Guide to the Otterhound Club of America Collection (1931-2007)


18 Cubic Feet
Collection processed by Kari Dalane 2008

A gift from Louis C. DeShon, Club Historian (2007) of the Otterhound Club of America.

The collection has been partially maintained in its original order starting with a journal of records from 1942 kept by Dr. Hugh Mouat. Other loose materials have been organized into several series and sub-series including: (1) Hugh Mouat (2) Secretary (a) Binder 1, (b) Binder 2, (c) Binder 3, (d) Binder 4, (e) Binder 5, (f) Binder 6, (3) Publications, (a) Books, (b) Catalogues, (c) Magazines, (d) Misc. (e) Newsletters, (4) Documents, (a) Show records, (b) Subject files, (5) Correspondence, (a) General, (b) Subject files, (6) Photographs/Negatives, (7) Videos, (8) Clippings, (9) Ribbons.

(Above) Part of a litter bred by Col. and Shirley Dodge, Skye Top Kennels, c. 1960s
(Below) Ch. Kismet of Adriucha shown by Dr. Hugh Mouat, 1965.
Mouat began the first intensive breeding program for Otterhounds in the U.S. in the late 1930s.
Evelyn Shafer photo


The Club

The Otterhound Club of America was founded on 13 August 1960 by thirteen Otterhound owners. These owners gathered at Dr. Mouat's home in Amsterdam, N.Y., following the judging of the Southern Adirondack Dog Club Show. At this meeting, officers were elected making Dr. Mouat president, Leon Fry vice president, Margaret Bloomer secretary and Samuel Schiller treasurer. Part of the club's purpose was to "encourage and promote the breeding of OH's, striving as nearly as possible for perfection." Other goals included creating an AKC-approved standard for the breed, holding shows under the rules of AKC, and the general protection and advancement of the breed.

Dr. Mouat, known now as "Mr. Otterhound," was the real impetus behind Otterhounds in the United States. He became interested in the breed in 1934 when a pair of breeders brought some Otterhounds they had acquired into his vet office. He started the country's first ambitious breeding program in 1937. Though there are AKC records of the exhibition of six Otterhounds in a show in Claremont, Oklahoma, in 1907, the first breed champions did not appear until Ch. Bessie's Countess and Ch. Bessie's Courageous, Otterhounds from Dr. Mouat's first litter, earned the title. On 13 December 1950, Dr. Mouat was presented the award of honor by Dog World Magazine for his efforts to preserve the Otterhound. He kept close records of his famous kennel, Adriucha Kennel, and wrote "How to Raise and Train an Otterhound," which was published in 1963. The first Otterhound fun match was held at Dr. Mouat's home in 1971. This event has been held annually since and has become a favorite OHCA gathering. Dr. Mouat profoundly influenced the presence of Otterhounds in the United States and the OHCA.

The OHCA submitted its constitution and bylaws to the AKC in December 1961, but the AKC deemed them unacceptable due to lack of individuality. There were only 57 members of the OHCA and only 45 AKC-registered Otterhounds (History of the Otterhounds). In an attempt to strengthen the breed, two dogs were imported from the United Kingdom in that year. These imports were likely from one or both of the two most famous packs of Otterhounds in the United Kingdom, Dumfriesshire in Scotland and Kendal and District in the Lake District of England.

(Above) Advertisement for Ch. Dumfriesshire Cypher at Trevereux, 'William,' Crufts Best of Breed 1987
Our Dogs, 27 Feb. 1987
(Above) Photograph of The Illustrated Standard of the Otterhound, 1972 with photographs of Kendal and District Otterhounds. This Kennel is a famous one in the Lake District of England and was selected to eliminate possible biases that may have arisen if American dogs were used.

In 1968, the Western Otterhound Fanciers (WOHF) was founded by 10 Otterhound owners on the West Coast. The organization aimed to increase awareness and presence of the breed on the coast and support show entries. A monthly newsletter, the WOHF Whistle, was also a function of the club. WOHF and OHCA collaborated to create a standard for the Otterhound, which they completed in 1971. The standard was approved by AKC and published in the AKC Gazette in November 1971. WOHF was a successful regional club until 1973, when it was dissolved by vote in order to give full support to the OHCA.

A new constitution and by-laws for OHCA were voted on and accepted in the spring of 1974. These were sent to the AKC on 14 June 1974 and were formally accepted by AKC on 22 August 1974. The club held its first national specialty in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1981. At this event, Ch. Follyhoun First in Line was Best of Breed, and Ch. Follyhoun Fair Warning went Best of Opposite. The club has also held a regional specialty in Louisville, Kentucky, every year since 1994.

There was continued work put into the first Illustrated Standard, which was published in 1971. One change includes the name of the breed itself from Otter Hound to Otterhound in 1987. Thereafter, continual debate over phrasing took place, and minor wording revisions were made several times in the 1980s. The most recent standard was approved in 1995.

Another activity the club participates in is the rescue of Otterhounds. This is not a big undertaking, due to the small number of unspayed and unneutered Otterhounds in the United States. The club does voice frustrations over being contacted for the rescue of shaggy strays that are not actually Otterhounds. However, the OHCA has successively rescued several Otterhounds in the last few years.

The club has also conducted two health surveys, which were distributed to Otterhound owners across the United States in 1996 and 2003. These surveys indicated that most Otterhounds are in relatively good health and have no major health problems until old age. The club encourages DNA testing for all Otterhounds in order to eliminate health issues in breeding stock.

The club now consists of about 100 members in the United States and some international members living in Canada and Europe, especially the United Kingdom. There is no Otterhound Club in Canada, though there is one in the United Kingdom with which the OHCA corresponds. Today, there are less than 1,000 Otterhounds worldwide and less than 350 in the United States.1

On the Scent- Walter Hunt, 1900

The Breed

There are references to "otter dogges" as early as the 12th century, but these dogs may not have bore much resemblance to the modern-day Otterhound. There were 10 "Master of Otterhounds," beginning with England's King John, who reigned from 1199-1216. Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned from 1558-1603, became the first "Lady Master of Otterhounds." However, these dogs were so called because of the purpose they served and may not necessarily be closely related to the Otterhound of today.

In the times of Edward II, who reigned from 1307-1327, a huntsman named William Twici left the first description of the kind of dogs that made up otter packs. He describes them as "a rough sort of dog, between a hound and a terrier." This sounds a bit like the modern-day Otterhound, but the description is too vague to draw any conclusions about what kinds of dogs these early otter trackers were. The Otterhound as we know him today probably took shape in the late 18th century.

Dr. Kweb, an Otterhound breeder in the Netherlands, has renewed the tradition of the hunt. Otter hunting is illegal in most places, but muskrats can be used instead. The Otterhound is in his element when tracking, and this renewal of the hunting sport allows the hounds to return to their working roots. c. 1990

According to AKC, the exact origin of the Otterhound is a mystery.2 Many suspect Bloodhounds and several rough-coated French hound breeds are the ancestors of the Otterhound, and this is the theory that OHCA endorses. Another source claims a complicated lineage including the Mastiff, St. Hubert hound, Talbot hound, Welsh hound and Southern hound as well as some types of terrier.3 We do know that the Otterhound was bred to terriers in the United Kingdom to create the Airedale, but the Otterhound's own origins are less clear.

Dogs were used by hunters in Britain for centuries to track otters. Otter hunting was initially performed out of necessity in order to keep otter from destroying fish, an important food source. It later became a sport, though never a major one. Otter hunting continued throughout the 19th and part of the 20th centuries, reaching its peak during World War I. The sport was the only form of hunting available from April to September, a fact that helped to increase its popularity.

The Otterhound's keen sense of smell and webbed feet made him an excellent tracker and swimmer, ideal for otter hunting. His rough double coat is also ideal for a swimmer as its oily nature can withstand water well. However, otter hunting was banned in England in 1978, in Scotland in 1980, and it never caught on in the United States.So the Otterhound no longer has a specific working role to fulfill. The dogs still remain great trackers, with the highest number of tracking titles per dog registered in the AKC almost every recent year.

(Above) Champion Follyhoun First in Line was named Best of Breed at the first National Specialty in 1981. He was named Stud Dog at the National Specialty four times from 1983-1987 and later inducted with honors into the OHCA Registry of Merit.
Petrulis photo
(Above) Dr. Mouat with Ch. Driver of Adriucha in an unidentified article about Otterhounds, c. 1962. Dr. Mouat was concerned that Otterhounds were a dying breed in America, so he worked to make them better known in the hopes of increasing their popularity.
(Above) Adriucha Otterhounds, 1959

The first Otterhounds were brought to the United States in the early 20th century. The earliest American show records for the breed are from 1907, when six Otterhounds were shown in Claremont, Oklahoma. However, the breeds' numbers remained quite low in the United States, and very few were shown until the 1940s. Dr. Mouat, graduated from Cornell Veterinary School in 1929 and soon after became interested in Otterhounds. He began his own breeding program in 1937 and produced the first Otterhound Champions in 1941. He established his kennel named 'Adriucha,' a Mohawk name meaning "valiant warrior."

Dr. Mouat continued to import Otterhounds from the United Kingdom in order to improve his breeding stock, primarily drawing on the Dumfriesshire and Kendal and District Kennels. His kennel produced some of the most famous early American Otterhounds, including Ch. Adriucha's Zola's Prixa UD. Zola was placed in the Otterhound Club of America Hall of Fame as a Utility Dog. Dr. Mouat began placing his dogs with interested breeders all over the country in order to propagate the breed. Despite his efforts, the number of Otterhounds remained small in these early times due to a prevalent blood disease, canine thrombocytopathy, which severely limited litter size. Dr. Mouat spearheaded blood testing to breed out this disease. However, numbers of Otterhounds remain low even today with less than 350 registered with the AKC. The Otterhound is currently the 153rd most popular breed out of 154 breeds recognized by the AKC.4 There were only seven litters in the United States registered with the AKC in 2005.5 Some other health issues that have affected Otterhounds more recently include seizures, Panosteitis, which causes intermittent lameness, and Cryptorchidism, the failure of one or both testicles to descend. Another health problem that is common in most big dogs, including Otterhounds, is hip dysplasia, a term encompassing various hip joint problems. Breeders have been working to breed these conditions out of the Otterhound. Due to their efforts, Otterhounds are generally healthy dogs.

The Otterhound is known for its even temperament and loyalty to its master. Otterhounds are big, strong dogs and are often described as amiable and boisterous. They tend to get along well with other dogs due to their history of working in packs to hunt. Their gait is described in the AKC standard as "shambling" and "loose." The most prevalent color combination is grizzle and tan, but any color or combination of colors is acceptable.

There is an Otterhound Club of America Registry of Merit as well as a Hall of Fame. These honors are awarded to Otterhounds who have achieved excellence either as sires or dams or in the show ring, agility or tracking. Some of the other most honored Otterhound kennels include Scentasia, with six Otterhounds in the Hall of Fame, and Hooter's, with four Otterhounds in the Hall of Fame. Follyhoun has also produced a number of National Specialty Best of Breed winners, including the first winner in 1981, Champion Follyhoun First in Line.


Otterhound on the cover of The Gazette, March 1969
Joan Ludwig photo

The collection contains records of the club and breed history beginning with Dr. Mouat's records of the early 1940s. The Mouat series is probably the strongest and most interesting part of this collection. This series is the rarest in the collection because it consists of the earliest records of Otterhounds in America. The series includes meticulous kennel records from the first Otterhound breeding program. The journals include detailed information on Mouat's Otterhounds including: pedigrees, ownership records, import records, show records, recordings of each litter and notes on the health of each Otterhound. Mouat's attention to detail, prominence as an early Otterhound enthusiast and the age of his records combine to make them a valuable resource to those interested in the beginnings of Otterhounds in the United States. The Kennel Records were kept in their original format and placed in folders or oversized boxes. There is also an original copy of "How to Raise and Train an Otterhound," published in 1963, which was kept in its original format and placed in a folder. Other items were removed from their original casings and placed in appropriate acid-free folders.

The secretary series contains the bulk of the collection with six sub-series. This part of the collection originally consisted of six binders, but the binders were removed and their contents placed in acid free folders. The original order of the binders was maintained. The first sub-series houses membership lists, correspondence and various meeting minutes from 1985-1996. The second sub-series consists of the codes of ethics, Illustrated Standard, and documents relating to breed standard. The third sub-series consists of board, membership, general and presidential correspondence. The fourth sub-series also includes correspondence as well as folders relating to various topics. The fifth sub-series consists of files relating to the National Specialty and the Regional specialty as well as a correspondence with the English Otterhound Club. The sixth sub-series includes a health survey, discussion on the breed standard and various other topics.

The publications series consists of five sub-series. They are arranged alphabetically with the exception of catalogues, which are arranged chronologically. The first sub-series is books and consists of four publications. The second sub-series is catalogues and includes catalogues and premium lists from the national specialties, (1981-2007, not inclusive), regional specialty as well as various local club shows. The third sub-series is magazines and consists of three recent magazines. The fourth sub-series is Misc. and consists of ephemera and an Illustrated Standard from 1971. The fifth sub-series is the largest and consists of newsletters from 1971-2007. The first copy dates back to summer 1973, but there were earlier newsletters.6 "The Otterhound Club of America Bulletin" was published seasonally until it became a bimonthly publication in 1976. Around this time it also changed names to "The Otterhound Club of America Newsletter," and then shortly after to "The Voice of the Otterhound Club of America," which remains its present name. It continues to be published once every two months. Some of the newsletters, especially the early ones, include meeting minutes. There is also one 1971 newsletter from WOHF, the regional Otterhound club that dissolved in 1973.

Registry of Merit certificate for Ch. Adriucha Zola's Priza, U.D., Obedience Utility Dog. Zola was bred by Dr. Mouat and owned by Martha Thompson. Zola was much adored; there are two photo albums in the collection dedicated entirely to her.

The document series is also a fairly substantial collection. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject title. There are two sub-series, show records, and subject files. Show records 1968-1994, makes up half the series. This sub-series consists of records from the national specialties, A matches, B matches and local shows. The other sub-series, subject files, includes folders consisting of financial records, pedigrees and voting results. Other folders relate to Otterhound health and English Otterhound Club relations.

The correspondence series consists of board, membership and general correspondence. Two major subjects addressed in the correspondence are the codes of ethics and the revision of the standard. The general correspondence is organized chronologically. All other correspondences have been arranged alphabetically based on subject and then chronologically within each subject.

The video series is the next largest in the collection. It consists of videos of the national specialty beginning with the first specialty show in 1981. It also includes some videos of other shows, as well as a few videos that relate to Otterhounds, such as a Martha Stewart video about Otterhounds.

The photographs and negatives in this collection date back to the 1940s. Some of these photographs are in their original casings and can be located in the oversized boxes. Loose photos have been removed and placed in Mylar sleeves. These photos are placed in folders and labeled based on subject. They are then arranged alphabetically. There are also three discs that contain photographs of Otterhounds.

There are entire albums dedicated to Ch. Adriucha Zola's Priza UD. This dog was whelped in 1969 and is in the Otterhound Hall of Fame as a Utility dog. Zola was the second dog inducted into the Hall of Fame following Ch. Skye Top's Cedric Vikingsson, whelped in 1961. There was also a large collection of photographs of various Adriucha Otterhounds in one album entitled, "Book on Otterhounds". This album also contains some early photographs of Dumfriesshire Kennels in Scotland. These photos have been removed from the album and placed in Mylar sleeves and then in acid free folders. There are more photographs of Dumfriesshire Otterhounds as well as few photographs of Dr. Mouat and his Otterhounds that were loose and have been placed in a folder. Another folder contains photos from the 1988 Crufts Dog Show. There were also two albums dedicated to "Dorrie" and "Bunky", two much-loved Adriucha Otterhounds who haven't been identified beyond their call names.

Another album is dedicated to Dr. Kweb's Otterhounds. Dr. Kweb has renewed the tradition of the hunt in the English tradition by pursuing muskrats instead of otters. His pack is located in the Netherlands. This album provides a glimpse of what an otter hunt may have looked like. These photographs have been removed from their original format and placed in an acid-free folder. The clippings series is a relatively small series consisting of various newspaper clippings dating to the 1970s. Most of these clippings can be found in the oversized boxes.

(Left) Newspaper clipping about Rascal, the Otterhound who played "Sandy" in a community play, 1982

(Right) Amusing advertisement announcing the "debut" of Ch. Hooters Corca Gael Rolz Rois, pictured with his father, Ch. Aberdeen Bently O'Corca Gael

The final series in the collection is the ribbon series. This series is housed in its own oversized bin. It consists of ribbons from 1934-1974 as well as undated ribbons that may be c. 1980. It includes some ribbons from the national specialty, but most ribbons are from earlier shows. There are a few ribbons from Morris and Essex and Westminster, but most of the ribbons are from local club shows. Many of the ribbons appear to belong to Dr. H. B. Leonard from New York, as there were several envelopes addressed to him included with the ribbons.

Click here for inventory

1 The Otterhound Club of America, (January 2008)
2 Otterhound History, http:/breeds/otterhound/history.cfm (June, 2008)
3 Kline, Wayne.  A Short History, (March 2007)
4 AKC Dog Registration Statistics, http:/reg/dogreg_stats.cfm (June 2008).
5 AKC Litter Registration Statistics, http:/reg/litter_stats.cfm (June 2008).
6 The first newsletter in the collection makes a reference to an earlier newsletter.