Hunting otters with Otterhounds became popular with fishermen in the year 1360 because the otters were stealing their fish. They were bred to have the characteristics of a Collie (intelligence), Beagle (patience) Foxhound (stamina), Retriever (wisdom), Pointer (nose), Newfoundland (strength in the water), and Bulldog (courage). These dogs are large, weighing up to 115 pounds and standing about two and a half feet tall, with long, waterproof hair, a large nose for scenting, and strong legs for swimming. They come in seven colors and six different markings. These colors range from lemon to white, black, and tan and the markings include silver, grizzle, badger, and many more combinations.
The Otterhound dates back to the 12th century when they were used to hunt river otters to prevent their food source (fish) from being depleted by the otters. After other food sources became more popular, hunting otters with Otterhound packs became a sport. This was usually a sport enjoyed by royalty and the very wealthy such as King John of Magna Carta. This became more popular because the otter was the only hunting quarry from April until September. Queen Elizabeth the first was the first woman to own an Otterhound pack. Early on, it was thought that the Otterhound was a mix of the Welsh Harrier and Southern Hound because they came from Devonshire and Wales. Others claimed the Otterhound was the offspring of the English Bulldog and the Old Water Spaniel. Still, others believed there was some English Foxhound and Griffon Nivernais in the breed. Of course, the majority of experts agree that there was at least some Bloodhound in the Otterhound as well. As the number of otters decreased, the popularity of Otterhounds dropped with them. Today, the Otterhound is the most endangered native breed of dog in Britain with only about 600 left in the world. The first Otterhounds came to the United States in the early 1900s and started the breed’s debut in a show in Oklahoma. In 1909, the American Kennel Club (AKC) accepted Otterhounds in the hound group. The Otterhound Club of America was formed in 1960 and held the first National Specialty in 1981. Although there are some Otterhound fans in America, the breed is not very popular for hunting or showing.
The Otterhound is a large (about 27 inches tall and 115 pounds) and wooly hound with a waterproof coat and webbed feet to help hunt in water and on land. Their head is large and has a strong and dignified expression with a well-muscled body and long legs. They have a big nose, with large nostrils that gives them the ability to smell things better. Their furry ears are folded, pendulous, and long, set low below eye level. Slightly longer than they are tall, they have good substance and balance, making them a solid and durable look. Their deeply-set eyes are dark with a pigment that goes with the color of the coat and nose. Otterhounds come in many colors such as white, black, and tan; white; lemon; blue; wheaten; tan; liver and tan; gray; blue and cream; black and tan; and black. The markings include white and tan; silver; tan; lemon; white; liver; grizzle; black and tan; black; and badger.
Grooming your Otterhound should include a gentle brushing with a soft bristle brush once a week. The outer coat is harder so that you do not have to worry too much about mats, but the undercoat can get matted and tangled if you do not brush or comb your Otterhound at least once weekly. Pay particular attention to the underside, legs, underarms, and head. This will help prevent matting and shedding. While grooming, you should check for abnormal skin lesions or swellings as well as for ear infections. With their pendulous ears, they tend to get warm and moist, which is a good breeding ground for bacteria. Clean them once a week with ear cleaning solution. Your veterinarian can show you the proper technique for this procedure if you are not sure. During the grooming session, you should also check your dog’s eyes and trim their nails. You can use a toenail clipper specially made for dogs or a nail grinder for dogs. If you are not sure about it, you can have a groomer or your veterinarian do it for you. However, it is good to learn how to do it yourself.