The Otterhound is a big, lively and slightly boisterous dog who can make a wonderful family companion for those who can dedicate time to training and exercise. This breed is generally friendly, warm and relaxed. As lovely as they are, they’re not the type of dog who will be glued to your side and they do value independence.
The Otterhound was originally bred to hunt otters, though this has since (and rightly so) been deemed illegal. However, largely due to this ban, it’s estimated that there’s now less than 1,000 Otterhounds in the world.
Key facts about the Otterhound
Life expectancy :
Origins and history
Otterhounds date back as far as the 13th century, when King John kept an entire pack for hunting. Edward II subsequently became the ‘Master of Otterhounds’ and Elizabeth I the ‘Lady Master of Otterhounds’.
Otterhounds were particularly popular in 19th century Britain, but quickly decreased in number once the otter hunting ban was implemented in 1978. Now, they’re few and far between - there’s thought to be less than 1,000 left in the world!
Group 6 - Scent hounds and related breeds
Section 1 : Scent hounds
Physical characteristics of the Otterhound
Female dog : Between 26 and 30 in
Male dog : Between 24 and 26 in
Female dog : Between 66 and 88 lb
Male dog : Between 66 and 88 lb
All colours are possible. The Otterhound coat can be black, black and white, black and tan, black and blue, liver and tan, red, grizzle or grizzle and white. The most common, though, would be black and tan grizzle.
Type of coat
The Otterhound has a very thick, rough, double coat. It’s extremely weather-resistant, with the hardy undercoat able to absorb an impressive amount of water. The outer coat is dense and rough, though hair on the head is softer.
This breed’s eyes range from hazel to black, depending on, and complimenting, the coat colour.
The Otterhound is definitely unique in terms of appearance, boasting webbed feet, thick, ‘scruffy’ coats and a charming, rustic appearance. This is a large, powerful dog with strong limbs, torso and back.
The head is big (huge, even) while the muzzle is long and wide. The face has long hair dropping off it, adding to the charm. Eyes are deep-set and the ears are long and flop down the sides of the face. The tail is reasonably thick and high-set.
Good to know
Thanks to its oily dress and webbed feet, the Otter Dog can swim for 5 hours in pursuit of prey in the water.
The Otterhound is friendly and warm, but isn’t the type of dog who wants constant cuddles and affection. They love to hang out with their owners and will happily greet them, but will soon go back to doing their own thing.
This breed is known to be quite playful in a goofy, quirky way - they’re guaranteed to have you laughing!
Though generally easygoing and gentle if well-trained and exercised, the Otterhound can be a little boisterous and rowdy in their younger years.
This is a stubborn dog with great abilities.
The Otterhound was bred to hunt otters, so hunting is very much an instinctual part of them. They have strong instincts to chase small animals, so care must be taken when out in public around wildlife or small pets.
Fearful / wary of strangers
The Otterhound may take some time to warm up to strangers, but is generally fine towards them. Well-socialized pups are especially friendly towards new faces.
This breed is independent and enjoys thinking for themselves. However, with an experienced trainer, the Otterhound can learn to listen and obey - consistency is key!
Behaviour of the Otterhound
The Otterhound will tolerate short bursts of time alone. However, if they’re left for too long and feel bored, they’ll find other ways to entertain themselves such as digging, chewing and barking.
Easy to train / obedience
Thanks to the stubborn and independent traits, training the Otterhound can be tricky.
Due to their large size and sheer power, dedicated training is absolutely necessary and may take time. Start young and keep sessions short, fun and enticing by including plenty of rewards and positive reinforcement. This breed is also a good candidate for clicker training.
This breed has a deep, expressive bark or ‘bay’ which is pretty loud and somewhat entertaining. They’re not known to be excessive barkers, but you can hear it from miles away when they do!