Dog Health & More
The large and rough-coated Otterhound was originally bred for hunting otter in England. Built for work, the dog breed has a keen nose and renowned stamina. He is also a playful clown, friendly and affectionate with his family. He is an uncommon breed, with fewer than 10 Otterhound litters born each year in the United States and Canada.
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Do you think life with a large, boisterous, shaggy dog would be perfect? If so, the Otterhound might be the dog for you.
The Otterhound is an old breed, developed in England from Bloodhounds and other types of dogs. Although the Otterhound is believed to have been in existence for more than 500 years, it's a fairly rare breed today. There are currently fewer than 1,000 Otterhounds, only 350 to 500 of them residing in the United States. In fact, just four to seven litters are born each year in the United States and Canada. If you have your heart set on an Otterhound, expect difficulty finding one.
Why is the breed so uncommon? No one knows for sure, but it certainly isn't because of the Otterhound personality. Sometimes called the "class clown," the Otterhound has a sweet, affectionate, fun-loving personality. He's independent, too, not demanding a lot of attention. After greeting you with enthusiasm, the Otterhound is likely to finish the nap he was taking when you arrived.
The Otterhound is a large breed. Even small females weigh about 65 pounds, and large males can weigh 125 pounds. They're definitely dogs who take up space in the household.
Otterhounds are great with kids, but because of their large size and bouncy personality, they may be too rowdy for very young or small children. They can also be too boisterous for frail seniors.
The Otterhound has a distinctively shaggy look. His head appears to be very large and long; and his ears are long and folded, giving them a draped appearance. He's physically strong, with a long, striding gait. He has the extremely sensitive nose of a hound, and it's likely to lead him off to investigate his surroundings.
Because the Otterhound was bred to hunt on land and in water, he has a rough, double coat and large, webbed feet. He comes in many different colors, the most common being a variation of black and tan grizzle, which often gets lighter as the dog gets older.
The Otterhound has the distinctive and almost musical bark of the hound. This deep, loud, extended bay is music to a hunter's ears, but it might not play as well with the neighbors. Although some Otterhounds are quiet, most seem to like the sound of their own voices, so it's wise to teach your Otterhound a "quiet" command.
Speaking of voices, the Otterhound also has wide range of vocalizations, from grunts to groans. Some even like to "sing" and vocalize with other dogs or with people.
Otterhounds are usually good with other dogs and animals if they are raised with them or introduced carefully. The Otterhound benefits from a lot of socialization, especially as a pup, and it's good for him to be included in all aspects of your life.
Otterhounds tend to be opinionated, so training requires patience, especially since they become especially playful when they don't want to comply with whatever you're asking them to do. And because of their large size, training is absolutely necessary.
Despite size and strength, however, the Otterhound has a "soft" personality; he doesn't respond to harsh training methods. It's best to be even more stubborn than he is, while keeping the training sessions short, fun, and positive for both of you.
The Otterhound enjoys food, so this can be a great motivator in training. Be aware that his love of food can lead him astray: there are stories of Otterhounds who have learned to escape from any confinement to get into the kitchen, where they open cabinets, drawers, and even the refrigerator in order to steal a tasty tidbit.
The Otterhound needs exercise, and a lot of it. He has a great deal of stamina and energy; jogging for three or four miles is like a walk in the park to him. If left alone in the backyard for long periods of time, especially without enough exercise, the Otterhound will find ways to entertain himself--ways that are apt to displease you, such as nonstop baying or excavating your newly planted flower garden.
The hardworking Otterhound can be trained to compete in obedience and agility. He excels in tracking, and the percentage of Otterhounds who earn American Kennel Club tracking titles is usually higher each year than for any other breed.
Despite his size, strength, and impressive bark, the Otterhound isn't really suited to guard duty — he's far too friendly to take the job of a watchdog seriously.