Are you considering bringing an Otterhound into your home but unsure what to expect? Do otterhounds make good pets? The answer might surprise you!
These tall and fluffy dogs make great pets for those who can give them the exercise, training, and love they need. An active and playful breed, Otterhounds have boundless energy and will thrive outdoors with plenty of space to explore safely. In addition, they tend to be quite good-natured and easy-going once they know their people, which makes them excellent candidates for larger families or households with older children.
Training an Otterhound takes patience and consistency, thanks to their stubborn streak. However, if you are up to the challenge, these unique and joyful pups will bring great fun into your home!
For those curious about this breed but don’t know much about it, here is a brief overview of the Otterhound—their history, temperament, and care requirements—to help you determine if one would be suitable for your family.
History of the Otterhound
The Otterhound is a breed of dog that’s been around for centuries. It’s thought to have originated in Western Europe during the rise of hunting expeditions, becoming an essential tool for finding water-borne game such as otters, beavers, and other aquatic animals.
Interestingly enough, it’s believed that the Otterhound has had a long connection with British royalty. Henry II is said to have used them for hunting otters. Their purpose was essential thanks to their ability to detect prey underwater and on land; intensifying air-scenting qualities made them even more adept at finding their target quickly.
Breeders combined many hounds and terriers, including the Bloodhound, American foxhound, Griffon Nivernais, and Airedale Terrier, to produce the Otterhound. This created a dog with a sharp nose and a keen sense of smell, making it ideal for otter hunting.
It’s also believed this breed was fostered by multiple generations of royal families since then, being seen as ideal hunters due to their loyalty and stamina. Even today, the Otterhound remains prized for its superior scenting abilities and buck-like coat, which provides insulation from cold waters. Although you won’t find many of these breeds on display—being quite rare—you can still spot a few around dedicated places such as England’s Royal Dog Show or even in some parts of rural America!
Otterhound Breed Info
An Otterhound is a shaggy-looking dog with an endearingly rag-doll-like quality. Characteristics of this breed include their webbed feet and oversized, strong jaws. In addition, they have long, shaggy coats in various colors, including black and tan, grizzle, wheaten, and gray. Male otterhounds are larger than the female of the species, with male heights ranging between 24 to 27 inches and female sizes usually nestling around 22 to 25 inches.
Another distinguishing feature is the dogs’ pendulous ears; these drop down from the side of their head at an angle like two soft feathers or winglets. Though gentle-natured and generally easy to care for, Otterhounds make for tenacious guard dogs as they bark readily when attracting attention or confronted by a potential intruder.
Do Otterhounds Make Good Pets: Otterhound Temperament
Noted for their rugged appearance and amiable nature, these four-legged wonders are bound to steal your heart. Here are some characteristics that make the Otterhound temperament unique:
🐕 They are Affectionate
The otterhound is not just an average pup—they are primarily known for their intense affection. This breed of hound loves attention and enjoys spending time in comfort with its owners. It nurtures close relationships with its family and usually gravitates to one person it’ll follow around the house.
Otterhounds can get quite energetic if taken out for a walk or given enough playtime, but the majority of the time, you can find them cuddled up on your lap when it’s time to take some rest. Fostering an otterhound will also reward you with many “huggable” moments! If you’re looking for a breed that truly appreciates your tenderness, then the otterhound should be your first pick!
🐕 They Love to Please
As their very name implies, Otterhounds live to make others happy – they love serving as companions and bringing joy to their owners. Unlike some additional dog breeds, Otterhounds need no extensive training to be good companions.
They come pre-programmed with a desire to please, which needs gentle guidance from their human parents to reach full fruition. Young puppies seek affection and approval from those around them very strongly and take satisfaction from receiving it through words or treats.
Their intelligence and desire for companionship make them the perfect pet if you’re looking for a furry best friend who puts your needs first.
🐕 They Have Lots of Energy
Owning an otterhound means having lots of energy in the house! These energetic dogs have a lot of love to share with their owners and constantly need exercise and activities. Even though full-grown otterhounds are quite large, they can be surprisingly light on their feet, which makes them great jogging or running partners.
They excel at sports that require agility, such as flyball, disc dog, and agility training. Their high energy level makes them enjoy these activities even more. As working dogs, they were bred to help with hunting, and because of that, it’s best to keep them around other animals like cats or horses if you own any.
An otterhound will make an excellent companion if your household is large enough to handle all that energy!
🐕 They Can be Stubborn
While Otterhounds are quick learners, they can sometimes be strong-willed and stubborn. However, like their cousins, Bloodhounds, they tend to have an independent spirit and make decisions on their terms. As loyal benefits, this also means that an Otterhound will never forget what you taught them, as repeated corrections are necessary to get these pooches to commit something to memory.
Don’t let this intelligence fool you, though. If not managed properly from a young age, these dogs could just as quickly become quite willful with their owner’s disagreement leading to the difficult stages of training later on. While Otterhounds benefit from training early and often, remember that consistency is critical, or you may find yourself in for a bumpy ride!
🐕 They Have a Unique Personality
As you might expect, an otterhound’s curiosity knows no bounds. They always take the opportunity to explore their environment and see what new and exciting things it has to offer. Their unique personality sets them apart from other hounds; living up to their name’s ‘otter’ aspect, they can be found frolicking in the water with unbridled enthusiasm!
But if water isn’t readily available, otterhounds will happily play in mud puddles instead (their choice, not ours!). They are also incredibly friendly, and their perpetual curiosity gives the impression that they’re always eager to learn or try something new.
Generally speaking, this combination makes for an active, confident, and entertaining dog who can bring a lot of joy into your life and that of others around you!
🐕 They are Great with Children
Otterhounds make great playmates and companions for children. Their easy-going, gentle manner is perfect for rambunctious kids. They will gladly return a ball for you to throw repeatedly, never tiring of the game.
Because of their amiable temperament, Otterhounds are patient and tolerant with youngsters, understanding that sometimes playing with kids may require certain behavior modifications. In addition, these dogs have a natural kindness about them and love nothing more than cuddling up with your child on the couch as they watch a movie together.
Do Otterhounds Make Good Pets: Breed-Specific Health Concerns
Like with any breed, prospective owners of otterhounds should be aware and informed about what health concerns may arise when owning a dog of this particular breed. Here are some of the health concerns to watch for in your furry friend:
❎ Ear Infections
The pet parent of an otterhound should always be mindful of the pet’s ear health, as otterhounds are prone to infections. Not only can pet illnesses be expensive to treat, but they’re also damaging to the pet’s well-being, so pet healthcare is essential. For example, suppose pet owners notice their otterhound pawing at their ears, tilting his head, or being more irritable than usual.
In that case, it could indicate that their furry friend is suffering from an ear infection. Pet parents must quickly address ear issues and seek a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment; it may require antibiotics or surgery for a severe infection. Although infections are concerning for pet parents, keeping Otterhounds healthy starts with regular vet checks and cleaning of their ears each week, if necessary, to prevent pet ailments.
❎ Dental Disease
Dogs, in particular, are prone to developing several problems with their teeth and gums. This dental disease affects the soft tissue just underneath the enamel of your pet’s teeth. It typically appears as engorged, inflamed pockets between the pet’s teeth and gums.
Even though the cause of this condition is still unknown, pet owners must remain vigilant about their pet’s dental hygiene. Effective preventative measures should include regularly brushing your pet’s teeth and annual cleanings at the vet’s office.
❎ Hair Loss
Another common issue in Otterhounds is hair loss. But, again, there are many potential causes, including hormonal changes, allergies, poor nutrition, and parasites.
The most frequent cause is flea allergies – even one flea bite can cause significant irritation, leading to intense itching and fur loss. Therefore, regularly examining your pet for signs of fleas is the best approach to preventing otterhound hair loss in the first place.
Suppose your pup does start to experience some bald patches. In that case, however, you should consult a veterinary professional. To help identify the root cause of the issue before taking any action toward resolving it.
❎ Von Willebrands Disease
vWD is an inherited disorder caused by a genetic mutation in the Factor VIII gene. This mutation creates a defective protein that can’t work properly within the dog’s blood and causes its blood to have difficulty clotting properly.
Thankfully, treatments available can control bleeding episodes and manage the disease. Still, it’s essential to realize that any Von Willebrand’s Disease diagnosis requires careful monitoring and diligent management to keep your beloved pup healthy and happy
❎ Abnormal Lymphocytes
Abnormal lymphocytes are a genetic health concern specific to otterhounds, a coarse-haired scent hound. Unfortunately, it often results in a pet’s immune system functioning abnormally, leaving them vulnerable to various illnesses and infections.
The root cause of these genetic predispositions is still unknown. But there are several possible theories doctors have discussed as potential explanations. One such theory suggests that genetic mutations occurring within the population over time predispose some dogs to the condition.
Other theories focus on environmental exposures, which can be especially dangerous for certain breeds, given their genetic makeup. Unfortunately, Genetics remains largely unchecked when determining the exact cause of abnormal lymphocytes. However, research efforts continue to improve understanding of this condition and possibly discover further treatments or solutions.
❎ Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Like many large breeds, otterhounds are predisposed to hip and elbow dysplasia. This condition can be caused by genetic factors, diet, lifestyle, or problems with the pup’s development. Genetics is often a significant contributor, and if either parent is affected. It increases the chance that puppies will inherit CHD too.
Inadequate nutrition or rapid growth can also cause the condition due to weakened muscles or joints that can’t keep up with how quickly pups grow. Sometimes, especially in bigger breeds like otterhounds, changes in their environment or lifestyle can have an effect, too. Like a particular jump or running behavior that might put more stress on their joints and make them more susceptible to injury.
Do Otterhounds Make Good Pets: Routine Care And Grooming
The importance of routine care and grooming should not be underestimated for any animal; cats, dogs, and horses — each have needs that must be addressed regularly. For example, some animals may only need basic baths and brush outs, while others may require more extensive treatments such as clipping, styling, or specialized shampooing.
Otterhounds are no different and should receive regular care to ensure their coat remains healthy and tangle-free.
For the otterhound to be content and well-mannered at home, they require a lot of exercise. Of course, Otterhounds need more activity as they age, but one hour a day is an excellent starting point.
Save the vigorous activity till your dog’s second birthday to let its bones and joints mature correctly. In addition to swimming and playing fetch in secure areas, lengthy walks, hiking, and jogging are excellent possibilities after that.
It is never advisable to let otterhounds run free. When they smell something appealing, they often follow their noses instead of listening to your calls or paying attention to potentially hazardous situations like traffic. In addition, this breed’s propensity to leap and its vast size allow it to bound over lesser fences readily. Therefore, always keep your dog safely on a leash or inside a privacy fence.
This breed doesn’t require any trimming, which is excellent for those who don’t want the extra upkeep involved. However, it does need to be brushed thoroughly at least once a week to remove any dirt and debris that tends to accumulate in its shaggy coat.
Its whiskers and long beard can collect food and water, so it should also be given special attention. Finally, bathing usually depends on how the coat looks, feels, and smells, so it’s important to watch when it might need one.
Additionally, their large furry paws can easily drag around dirt, leaves, and grass. Therefore, a weekly check-up on your pet’s nails is also recommended.
🍖 Diet and Nutrition
Proper planning is critical regarding your otterhound’s diet and nutrition. Feeding your pup on a set schedule, preferably in the morning and evening, will help you gain control over portion sizes. In addition, make sure that you measure precise amounts of food using either a measuring cup or a scale.
It’s important to note that due to their large size, it’s crucial to avoid overfeeding them, as this can lead to Bloat, a hazardous health condition for dogs. Furthermore, long-term weight gain can also increase the chances of developing hip dysplasia. For these reasons, ensure you feed only high-quality dog food specifically tailored for large breeds like the otterhound.
Training an Otterhound is no easy feat – they can be a challenging breed to train. Owners should start early, at around eight weeks of age, to ensure their Otterhound gets the best foundations for learning. Remember, it’s not that these dogs are particularly stubborn or dim-witted. You need to figure out what motivates yours!
Clicker training and positive reinforcement techniques work best as these breeds have sensitive personalities and respond favorably to praise and treat-based rewards. During each session, keep things short and sweet while firmly reinforcing the behavior you expect from your pet; doing so will help set clear expectations while avoiding frustration.
Where to Adopt or Buy an Otterhound
Adopting or buying an otterhound can be an exciting journey if you know what to expect. The cost of adding an otterhound to your family will vary. Generally, adopting one will save you money: they typically range from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the bloodline and availability.
But even if buying is more expensive upfront, it can be worth it as you know precisely where the otterhound puppy is coming from and its history. In both cases, though, research all options before making a decision; a good place to start is the American Kennel Club (AKC) and The Otterhound Club Of America Breeders.
They have extensive resources with detailed information on preparing for the adoption or purchase of your new pup. With the proper preparation and research, deciding whether to adopt or buy an otterhound should be straightforward and smooth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What behavioral changes can I expect from an Otterhound?
A: Well, for one thing, this bundle of energy is known to be exceptionally social. Otterhounds love to be in the middle of all the action – snuggling with family and friends (humans and pets!), frolicking at dog parks, and eagerly collecting pretty much anything people and other animals drop on the floor! They are also very curious and have great senses of smell and hearing, so keeping them engaged with stimulating activities that match those unique traits is essential. But above all else, they love their humans more than anything else. So if you open your heart and home to an otterhound, expect lots of cuddles and goofy grins!
Q: Is pet insurance necessary in owning this kind of dog breed?
Owning an otterhound is a big commitment! They require plenty of grooming and vet visits to stay healthy, so pet insurance is certainly something you should consider. In addition, Otterhounds have a particularly active lifestyle, which means they can be rather accident-prone. The cost of caring for a furry friend, especially one like an otterhound, can quickly add up. Protecting them with good pet insurance can help take the sting out of those vet bills. Pet insurance lets you ensure your beloved otterhound always has access to the best care without risking draining your wallet. No matter what challenges come your way as an otterhound owner. Pet insurance can give you peace of mind that your pup’s health and well-being are cared for.
Q: How does the Otterhound Breed Club support its members?
The Otterhound Breed Club works hard to provide its members with plenty of resources to help them develop and foster relationships with other members. And take steps to preserve and promote the breed. For example, they host regular events such as informational webinars, seminars, and gatherings celebrating different aspects of the breed, such as local heritage days, networking opportunities, and educational materials. The club also has a health fund for members who have older dogs that need medical attention. And if that wasn’t enough, they have a puppy referral program so prospective owners can find responsible breeders and connect with their new puppy’s littermates nationwide!
Q: Can otterhounds live in apartments?
Apartment living can be great for many dogs, but otterhounds may not be one of them. These large and active hounds need lots of room to roam to be content with their lives. Since apartments typically don’t offer ample space or a yard, they would feel restricted. And nobody wants an unhappy pup! On top of needing a physical room, otterhounds tend to have louder than average barks, which might bother your neighbors in an apartment setting. At the same time, it’s possible that an individual dog might do alright living in an apartment. The consensus is that these active pups need more extensive settings.
Q: Do otterhounds get along with other dogs?
Sure, otterhounds get along with other dogs. Think of them as the socialites of the canine world! They love meeting and getting to know their fellow furry friends. These pups can be quite boisterous and enjoy being around a pack – that’s why they’re often found in large groups at doggy parks. Of course, they need proper training to help keep their rambunctiousness in check, but otterhounds have no problem making a bunch of new four-legged pals. They do great with other big and small animals and never shy away from a playdate!
Considering how energetic and playful Otterhounds can be, those with a lot of outdoor space and an active lifestyle would do well to consider getting one. On the other hand, if you don’t have that much room or are away from home for a significant chunk of the day, maybe another breed would be better suited for your situation. The fact is, Otterhounds make fantastic pets. They’re intelligent, devoted, and excellent at problem-solving. So, if you can give them the care and attention they need (plus plenty of exercises!), confidently add an Otterhound to your family!