Even if you work with dogs, the Otterhound may be a breed you’ve never heard of. But, since this breed has existed since the Middle Ages, why don’t you learn more about it? To begin with, the Otterhound is a rare breed that you are unlikely to see in person in your lifetime. That isn’t to suggest they aren’t a wonderful breed. These dogs are affectionate, obedient companions who are equally content to spend a relaxing weekend as they are to go on a hike.
The Otterhound was created to hunt otter. In England, where the breed originated, this procedure is no longer permitted. However, the Otterhound’s resilience is reflected in the breed’s purpose. Although the European otter is just about 20 pounds, it is a vicious predator with strong claws and teeth. To track and rumble with an otter, it would take nothing less than a sturdy, huge dog, not to mention great swimming ability.
Otterhound numbers are dropping, despite the fact that they’ve been around for a long time. In 2017, the world’s Otterhound population was estimated to be approximately 900. By 2019, the number of dogs has reduced to around 600. To put this in context, there are around 2,000 giant pandas on the planet. Only seven Otterhound puppies were born in the world in 2020. When you consider that these enormous dogs have a life expectancy of less than 13 years, seeing less than 10 puppies born per year as older dogs pass away could spell the end of the breed.
History of the Otterhound
Many people think Otterhounds are related to the French Griffon and Bloodhounds because of their unique ear folds, but this is not true. The breed was made in Medieval England to hunt down and kill otters that were killing the fish in the rivers.
Hunting otters was the first organized sport in England that used packs of scent hounds. The nobles were the most likely to play it. It first came out during the reign of Henry II in the 12th century. However, it took almost 200 years for the Otterhound to become a separate breed.
Otterhounds were used to hunt otters along the sides of ponds and rivers, together with small terriers. The Terriers got the otter out of its hole, and the Otterhound took over as it went to the river. This is how it worked: As a dog, an Otterhound has an extremely sharp sense of smell. This means that he can follow not only an otter’s “wash” (the scent in the water) but also the otter’s “drag,” or the otter’s path on land. Often, dogs stay on trails that were 12 hours old and swim or wade up to 20 kilometers in a single day.
These packs of Otterhounds performed such a good job with his rough, weather-resistant outer coat; slightly oily undercoat; large, webbed feet; and size, strength, and determination that otters were eventually proclaimed a protected species in England. In 1982, otter hunting was banned (although some people then used their Otterhounds to hunt mink).
The Royal dog breed
The Otterhound had a lot of people fall in love with him on the way. It’s said that the Otterhound was a favorite of more monarchs (and one queen) than any other breed. Some of the royal dog lovers were Edward II, Henry VI, Richard III, Henry VIII, King John, Charles II, Edward IV, Henry II, Henry VII, and Elizabeth I.
Otter hunting was at its peak in the years leading up to WWI. More than 500 hounds were used to hunt otter in England at the time. They were split into 24 packs. The majority of these dogs, on the other hand, were not pure Otterhounds, as hunters kept crossbreeding to make their dogs better.
Otterhounds in the United States
Some people think they came to the U.S. around 1900. In Claremont, Oklahoma, in 1907, they took part in their first conformation show.
1960 was the year that the Otterhound Club of America was formed. Their first National Breed Club meeting was in 1981. In 1991, the American Kennel Club made the Otterhound a recognized breed for the first time.
Appearance and breed traits
The Otterhound is a huge, woolly hound with a waterproof coat and webbed feet that allows it to hunt both on land and in water. With a well-muscled physique and lengthy legs, they have a huge head with a strong and dignified posture.
They have a large nose with large nostrils, which allows them to smell things more clearly. Their long, folded, pendulous hairy ears are positioned down below eye level.
They have a good balance, giving them a solid and durable appearance. Their bodies are slightly longer than they are tall. Their dark, deep-set eyes are pigmented to match the color of their coat and nose.
The Otterhound is a powerful and athletic dog that can withstand lengthy, exhausting hunts as well as the toughest weather conditions. Its broad feet provide excellent traction on slick and uneven terrain. It also has a massive, stocky physique and a long body, allowing it to trot slowly and steadily for an extended period of time without tiring.
A male adult dog stands about 27 inches tall and weighs approximately 115 pounds. Females stand about 24 inches tall and weigh around 80 pounds.
Brambles are protected by the dog’s tough and rough exterior coat, which comes in a variety of hues. While crossing frigid streams, the dog’s silky, wooly, and greasy undercoat insulates the dog.
Otterhounds are available in a variety of hues, most commonly: White, black and tan; lemon; blue; tan; liver and tan; gray; blue and cream; black and tan; and black.
The open and pleasant appearance of this breed reflects its easygoing attitude. Because of its big muzzle and nose, the dog’s millions of olfactory receptors are easily accommodated.
The Otterhound is a happy dog who appears to want to bring happiness to everyone around them. They are loyal and kind, and they are always willing to make new companions, whether human or canine.
These dogs have a high level of intelligence. In this scenario, their intelligence is matched with a strong sense of independence. They won’t be the puppy who follows you around like a shadow, even if they are constantly delighted to see you.
These dogs have a lot of energy, but they’re clever enough to realize that being inside means it’s not time to be wild. They can swim for hours and will have a great time. The dogs don’t mind telling you what they see and smell, and a loud bark won’t go unnoticed.
The Otterhound’s natural independence makes training difficult. You need to persuade him that what you’re asking is something he wants to do. This is entirely achievable if you have the patience and skill to do so.
The friendly Otterhound isn’t the best choice for a guard dog or watchdog. To intruders, he’ll bark a loud warning bark, but that’s it.
When they’re young, the Otterhound, like all dogs, needs early socialization – exposure to a variety of people, sights, sounds, and experiences. Socialization is important for your Otterhound puppy to develop into a well-rounded dog.
Rugged is one of the greatest terms to characterize the Otterhound. They are content on their own, but even more so when they are surrounded by friends and relatives. They are a dog suited for the great outdoors and like having a job.
Does the Otterhound make a good family dog?
These dogs are ideal for active households. Keep a watch on them around extremely small children because they have a lot of activity and are a huge breed. Otterhounds get along with people of all ages and are patient enough to put up with children’s mistreatment.
Are they good with other animals?
Otterhounds get along with other dogs rather well. They should be socialized from a young age so that they know how to act in their presence. Otterdogs are more difficult to train around cats because they have a high prey drive. They have an insatiable drive to pursue them.
If you have small creatures in your home, such as rodents, take extra precautions. Otterhounds are ferocious predators. They could easily cause permanent and possibly deadly damage if they are not properly introduced and trained.
Coat and grooming
The Otterhound is known for having a messy look. These dogs have a double coat that makes them look rough. The outer coat is rough and thick, measuring two to six inches in length. The undercoat is a little oily and shaggy. The Otterhound is relatively weather-resistant with this combination, and he may bound in and out of streams and lakes without the undercoat absorbing a lot of water.
Their coat can come in different colors except liver and white, all white, or white with big black and tan spots. But the black and tan grizzle is the most common one.
If you don’t want your Otterhound’s coat to get matted, you need to brush it at least once a week. Some Otterhounds have soft coats that need to be brushed at least twice a week to keep them from matting.
It’s best to never cut the adorable coat of this dog breed. Their coat grows very slowly, and it will take about two years for the coat to grow back. Their coat is protecting their sensitive skin, so just leave it as it is. To keep his beard from getting tangled in his food or on the ground, you may need to wash it every day. If you don’t keep it clean, it can get smelly.
Additional care of your Otterhound
Brush your Otterhound’s teeth at least twice or three times a week to keep tartar and bacteria from building up and making their mouths smell bad. This also helps avoid gum disease and bad breath.
If your dog’s nails don’t wear down naturally, trim them once or twice a month to avoid unpleasant tears and other issues. They’re too lengthy if you can hear them clicking on the floor. If you’ve never cut a dog’s nails before, ask for help from a veterinarian or groomer.
Check his ears once a week for redness or a bad smell, which could mean he has a sickness. Keep your dog’s ears clean with a cotton ball that has been wet with a mild, pH-balanced ear cleaner. Do not clean the ear canal; instead, clean the outside ear.
When your Otterhound is a puppy, start getting him used to being brushed and checked out. Dogs have very sensitive paws, and you should keep an eye on his lips. Make grooming fun for him, with praise and treats, and you’ll set the stage for easy veterinarian tests and other handling when he’s older.
Health problems of the Otterhound
Otterhounds are strong canines that are often healthier than other large breeds. But they can be susceptible to a wide range of life-threatening illnesses. However, if they are closely monitored, they can be prevented or treated successfully.
Many diseases and health issues in pets are inherited, which means they are linked to their breed. The diseases we’ve mentioned here have a considerable rate of prevalence and/or influence in this breed. This does not mean your dog will develop these issues; it only implies she is at a higher risk than other dogs.
We’ll go over the most prevalent Otterhound problems to give you an idea of what she might face in the future. Of course, we can’t cover every scenario here, so if you see any strange indications or symptoms, please contact a vet.
Most common health conditions
Obesity in Otterhounds can be a serious health issue. It’s a dangerous condition that can lead to or exacerbate joint pain, metabolic and digestive difficulties, back discomfort, and heart disease. When she looks at you with those soulful eyes, it’s tempting to offer her food, but you can “love her to death” with leftover people food and doggie goodies.
In older OHs, cataracts are a common cause of blindness. When we examine him, we’ll look for the lenses of his eyes to grow more opaque—that is, hazy rather than clear. Many dogs adapt well to losing their vision and live happily ever after. Surgical removal of cataracts and restoration of vision may also be a possibility.
Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV or Bloat) is a condition that affects dogs with deep, narrow chests. This indicates that your OH is more vulnerable than other breeds. The stomach twists on itself and fills with gas when a dog bloats. The twisting cuts off the stomach’s and sometimes the spleen’s blood flow. If left untreated, the sickness can kill your dog in as little as 30 minutes. Your dog may retch or heave (but nothing comes out), be agitated, have an enlarged abdomen, or lie in a prayer position (front feet down, rear end up). Preventive surgery, which involves tacking or suturing the stomach in place so that it does not twist, is a possibility.
Elbow dysplasia and Hip dysplasia
Dysplasia, a genetic disorder that causes the joints to develop wrongly and culminates in arthritis, can affect both the hips and elbows. The stiffness in your OH’s elbows or hips could become a concern for him as he gets older. You may notice that he develops lameness in his legs or has trouble rising from a seated position. In severe and life-threatening cases, surgery may be a viable choice. Remember that overweight dogs can acquire arthritis years before their normal-weight counterparts, causing unnecessary pain and suffering!
Inherited bleeding problems can affect dogs in a variety of ways. Their severity ranges from very light to quite severe. Many times, a pet appears fine until he or she sustains a catastrophic injury or undergoes surgery, at which point substantial bleeding might develop. Von Willebrand’s disease is a blood clotting illness that affects Otterhounds regularly.
Caring for an Otterhound
The Otterhound is not suited for apartment residents or families without yards due to his huge size and strong activity requirements. However, he’s ideal for active families that can take him jogging or swimming every day. He’s relatively inactive when inside the house if he gets enough exercise.
The Otterhound can sleep outside in temperate and cool climes if he has proper shelter. However, because he enjoys being around his family, despite his independent character, if he is left alone for an extended period of time, he may become bored and begin barking, digging, or attempting to flee. Therefore, only leave them outside if you have a fenced yard.
Take your Otterhound puppy anywhere he’s allowed, whether it’s the lumber yard, the pet supply store, outdoor events, or long walks in crowded parks, to combine socialization and training. A good spot to take an Otterhound is somewhere there are a lot of people to meet and sites to see.
To be healthy and in shape, these puppies require plenty of exercise. If they have some form of employment, they do well. Because it is ingrained into their genetics, they may be used as hunting or tracking dogs without any training.
Otterhounds are not an ideal breed for apartment dwellers. They struggle to adjust to the limited environment because they prefer to workout alone. However, they have a proclivity towards laziness, so don’t expect them to do all the job.
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for them. They can stay in the water for hours and investigate. If you like to walk, hike, or run, set a weekly goal of at least 7 miles. Regardless, they should exercise regularly for 45 minutes each day.
Training an Otterhound
Because Otterhounds are headstrong, training them can be difficult. They are also enormous and strong, and they are well aware of this, making it difficult to persuade them to do something they do not want to do.
Otterhounds have a reputation for being greedy. Take advantage of this by including food into your workout sessions. However, don’t let sweets account for more than 10% of their daily calories, as this can lead to obesity.
Because otterhounds might be sensitive, avoid using harsh training methods or punishment. It soon pulls kids away from their training sessions, rather than making them enjoyable.
Food and Diet
Otterhounds are a huge breed of dog that requires a lot of exercise. They can consume 3-4 cups of food per day. Their age, size, and everyday activities all play a role in this. If you’re not sure how much to feed them, keep an eye on them or see your veterinarian.
High-quality diet with easily digestible proteins is optimal for the Otterhound. Finding food specifically designed for large dogs might help you meet their dietary needs.
Female vs. Male Otterhound
Male Otterhounds, like most canine breeds, are more affectionate, needy, and outgoing than females. Females, on the other hand, are more protective and self-sufficient than their male counterparts. These aren’t, however, “rules.” Because this is such a laid-back breed, don’t be shocked if your dog, regardless of gender, is affectionate, gregarious, and sociable.
Where can I find a reputable breeder?
Before buying a puppy from a breeder, we encourage rescuing an Otterhound (or any dog). Across the country, there are millions of homeless dogs, many of which are purebreds. Not only for the dog, but also for the adopter, adopting an Otterhound can be a life-changing experience.
If you’re still not convinced and want to buy an Otterhound from a breeder, buying a puppy from a reputable breeder is the safest option. When engaging with a breeder, be sure the breeder you’re dealing with performs genetic testing on their animals and double-check the puppy’s health information. Also, confirm that the breeder will return any pets they sell if the pet is unable to remain in their house for whatever reason, and that the breeder will commit to finding those pets a new home if necessary.
Please keep in mind that you may have to travel hundreds of miles to find a reputable, safe, and trusted breeder to get an Otterhound, and you will be spending a significant amount of money. Consider how many dog sweaters and chew toys you might obtain if you adopted an Otterhound instead!
How Much Do Otterhound Puppies Cost?
Otterhound puppies are tough to come by and highly expensive due to the breed’s rarity. When buying a puppy from a breeder, you should budget between $1,500 and $3,000. However, shipping costs are not included in this calculation. Because they’re so uncommon, breeders are few and far between, so expect to pay extra for transportation unless you’re one of the lucky few who has a breeder nearby. To get one of these puppies, expect to be on a waiting list for years, if not decades.
Even if you are lucky enough to locate an Otterhound puppy in a rescue or shelter, expect to spend at least $300. However, unless you’re looking for a breed-specific rescue, it’s exceedingly unlikely that you’ll find an Otterhound puppy through an organization. Even then, there’s a good chance you won’t discover a puppy.
Interesting facts about the Otterhound
He is thought to be one of the Airedale Terrier’s foundation breeds
The shaggy-haired Otterhound has lost a lot of popularity to the Airedale Terrier. They gained popularity as a result of their bright cheeks and gentlemanly beards, while the Otterhound lost appeal.
The Airedale Terrier is considered to be a crossbreed between a variety of Terriers and the Otterhound. The Otterhound blood makes these Terriers the largest of the Terriers, and they are sometimes referred to as the King of Terriers. Otterhounds also brought a keen sense of scent and a fondness for swimming.
In most of England, the Airedale Terrier took up the hunting of otters, rats, and other small game. Their popularity has had a significant impact on the Otterhound’s extinction.
The Otterhound is a more unusual species than the Giant Panda
The fact that the Otterhounds were so skilled at what they did did not benefit them in the end. The population of river otters rapidly declined. The Otterhound’s popularity soared as their numbers declined.
Despite the sport’s ongoing popularity, the Otterhound was not widely bred. The sport was restricted to a limited segment of the upper crust.
There are just about 600 dogs of this breed left in the world today. Because of this, they are more rare and endangered than the Giant Panda.
Their sense of smell is extraordinary
The Otterhound is a breed that dates back to the Middle Ages. Although we know they came from Devonshire and Wales, no one knows what the first Otterhound descended from.
River otters were plentiful in England throughout the 12th century. These animals were rapidly multiplying, hunting for one of the English people’s primary food sources: fish.
Otterhounds were trained to be good swimmers with a keen sense of smell that allowed them to detect aromas in and around water for unbelievably long distances. It had progressed to the point where they could identify if an otter had been through an area, such as a river or stream, days after.
On the island, these dogs hunted river otters to near extinction. Over the years, other food sources became more popular, and the demand for fish decreased. Hunting otters became less of a necessity, and it became a sport reserved for the extremely wealthy.
Otterhounds were usually used by kings and high-ranking noblemen to hunt their prey. Because otters were the only species that could be hunted throughout the summer months, from April to September, it remained popular.
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