Otter hunting is first mentioned in the 12thC during the reign of Henry II, but the Otterhound as a specific breed is not mentioned for another two hundred years when he is described as "a rough sort of dog between a hound and a terrier", which is very suggestive of the present hound. He is a big, strong dog measuring up to 67cm and weighing as much as 120lb, though most weigh very much less. The Otterhound is tireless on land and very happy in water; his feet are webbed and coat oily to enable him to spend hours in the water. His ear folds suggest a link with French hounds - they are very similar to those of the Griffon family. It is likely that he derives from scenthounds brought in at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. Otter hunting started because of the habit at the time of keeping stew ponds - small lakes with fish - as a kind of living larder. Otters were plundering these and hounds, often just single hounds, were trained to kill the otters.
Otter hunting is, of course, illegal now and the Otterhound has had to find a new purpose. Some are worked in minkhound packs and some in draghunts; with their stamina and excellent nose they make first class working hounds. As house dogs they require to be occupied. It is only a short time ago, in 1978, that the hunts were disbanded and Otterhounds moved into family homes and all those long years of breeding for stamina and endurance do not disappear. Just forty-three hounds from the Dumfriesshire pack and twenty-three from the Kendal pack were registered with the Kennel Club to form the nucleus of today's breed.
As hunting hounds the Otterhound bayed to indicate a find, and that voice has not been lost; in the early days of Otterhounds being shown a very successful hound, William, owned by Janet Wigginton, could frequently be tracked down by his voice! This link will take you to a diary of one person's experience with her Otterhound which is extremely illuminating. He does make a wonderful family dog for those who can cope with his ways; he is gentle with children and adaptable with other dogs and loves his family.
They are a hard-work dog; some heavily coated breeds stay remarkably tidy - if they were people they could wear a white t-shirt all day and it would remain spotless. The Otterhound would be the person who spills coffee and marmalade over it almost at once, and then doesn't bother to pick the toast up from the floor. Their scenting instincts remain very strong so a secure garden is essential; exercise off the lead should be away from roads and livestock. If they do get a scent they will go and there will be little that can be done to stop them.
The coat is longish, dense and rough with an undercoat, and this requires a thorough weekly groom with a slicker and pin brush; a hound who is shown should not be trimmed. He can be in any of the recognised hound colours; liver and white is not allowed, or white base colour with separate black and tan patches.
To read the Kennel Club Breed Standard for the Otterhound click here.
Otterhound Puppies Available
Born 11 January 2010
- Dogs - 1 parti-colour and 3 black and tan
- Bitches - 3 parti-colour and 2 black and tan
Miss Maria Lerego, Hereford, 01432 820001 or email Video of the puppies available on the Teckelgarth website
Otterhound Breed Club
Mrs Hilary Gilpin 01524 761817
Otterhound Rescue and Rehoming
Contact the Breed Club. They should all be able to give you information about hounds requiring homes and procedures for re-homing; if you are in the unfortunate position of having to re-home your own Otterhound, please go through breed rescue. They will not be judgmental and are best able to find the right permanent home for him.
If you are looking for a puppy contact the Breed Clubs and the Breeders listed and visit the puppyfinder website where there is a great deal of information on hereditary conditions. If you are a Breeder and wish to advertise your puppies puppyfinder is an excellent showcase.