Otterhound Guide

Hound Dog Breeds

The otterhound is a large dog with a somewhat stocky build, slightly longer than tall, not exaggerated in any way, enabling it to trot at a slow, steady pace for long distances without tiring. Its coat, which consists of a rough, coarse outer coat combined with a soft wooly slightly oily undercoat, is essential for protecting it from brambles and cold water. It has a fairly large nose and muzzle, allowing ample room for olfactory receptors. Its large feet provide traction over rough and slippery terrain. This is a strong athletic breed that can withstand harsh weather and long strenuous hunts. Its expression is open and amiable, reflecting its temperament. The otterhound is noted for its steadfast pursuit of its quarry despite the roughest of conditions. It has an acute sense of smell and can trail unerringly through running water and over all sorts of terrain.

As a pack hound, the otterhound is amiable with other dogs. As a hunter, it has an innate urge to follow the trails of mammals. Once on the trail, it is determined, single-minded and nearly impossible to dissuade from its task. Even though the otterhound's job was not to kill its quarry, it will nonetheless give chase to small animals. The otterhound loves to hunt, sniff, trail and, especially, swim. At home it is boisterous, amiable and easygoing (although stubborn), affectionate with its family, and quite good with children. Because the otterhound was never traditionally kept as a pet, it is not among the most responsive of breeds. However, the otterhound is a low-key dog that can function as a quiet companion.


FAMILY scenthound


DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times

ORIGINAL FUNCTION hunting otters


AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 27 Weight: 115

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 24 Weight: 80


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

The otterhound needs daily exercise in a safe area or on a leash. It has a loud, melodious voice that carries for long distances. The otterhound's coat requires only weekly brushing or combing. It may need its beard washed more frequently. Tidiness is not one of its virtues; the large, hairy feet tend to hold debris and mud, and the long hair around the mouth can hold water and food. It can sleep outdoors in temperate or cool climates, given good shelter.
• Major concerns: CHD, CTP, gastric torsion
• Minor concerns: elbow dysplasia
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: hip, elbow, blood
• Life span: 10 – 13 years
One of the most unusual members of the hound group is the otterhound, a hardy, tousled scenthound of uncertain origin. The breed may have originated in France, and it closely resembles the old French Vend¿en hound. Other breeds that may have played a part in its origin were the Welsh harrier, Southern hound (a foxhound-like breed), bloodhound or a type of water spaniel. Whatever the genetic makeup, the otterhound came to fill a unique niche as a hunter of otters in England and is thus most associated with that country. King John kept the first documented packs of otterhounds in 1212. The breed was useful for finding otters that were depleting fish in local streams. They would trail the otter to its den and bay when locating it. The hunters would then remove the otterhounds and send small terriers to dispatch the otter. Otter hunting was never among the most popular of sports, lacking the formal trappings of fox hunting and taking place under wet and uncomfortable conditions. Nonetheless, the sport reached its peak during the latter half of the 19th century, when over 20 packs were hunting in Britain, but it essentially died out after the Second World War. The first otterhound came to America at the beginning of the 20th century and was recognized by the AKC soon after. Otterhound aficionados have been especially adamant that the breed retain its functional characteristics, without succumbing to exaggerated grooming practices or the temptation to breed only for a competitive show dog. Even though this practice has maintained the true otterhound type, the breed has never been especially popular as a show dog or pet. Despite the fact that the otterhound is one of the most ancient of the English breeds, it is one of the rarest of English Kennel Club or AKC recognized breeds, verging perilously close to extinction.