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  • Temperament: Even-Tempered, Amiable, Boisterous
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 166 of 194
  • Height: 27 inches (male), 24 inches (female)
  • Weight: 115 pounds (male), 80 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 10-13 years
  • Group: Hound Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Otterhound sitting in three-quarter view facing forward
Otterhound head facing left
Otterhound coat detail
Ottherhound head with tongue out in three-quarter view

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Otterhound is a large, rough-coated hound with an imposing head showing great strength and dignity, and the strong body and long striding action fit for a long day’s work. It has an extremely sensitive nose, and is inquisitive and perseverant in investigating scents. The Otterhound hunts its quarry on land and water and requires a combination of characteristics unique among hounds-most notably a rough, double coat; and substantial webbed feet. Otterhounds should not be penalized for being shown in working condition (lean, well muscled, with a naturally stripped coat). Any departure from the following points should be considered a fault; its seriousness should be regarded in exact proportion to its degree.

HEAD

The head is large, fairly narrow, and well covered with hair. The head should measure 11 to 12 inches from tip of nose to occiput in a hound 26 inches at the withers, with the muzzle and skull approximately equal in length. This proportion should be maintained in larger and smaller hounds. The expression is open and amiable. The eyes are deeply set. The haw shows only slightly. The eyes are dark, but eye color and eye rim pigment will complement the color of the hound. Dogs with black pigmented noses and eye rims should have darker eyes, while those with liver or slate pigment may have hazel eyes. The ears, an essential feature of this breed, are long, pendulous, and folded (the leading edge folds or rolls to give a draped appearance). They are set low, at or below eye level, and hang close to the head, with the leather reaching at least to the tip of the nose. They are well covered with hair.

BODY

The neck is powerful and blends smoothly into well laid back, clean shoulders, and should be of sufficient length to allow the dog to follow a trail. It has an abundance of hair; a slight dewlap is permissible. The topline is level from the withers to the base of tail. The chest is deep reaching at least to the elbows on a mature hound. Forechest is evident, there is sufficient width to impart strength and endurance. There should be no indication of narrowness or weakness. The well sprung, oval rib cage extends well towards the rear of the body. The loin is short, broad and strong.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders are clean, powerful, and well sloped with moderate angulation at shoulders and elbows. Legs are strongly boned and straight, with strong, slightly sprung pasterns. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed. Feet – Both front and rear feet are large, broad, compact when standing, but capable of spreading. They have thick, deep pads, with arched toes; they are web-footed (membranes connecting the toes allow the foot to spread).

COAT

The coat is an essential feature of the Otterhound. Coat texture and quality are more important than the length. The outer coat is dense, rough, coarse and crisp, of broken appearance. Softer hair on the head and lower legs is natural. The outer coat is two to four inches long on the back and shorter on the extremities. A water-resistant undercoat of short wooly, slightly oily hair is essential, but in the summer months may be hard to find except on the thighs and shoulders. The ears are well covered with hair, and the tail is feathered (covered and fringed with hair). A naturally stripped coat lacking length and fringes is correct for an Otterhound that is being worked. A proper hunting coat will show a hard outer coat and wooly undercoat. The Otterhound is shown in a natural coat, with no sculpturing or shaping of the coat.

HINDQUARTERS

Thighs and second thighs are large, broad, and well muscled. Legs have moderately bent stifles with well-defined hocks. Hocks are well let down, turning neither in nor out. Legs on a standing hound are parallel when viewed from the rear. Angulation front and rear must be balanced and adequate to give forward reach and rear drive. Dewclaws, if any, on the hind legs are generally removed. Feet are as previously described.

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About the Otterhound

These big, bouncy hounds were ideally suited for otter hunting. OHs are built to be expert swimmers, from the top of their rough, waterproof coat to the bottom of their big webbed feet. A broad chest and powerful shoulders allow them to swim all day without tiring. Their large black nose is amazingly sensitive and could follow an otter’s underwater scent trail over great distances. And the OH’s size and strength enabled them to take on a sharp-toothed, razor-clawed otter that might weigh 20 pounds.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Otterhound

Find a Puppy: Otterhound

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Find Otterhound Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Otterhound should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

While Otterhounds should be shown as naturally as possible, their coats do need brushing once or twice a week, depending on length and texture. A good slicker brush and medium comb work for this. The Otterhound’s beard may need cleaning at the same time, since the dogs tend to drag them on the ground and store snacks in them. Nails should be trimmed every week or two.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Occasional

EXERCISE

Otterhounds need mental as well as physical exercise. A large, securely fenced yard is a good beginning, but some hounds will lie under a tree in a fenced acre rather than self-exercise. Long walks to sniff the world and visit passersby are good for both owners and hounds. Obedience classes, tracking, and agility all provide mental stimulation as well as good exercise.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

As large and strong as Otterhounds are, they can be very sensitive. Use positive, reward-based training methods and praise to get the best results. Like people, Otterhounds love to be told how wonderful and talented they are when they master something. Be patient. Food usually works well in training, but the combination of food and praise together is even better. Clicker training can also work well with Otterhounds.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
May be Stubborn

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

Otterhounds are healthy for a large breed, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as epilepsy and hip dysplasia, though even dogs with moderate hip dysplasia on radiographs may move very well for their entire lives. Like all large dogs, Otterhounds can experience bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach enlarges and sometimes twists. Owners should educate themselves about the signs of bloat and the action to take should it occur.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia DNA Test

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Otterhound
Otterhound
Otterhound

History

In medieval England a huge otter population preyed on fish in rivers and stocked ponds. To protect this valuable food source, packs of Otterhounds were kept by country squires and even kings. As a sport, otter hunting was never as popular as the British gentry’s cherished foxhunts, but it did help fill the spring and summer months for sportsmen waiting for the fall hunting season. Otterhound packs were so good at their work that river otters nearly went extinct and hunting them was outlawed.

Did You Know?

The Otterhound is a large breed of dog developed in England to hunt otter. The hunting of otters was practiced because they were preying on the fish in the rivers and streams. Otterhounds were used in packs to protect fishponds and control the otter population.
Otterhounds made their appearance in the United States in the year 1903 and the first Otterhound exhibited in America were shown in Claremont, New Hampshire in 1907.
The Otterhound is more rare than the Giant Panda and is considered one of the most endangered dog breeds in the world.
The Otterhound has a sense of smell so acute that it could smell an otter that passed through the water the night before.
The Otterhound was one of the foundation breeds for an Airedale Terrier.
There are fewer than 800 Otterhounds worldwide with the largest numbers in the U.K and the U.S., and smaller populations in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, and Canada.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Otterhound is a large, rough-coated hound with an imposing head showing great strength and dignity, and the strong body and long striding action fit for a long day’s work. It has an extremely sensitive nose, and is inquisitive and perseverant in investigating scents. The Otterhound hunts its quarry on land and water and requires a combination of characteristics unique among hounds-most notably a rough, double coat; and substantial webbed feet. Otterhounds should not be penalized for being shown in working condition (lean, well muscled, with a naturally stripped coat). Any departure from the following points should be considered a fault; its seriousness should be regarded in exact proportion to its degree.

HEAD

The head is large, fairly narrow, and well covered with hair. The head should measure 11 to 12 inches from tip of nose to occiput in a hound 26 inches at the withers, with the muzzle and skull approximately equal in length. This proportion should be maintained in larger and smaller hounds. The expression is open and amiable. The eyes are deeply set. The haw shows only slightly. The eyes are dark, but eye color and eye rim pigment will complement the color of the hound. Dogs with black pigmented noses and eye rims should have darker eyes, while those with liver or slate pigment may have hazel eyes. The ears, an essential feature of this breed, are long, pendulous, and folded (the leading edge folds or rolls to give a draped appearance). They are set low, at or below eye level, and hang close to the head, with the leather reaching at least to the tip of the nose. They are well covered with hair.

BODY

The neck is powerful and blends smoothly into well laid back, clean shoulders, and should be of sufficient length to allow the dog to follow a trail. It has an abundance of hair; a slight dewlap is permissible. The topline is level from the withers to the base of tail. The chest is deep reaching at least to the elbows on a mature hound. Forechest is evident, there is sufficient width to impart strength and endurance. There should be no indication of narrowness or weakness. The well sprung, oval rib cage extends well towards the rear of the body. The loin is short, broad and strong.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders are clean, powerful, and well sloped with moderate angulation at shoulders and elbows. Legs are strongly boned and straight, with strong, slightly sprung pasterns. Dewclaws on the forelegs may be removed. Feet – Both front and rear feet are large, broad, compact when standing, but capable of spreading. They have thick, deep pads, with arched toes; they are web-footed (membranes connecting the toes allow the foot to spread).

COAT

The coat is an essential feature of the Otterhound. Coat texture and quality are more important than the length. The outer coat is dense, rough, coarse and crisp, of broken appearance. Softer hair on the head and lower legs is natural. The outer coat is two to four inches long on the back and shorter on the extremities. A water-resistant undercoat of short wooly, slightly oily hair is essential, but in the summer months may be hard to find except on the thighs and shoulders. The ears are well covered with hair, and the tail is feathered (covered and fringed with hair). A naturally stripped coat lacking length and fringes is correct for an Otterhound that is being worked. A proper hunting coat will show a hard outer coat and wooly undercoat. The Otterhound is shown in a natural coat, with no sculpturing or shaping of the coat.

HINDQUARTERS

Thighs and second thighs are large, broad, and well muscled. Legs have moderately bent stifles with well-defined hocks. Hocks are well let down, turning neither in nor out. Legs on a standing hound are parallel when viewed from the rear. Angulation front and rear must be balanced and adequate to give forward reach and rear drive. Dewclaws, if any, on the hind legs are generally removed. Feet are as previously described.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color
BLACK & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color
BLUE & CREAM Check Mark For Standard Color
GRAY Check Mark For Standard Color
LIVER & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color
TAN Check Mark For Standard Color
WHEATEN Check Mark For Standard Color
BLUE
LEMON
WHITE
WHITE BLACK & TAN

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
BADGER MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark
BLACK & TAN MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark
BLACK MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark
GRIZZLE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark
LIVER MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark
WHITE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark
LEMON MARKINGS
SILVER MARKINGS
TAN MARKINGS
WHITE & TAN MARKINGS

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