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Otterhound Dog Breed

About the Otterhound

The Otterhound is a rare and imposing breed of dog, recognized for its robust build and distinctively shaggy coat. Since the Middle Ages, the breed has been utilized primarily for hunting the river otter, a seriously formidable foe. Unusual for a hound, this breed is characterized by its affinity for water as well as for its keen sense of smell. This unique combination of qualities sets this courageous canine apart from other scenthound breeds.

AKC Group

AKC Group


Dog Breed Height


24 – 27 Inches

Dog Breed Weight


80 – 115 Pounds

Dog Breed Lifespan


10 – 13 Years


Country of Origin England
Bred For Hunting, Companionship
Known For Friendliness, Affection, Shaggy Appearance
Popularity Low
Temperament Amiable, Boisterous, Even-Tempered
Activities Hunting, Running, Swimming, Search and Rescue, Conformation Shows, Dog Sports

History of the Otterhound

The origins of the Otterhound are shrouded in mystery, with the breed tracing its history back centuries in the British Isles. It is widely believed that the breed evolved from ancient hounds used by the Celts that were brought to England before the Roman invasion. Their primary purpose was hunting otters, which were a significant threat to fish populations in rivers and lakes. As otters became scarce, their primary function slowly transitioned to other activities, but their name remained a testament to their original task.

Throughout the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, the breed’s prowess in hunting otters made these dogs popular among English nobles. The breed’s acute sense of smell, combined with its water-resistant coat and webbed feet, made these hounds particularly adept at the task. Their hunting prowess earned them a mention in several Olde English manuscripts, indicating their prominence in hunting circles at the time.

By the 20th century, however, otter hunting in the UK had declined significantly, When the hunting of otters was banned in 1978 due to conservation concerns, the breed’s numbers plummeted as a result. With its primary functional purpose gone, the breed faced the threat of extinction. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated breed enthusiasts, the Otterhound has been preserved and is being promoted as a lovable companion.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Otterhound in 1909. In Europe, the breed is also recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and The Royal Kennel Club (UK).

Today, while still relatively rare, the Otterhound enjoys life as a loyal family member for a discerning few, often participating in dog sports and other canine activities.

General Appearance

Height & Weight

Adult male Otterhounds typically stand at 27 inches tall at the shoulder, while mature females are generally smaller, usually measuring around 24 inches tall.

In terms of weight, males generally weigh approximately 115 pounds, with females typically weighing about 80 pounds.

Proportion & Substance

The Otterhound boasts a harmonious combination of power and agility. The breed’s body is slightly longer than it is tall, giving this hound a somewhat rectangular silhouette. This proportion allows for a flexible and enduring stride, essential for the breed’s historic role as a pack hound. The breed’s substance is undeniably solid, with strong bone and a well-muscled physique. The robust construction, combined with balanced proportions, allows the Otterhound to capably work over challenging terrain and in wet environments with ease and stamina.

Coat Texture, Colors & Markings

Texture: The breed’s coat is notably rough and dense. It is a double coat that’s waterproof, which aided the Otterhound in its historic water-related tasks, offering protection in cold water and harsh terrain. A correct coat is an essential feature of the breed.

Otterhound Colors

Standard Color
Black ee
Black & Tan ee
Blue & Cream ee
Gray ee
Liver & Tan ee
Tan ee
Wheaten ee
Blue ee
Lemon ee
White ee
White Black & Tan ee

Otterhound Markings

Standard Marking
Badger Markings ee
Black Markings ee
Black & Tan Markings ee
Grizzle Markings ee
Liver Markings ee
White Markings ee
Lemon Markings ee
Silver Markings ee
Tan Markings ee
White & Tan Markings ee

A Note About Color: The double coat of the Otterhound has an unkempt appearance. It consists of a harsh outer coat and a water-resistant undercoat. The outer coat can vary in length and may be softer in texture on the legs. Most puppies are born dark in color, with coats that typically lighten as they age. Any color or color combination is acceptable. The color of the nose and eye rims may be black, slate or liver, depending on the coat’s coloration. The nose should be dark and fully pigmented.


  • Skull: Broad and slightly domed, the Otterhound’s skull showcases a gentle rise from the brow to the back of the head, suggesting power without appearing overly heavy.
  • Expression: The breed’s expression is alert yet amiable, revealing a sense of intelligence combined with a friendly demeanor. The gaze is often described as inquisitive, reflecting an innate curiosity and keen sense of smell.
  • Eyes: Medium in size and set well apart, the eyes of the Otterhound are usually dark, though the shade can vary depending on the coat color. The eyes possess a soft, yet observant look, contributing to the breed’s approachable appearance.
  • Ears: The ears of the Otterhound are set low and hang close to the head. They are medium in length with a slight fold, and they’re covered with hair that is slightly wavy, adding to the breed’s distinctive appearance.
  • Muzzle: The muzzle is robust and deep, with a straight nasal bone. This feature, combined with spacious nostrils, aids the breed in its scenting capabilities on land and in the water.
  • Nose: The nose is notably large and dark, with a color that complements the hound’s coat. Its size is proportional to the muzzle, emphasizing the breed’s renowned olfactory abilities.
  • Bite: The Otterhound possesses a scissors bite, where the upper incisors closely overlap the lower incisors and are set square to the jaws. This bite is both strong and efficient, and capable of delivering a crushing grip if required.


The tail of an Otterhound is a noteworthy aspect of its anatomy, complementing the breed’s robust build and powerful stride.

The tail is set high and extends in a gentle, saber-like curve, reaching to the hock when the dog is at rest. In motion, the Otterhound carries its tail elevated but not overly so; it should not curl over the back. This carriage showcases the breed’s confidence and keen sense of purpose.

The tail is well-covered with hair, mirroring the rough texture of the breed’s coat. This not only adds to its aesthetic appeal but also serves a functional purpose, aiding in the dog’s balance while maneuvering through water and over uneven terrain.

The Otterhound’s tail is not docked. The natural length and carriage of the tail are considered essential characteristics, accentuating the breed’s silhouette and graceful way of going.

Owning an Otterhound – What to Consider?

Owning an Otterhound is a unique experience filled with joy, challenges, and countless learning opportunities. As with any breed, understanding the specific needs and characteristics of the Otterhound is crucial to ensure a harmonious coexistence.

Home Life

Interaction With Family

The level of affection a breed typically shows towards family members and familiar individuals will vary. While some breeds may only show genuine warmth towards their owner, remaining standoffish with strangers, other breeds will treat everyone they meet as if they are their closest friend.
Independent Affectionate

Good With Other Dogs

The innate friendliness of a dog towards other dogs can depend on its breed. Although supervision is always recommended during introductions, certain breeds tend to be inherently more or less sociable with other dogs, whether in a home setting or in public spaces.
Not Recommended Reliable With Other Dogs

Good With Young Children

The degree to which a breed will typically be patient with young children, and its overall suitability as a family member, will vary. It is important to always supervise interactions between dogs and the kids in the house, as well as with children who are not accustomed to being around dogs.
Not Recommended Dependable With Children


Amount Of Shedding

The amount of hair that a dog sheds will typically depend on its breed. Heavy-shedding breeds require more frequent brushing, have a higher chance of activating specific allergies, and often necessitate more frequent use of the vacuum cleaner and lint rollers.
Low High

Frequency Of Grooming

The regularity with which a breed needs bathing, brushing, trimming, or other forms of coat care is an all-important consideration. When evaluating the grooming effort required, consider your available time, patience, and budget. It is important to note that all breeds need routine ear, teeth, and nail care.
Monthly Daily

Amount Of Drooling

The tendency of a breed to drool significantly varies from breed to breed. For those who prefer cleanliness or are particular about keeping things tidy, breeds that are likely to leave trails of drool on your arm or large slobbery marks on your clothing and furniture might not be the best fit.
Low High

Coat Type


Coat Length




Trainability Level

The ease with which a dog can be trained and its eagerness to learn new skills can depend on the breed. Some breeds are naturally inclined to please their owners and will readily accept training, while others tend to follow their own desires, often showing independence in how, when, and where they choose to do things.
Stubborn Eager

Barking Level

The frequency of vocalization, including barking and howling, will vary from breed to breed. Some may bark at each person who passes by and every bird in the sky, while others will typically bark only for a good reason. Additionally, a few breeds that do not typically bark will still be vocal, using different sounds to communicate.
Quiet Vocal

Energy Level

The level of physical exercise and mental engagement required will depend on the breed. High-energy breeds are always on the go. They are enthusiastic about their next activity and tend to be busy most of the time, running, jumping, and playing throughout the day. In contrast, low-energy breeds are akin to couch potatoes, content to just lounge around and take naps throughout the day.
Couch Potato Busybody

Need For Mental Stimulation

The extent of mental stimulation needed to keep a dog content and healthy will vary by breed. Dogs bred for specific purposes may need tasks involving decision-making, problem-solving, and concentration. Without sufficient mental exercise, these dogs can resort to creating their own activities to engage their minds, resulting in unwanted behaviors like chewing, digging, and escaping.
Minimal Engagement Intensive Interaction

Otterhound Health

Otterhounds, like all breeds, come with their own set of health concerns to be aware of. Generally, they are hardy dogs, but due diligence on the part of the owner can ensure a long and healthy life for their canine companion.

Lifespan: The average life expectancy of an Otterhound is around 10 to 13 years. Proper care, regular veterinary check-ups, and a balanced diet can contribute to reaching or even surpassing this age range.

Potential Health Risks

Otterhounds, like all breeds and mixed breeds, are susceptible to certain health conditions. Being aware of these potential risks can equip an owner to detect early signs and seek timely medical intervention.

  • Hip Dysplasia: A common condition in many larger breeds, hip dysplasia involves the malformation of the hip joint. Regular screening and weight management can help manage and prevent the onset of this condition.
  • Gastric Torsion (Bloat): This life-threatening condition involves the stomach twisting on itself, trapping gas inside. It’s crucial for owners to recognize the early signs, such as a swollen abdomen and restlessness, and seek immediate veterinary attention.
  • Epilepsy: Some Otterhounds may be prone to seizures, which can be a sign of epilepsy. While it can be concerning to witness, epilepsy is often manageable with proper veterinary care and medication.
  • Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, this condition affects the elbow joint and can result in pain and lameness. Early detection and treatment can help manage the condition.
  • Ear Infections: Given their floppy ears, Otterhounds can be prone to ear infections. Regular ear cleaning and check-ups can help prevent these infections.

In addition to being aware of these common health issues, it’s important for Otterhound owners to maintain regular vet check-ups. Routine examinations can help in early detection of potential health concerns, allowing for timely intervention and treatment.

Otterhound Personality

The Otterhound possesses a personality that is as distinctive as the dog itself. Breed enthusiasts often describe this scenthound as friendly, independent, and even a bit clownish. And while the breed’s amiable nature makes this hound a wonderful companion, its strong hunting instincts and independent streak can sometimes be a challenge.

For novice dog owners, the Otterhound can present a learning curve. The breed’s inquisitive nature and determination can sometimes be misconstrued as stubbornness. It is essential, therefore, to approach training with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement.

One of the most endearing qualities of the Otterhound is its deep sense of loyalty. While the breed may initially be wary of strangers, once an hound gets to know someone it often become fast friends. This loyalty is extended, of course, within the family unit. These large dogs are generally good with children, displaying a gentle and protective nature around younger members of the household.

When it comes to other dogs, the Otterhound usually gets along well, especially if it has been socialized from a young age. The breed’s hunting background means these hounds can sometimes be assertive, but with proper introductions and supervision they can coexist harmoniously with other pets.

Leaving an Otterhound alone for extended periods can lead to boredom and potentially destructive behaviors. This breed thrives on interaction and activity, so it is essential to ensure dog has plenty of toys, puzzles, or other forms of entertainment when it is left alone for any length of time.

Otterhound Feeding & Nutrition

Feeding an Otterhound requires understanding not only the breed’s specific needs but also the individual dog’s age, activity level, and overall health. Being diligent about their diet can contribute significantly to their overall well-being and longevity.

When it comes to feeding an Otterhound puppy, it’s essential to provide them with a nutrient-rich diet that supports their rapid growth and development. Puppies typically require a higher protein content in their food than adult dogs. It’s often recommended to feed them specially formulated puppy food until they reach maturity.

As Otterhounds transition to adulthood, their dietary needs shift. An adult Otterhound, depending on its size and activity level, might consume between 2.5 to 3.5 cups of high-quality dry dog food daily. This quantity should be split into two meals to aid digestion and prevent potential issues like bloat.

It’s also crucial to monitor the caloric intake of an Otterhound. While they are active dogs with a relatively high metabolism, overfeeding or providing them with a diet too rich in fats can lead to obesity, which in turn can exacerbate other health issues.

Water is a vital component of their diet. Always ensure that your dog has access to fresh, clean water, especially after exercise or during hotter months.

Tailoring the diet based on the dog’s activity level is also key. For instance, an Otterhound that regularly participates in hunting or other high-intensity activities might require more calories and protein than one with a more sedentary lifestyle.

Regular check-ins with a veterinarian or a canine nutritionist can help adjust and refine the diet to ensure your Otterhound is getting all the essential nutrients. They can also provide guidance on supplements or specific dietary adjustments based on any health concerns or individual needs of your dog.

Otterhound Training

Training an Otterhound can be both a delightful and challenging experience. With their independent nature and a history of working without close human direction, they can sometimes exhibit a stubborn streak during training sessions. However, with the right approach, they can be trained to be obedient and well-mannered companions.

Otterhounds are intelligent dogs, which means they have the capacity to learn quickly, but their independent disposition means they might choose when they want to exhibit what they’ve learned. This characteristic underscores the importance of establishing yourself as a firm yet fair leader from the outset. Consistency in commands and expectations is crucial for the Otterhound to understand what’s asked of them.

Positive reinforcement methods, such as treats, praise, and play, work best with this breed. They respond well to encouragement and are more likely to cooperate when they associate training with positive outcomes. Harsh corrections or punitive measures can be counterproductive, leading to resistance or even fear.

One aspect of training that should be emphasized with Otterhounds is recall. Given their hunting background, they can sometimes become fixated on a scent and might be inclined to chase after it, ignoring calls to return. Regular and consistent recall training, ideally in a controlled environment, is essential to ensure their safety.

The breed’s vocal nature means they can sometimes be prone to excessive barking. Addressing this behavior early on, identifying the triggers, and providing alternative means of expression can help manage this trait.

Socialization, as with all breeds, is crucial for Otterhounds. Exposing them to various people, places, sounds, and other animals from a young age can help them become well-adjusted adults. It can also temper their natural wariness around strangers and help them be more accepting of new experiences.

Otterhound Exercise

Their exercise needs reflect their history as working dogs, bred to spend long hours on the hunt, covering vast stretches of terrain. Despite their somewhat lumbering appearance, they are a breed that thrives on regular activity and stimulation.

Exercise Expectations

Energy Level Medium
Exercise Requirements 1 Hour/Day (Minimum), Daily Walks, Vigorous Running, Regular Exercise, Occasional Swimming, Playing with Another Dog, Mental Stimulation

Otterhounds possess a moderate to high energy level, making daily physical activity essential for their well-being. A simple walk around the neighborhood might not suffice for this breed; they often benefit from longer, more vigorous walks or hikes where they can explore and indulge their powerful sense of smell. While they can adapt to shorter exercise sessions, these should be complemented with other forms of play or activity to ensure they receive the stimulation they need.

In addition to walks, Otterhounds enjoy swimming, and their webbed feet make them adept swimmers. If you have access to a safe body of water, it can be a wonderful way for them to expend energy while indulging in an activity they love. However, always supervise them around water to ensure their safety.

Playfulness is another hallmark of the breed’s personality. Engaging in play sessions with toys, fetch games, or interactive puzzles can provide both mental and physical stimulation. Their hunting background also makes them suitable for activities like tracking or scent games, which can be an enjoyable way to channel their natural instincts in a controlled environment.

Despite their need for regular exercise, it’s essential to be mindful of the breed’s physical limits. Their large size means they can be prone to joint issues, so it’s important to provide them with activities that don’t put undue stress on their joints. For instance, while they might enjoy a game of fetch, repeated high-impact jumping might not be advisable.

Otterhound Grooming

Their unique coat is both an asset and a challenge. Their double coat consists of a dense, rough, and water-resistant outer coat paired with a softer, wooly undercoat. This combination allows them to work effectively in aquatic environments but also requires specific grooming practices to maintain its health and appearance.

Grooming Expectations

Coat Type Dense, Rough, Coarse, Crisp
Grooming Requirements Weekly Brushing, Occasional Bathing, Routine Ear Cleaning, Periodic Nail Trimming, Regular Tooth Brushing

Otterhounds do shed, but the frequency can vary from one individual to another. Regular brushing, about two to three times a week, is recommended to prevent matting, especially in areas like behind the ears, under the legs, and around the neck. This routine not only helps in removing loose hairs and preventing tangles but also distributes natural oils throughout the coat, keeping it healthy and shiny.

Given their propensity for outdoor activities, Otterhounds can often get dirty. While their rough coat is designed to repel dirt to some extent, they will need occasional baths. It’s crucial, however, not to over-bathe an Otterhound, as doing so can strip the coat of its natural oils, making it dry and brittle. Use a dog-specific shampoo and ensure you rinse thoroughly to prevent any residue build-up. After baths, it’s essential to dry them properly, paying special attention to the ears to prevent infections.

Their pendulous ears require regular checks and cleaning. Their shape can create a moist environment that’s conducive to infections. Gently cleaning the ears with a vet-recommended solution and ensuring they are dry can help in preventing potential issues.

Other routine grooming practices include nail trimming, which should be done about once a month or when you hear their nails clicking on the floor. Dental hygiene is equally important; brushing their teeth several times a week can prevent tartar build-up and gum disease.

Living with an Otterhound

Living with an Otterhound is a unique experience that comes with joys and challenges alike. These dogs, with their distinct appearance and affable nature, can become an integral part of any family. However, understanding their needs and behaviors is crucial for a harmonious coexistence.

When it comes to housing, Otterhounds are adaptable, but they aren’t necessarily the best fit for apartment living unless they receive ample exercise and mental stimulation. A house with a yard offers them more freedom to explore, sniff, and play, catering to their inquisitive nature. Their history as scent hounds means they can sometimes follow their nose, so a securely fenced yard is vital to prevent them from wandering off on a scent trail.

Despite their hardy appearance, Otterhounds aren’t strictly outdoor dogs. They thrive on human interaction and should be integrated into daily family life. While they can tolerate moderate weather variations, extreme cold or hot conditions can be uncomfortable for them. In particularly chilly weather, their coat offers some protection, but they might appreciate a cozy spot indoors. Conversely, during hotter months, ensure they have access to shade and fresh water if they spend extended periods outside.

Otterhounds, with their webbed feet and affinity for water, can be particularly messy, especially after a swim or walk in the rain. If you’re meticulous about cleanliness, be prepared for some muddy footprints and a wet dog smell now and then. Their rugged coat can trap debris, so a quick brush or wipe down after outdoor adventures can help keep your home cleaner.

In terms of their compatibility with other pets, Otterhounds generally get along well with other dogs. Their hunting background, however, means they might view smaller animals, especially those that run, as prey. It’s essential to introduce them slowly and monitor interactions with smaller pets.

Lastly, while Otterhounds are generally patient and gentle, it’s always advisable to supervise interactions with young children. Teaching children how to approach and play with the dog ensures safety for both parties.

Otterhound Puppies

The arrival of a litter of Otterhound puppies is a cause for celebration, one that is filled with moments of joy, mischief, and discovery. These puppies, with their floppy ears, large paws, and curious eyes, are undeniably adorable and can quickly endear themselves to any dog lover. However, raising an Otterhound puppy requires dedication, patience, and a fair amount of knowledge about this unique and energetic breed.

Caring for an Otterhound Puppy

Caring for an Otterhound puppy is a task that involves attention to nutrition, socialization, training, and health. From the moment a puppy arrives in its new home, establishing a routine is crucial. This will not only help in housebreaking and feeding routines, it also gives the puppy a sense of security in its new environment.

Diet is paramount during the puppy stage, as it is a time of rapid growth and development. It is vital to provide the pup with high-quality puppy food that meets the nutritional needs specific to larger dog breeds. Overfeeding, or providing the wrong nutrients, can lead to skeletal issues or obesity later in life. It is best to consult with the hound’s breeder and a veterinarian regarding the best feeding regimen and portion sizes for each puppy.

Early socialization is key to raising a well-adjusted Otterhound. Expose the puppy to various environments, people, and other animals will help to build confidence and reduce potential any fear or aggression in unfamiliar situations. Puppy training classes can also be beneficial, offering a structured environment for learning and interaction.

Consistent training from a young age will support the Otterhound puppy’s maturity towards becoming a well-behaved adult. Given the breed’s hunting background, instilling a strong recall command is essential. Positive reinforcement techniques work best, as this hound is known to be sensitive and might not respond well to harsh training methods.

Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial in the early stages of a puppy’s life. These visits will ensure the pup is up-to-date in its vaccinations, deworming, and other preventive care. The vet can also offer advice on puppy-specific concerns like teething or behavioral issues.

Lastly, play, exercise, and rest are vital components of an Otterhound puppy’s typical day. Offering a variety of toys can offer entertainment and stimulate the pup’s minds, while regular naps will allow time for its growing body to recover from all the fun.

Otterhound Activities & Dog Sports

Owing to its historical role as a hunter and its boundless energy, the Otterhound remains a versatile breed that excels in a variety of physical activities. Engaging a hound in these activities not only keeps it physically fit, it also provides plenty of mental stimulation. Some of the dog sports that welcome the Otterhound include:

Obedience: Obedience Trials test the dog’s ability to follow specific commands and showcase good behavior.

Rally: A combination of Obedience and Agility, where dogs navigate a course with specific exercises indicated by numbered signs.

Tracking and Scent Work: Leverages the breed’s exceptional tracking abilities, challenging them to follow a scent over various terrains.

Agility: Time-bound events where Otterhounds navigate through obstacle courses, testing their speed and agility.

Water Rescue and Retrieval: Taps into the breed’s love for water, testing their swimming and retrieval skills.

Lure Coursing: While traditionally for sighthounds, Otterhounds can enjoy the chase of a mechanically operated lure, tapping into their hunting instincts.

Barn Hunt: Otterhounds use their keen nose and hunting skills to find a rat (safely enclosed in a tube) hidden within a straw or hay bale maze.

Conformation Shows: An opportunity for Otterhounds to compete based on adherence to breed standards.

Beyond structured dog sports, Otterhounds greatly enjoy activities like long walks, hikes, and interactive play sessions. Regular participation in these events and activities can foster a stronger bond between the Otterhound and its owner.

Group Classification & Standards

The Otterhound is recognized by the world’s leading registries and kennel organizations, which categorize the breed into a specific Group based on its unique characteristics. This breed is recognized worldwide under the following Group designations:

International Organizations

Organization Group Designation
AKC (American Kennel Club) Hound
UKC (United Kennel Club) Scenthound
CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) Hounds
ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council) Hounds
RKC (The Royal Kennel Club) Hound
FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) Group 6: Scent Hounds and Related Breeds; Section 1.1.: Large-Sized Hounds

The ideal Otterhound is described by a Breed Standard that is approved by each of the world’s leading registries and kennel organizations. The Breed Standards for this breed may be found in the following links:

Breed Standards

Organization Breed Standard
American Kennel Club AKC Otterhound Breed Standard
United Kennel Club UKC Otterhound Breed Standard
Canadian Kennel Club CKC Otterhound Breed Standard
Australian National Kennel Council ANKC Otterhound Breed Standard
The Royal Kennel Club RKC Otterhound Breed Standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale FCI Otterhound Breed Standard

Otterhound Clubs

The Otterhound, with its rich history and unique characteristics, has garnered a dedicated following of enthusiasts and breeders who are committed to preserving and promoting the breed. In various countries, Otterhound clubs have been established to support the breed’s well-being, provide resources for owners, and organize events.

In the USA, the Otterhound Club of America (OHCA) stands as the primary organization dedicated to the breed. They offer comprehensive resources for breed information, health, events, and breeder directories. The OHCA also actively participates in canine health research, ensuring the long-term well-being of the breed.

In the United Kingdom, where the Otterhound has its historical roots, the Otterhound Club champions the cause of the breed. Established in the early 20th century, this club remains a vital resource for Otterhound enthusiasts in the UK, offering advice, organizing events, and providing a platform for members to connect.

For those interested in getting involved with the Otterhound community, joining one of these national clubs can be an excellent way to access valuable resources, meet other enthusiasts, and participate in breed-specific events.

Otterhound Rescue Groups

The Otterhound can sometimes find itself in rescue situations. Fortunately, there are organizations and rescue groups dedicated to the welfare of the Otterhound, ensuring that these dogs find loving forever homes.

In the USA, the Otterhound Club of America runs a rescue program dedicated to rehoming and rescuing Otterhounds in need. This program not only helps to find new homes for Otterhounds but also educates potential adopters about the breed’s unique requirements.

In the United Kingdom, where the breed originated, the Otterhound Club provides rescue services for Otterhounds in distress. They work tirelessly to ensure that each Otterhound is placed in a home that understands and can cater to the breed’s specific needs.

While there might not always be Otterhound-specific rescue groups in every region, it’s essential to reach out to national breed clubs as they often have networks or contacts who can assist in rescue efforts. Additionally, local shelters or general breed rescues can occasionally have Otterhounds up for adoption.

Otterhound Facts

  • Unique Scent Abilities: The Otterhound’s keen sense of smell is so refined that it is said these dogs can track the faint scent of an otter over running water, a testament to its original hunting purpose.
  • A Rare Breed: Otterhounds are one of the most uncommon of breeds, with only a few hundred new puppies registered worldwide each year. This makes every Otterhound quite special!
  • Webbed Feet: One of the unique physical characteristics of the Otterhound is the breed’s webbed feet. This adaptation not only made the dogs efficient swimmers, it also aided in tracking otters through water and marshy terrain.
  • Lifespan: Although large breeds often have shorter lifespans, Otterhounds can live up to 10-13 years with proper care and regular check-ups.
  • Voice: Otterhounds possess a distinctive bay, a deep and resonant sound that can carry for long distances. This was especially useful during a hunt.
  • Historical Popularity: At the height of otter hunting’s popularity in England, there were close to 24 Otterhound packs. However, with the decline in the practice, the breed’s numbers have been significantly reduced.
  • Royal Connection: The breed has had some royal admirers in the past. King John of England, in the 12th century, was known to keep packs of Otterhounds.
  • End of Hunting Era: Otter hunting was banned in the UK in 1978, leading to a decline in popularity. However, the ban paved the way for the breed’s role as a companion animal.
  • Good-natured Giants: Despite its history as a hunter, the Otterhound is known for its friendly and affable nature, making the breed a wonderful option as a family pet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do Otterhounds shed?

Otterhounds do shed, but their shedding is moderate in comparison to some other breeds. The breed’s double coat requires consistent grooming to keep it in the best condition and to minimize loose hair around the house.

Are Otterhounds hypoallergenic?

No breed is truly hypoallergenic, but Otterhounds are often considered to be less allergenic than many other breeds. Their unique coat tends to trap dander, which is a common allergen. However, individual reactions can vary, so spending time with an Otterhound before getting one is advisable for allergy sufferers.

How many Otterhounds are left in the world?

The Otterhound is a rare breed. While exact numbers can fluctuate, there are only a few hundred new puppies registered worldwide each year. Conservation efforts are ongoing to ensure the breed’s survival and to prevent its numbers from dwindling further.

Are Otterhounds and Bloodhounds related?

Yes, the Otterhound and the Bloodhound share an historical connection. The breed’s lineage is believed to date back to antiquity, with Bloodhounds being among the breeds that contributed to its development. Both breeds were originally used for their tracking abilities.

Are Otterhounds friendly?

Absolutely! Otterhounds are known for their friendly and affable nature. They are generally good-natured, get along well with children and other pets, and can be wonderful family companions.

Can Otterhounds hunt beavers?

While Otterhounds were originally bred to hunt otters, their keen sense of smell and strong swimming ability could theoretically allow them to track other aquatic animals, like beavers. However, hunting practices have evolved, and Otterhounds today are primarily companion animals.

How big is an Otterhound?

Otterhounds are a large breed of dog. Males typically stand at about 27 inches tall at the shoulder, while females stand around 24 inches tall. In terms of weight, males generally weigh around 115 pounds, with females typically weighing about 80 pounds.

What dog sports are Otterhounds good for?

Thanks to the breed’s history and its innate abilities, Otterhounds can excel in various dog sports and dog-related activities. They’re particularly adept with their noses, making them great candidates for Tracking and Scent Work events. Additionally, their strength and endurance can be showcased in events like Rally, Obedience, and even Agility.


Picture of Dan Sayers

Dan Sayers

Dan Sayers is the Editor-in-Chief of SHOWSIGHT digital and print publications. He received a B.S. from Drexel University where he studied interior architectural design. His professional career has allowed him to develop his planning, problem-solving, and project management skills, which were employed in the office, educational, and financial sectors. While working as a project manager, he earned a Graphic Design Certificate from the University of the Arts and began creating ads for many of America’s top-winning show dogs. Through this work, Dan became Editor-in-Chief of the nation’s first online-only dog show publication. His current role expands on this experience and broadly extends to cover the sport of dogs in Companion and Performance events as well as all aspects of Conformation.

Dan is a long-time member of the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America and is the organization’s current AKC Delegate and Archivist/Historian, as well as a club-approved Breed Mentor. From 2000-2010, he was the club’s AKC Gazette Columnist. He breeds Irish Water Spaniels under the Quiet Storm prefix and has judged the IWSCA National Specialty Sweepstakes twice. Dan is a member of the Morris and Essex Kennel Club as well as the Dog Writers Association of America, which recognized his illustrations in the award-winning canine compendium, the Encyclopedia of K-9 Terminology.