Gentle natured and amiable, the Otterhound is a delightful breed of dog that practically any dog lover can easily fall in love with. However, they are in no way a low-maintenance breed for the casual dog owner and require the care and attention of a dedicated and experienced owner. A large and powerful scent hound, Otterhounds have a history spanning more than a 1,000 years. Sadly, they are also one of the most endangered breeds of dog in the world today with only around 1,000 specimens alive worldwide.
Otterhounds are unique from other scent hounds because they have the capability to hunt both on land and in water. They are characterized by their large, webbed feet and thick double coats – the first layer which is soft and waterproof, and the second which is long and scraggly. The Otterhound is also a powerfully built dog with a long striding gait and is able to navigate rough terrain during long and strenuous hunts. Their sense of smell is so keen that it is said that Otterhounds are able to track the scent of otters in water as well as on land.
A hardworking and athletic dog, the Otterhound is a determined hunter. These dogs are also highly intelligent and independent, and if not provided with firm leadership they can turn willful and stubborn. However, they are extremely playful and loving and can make excellent companions for the right owner.
A hardworking and athletic dog, the Otterhound is a determined hunter.
Although the Otterhound’s exact origins are unclear, it is believed that the breed originated in France. The breed got its name from the early 19th century British fishermen who started using them to hunt otters that were wreaking havoc on the local fish populations.
It is believed that this breed was created by crossing Bloodhounds with rough-haired terriers, Harriers and French Griffons. In the book “Dogs and All About Them,” it is remarked that Otterhounds possess a Bulldog’s courage, a Newfoundland’s strength in water, a Pointer’s nose, a Retriever’s sagacity, the stamina of a Foxhound, the patience of a Beagle, and the intelligence of a Collie.
Otterhounds are voracious eaters and should be fed on two meals of high-quality dry or canned food each day. Care should be taken to not over-feed these dogs. Due to their large barrel chests they are also known to suffer from bloat and gastric torsion.
Otterhounds were never bred to be kept as companions and are therefore not the easiest of dogs to train.
Otterhounds were never bred to be kept as companions and are therefore not the easiest of dogs to train. Training them requires a firm hand and a great deal of patience. They are also a good-natured breed and do not respond well to harsh training methods. A firm but gentle approach always works best with this breed. It is also important that an Otterhound’s owner display consistent leadership as this dog can turn willful and stubborn if faced with a meek or passive owner.
Otterhounds are a hefty breed and weigh in at around 95 to 125 pounds.
Otterhounds are an extremely hardworking breed of dog and require a great deal of mental and physical stimulation to lead a well-balanced life. They are also highly independent and can sometimes try to assume control of their human “pack” if not provided with firm and consistent leadership. This makes them unsuitable for weak or inexperienced dog owners.
They are however a very affectionate and loving breed and get along incredibly well with children. They also get along well with other dogs and pets. However, it is important to provide them with rules, boundaries and limitations early on as they have a very powerful hunting drive that can be triggered by the presence of smaller animals. They are also a heavily scent-driven breed of dog and can easily get fixated with various scents around them. Therefore it is important to keep the dog’s tracking instincts in check when taking it out for walks.
Otterhounds also have large, booming barks that can carry for quite a distance. But since they are extremely amiable towards strangers, they generally do not make good guard dogs.
Common Health Problems
Like most large, rapid growing breeds, Otterhounds occasionally suffer from joint problems such as hip and elbow dysplasia. They are also known to suffer from ear infections due to the long, droopy shape of their ears. Otterhounds can also sometimes suffer from epilepsy and this is considered to be a hereditary ailment.
The average lifespan of an Otterhound is around 10 to 13 years.
Otterhounds have a great deal of stamina and require strenuous and daily exercise. They make excellent jogging and hiking partners and can keep up a steady trot for the better part of the day. When not exercised sufficiently they can sometimes turn destructive.
Otterhounds are an extremely hardworking breed of dog and require a great deal of mental and physical stimulation to lead a well-balanced life.
The AKC has this to say about the Otterhound: “The Otterhound, a scent hound, is unique among hounds because of his rough, double coat and substantial webbed feet. He uses these features to hunt on both land and water. With his large, strong body and inquisitive nose, the Otterhound is willing to work all day. The coat may be any color or combination of colors.” Otterhounds first arrived in the United States in 1900 and the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1909.
The Otterhound’s coat needs to be brushed at least once a week and washed occasionally. They are average shedders and should be checked for ear infections regularly.
Otterhound puppies should be socialized with dogs and other animals at a very young age. Their training should also start as early on as possible. This will help keep their hunting instincts in check as the dog reaches maturity.
Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).
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