Otterhound Breed Guide

Otterhounds are large dogs with a double coat and webbed feet. The can come in any color or combination of colors, and the outer coat is rough, dense, and coarse. There may be softer hair on the lower legs and head. These dogs have a water-resistant undercoat of wooly, short, oily hair. Their eyes are deep-set and dark, and their ears are folded, long, and pendulous. They have a large, dark nose and a saber-like tail. Their webbed feet, one of their most distinguished characteristics, are ideal for swimming. Male Otterhounds measure about 27 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 115 pounds, and female Otterhounds measure approximately 24 inches tall and weigh 80 pounds.

These dogs are one of the most ancient of breeds; they are also one of the rarest. Fewer than 1,000 still exist in the world and only about 350 of those live in the United States and Canada.

Amiable, even-tempered, and active, Otterhounds are great family dogs, but their boisterousness and large size make them unsafe around small children and the elderly. Regular exercise is important, but it should always be done on a leash or in a fully enclosed yard.

The Otterhound is one of the rarest breeds registered in England or the United States. This is despite the fact that these dogs are one of the most ancient English breeds. Otterhounds are on the verge of extinction.

Otterhounds are easygoing, amiable, and affectionate dogs with a great sense of humor. They get along very well with children, but they tend to be boisterous and may not be ideally suited for families with young kids. These dogs enjoy personal time and space and have independent natures, but they generally prefer the company of their human family members to being alone. Otterhounds are talkers and use a variety of grumbles, groans, mutters, and grunts to communicate with their family.

This breed thrives when it lives indoors and has regular access to the outdoors. Otterhounds need daily exercise and enjoy romping around in a securely fenced yard. If this is not possible, several walks each day will keep these dogs mentally and physically healthy. Camping, swimming, hunting, hiking, and exploring are all favorite activities, but Otterhounds cannot resist following a scent. If there's any risk of these dogs wandering off, becoming lost, or being hit by a car, they must be kept on a leash.

Patience and understanding are necessary in order to successfully cohabitate with one of these dogs. They have a loud voice that carries for great distances, and they love to get wet and muddy and track dirt into the house. They are also messy eaters and have a reputation for being a klutz. It may be wise to place fragile items on high shelves and do a bit of dog proofing inside the home.

Otterhounds are a relatively healthy breed and are typically free of most serious genetic diseases. Of course, this does not guarantee that any individual dog will be free of health problems. Adopting or purchasing these dogs from a reputable source is important.

Congenital hip dysphasia, elbow dysphasia, epilepsy, and canine thrombopathia, a potentially fatal disorder that causes bleeding and results from abnormal platelet functioning, are some of the more serious disorders to affect this breed. Bloat and gastric torsion are also seen in Otterhounds; risk of these disorders can be minimized by feeding smaller meals throughout the day.

Otterhounds typically live up to 15 years, provided they receive routine veterinary care, timely vaccinations, regular exercise, and adequate nutrition.

Stubborn and independent, Otterhounds are not the easiest dogs in the world to train. They are among the least responsive of breeds, and they generally prefer to do things their own way. They are also slow to mature. Fortunately, these dogs are fairly well behaved.

Training these dogs requires a lot of patience, skill, and cunning. Bribery may also be necessary. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement, especially food rewards. Careful, firm, and consistent training methods are also important. Training should begin as early in life as possible, and shorter training sessions are typically more effective than longer ones. Harsh criticism and correction can backfire and increase stubbornness and resistance.

Training can teach these dogs when it is appropriate to bark and when it is not. Otterhounds have a loud, baying "hound voice" that may annoy neighbors if not kept in check. Additionally, these dogs have a knack for breaking into drawers, cabinets, trashcans, and pantries to steal food. They are also skilled escape artists. It's important to lock up harmful items and keep the house and yard secure.

The Otterhound's coat needs brushing or combing every few days to prevent mats and tangles. While coat care is minimal, the breed makes up for it in other ways. These dogs are very messy eaters and need their beards washed after every meal. Without regular washing, the beard will begin to smell. Their paws also need frequent cleaning to remove mud and debris collected on outside adventures. Additionally, these dogs need stripping about twice each year; this may require the help of a professional groomer.

Some Otterhounds have oily coats that need bathing fairly regularly. Less oily coats may only need washing once or twice each year unless a harmful or sticky substance finds its way into the coat. This happens surprisingly often. After bathing or swimming, it is essential to dry these dogs thoroughly to prevent a mildew-like effect under the chin and in the skin folds.

These dogs need their nails trimmed every couple of weeks to prevent painful snagging and breaking, and their teeth need regular brushing with a canine toothbrush and toothpaste to prevent gum disease and tooth loss. Weekly ear checks to look for excess ear wax and signs of infection are also important.

Originating somewhere in France, Otterhounds were used to hunt otters that were preying on fish in streams and rivers in England. The breed is very similar to a French dog known as the Vende Hound, and Otterhounds may have developed from this dog. Other breeds that likely contributed to the development of the Otterhound include the Southern Hound, Welsh Harrier, and water spaniels. The first documented pack of these dogs was kept by King John in 1212.

Otterhounds made their way to the United States around the start of the 20th century. Otter hunting is now banned in England, but the breed is still around.

Although they have many positive qualities, Otterhounds have never been very popular in the show ring or as pets. These dogs are one of the most ancient of breeds; they are also one of the rarest. Fewer than 1,000 still exist in the world and only about 350 of those live in the United States and Canada. The remaining dogs live primarily in the UK, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany, and Switzerland.

The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Otterhound in 1909.