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Adopt an Otterhound

Otterhound Dog Breed

Picture: Kent and Donna Dannen



Area of origin:


Original function:

hunting otters

Average size of male:

Ht: 27, Wt: 115

Average size of female:

Ht: 24, Wt: 80

Other names:


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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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Otterhound Dog Temperament

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

Otterhound Dog Care

The Otterhound needs daily exercise in a safe area or on a leash. He has a loud, melodious voice that carries for long distances. The Otterhound's coat requires only weekly brushing or combing. He may need his beard washed more frequently. Tidiness is not one of his virtues; the large, hairy feet tend to hold debris and mud, and the long hair around the mouth can hold water and food.

Otterhound Dog Health

Major concerns: CHD, CTP, gastric torsion
Minor concerns: elbow dysplasia
Occasionally seen: none
Suggested tests: hip, elbow, blood
Life span: 10-13 years

Interested in the history of the Otterhound dog breed?

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 closely resembles the old French Venden hound. Other breeds that may have played a part in his 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, he is one of the rarest of English Kennel Club or AKC recognized breeds, verging perilously close to extinction.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

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