"Scruffy Blue-Blood"

Photo of Otterhound


The first documented pack of Otterhounds were those of King John back in 1212, but the breed is doubtless even older than that. It may have originated in France, perhaps from the old French Vendeen, Welsh Harrier, Bloodhound, Southern Hound, or even a water spaniel type dog--nobody knows for sure. Regardless, they were used to find and trail otters that depleted local streams of fish. The dogs would trail the otter to its den, baying when it was denned up, whereupon the hunters would bring in terriers to dispatch the otter. Lacking the comfort and formal trappings of fox hunting, otter hunting never really caught the imagination of the gentry. Nonetheless, the useful pursuit reached its peak in the latter half of the nineteenth century, when more than 20 packs were hunting in Britain. The first Otterhounds came to America in the early 1900s, but the breed has never been popular. It almost died out in Europe after World War II, and it remains perilously close to extinction throughout the world still. It currently ranks 152nd out of 155 AKC breeds in popularity.


She's a hound through and through: amiable, easygoing, tolerant, and always ready to hit the trail. Her passion is hunting, and she loves to add swimming to any outing when possible. She has a loud, melodious voice that she enjoys showing off when excited. She's fairly playful, but not the sort that wants to fetch more than once or twice, if at all. She's affectionate, good with children, good with other dogs, and even with other pets – although a quick chase of the cat is occasionally in order. Obedience is not her strong point.


Otterhound breeders have always been adamant that the breed not succumb to the demands of the show ring, so it remains understated, with a coat that looks purposefully unkempt. The coat itself is rough, made up of a coarse outer coat and soft, woolly, oily undercoat. Under that coat is a large dog with a slightly stocky build, somewhat longer than tall. She has a large, fairly narrow head with a square muzzle and deep flews, deep-set eyes, and long, pendulous, low-set ears. Her tail is carried saber-like when moving. She has big feet.


Nobody gets an Otterhound because they want a precision obedience candidate. She's a hound, which means she's independent by nature. While the Otterhound's easygoing way makes her amenable to most requests, don't hold your breath. She'll get to them on her own time. She can be bought, though, and lots of treats can considerably speed up the schedule.

Grooming & Care

If you like things clean, don't even think about adding an Otterhound to your home. Her big hairy feet track in dirt, and she dribbles water from her beard the entire length of a room – a very large room – after she drinks. Even her oily coat tends to smell, um…doggy. The coat needs to be brushed at least once a week, nails must be trimmed, and teeth kept clean. Dry out those ears after a swim to minimize the chance of a bacterial infection. The Otterhound needs a long walk or short romp in a secure area every day. Otherwise, keep her on leash – if she heads off after a scent trail, she'll be completely deaf to your calls.

Health Concerns

The Otterhound's major health concerns are hip dysplasia and gastric torsion (bloat), a potentially fatal stomach twisting emergency. Breeding stock should have hips screened before breeding. Ask your breeder for proof of hip screenings, and about the history of bloat in her lines.

Famous Otterhound

Sandy in the 1982 movie version of "Annie."

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 3
Schedule 5
Home 9
Children 50
Experience 11
Quick Facts
Grooming 110
Exercise 61
Challenges Has a loud bark and needs to hunt and chase small animals.
Height 23 to 27 inches
Weight 65 to 115 pounds
Life 12 to 14 years
Home Alone 83
With Kids 88
With Strangers 91
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

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