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History The Otterhound originates from Great Britain and is one of the world’s most endangered breeds, numbering only about 1,000 worldwide. It was most prevalent in 1800s when water hunting was a popular sport. When the otter population began declining in the late19th century, the Otterhound lost popularity as well. It is a rather old breed, having existed as early as the year 1000, although it never gained much ground outside its home country.
Otterhounds are well known for their highly developed sense of smell—it is said that an Otterhound can pick up an animal’s scent several hours after it passed through the water. Its ability to swim and dive for prey has made it a favorite among water hunters. Over the years they have also been used to hunt mink, raccoons, and even bears, but they are only now being favored as family pets.
Appearance The Otterhound has an oily, rough double coat that grows up to six inches long. Its large webbed feet make it an exceptional swimmer and allow it to jump up to five feet high. The face is notably shaggy with thick eyebrows and large, droopy ears. Despite its hardy nature and its history of hard work, the Otterhound maintains a straight, dignified stance and a serious, intelligent expression.
Colours Otterhounds can come in any color or color combination. The nose, however, should always be dark and match the color of the eye rim.
Temperament Although not traditionally used as family pets, Otterhounds are very friendly and make great house companions. They are very affectionate and devoted to their human companions, sometimes to the point of being clingy. Owners should get them used to strangers and non-canine animals at an early age. Otterhounds get along great with children, but their size and clumsiness can be a problem for small infants. Also, these dogs have a mind of their own and can be hard to manage if untrained.
Weight Standard size is 24 to 26 inches and 66 to 115 pounds.
Problems Gastric torsion or bloat is a common problem, as with most deep-chested breeds. Some bloodlines are also prone to hip dysplasia, hemophilia, and elbow dysplasia. Otterhounds tend to gain weight fast, so owners should take care not to overfeed them. They should be fed several small meals a day instead of two or three big ones. If the dog gets active after a meal, consider crating them as this can cause gas buildup.
Living Conditions Otterhounds are accustomed to outdoor activity and are not suited for apartment living. They can live indoors, however, as long as they are taken out regularly and have ample room to roam and stretch. The ideal home is one with a large yard, preferably well-fenced as the dog can jump over obstacles to get to its prey. They can adjust to any climate, but should be given proper shelter in very cold weather.
Requirements Otterhounds need a lot of exercise, whether it’s walking on a leash or running free around a yard. Daily walking or running is recommended; these dogs make great jogging companions. Catching and retrieving games will help keep up their energy. They also love to swim and should be taken on outdoor trips as much as possible.
Training Requirements These dogs are very willful and independent, so training should be firm but not harsh. Owners should be very patient, as Otterhounds can sometimes purposely ignore commands. Training should start as early as two months of age, when the dog has not acquired the stubbornness of typical adult Otterhounds.
Life Expectancy This breed has a life expectancy of about 10 to 12 years.
Grooming Otterhounds can be very messy; owners should have enough time for daily grooming and brushing. This breed sheds heavily and should be given extra attention during shedding season, as loose hairs can easily get tangled in the coat. The beard tends to get dirty and has to be washed at least once a day.
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More Otterhound Information: Check out our Otterhound Clubs and links to more informative websites dedicated to the breed.
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