English Otterhound – What You Need to Know

Friendly, affectionate, and incredible tough fur is what makes up the English Otterhound. Although thoroughly domesticated, otterhounds still have their natural hunting capabilities. Therefore, they make excellent companions for average owners and hunters alike.

This breed is still relatively uncommon in most parts of the world. However, it’s slowly rising in popularity, especially in the US and Canada. In this article, you’ll be able to find out all you need to know about English Otterhounds.

From their ancestry to their specific health concerns, here’s everything you need to know.

History of the English Otterhound

London Cityscape

During the 18th century, hunting with hounds in England was the pastime. Although fox hunting was the most popular among hunters, otter hunting came in a close second. 

This kind of hunting was developed due to river otters decimating fish populations. And this was a significant food source for people at that time. So, as time passed, otter hunting became prevalent as a necessity and as a sport. 

Moreover, royalty and noblemen, including the late Queen Elizabeth I, raised otterhounds.

People initially bred the massive and rough-coated English Otterhound in England for hunting. So naturally, these dogs became excellent companions for hunters and workers. Using their keen noses and unbeatable stamina, these dogs are genuinely built for work. 

But in the 1970s, otter hunting was banned in England due to otter populations depleting. Regardless, the English Otterhound is still one of the most beloved breeds in England. 

However, English Otterhounds are still uncommon. According to the Otterhound Club of America, there are only 800 otterhounds worldwide. And you can find most of them in the UK and the US.

Regardless, they’re becoming more popular in the United States and Canada. But still, many end up in the care of shelters or rescues. 

The English Otterhound – An Endangered Breed

In recent years, expert estimates that there are only a few hundred of this breed worldwide. Notably, in 2012, there were only 600 English Otterhounds in the world. For this reason, the English Otterhound is widely known as one of the rarest and most endangered native breeds in England. 

That is partly due to otterhounds never being a popular breed in the past. Even during their initially breeding in the early 20th century, when otter hunting was a popular sport, the population of English Otterhounds was still small. 

Additionally, this dog is part of the Vulnerable Native Breeds list identified by the UK Kennel Club. Fortunately, plenty of efforts is being made to save this breed. 

General Characteristics

closeup photography of tan dog lying on floor

The English Otterhound was initially bred to accompany hunters when out hunting for otters. Hence its name.

Due to this, they have a naturally rough exterior. Firstly, Otterhounds have rough waterproof coats all over their body down to their webbed feet. With this, they can swim without any issues. 

Next, this breed has a broad chest and shoulders. And this enables them to swim for long periods without getting tired. Also, otterhounds have large black noses that can detect scents even underwater! 

Finally, otterhounds have large bodies and immense strength to support their initial purpose.

Many consider otterhounds a naturally friendly and affectionate breed; this is especially true with their human owners. This dog even loves kids and other dogs! They constantly seek playtime and physical activities to burn off their ever-growing energy levels. 

However, for that reason, many people living in small quarters find it challenging to take care of one. After all, to keep a colossal dog happy, you’ll need plenty of space for them to run in and move around! But for those who have room, you’ll be rewarded with a loving and loyal companion long-term.

What To Expect When Caring For an English Otterhound

Otterhound for Adoption

Remember, having a dog isn’t just a privilege. It’s a massive responsibility. Just like with any other breed, the English Otterhound depends on you for food, shelter, love, and more! Therefore, when you take one into your life, you must understand the following:

🏥 Health

For a larger than average breed, the English Otterhound is generally healthy. And breeders usually screen them for health conditions like epilepsy and hip dysplasia. 

However, even dogs with acute hip dysplasia can still move well for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, bloating is a different story. 

Like most large dogs, otterhounds can experience bloating. And this can be a life-threatening condition to this breed as it enlarges and twists its guts. So before adopting one, make sure to familiarize yourself with signs of bloating. With this, you should know what actions to take should it happen. 

The National Breed Club recommends getting hip evaluation and Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia DNA tests for English Otterhounds.

✂️ Grooming

Although otterhounds must be as natural as possible, you need to groom them now and then. Brushing every week, depending on their fur’s length and texture, should be enough. It’s best to use a quality slicker brush and medium comb. With this, you should be able to untangle every unruly hair your dog has. 

Additionally, most experts recommend only bathing this dog when necessary. For instance, if they get muddy paws from playing in the rain, it’s time to bathe them. 

Also, the dog’s beard might need cleaning from time to time. After all, otterhounds tend to drag them on the ground or even store snacks in them! Finally, consider trimming their nails every week or two. 

🏀 Exercise

Having a large enough space is required when raising an otterhound. After all, where would they exert all this pent-up energy? So having a decently sized fenced yard is ideal when adopting an English Otterhound. 

But you may notice that some hounds will lie under shaded areas rather than exercising. If this is the case for your dog, actively engage with them. Doing so encourages them to get up and get some exercise! 

If that isn’t your thing, having long walks with this dog is also an excellent alternative. Besides physical exercises, otterhounds also need mental exercises. You can provide this by taking them to obedience classes or spend time with them. 

🐕 Training

Since otterhounds were initially bred for hunting, they’re naturally sensitive. So to train them, most experts suggest using positive and reward-based methods. Like humans, the English Otterhound likes being told how great and talented they are whenever they learn something. 

However, not all hounds are fast learners, so you need to learn to be patient. And though food is an excellent motivator for these dogs, adding praise is even better. Finally, if you’re looking for quick results, consider training them with a clicker. 

🐶 Adoption Process

Since the English Otterhound is a scarce breed, adopting one can be challenging. But it’s not impossible! It would be best if you found a responsible breeder. However, keep in mind that most otterhound breeders don’t breed often. They usually have a waiting list for puppies that can be anywhere between months or years long. 

In rare cases, some adult otterhounds may be available for adoption. And these are either retired show dogs or dogs that find themselves in dire situations. 

🤔 Temperament 

Otterhounds make for excellent family dogs. Although they can be a bit messy, they’re one of the most lovable and friendliest breeds you can find! So what if a bit of mud, fur, and drool get into your carpet? All that matters is that this precious dog will be a constant companion for the entire family. 

🦴 Nutrition

To raise a healthy and boisterous otterhound, you need to invest in high-quality dog food. Regardless if the food is commercially manufactured or home-prepared, quality is crucial. And make sure to follow your veterinarian’s advice. 

Generally, any diet should suit an otterhound’s age, whether they’re a puppy or senior dog. However, some might still be prone to getting overweight. So make sure to keep an eye out for what your dogs eat and their weight. 

Remember, though treats can be crucial in training, one too many can lead to obesity. So before adopting one, learn about which foods are best given in moderation. Additionally, knowing what human foods are healthy and beneficial for them is helpful. 

Also, having fresh and clean water is essential for this active breed. Doing so lets your dog stay hydrated and refreshed. 

Finally, if you have any concerns about your otterhound’s diet or weight, check with your vet!

Common Health Problems to Watch Out For

English Otterhounds are relatively healthy since they were bred for hunting. However, like most purebred dogs, they’re prone to developing hereditary health issues.

The most common issue to watch out for when raising an otterhound is hip dysplasia. That’s because their larger-than-average frame can exert excess strain on their hips. Therefore, owners should pay more attention to their dog’s activity levels more.

Also, the otterhound is susceptible to gastric dilatation-volvulus. In other words, your dog might be in danger due to bloating. It’s a life-threatening condition that causes the dog’s stomach to overfill with air. And due to this, it can twist their stomach, causing several complications.

Another medical condition to watch out for is the fatal bleeding disorder known as Glanzmann Thrombasthenia. Luckily, advanced genetic testing and responsible breeding have reduced this in the breed. But that doesn’t it isn’t possible for your dog to get.

In conclusion, experts suggest testing English Otterhounds for hip dysplasia and Glanzmann Thrombasthenia.

Also, it’s worth noting that when buying an English Otterhound from a breeder, always ask for paperwork. Doing so confirms that they performed these crucial tests.

Faq, Frequently Asked Questions, Question Mark

Q: Does an English Otterhound make for a good pet?

A: English Otterhounds can be fun and active pets, perfect for families with kids! However, since these dogs are larger-than-normal and boisterous, this might become an issue with families with really young and old family members. To avoid any incidents, always supervise these dogs when spending time with children or older individuals. 

Q: How much does an English Otterhound cost?

A: If you’re looking to get an English Otterhound, you’ll need to wait for a while since this breed is rare, and it’s going to cost you – a lot. The average costs for this breed are anywhere between US$1,500 to $2,500. Furthermore, since this breed is uncommon, you’ll likely have a hard time finding breeders. 

Q: For how long does an English Otterhound Live?

A: Although the figure varies, most experts agree that the average lifespan of this boisterous breed is anywhere between 10 to 13 years. However, with proper care and attention, these dogs can live past their prime! The oldest otterhound made it up to 16 years old. Just make sure to feed them quality food and regularly bring them to the vet.

Q: How can I get an English Otterhound?

A: The best place to buy or adopt an otterhound from is a responsible breeder. When doing so, make sure to ask for appropriate paperwork and certifications to get your money’s worth. However, if you’re looking to get an older otterhound, you’ll need to work with local rescue organizations. For instance, the Otterhound Club of America (OHCA) rescue organization is the go-to place in the US.

Q: Is it easy to train an English Otterhound?

A: Otterhounds were initially bred for hunting, and many accompanied hunters in the field, so training them is relatively easy. Despite being a larger-than-average dog, the otterhound is one of the easiest dogs to train, even for first-time owners! The best training methods for this breed include clicker and reward-based training.

There you have it, above is everything you need to know about the English Otterhound. However, keep in mind that there’s more to this breed than being rare. They’re friendly, great with kids, furry, and loyal, making them an excellent dog for everyone! 

As with any pet, otterhounds deserve a great home and care. And owning one won’t only be rewarding but exciting as well! 

Do you think this breed is for you? Consider adoption