Everything You Need to Know About the Otterhound Dog Breed

If you’re looking for a unique and adventurous furry companion, the otterhound dog breed might just be the perfect match for you. Originating in England, these dogs are known for their impressive hunting skills and distinctive appearance. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this captivating breed, from their history to their health and temperament.

History of the Otterhound Dog Breed

The otterhound is a unique breed of dog with a fascinating history. Originally bred for hunting otters in England’s rivers and streams, these dogs have a long and storied past. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the origins of the breed, their role in hunting, and the efforts to conserve this amazing breed.

Origins of the Breed

The otterhound’s history can be traced back to the 12th century, where they were bred for their exceptional hunting abilities. As their name suggests, they were originally trained to hunt otters in England’s rivers and streams. Otters were considered a nuisance to fishermen, as they would eat the fish and damage the fishing nets. Otterhounds were the solution to this problem, as they were able to track and catch otters with ease.

Over time, the otterhound became a popular breed among hunters and fishermen. They were known for their stamina, strength, and intelligence, which made them the perfect hunting companion. In fact, many hunters considered the otterhound to be the ultimate hunting dog.

The Otterhound’s Role in Hunting

The otterhound’s hunting skills were second to none. They were capable swimmers and had a remarkable sense of smell, making them the perfect match for hunting otters. The dogs would track down the otters and plunge into the water, chasing them until they were caught. The otterhound’s thick, waterproof coat protected them from the cold water, and their webbed feet made them excellent swimmers. They were also able to work in packs, which made them even more effective at catching otters.

As otter hunting became more popular, the otterhound became a beloved breed among hunters and fishermen. They were not only great at catching otters, but they were also loyal companions and family pets. Many families would keep otterhounds as pets, even if they didn’t hunt.

The Breed’s Decline and Conservation Efforts

As the years went by, otter hunting became less popular and the breed’s numbers began to decline. By the mid-20th century, there were only a few hundred otterhounds left in the world. The decline of the breed was due to a number of factors, including changes in hunting practices and the introduction of new, more popular breeds.

However, thanks to conservation efforts and the dedication of otterhound enthusiasts, the breed has been brought back from the brink of extinction. Today, there are several hundred otterhounds in the world, and the breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club.

Conservation efforts have included breeding programs, education and outreach, and advocacy for the breed. Many otterhound enthusiasts are passionate about preserving the breed’s unique characteristics and history, and they work tirelessly to ensure that the otterhound remains a part of our cultural heritage.


The otterhound is a remarkable breed of dog with a rich history and a bright future. Their unique hunting skills and loyal personalities make them a beloved breed among hunters and families alike. As we continue to learn more about this amazing breed, we can appreciate the important role that they have played in our history, and the important role that they will continue to play in our future.

Physical Characteristics of the Otterhound

The otterhound is a large and powerful breed, known for its distinctive coat and webbed feet. In addition to their physical attributes, these dogs are also beloved for their friendly and outgoing personalities.

Size and Weight

As a large breed, the otterhound can weigh between 80-115 pounds for males and 65-100 pounds for females. They typically stand at around 24-27 inches tall for males and 22-26 inches for females.

Despite their size, otterhounds are known for their agility and grace, which makes them excellent hunting dogs. They are able to navigate difficult terrain and swim through rough waters with ease.

Coat and Colors

The otterhound’s coat is one of its most distinctive features. It is thick, rough, and waterproof, which makes it ideal for hunting in wet environments. The breed comes in a variety of colors, including black, blue, liver, and tan.

When it comes to grooming, otterhounds require regular brushing to maintain their coat’s texture and prevent matting. They also benefit from occasional baths to keep their coat clean and shiny.

Distinctive Features

In addition to their unique coat, the otterhound has a number of other distinctive features. They have large webbed feet, which make them excellent swimmers. This is a trait that was specifically bred into the otterhound, as they were originally used for hunting otters in the water.

Their ears are another notable feature, as they are long and droopy. This gives the otterhound a distinctive look and helps to protect their ears while they are swimming. Their eyes are typically brown or amber in color, which adds to their warm and friendly expression.

Overall, the otterhound is a unique and fascinating breed with a rich history and many distinctive features. Whether you are looking for a hunting companion or a loyal family pet, the otterhound is sure to make a wonderful addition to your home.

Personality and Temperament

General Temperament

The otterhound is a friendly and outgoing breed with a laid-back personality. They are known for their love of outdoor activities, particularly swimming and hunting. Otterhounds are intelligent and independent, but can also be stubborn and strong-willed. They have a keen sense of smell and are skilled at tracking scents, making them excellent hunting companions. Despite their independent nature, otterhounds are also known for their loyalty and affection towards their owners.

When it comes to exercise, otterhounds need plenty of it to stay healthy and happy. They thrive on long walks, runs, and hikes, and enjoy exploring new environments. Due to their love of water, they also make great companions for swimming and boating activities.

Interaction with Children and Other Pets

Thanks to their friendly nature, otterhounds are great with children and other pets. They are patient and gentle, and love to play and exercise. However, due to their large size and playful nature, it is important to supervise interactions between children and otterhounds to avoid any accidental injuries. It is also important to socialize otterhounds with other pets from a young age to ensure they get along well with other animals in the household.

Training and Socialization

Training and socialization are important for all dog breeds, and otterhounds are no exception. They are intelligent and independent, which can make training a bit of a challenge. However, positive reinforcement training methods tend to work best with this breed. Otterhounds respond well to treats, praise, and other rewards for good behavior.

Early socialization with other people and animals is also crucial to ensure they grow up to be friendly and well-adjusted dogs. Otterhounds can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time, so it is important to gradually acclimate them to being alone and provide plenty of mental stimulation and exercise to prevent boredom.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

Like all dog breeds, the otterhound is prone to certain health issues. Some of the most common problems include hip dysplasia, bloat, and ear infections. Regular vet check-ups and a healthy diet and exercise routine can help prevent some of these issues.

Lifespan and Aging

The otterhound has a lifespan of around 10-12 years. As they age, they may experience joint pain and other health issues. Providing them with a comfortable living environment and adapting their exercise routine to their changing needs can help ensure they enjoy a happy and healthy senior life.

Tips for Maintaining Good Health

To maintain your otterhound’s good health, regular exercise and grooming are important. They need plenty of space to run and play, as well as frequent outdoor activities. Regular brushing and ear cleaning can help keep their coat and ears healthy and free of infections. Additionally, feeding them a high-quality diet and keeping up with their preventative care can help prevent many common health issues.


The otterhound is a unique and fascinating breed with a rich history and distinctive characteristics. Their friendly nature, love of the outdoors, and impressive hunting skills make them a great match for many families. With proper care and attention, they can live a happy and healthy life for many years to come.

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