Otterhound (Dog Breed Information)

Otterhound – The Rarest Dog Breed In The World

The Otterhound is a very rare and unusual member of the Hound Group, and hunter(also known as a trapper). Recognized by the Kennel Club as a Vulnerable Native Breed with around 600 remaining in the world. It is very hard to even find a breeder for this dog. However they are out there, you just need to really search.

They are Amiable, Boisterous and Even-tempered, so this means they get along with children and other animals, they are big babies and love sitting in laps, although they are clearly too big to fit in anyone’s lap, that doesn’t seem to stop them.

The OH is a large dog breed with a slightly stocky build. They were bred for otter hunting, and are scent hounds, and they can use their noses underwater to track the scent of an otter over great distances. Otterhounds are very affectionate with their family, and they do just fine with children.

At A Glance

  • Breed: Otterhound
  • Breed Group: Hound
  • Temperament: Even-Tempered, Amiable, Boisterous
  • D.H.T. Outdoor Ranking: -6/10 For Temperate Climates
  • Worldwide Popularity: Low
  • Breed Origin: England

General Information And Breed History

The Otterhound’s origin is somewhat of a mystery. It may have originated in France due to its close resemblance to the French Vendeen hounds. There are a few other breeds it may have originated from like the Welsh Harrier, Southern Hound, Bloodhound and maybe some type of water spaniel seems to be the most likely.

It was first seen around the early 1900s. The Otterhound is a scent hound hunter and would use its nose to track otters underwater. Otterhounds were so good at their jobs that they nearly made the river otter extinct so it was then outlawed to hunt them.

Shortly after WWII the first Otterhound was brought over to the United States of America and was recognized by the American Kennel Club at the beginning of the 20th century.

Otterhounds are scent hounds as well as pack hounds. The OH was trained to not kill its prey, however, it will still give chase to some smaller animals. The Otterhound likes to hunt, sniff, trail and most importantly swim. With its family, this dog is easygoing, lively, although sometimes a bit stubborn, excellent with children and affectionate to their humans.

The OH is a strong and athletic hound breed that can endure harsh weather and long rigorous hunts. Once it has found its prey’s scent it will follow it no matter the weather conditions or terrain.

General Appearance

The Otterhound is a large, rough-coated canine with a grand head showing great strength and dignity. They have a strong body. It has an extremely sensitive nose, that is used for hunting. The Otterhound hunts its prey on land and water so therefore these hounds have a rough, double coat; and extremely webbed feet.

Body

The head of an OH is large, quite narrow, and covered with lots of hair. The head normally measures 11 to 12 inches from the tip of the nose to occiput in a hound 26 inches at the withers, with the muzzle and skull approximately equal in length. The neck is powerful and blends smoothly into well laid back, clean shoulders. It has an abundance of hair. The top line is level from the withers to the base of tail. The chest is deep. The well sprung, oval rib cage extends well towards the rear of the body. The loin is short, broad and strong.

  • Muzzle-Square and deep
  • Eyes – Deep-set
  • Ears- Long. pendulous, low-set

Coat

This hunter’s coat is very important to this breed because it hunts in all types of weather and does a lot of swimming, so their coat really protects them. It consists of a coarse, dense, crisp rough outer coat with a soft and wooly waterproof undercoat that is slightly oily that protects it from brambles, burrs and cold water. The hair is softer on the head and lower legs. Their ears are covered well with hair, and the tail is feathered.

Legs & Feet

The feet of an Otterhound provide traction over slippery and rough terrain. The feet are rather large in the front and back with deep pads, arched toes. They are also web-footed, and this helps them swim with ease. Legs are big-boned and straight.

Tail & Hindquarters

Thighs are large, broad, and well-muscled. Legs have moderately bent stifles with well-defined hocks. Hocks are well let down, turning neither in nor out. Legs on a standing hound are parallel when viewed from the rear.

General Statistics

  • Life Expectancy: 10-13 years
  • Height (at the withers): 
  • Male: 27 inches
  • Female: 24 inches 
  •  Male Weight: 115 lbs
  • Female Weight: 80 lbs

Recommended Dog House Dimensions

The recommended dog house dimensions can be found on the dog house dimensions charts for 440 recognized breeds which includes this dog breed that looks like a wolf.  But to save you time, here are our dog house minimum size recommendations:

  • Door Height: 29.7 inches
  • Door Width: 18.9 inches
  • Inside Ceiling Height: 36.5 inches
  • Interior House Length: 59.4 inches
  • Interior House Width: 37.8 inches

Expected Costs

Breed Average Puppy Cost: $1,500 – 2,500 USD

Starter Costs: $3,500

This is our estimate for initial purchase, shots and a few things like food, a bed, leash, that sort of thing.  Basically, this will get you set up but the costs will be greater once the dog is old enough to get spayed or neutered.

Anticipated Annual Care Cost: $500-$1,000

How The Otterhound Reacts To

Babies/Children

Otterhounds are large, fun-loving dogs, but they tend to be a bit clumsy, so it is best if an adult supervises when they are playing with small children.  The Otterhound loves children and would never intentionally hurt them however, due to their large size and playful temperament they could accidentally knock over a small child. The Otterhound is probably better suited to a family with older children, ages 10 and up.

Other Dogs 

The Otterhound gets along with other dogs if they are properly trained and socialized. Socialization is an important part of a puppy’s growing up process. The more time it is socialized with other dogs, the better they will get along.

Cats

First and foremost the Otterhound is a hunter, and hunters hunt things. So if you have a cat then it is fair game. Not that the Otterhound is aggressive towards cats, they are not really an aggressive breed, however, a cat is a small animal that an Otterhound would most likely give chase to. So cats might not be safe around an Otterhound. Proceed with caution on this one.

Other Animals

It is recommended to use caution when introducing an OH to small pets. The small pet could be in danger around an Otterhound. Not that the Otterhound does not like small animals, but they are hunters so they would most likely chase any small pets you may have around the house. Early socialization and training is recommended.

Care Requirements

Exercise 

The Otterhound needs a lot of physical and mental exercise, so It is ideal that the home for this dog would include a few acres of land so that the OH can stretch its lets. But not everyone has acres, so there needs to be a compromise to make this relationship work. Long walks would suffice, as well as dog sports like obedience classes, agility, and tracking. All these sports provide exercise and mental stimulation. Plus, dog sports are a great and fun way to meet new friends for you and your dog.

Grooming & Coat Info

Grooming for the Otterhound is actually quite easy and does not require a lot of maintenance. Their coats need a good brushing at least once or twice a week to keep it looking healthy. Slicker brushes and medium combs work quite well on the otterhound coat. The Otterhound has a beard that may need cleaning as well. They are known to drag their beard on the ground, and sometimes their food gets stuck in it. Their nails should be trimmed every few weeks to keep them short. Long nails can cause discomfort and pain to the dog.

Health & Nutrition

Generally a healthy large breed. However, there are a few health issues to consider, and those issues are epilepsy and hip dysplasia. A responsible breeder would screen their stock for such conditions. Most large dogs can experience bloat, which is considered a life-threatening condition where the stomach enlarges and can sometimes twist. Otterhound owners should know about the signs and take the appropriate action.

This hound will do well on high-quality dog food that has been recommended by a veterinarian. Portions should be followed as per the instructions as to not overfeed your dog because overfeeding a dog could cause it to become overweight. If you are going to give human food to your dog, make sure to know what is safe and what isn’t because there are some human foods that are toxic and harmful to dogs. If you are unsure, contact your veterinarian. Clean and fresh water should always be available to your dog.

Training

It is important to start training as soon as possible to avoid your dog to develop bad habits. Patience and persistence is key to training your Otterhound. The training times should not be more than 10 minutes as the dog may lose interest. It is very important that the owner and dog enjoy the training sessions.

If you are lucky enough to find an otterhound puppy, then you will be in for a wonderful relationship for many years. They are loyal, a great family dog, and love to please.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Otterhounds are Left?

The otterhound is a very rare hunter dog breed. They have been listed on the Vulnerable Native Breed with around 600 remaining in the world by the Kennel Club. If you are looking for this breed then you had better do a lot of research as breeders are few and far between.

Does the Otterhound Shed?

Yes, the Otterhound sheds, and they shed a lot. Most of the hair gets stuck in their long coat instead of ending up on the floor and furniture. If you cut the dog’s hair, then you can definitely expect to land on the floor, end up on your furniture and clothes. Consider weekly grooming to help get rid of any dead hair that may end up otherwise on your floor, furniture and clothes.

Does The Otterhound Bark?

The otterhound is a barker. They have a loud, deep, distinctive bay that carries for extremely long distances. Anyone living close by will most likely not appreciate it if you leave your OH outside for long periods of time.

Bibliography

  1. Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds – D. Caroline Coile Ph. D.
  2. American Kennel Club
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Canadian Kennel Club
  5. The Kennel Club

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