Country of origin United Kingdom
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Otterhound is an old British dog breed, with Bloodhound ancestors, and one of the ancestors of the Airedale Terrier.



The Otterhound is a large, rough-coated hound with an imposing head. Originally bred for hunting, it has great strength and a strong body with long striding steps. This makes it able to perform prolonged hard work. Otterhounds generally weigh between 80 and 120 pounds (36 to 54 kg). They have extremely sensitive noses which make them inquisitive and perseverant in investigating scents. Consequently, they need particular supervision. They are friendly dogs with a unique bass voice which they use frequently.


A mink hunter with his otterhound.

The Otterhound hunts its quarry both on land and in water and it has a combination of characteristics unique among hounds; most notably an oily, rough, double coat and substantial webbed feet.[1]

The use of otterhounds to hunt otters by scent ceased in Britain in 1978 when it became illegal to kill otters, at this point otter hunts switched to hunting mink or coypu.


The average lifespan of the breed is a little over 10 years. A quarter will live 12 to 15 years.[2] At least one hound is known to have lived to be 16 years old.

The Otterhound enjoys considerable exercise, but can also be a couch potato. They can be good family dogs but need to be kept in a secure property since they can jump fences up to 5 feet high.

Common problems that can occur are elbow and hip dysplasia which is a malformation of the hip and elbow joints. They are not always painful but can cause lameness and impair mobility with arthritis a possible result. Badly affected hounds should not be bred but most otterhounds have a fairly poor hip and elbow score. This problem can be reduced by making sure that developing otterhounds do not jump down from high places, go up and down the stairs or walk too much on very hard surfaces while bones are still growing.

Otterhounds can also be subject to ear infections, due to the shape of their ears, and bloat (or gastric torsion), due to their deep chest. Bloat is the biggest killer of large dogs and is very painful. There are ways to reduce the risk of getting bloat:

  1. raising the feeding bowl so that the dog does not take in too much air while feeding
  2. wait an hour either side of feeding before or after the dog is exercised.
  3. do not feed them high cereal cheap food
  4. calm the dog before feeding
  5. if the dog eats quickly then put something large in the bowl to reduce the speed of consumption as this will reduce the amount of air in the stomach.

If your dog shows signs of bloat then immediate veterinary attention is required.

An endangered breed

An Otterhound, published in 1859

There are only an estimated 1,000 or so Otterhounds in the world and somewhere between 350 and 400 in the US. Even in the early 20th century, when otter hunting was most popular as a sport, Otterhounds were not numerous. They are now considered the most endangered dog breed in Britain since only 51 were born there in 2006. They are on the list of Vulnerable Native Breeds as identified by the UK Kennel Club, and as much as possible is being done to save the breed.[3][4] NB: It is important to remember that all dog breeds are essentially the same species (Canis lupus familiaris) and varying characteristics of any one breed are the result of selective breeding by humans in order produce certain looks and traits. "Endangered" breeds such as the Otterhound are therefore closely related leaving them prone to inherited diseases due to a lack of genetic diversity.


  1. ^ they had a nose that could track in the mud and water for over 72 hours, too."Otterhound",
  2. ^ K. Evans, V. Adams, J. Sampson (2010). "World survey of Otterhound health: Part 1: Mortality and Lifespan". Animal Health Trust,. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "The puppies rarer than giant pandas", The Daily Telegraph, 5 March 2007, page 9
  4. ^ "Yesterday's Dogs?, Daily Mail

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Otterhound — País de origen …   Wikipedia Español

  • otterhound — otterhound, otter hound otter hound . 1. A small hardy British hound having long pendulous ears and a thick coarse shaggy coat with an oily undercoat; bred in England for hunting otters. Called also {otter dog}. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • otterhound — ● otterhound nom masculin Grand chien d origine anglaise, initialement destiné à la chasse à la loutre, répandu en Amérique …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • otterhound — (izg. oterhàūnd) m DEFINICIJA kinol. vrsta psa, podrijetlom iz Engleske; gonič na vidre, vidraš ETIMOLOGIJA engl …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • otterhound — [ät′ər hound΄] n. any of a breed of large, rough coated hound with a keen sense of smell, formerly much used in hunting otters: also otter hound …   English World dictionary

  • Otterhound — Chien à loutre Chien à loutre Otterhound …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Otterhound — Otterhund FCI Standard Nr. 294 Patronat Großbritannien Klassifikation FCI Gruppe 6 Laufhunde, Schweisshunde und verwandte Rassen. Sektion 1.1 Große Laufhunde …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • otterhound — noun Etymology: from its use in hunting otters Date: 1590 any of a breed of large hounds that originated in Great Britain and have a rough outer and inner coat, webbed feet, and a keen sense of smell …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • otterhound — /ot euhr hownd /, n. one of an English breed of water dogs having a thick, shaggy, oily coat, trained to hunt otter. [1600 10; OTTER + HOUND1] * * * ▪ breed of dog        dog breed first described in the 14th century. Developed in England to hunt …   Universalium

  • otterhound — n. strong English hound with long ears that hang loosely and a thick rough shaggy fur with oily undercoat (used for hunting otters) …   English contemporary dictionary