The Otterhound is an all-terrain dog: her webbed feet let her paddle like a duck when she swims; and her rough, water-resistant double coat lets her work or play hard all day in all kinds of weather. This breed can hack it through thick bramble or icy waters. She'll follow her nose almost anywhere for as long as you'll let her.
Since England officially protects otters, these days most Otterhounds are family companions, show dogs, or canine athletes. This breed is extremely rare: there are currently fewer than 500 Otterhounds in North America.
Originally from England, this large-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to between 80-115 pounds and lives an average of 10-13 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Hound group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Swimming
Breed Group: Hound
Average Lifespan: 10-13 years
Size: Extra Large
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 150
AREA OF ORIGIN England
DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times
ORIGINAL FUNCTION hunting otters
TODAY'S FUNCTION companion
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 27 Weight: 115
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 24 Weight: 80
OTHER NAME none
Energy level Low energy
Exercise needs Medium
Playfullness Moderately playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly
Ease of training Easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Not very protective
Grooming needs Moderate maintenance
Cold tolerance High tolerance
Heat tolerance Low tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS AN OTTERHOUND'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
Inquisitive and boisterous, Otterhounds are affectionate and affable dogs. Nothing much really bothers this breed, and they have wicked senses of humor. They'll play best with older kids, but are usually happy to add any family members (be they two-legged or four-) to their pack.
WHAT IS OTTERHOUND BEHAVIOR LIKE?
These are strong and athletic dogs who will need moderate daily exercise. Otterhounds love their people, but don't need to be with you every second of the day — they'll make their own fun, thank you very much. With enough exercise, they make calm and easygoing housemates. That bark is deep and impressive, but Otterhounds are entirely too friendly to be intimidating guard dogs.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN AN OTTERHOUND?
Though eager to please, Otterhounds definitely have an independent streak. You'll need to be patient and consistent while training.
This dog is not a good candidate for off-leash play outside a well-fenced area. No amount of training is more compelling than an interesting scent trail.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO OTTERHOUNDS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Otterhounds are seasonal shedders, but they don't shed much. Their rough double coats aren't hard to groom, and these dogs are fairly easy to clean. Plan for weekly brushing to break up mats and tangles. Your furry friend will need stripping or clipping at least once a year.
As long as you keep their beards and ears clean (particularly after they eat), Otterhounds don't smell doggy and won't need frequent baths. Any time she gets wet, be sure to dry this dog thoroughly—especially her skin folds—to prevent mildew and skin irritation.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO OTTERHOUNDS HAVE?
As a breed, Otterhounds are generally healthy. Some are prone to seizures, bleeding disorders, hip dysplasia, or bloat, which is a condition that requires immediate attention from your veterinarian. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) and contact your vet at once if you suspect your dog might be suffering from this ailment.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE OTTERHOUNDS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Otterhounds among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after you've been playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, and so produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as large as an Otterhound! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT IS AN OTTERHOUND'S BEST DAY?
An Otterhound's best day is a multi-sport event: let this dog follow her nose through woods (on-leash, of course!) and get her feet wet splashing in the pond.
SHOULD I ADOPT AN OTTERHOUND?
They much prefer cold weather to high temperatures. (With all that hair, can you blame them?) An Otterhound will be happiest and healthiest in any home that can provide enough exercise for her, with people who won't mind a touch of independence and an unswerving instinct to follow her nose.
Have you decided that an Otterhound is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.