This breed is believed to have first been bred in England. It is thought that they are a cross of Bloodhounds, Griffons, Rough Haired Terriers and possibly the Harrier. As the name would suggest, they were widely used to hunt otters. With such a great sense of smell, they could track a trail that was 12 hours old, across both land and water. Terriers would flush otters from their den, leaving the otterhound to track and catch it.
When hunting became illegal, the numbers of this breed declined. Today they are classed as rare, and for many people they are best known from their central role in the classic book Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson, in which the Otterhound Deadlock proves to be Tarka’s nemesis.
This is a friendly and cheerful dog who will be loyal to those around it. They get along well with children, strangers and other dogs, though they do have a tendency to chase cats if not taught from a young age. They take family very seriously and will be loving to those around them. They think for themselves and do what they want to, they will welcome you home but won’t follow you around the house always under your feet. They have a loud bark and also a very melodic “singing” voice which they like to use.
Their very apparent independent streak can make training a bit of a pain. Time and patience will be needed with this breed. They’re not stupid, but learn at their own pace. Positive reinforcement and food based rewards seem to work well. Firm, consistent raining will be needed to make any real progress, but this should be executed with a loving touch. Whilst it may take time, once they are trained they will make a great addition to any family.
Otterhounds have a natural love for water and love to swim, for hours on end if given the chance. They enjoy diving and will happily play at jumping in and out. They do need a fair amount of daily exercise to fully satisfy them. A long walk and a play session should be sufficient. They will enjoy playing with any dog they meet and are generally good-natured beings. They are the perfect hike companion, they’ll love to explore every scent with their powerful nose and can walk for hours on end without tiring. This being said, unless you are confident in their recall it may be best to walk them on a leash or in a safe area; they are, after all, scent-hounds and once they’ve decided that a scent is worth chasing, you’ll have a hard time getting them back. Once they have had the chance to burn some energy they’ll happily curl up on their beds and nod off. They have a tendency to snore.
This breed’s dense, wiry coat needs a decent brushing at least once a week, but their shaggy “beard” will require more care as they often get food stuck in it. The coat doesn’t need clipping and will take a long time to grow back if it is clipped. The undercoat is water-resistant and they tend to dry off quickly.
The hounds enjoy a good meal and will get obese if food intake isn’t watched. Don’t let the puppy eyes fool you, they just want some more food!
The Otterhound is an amiable and rugged dog. They are affectionate with their owners and seem to get on fine with strangers (both of the canine and human varieties). They have a love for swimming and you should provide them with plenty of opportunities to put this hobby of theiurs into practice.
Otterhounds are a healthy breed that suffer from few problems, though some unlucky individuals can be prone to Canine Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Bloat, Benign Growths, Allergies, Hypothyroidism, Epilepsy and Blood Clotting Diseases. Exercise shouldn’t be too thorough when they are young, as this can lead to joint/bone problems in older age.
- Status: Common
- Life Expectancy: 9 - 12 years
- Weight: 90 - 110 lbs
- Height: 24 - 26"
- Rare: No
- Coat: Medium - Double
- Grooming Requirements: More than once per week
- Town or Country: Country
- Minimum Home Size: Large House
- Minimum Garden Size: Large Garden
- Breed Type: Hound
- Size: Large
- Energy Level: High
- Exercise Required: Over 2 hours