AKC Dog Breeds: Otterhound

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Hound Group
Height 24-26 inches  Weight 66-115 pounds Color Black, Brown, Tan, Sable, Black Markings, Grizzle

The Otterhound has a naturally positive personality with a strong and noble appearance. They try very hard to be good, and are joyful by nature. Although they look dignified and very noble, they are often misconceived as they have an almost 'childish' playfulness and attitude. Highly intelligent and naturally bright, it's important to remember that these dogs have a strong sense of smell. They will go to great lengths to locate food, so it is important to train them on how and where they should be exploring and foraging. They have been known to open refrigerator doors and even yard fences on their searches for food, and it is important that they are trained to respect areas of the household. The Otterhound is an old breed that has been crossed with Bloodhounds, Griffons, Harriers, and rough-haired Terriers. The otter is the dog's preferred prey, and they will avidly search and sniff for otters in lakes and ponds at their leisure. These dogs have been bred to control otter populations for many fishermen throughout history, and they were often involved for hunting in packs for the natural trout supply in rivers and lakes as well. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1910.

General Appearance

The Otterhound is a large rough-coated dog with a shaggy face and bushy eyebrows. The head underneath the hair is large and deep, but wide, somewhat like a Bloodhound's. The neck is muscular, with an abundant dewlap. The eyes are dark with rosy conjunctiva. The ears are long and dangling and the tail curves up like a saber. The nose is large and dark, either black or liver depending on the color of the dog. The lips are thick and pendant. Under the 3-6 inch (8-16 cm.) long, oily outer coat is a dense wooly undercoat for protection in frigid water. All hound colorations are acceptable, but the coat usually comes in grizzle or wheaten with black markings. Like many other pack hounds, the feet are webbed for swimming.

The Otterhound is a dog that is very independent and strong minded, yet is also extremely affectionate and loving. These dogs love to play and exercise, and should be in an environment where there is plenty of space to enjoy activity. He also needs to be with a family that has the time to commit to a pet. These dogs love to get involved with family activities, and especially love to swim. Determined and enthusiastic, the Otterhound will go to any lengths to investigate a scent, and his keen sense of smell means that he picks up on scents with the greatest of ease. The Otterhound can be both loud in terms of his deep bark, and messy, which means that he is not ideally suited to those that like their homes to be spick and span all of the time. His bark does mean that this dog can make an effective watchdog. His stubborn and independent streak can make training something of a challenge, and this breed is best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership and training. The Otterhound gets along well with children, and with proper socialization should get along okay with other dogs - he should be socialized early on with cats and should not be trusted with smaller animals, as he does have strong hunting instincts. With strangers the reaction of the Otterhound can vary, and some may be reserved whereas others may be friendly. The Otterhound is quite a rare breed, and therefore those looking for a puppy may have quite a wait.

Although the shaggy coat of the Otterhound may look high maintenance, the grooming requirements for this breed are not excessively high, although you will need to dedicate some time to it. Weekly brushing will be sufficient, however twice a week is best to keep this coat free of matting. If being used for show, the Otterhound should not have his coat clipped, as this dog should have a natural appearing coat. Beard must be washed frequently to prevent caking and debris.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The Otterhound has a life expectancy of around 10-14 years. This is generally a hardy breed, but there are some health problems to look out for. This includes seizures, bleeding disorders, bloat, vWD, and HD.

Activity Level
A large yard is best for the Otterhound. This dog loves to swim and run so he does require daily exercise. Long walks with his master suit this dog well, but he does best with a fenced in yard.


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Otterhound profile on dog encyclopedia
Otterhound dog featured in dog encyclopedia