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Otterhound

The Otterhound is a large, rough-coated scent hound with drop ears and an attractive bearded face. They come in all the usual hound colours, and their rough, shaggy coat has an oily, water resistant quality to it to allow them to work in water and all weather. The long, strong tail is carried high when the hound is working and droops lower when relaxed or at rest.

  • Dog suitable for experienced owners
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
  • Large dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Not a guard dog
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • Great family dog

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10 – 13 years
Weight: 36 – 54kg
Height: 61-69cm
Colours: All recognised hound colours including: whole coloured, grizzle, sandy, red, wheaten, blue, white, black and tan, blue and tan, black and cream, liver, tan and liver, tan and white
Size: Large
UK Kennel Club Groups: Hound

Ratings

Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 2/5
Tolerates being alone: 5/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 4/5
Otterhound looking into distance

Personality

The Otterhound is a friendly, good natured dog with a sense of humour and fun. They are also a large dog in every sense of the term, tall, long, well built and shaggy coated. They can be exuberant and boisterous, and as with all scent hounds, are inclined to switch their ears off once their nose is engaged.

Otterhound leaning onto a fence

History and Origins

Country of Origin: England

Originally bred to hunt otters in order to protect fish stocks in ponds, this strong bodied large hound is ideally built to work in water for hours on end. This is an ancient breed and the earliest records of otter hunting with hounds’ date back to the reign of Henry II in the 12th century. In those days the breed was much more like a terrier than a hound and it was several centuries until the terrier influence was bred out in favour of the large hound we know today.

The breed has an illustrious royal history with King Edward II holding the title of First Master of Otterhounds with Queen Elizabeth I being given the title of first Lady Master of Otterhounds. They were extremely successful at their job and in the early 20th century, the 30 Otterhound packs working the rivers of England had reduced the otter population to near extinction. As a result, otter hunting was banned in 1978 - and the Otterhound found themselves out of a job.

Health and Common Issues

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 breed club monitor the health of the breed carefully and should be contacted for the most up-to-date information and details of any DNA or additional testing they recommend. Breed Clubs can be found on the Kennel Club website.

Exercise Needs

When young, the Otterhound’s exercise should be carefully limited so that they do not over-exert themselves or damage growing joints. All Otterhounds adore water, and will follow a scent to the ends of the earth.

Otterhounds enjoy exercise, but it is the variety of scent and scenery that is more important to them than the speed or distance covered. A mixture of walking, paddling, swimming and sniffing will meet their needs better than a couple of hours running alongside a bike or jogging partner. Allow two hours per day exercise for the adult Otterhound.

Space Requirements

This is a big dog, and while there are taller dogs and heavier dogs, the Otterhound combines significant height, length and weight with a rough, debris collecting coat, water and drool dropping flews, and ears that dangle into food and water bowls. You will need a spacious home, with room to let a wet hound dry off, space to groom them and a secure garden with at least 6ft fencing that cannot be jumped over, squeezed through or dug under. Access to countryside walks and suitable paddling and swimming locations would be ideal. Not suited to city living.

Nutrition and Feeding

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.

Grooming Otterhound

The Otterhound’s rough, shaggy coat is around 4-8cm long and feels oily to the touch. They should be waterproof; however, this simply means they do not get wet to the skin and cold when working in water. They will retain a lot of moisture when wet and happily bring it inside your home.

They should not be bathed often as this removes the oil from the coat, but will need brushing through several times a week.

Pay particular attention to the flews (lips, corners of the mouth) as food and drool can gather here causing sores and unpleasant smells. Ears should be kept clean both inside and out, and check between the pads daily as their large hairy feet can develop mats and pick-up thorns or other foreign bodies easily.

Training Otterhound

Early and consistent training on recall and in the use of a longline and harness are vital, as like most scent hounds, the Otterhound goes deaf when following a trail. Due to their size and a coat that picks up water and mud, it’s sensible to train your Otterhound to stand to be dried off and brushed through, and to lie down quietly wherever they are asked.

Although not a dog who enjoys training for trainings sake, Otterhounds are ideal for those interested in tracking, man-trailing and other scent related sports and competition.

Best Family Dog Breeds

Otterhounds can make a fun and active pet for the right family, however they are large and boisterous which may cause problems with smaller children or older family members. Their preferred exercise involves being outside in the water or in horrid weather so take this into consideration, not all family members may enjoy such walks!

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • Otterhounds stopped hunting otter in 1978, as otters were rare and gained protected species status.
  • The Otterhound is now endangered and are thought to be rarer than the giant panda. They are on the UK’s vulnerable breeds list with less than 50 puppies registered per year for the last 5 years.
  • Otterhounds have an odd way of drinking, submerging their whole nose under water at times, blowing bubbles and spreading the water quite some distance!
  • They have large, webbed feet to help them swim.
  • They’re known to be quite vocal and have a deep ‘bay’ which carries over long distances.

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