/departments/library

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/great_dismal_swamp/

I hope this helps! And please let us know if you learn something new about the dog that we might share with NCpedia viewers.

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

Eure, North Carolina, which is in Hall Township of Gates County, is known as "Scratch Hall."

Comment: 

Hi Shanna,

Thanks for sharing this!  It would be neat to learn about how this name came about.  I've checked the NC Gazetteer (also in NCpedia) but don't see the origin listed.  Here are links to the two "Scratch" place names from the Gazetteer: http://www.ncpedia.org/gazetteer/search/scratch%20hall/0

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

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