The Otterhound comes from an old British dog breed that originates in the United Kingdom; although the specific original are unknown. Currently, there are only about 600 Otterhounds worldwide, which puts this pet into the Vulnerable Native Breed category. The Otterhounds are in the Hound Dog category in the American Kennel Club dog breed group.
Being part of the Hound category, the Otterhound has an extremely sensitive nose, which is what made they such great companions for hunting. They can stay on a 12-hour-old trail. They can follow the scent through water and beyond.
Otterhunting was a past time enjoyed mostly by nobility and is first mentioned in the 12th Century, but it wasn’t for another 200 years that the first time the Otterhound is mentioned by name.
Along with small terriers, the Otterhound was used to hunt alongside banks of ponds and rivers for otters. Working together, the Terrier would flush out the Otterhound, while the Otterhound would go in for the final catch. Right before World War I, there were more than 500 hounds in 24 packs that hunted throughout England for otters.
It seems that the Otterhound came to the United States in 1900, and their first conformation show was in 1907 in Claremont, Oklahoma. The Otterhound Club of America was founded in 1960, and the Otterhound was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1991.
The Otterhound is considered a large-sized dog. The average height of a male Otterhound is 27 inches, and a female Otterhound is around 24 inches in height. The weight average for a standard Otterhound male is 115 pounds and the female is 80 pounds.
Otterhounds are loving pets. They will be excited to see you when you get home, but because they are independent animals, they won’t follow you around room to room. The Otterhound is good-natured and loves to be around children, other pets and doesn’t even have a problem with strangers very often. This makes them not the best watchdogs, but they may make a loud bark to warn of intruders.
Otterhounds are also boisterous and fun-loving dogs. They may be a bit clumsy because of their size, but they would never hurt children or otherwise. With a strong instinct to hunt, the Otterhound is likely to chase the animals that he perceives as being prey.
Otterhounds have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years on average; although, there have been some that have lived as long as 15 years. The Otterhound is mostly a healthy breed that, like most, can have some health problems. Some issues may include Gastric dilatation-volvulus, Hip Dysplasia, and Canine Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia.
Just because most Otterhounds have healthy lives, doesn’t mean that there aren’t health risks. It’s important to take your Otterhound to all of its regularly scheduled veterinarian visits.
Training and socialization are important for an Otterhound which should start with puppy classes if possible. It is good to allow your Otterhound to enjoy different experiences to become more comfortable in most scenarios.
Keep your Otterhound on a leash at all times. His instincts comes with his nose. Being independent by nature, combined with his instincts, means they could very quickly take off to find an interesting smell.
On average, the shaggy coat of the Otterhound sheds and needs to be brushed at least once per week to keep the long coat from matting. Other Otterhounds may have softer coats, and if that’s the case, they need to be brushed more often. Otterhounds also have a beard which may get dirty quite often. This means that Otterhounds need their beards washed every day to keep the hair from getting an odor.
Otterhounds teeth need to be cleaned at least two or three per week to remove tartar buildup. It is even a better idea to brush the teeth of an Otterhound every day if possible. Make sure to trim nails at least once a month, but twice may be needed, if your Otterhound doesn’t wear them down naturally.
The ears of a Otterhound are long and hang down, so that does not leave for the best air circulation. Because of this, Otterhounds can get ear infections easily. Make sure to check your pets’ ears and wipe them with a cotton ball to prevent infections.
Here is a link to the Otterhound Club of America. Please check your local area for other rescues near you or to learn more about this breed. www.otterhound.org