The Otterhound breed has been known for many years, where they became important allies of the people when it comes to food gathering. Their shaggy appearance and enormous size certainly raise a lot of thoughts about this breed but they are the most relevant features of these dogs that separates them from other similar breeds. Like all good dogs belonging to the Hounds group, they have an excellent sense of smell and energy that makes them excellent hunters, but at the same time they will require daily exercise to satisfy their needs and make them feel happy in their new home. Following this idea, Otterhounds are dogs with a very calm personality, in spite of being very playful and active, due to their great size they are not aggressive dogs but rather somewhat clumsy and rough with their movements inside the house. They are excellent dogs for the children who already have certain age because by their size and clumsiness they can get to knock down or harm the smallest in the house, nevertheless, they are ideal pets for the familiar atmosphere. These peculiar hounds get along with everyone and are very affective, so you will not have problems with other pets and in the case of cats it is best to allow them to socialize at an early age, but even so they do not get into trouble with them or with strangers.
Of course, it’s very important that you allow your dog to socialize with both people and other pets to stimulate that gentle, quiet side that they are known for, as long as you are aware of the limits and risks involved with these types of activities. Certainly, Otterhounds are a rather rare breed known worldwide, which despite having been pets for so many years, have been compromised by the hunting of otters and not everyone is capable of raising this wonderful but tedious pet. You should always learn as much as you can about each breed or pet before acquiring it to avoid unexpected surprises that end up being in dreadful taste. What is most recommended is that the owners of Otterhounds be people with patience and a good sense of humor, things that you will understand throughout the article, so I invite you to read about this peculiar breed that has some aspects that tend to alienate most people and is possibly the reason why the number is so low worldwide.
As I mentioned before, the Otterhound is a breed of hunting dogs that are known since the medieval era in Great Britain, where they played an important role as otter hunters together with the fishermen of the area, since fish was an important and large source of their food, which was compromised by the otters. Not being able to control the otter population on their own, they acquired an important part or proportion of the fish in the area, so humans were forced to seek help from these very special dogs to carry out this important task in order to help keep the otters out of the way as well as any other “pest” that poses any threat to fishing. This activity is something that I assume you have already deduced from the name that these dogs, descendants of the Bloodhounds, have in mind, although their true origin is unknown, since it is something so ancient.
Fox hunting was certainly the most popular activity at the time, but as it is, otter hunting was commonplace in these parts of the world so it did not take long to become a sport which was practiced mostly by nobles and royalty, with Queen Elizabeth I being a great influence and breeder of these pets, coming to be called the Lady Master of Otterhounds. Thanks to these practices, hunting was born in packs where the Otterhounds were more successful working in groups under the influence of the people who trained them to achieve such feats. The Otterhound breed was seriously affected once the otter hunt was banned in Great Britain by the year 1978, and in 1980 Scotland joined in with this idea, so people lost great interest in this breed of hounds, almost causing their total disappearance. This action was taken because the otter population was being affected by this practice, so it was decided to eliminate or classify this activity as something illegal. Currently, it is believed that there are between 800 to 1,000 Otterhounds worldwide, where approximately 350 are said to be in the United States and Canada, leaving the rest of the population of these dogs scattered among Great Britain, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany, and Switzerland, Great Britain being the most important among these for obvious reasons.
By the year 1907 it is believed that the Otterhounds crossed the pond to the United States, where they became a breed recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) around 1909, creating the Otterhound Club of America about 50 years later.
Something that without a doubt is what most calls the attention of an Otterhound to people is its distinctive coat and large size, which in turn is usually what determines a love/hate relationship towards them. When they reach physical maturity, between 2 to 3 years of age, they can reach a weight of 65 to 125 ponds and a size of 24 to 28 inches at shoulder height, reaching an average life span of 10 to 15 years. Something that goes with their personality and appearance, is that these dogs are disastrous eaters and drinkers, so you will have to be vigilant every time he/she goes to drink some water, very similar to a Saint Bernard, frequently cleaning the hair in his/her mouth every time they eat or drink so that it doesn’t catch a bad smell and become unpleasant for the family. In addition to keeping her hair on their face with some care, you should always take care when they enter the house that they do not have residue or dirt on their legs because they are magnets for this kind of thing by having a hairy limb at their ends.
Now, as far as his coat is concerned, the Otterhound has a double coat of hair that helps protect it from water but can also lead to certain complications but I will talk a little more about this later. Its outer coat consists of thick, rough and coarse hair, while the inner one is a short, woolly and oily hair, where such oil helps with the protection against water, becoming a kind of water repellent but it may well bring some hygiene problems. The more oily their hair is, the more likely they are to get dirty, but this is something that will depend on each individual pet, so it will be up to the individual to decide what kind of Otterhound you will find. This will also determine the frequency in which you must bathe him, some requiring a monthly bath as others could well be annual but it is something that you will understand better with your new pet once you start living with it. As for the color of its coat, there is no classification or determining it, so you will have at your disposal all the colors or presentations that are according to your taste. Their hair can be between 2 to 6 inches long.
Something I recommend you to take care of is to leave valuables out of your dog’s reach, as every good big dog has a reputation of being a bit clumsy. He loves people as much as he loves strangers, but he usually gets along better with children, but they shouldn’t be so small, because their size and clumsiness can hurt them. Bloodhounds are independent and don’t really care if you are on top of them all the time, but despite having the versatility of being an indoor/outdoor dog they still need their time with their loved ones, so don’t deny them entry into the house. He is a good watchdog but he is not a good guard dog even if it sounds counterproductive, but if he is attacked be sure he will respond in the same way. He likes to talk to his loved ones through grunts, grumbles, groans, but this is more than anything with those fanatics of the hounds breeds as it is something common and seen as something normal of this type of breeds, so you should have this aspect under control in case you have some neighbors who find this feature annoying in addition to their barking.
Although he is easy-going, he is usually a bit stubborn about certain things as he will try to do them his way. To train him you must be prepared in all aspects, being a breed that is known for being so stubborn, doing something wrong can bring you problems in the future. Not only do you need to know the ideal techniques or ways to carry out this type of activity, but you also need to master them and really know at what stage in your puppy’s life each of them should be applied. To do this, you must not only instruct yourself but consult with those who are necessary, so you must have good skills, ingenuity and use to your advantage and benefit this pet’s adoration for food as a reward or bribe, as you wish to see it. Besides this you must remember to maintain a positive reinforcement either by using the food again or whatever you can get to work better for you and your pet, keeping a firm hand but not punishing any bad action since it can bring repercussions in the future.
Training your Otterhound puppy is best started as early as possible, even if he’s just a few months old it can get complicated and tedious. Before you take your puppy to a puppy school, make sure you comply with all the rules and regulations, as some puppies require certain vaccinations to attend, and this is also something you should discuss with your vet, as it is not recommended that you expose your pet to such a long period of time when he is so young and unprotected, but it is certainly something you should do as soon as you get your puppy. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, and even if you have some experience, it’s best to have someone who can help you with this kind of thing to prevent your dog from taking an attitude you don’t want, and once he’s grown up he’ll be very problematic. Besides having a disciplined pet, you will work on his social side at the same time, so he gets used to the contact with other pets and people while he learns to be a very classy dog, even though he looks like a homeless dog.
Living with an Otterhound is a very similar experience to that of a child, where you have to secure everything that is within their reach, except for the protectors on the outlets since I don’t think your Otterhound would think of sticking his tongue in one of them, but because they are so eager and love food, together with their intelligence they will look for a way to get into all the places where there is food, therefore you must keep under control and well secured all the cabinets, pantries, trash cans, and even the fridge. In addition to this, you must secure the doors and fences in your house to keep it either in a safe place or inside the house itself. Like all good hounds, when they detect a smell they can ignore any order coming from their owners as well as ignore any potential danger around them, so their ability to escape is something you should also take into account so as not to give them so much freedom or become careless at certain times where they can take advantage of this type of situation. Fences should be high enough so that they do not jump over them, and they should not allow him to dig underneath them, just as some owners have commented that electric fences are not usually enough to stop them.
You shouldn’t get too confident because of his calm and relaxed personality, no matter how lazy he may seem. It is important that you take him for a daily walk, something slow but long, in case you do not have any problem or limitation in terms of their health can also come to run with you thanks to its agility that allows them to participate in activities such as rallying or tracking. Always check with your vet before starting any activity with your Otterhound to ensure that it will not be harmful in any way.
Its hair is thick, rough textured and double coated to help protect it or repel water. It may sound like a challenge but it really is easy to maintain as long as you do a weekly care. Just like his mouth, you should frequently clean his feet, being so attached to dirt or mud he may well bring these kinds of things into the house which could be problematic and make the house look bad. To keep his hair this rough and thick you must strip his coat, in short, you must remove the dead hairs with your hand. You can ask a dog groomer, your breeder or the vet for advice and there are websites such as the Otterhound Club of America that offer tips on how to care for your dog’s hair. In case you want to cut their hair it will become smooth and soft, as long as you don’t mind that it loses its traditional style and bum look.
Every time he comes in contact with water you should make sure he is completely dry, emphasizing areas where he has folds in his skin as these are places prone to painful skin problems, itchy or tender spots. At the same time, you will be preventing fungus or mold from developing on his skin, as it is so dense and thick that this type of thing is very likely to happen. As for the rest of their care, it is standard for pets to have their nails trimmed whenever necessary, which is usually every two weeks at the most, their ears cleaned to prevent them from getting wet and their hair controlled, and finally their oral hygiene, which should be the same as that of humans but with products approved by your veterinarian for pets. Being water lovers you should not be surprised that you get them full of mud and many other things. Due to this type of attitude is that they are not usually matched to anyone so their owner should be mentally prepared to help them as much as possible to keep all their fur and skin in an optimal condition, besides taking care of the rest of the things at home as I mentioned before because of their clumsiness.
CARE & HEALTH
Walking him and incorporating him in certain activities such as jogging, climbing, even swimming are excellent options to keep this breed active, in good condition and happy, but you must do it in a stage that will not harm him. For this the best thing is to discuss it with your veterinarian since the most advisable thing is to wait around two years so that it fulfills a great part of its growth and you avoid some articular problem or in its bones, that already by themselves usually are prone to certain pathologies referring to these systems.
Diseases in pets are not an unknown subject, as with people, they are living beings that are prone to many things that even if you have an ideal life and health plan you cannot avoid. Among these possible complications are hereditary or genetic diseases that will depend on the breeder you go to, don’t be surprised that in all articles about pets you read that you are looking for one that is a reputable breeder to avoid this type of problem. One who is sincere and who presents you with all the problems that his puppies can present, papers up to date, is the one you should trust, all those who have something to hide will tell you that everything is perfect in their pack. Some pathologies that go with the breed and that you should be aware of are elbow and hip dysplasia, epilepsy, gastric torsion, and a disease due to an abnormality in the function of their platelets.
These diseases are not something you can prevent but again, knowing the medical history of their parents and siblings you can have a better idea of how likely your pet will suffer from one of them, but most tend to occur at a later age.
Although Otterhounds have a variety of positive aspects they also have their details within everything, they are very good pets in general and easy to handle, but by neglecting their coat or their training you could well end up with a disaster at home by being a dog of great stature without the manners that can distinguish it from any other breed. It’s a matter of understanding your pet and being able to live with him enough to know all his habits, remembering that it was your decision to bring an Otterhound puppy to your home in the first place. If you make this decision because this breed meets your expectations and fits your lifestyle, it should be somewhat active to cover the best way for their needs.
They may well be somewhat tedious to care for with certain aspects, but certainly they are a breed worth acquiring. They are still a very rare breed so I ask you to think well before acquiring one of these dogs to avoid problems. If you really want to help maintain this breed, do it out of devotion and not out of whimsy. Don’t let their shaggy appearance and seemingly peaceful nature fool you.
I hope you found this article about this rare but special breed useful, in case you have any doubts or feel I missed something please let me know in the comment section down below.