A large, strong hound, designed to work in water, the Otterhound has a water-resistant, oily, rough coat that comes in all the usual hound colours (see the breed standard for full details). Adult male dogs stand at about 69cm and females at 61cm and the approximate weight range is 36-54kg.
Otters are now rare and are protected, but they were once deemed to be vermin that endangered precious fish stocks in ponds, and so dogs were bred to hunt them. The earliest record of this dates back to the reign of Henry II in the 12th century. A type of Otterhound dog similar to the one we know today emerged in the 18th century. Hunting otter was banned in England in 1978 and without a purpose the breed has gone into decline and the Otterhound dog breed is now considered vulnerable and endangered.
A friendly, good-natured dog, the Otterhound is large and can be boisterous, so although he can get along well with children, care should be taken around very little ones in case of accidents. He is a fun, happy-go-lucky hound that loves the great outdoors and he needs an active home.
As with many breeds, the Otterhound can suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia (joint conditions that can be painful and lead to mobility problems). Hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.
The Otterhound, unsurprisingly, loves to romp about in water and is not the ideal dog for the houseproud! He will take off after a scent, so a reliable recall is essential before you let him off the lead. When growing, exercise should be controlled, so he does not over-exert himself and strain his joints; when grown, two hours a day should suffice.
Large breed dogs, as well as having large appetites, benefit from a different balance of nutrients including minerals and vitamins compared to smaller-breed dogs. The Otterhound can be prone to bloating and stomach problems; smaller, more frequent meals can help minimise this risk.
The Otterhound's coat is about 4-8cm long. Thick and rough, the double coat can feel oily to the touch. He should be groomed a couple of times a week, ensuring the beard is kept clean, and the pendulous ears should be checked regularly to ensure they are clean and healthy.