Otterhounds Breed Information You Need To Know

Have you ever imagined a domesticated animal that is perverse due to its contrasting natures? That is what the hound family of dogs is. Despite being domesticated, otterhounds still have the hunting capabilities their fellow wild canines have. They can become both good companions and hunters for owners. Hounds are also independent and can often thrive without constant human supervision.

The otterhound belongs to this family of dogs, which we are going to talk about today. In this article, you will be able to find out all about otterhounds. That also includes their care, especially if you are planning to own one. But before that, we are going to talk about their history of domestication and companionship with humans.

These large, bounce hounds were bred for chasing otters; that is why Otterhounds are bred to be great swimmers. From the top of their rugged, resistant fur to the tip of their vast webbed feet, they can paddle through it without tiredness because of their big chest and muscular arms. In addition, their big black snout is incredibly sensitive, and they can track an otter’s underwater scent trace for long distances.

Photo Credits: Vetstreet.com

Hunters From The Past: Otterhounds History With Humans

๐Ÿถ Otterhounds initially originated in England approximately five centuries ago. Otterhounds were bred in the past to hunt down otters. As their name suggests, they were trained by humans to assist them in hunting. Hunting otters became a prevalent thing during that time because of the demand for their fur. Otterhounds used to patrol ponds and rivers, usually during the night when otters would come out. That is because otters are a nocturnal species, especially those residing in freshwater areas.

๐Ÿถ Since otters were semi-aquatic animals, otterhounds adapted over the years. They developed a water-resistant fur that contained special oils. This water-resistant fur prevented the wetness from slowing them down during a chase. Otterhounds also developed somewhat webbed feet during that time. They were able to chase down their prey faster because of these changes.

๐Ÿถ Otterhounds also developed a powerful sense of smell. Like most hunting dogs, this allowed them to locate prey even during the night. This keen sense of smell made up for their poor eyesight. Their fur also came in different varieties, but they mainly consisted of dark colors. These darker colors allowed them to use the nighttime as an advantage. They blend in the dark to make it harder for the other animals and their prey to see them.

The hunting of otters eventually stopped after they became endangered. That meant the otterhounds were no longer bred the way they were for hunting. Instead, Otterhounds became household companions after they retired from hunting. Although they still retained their hunting characteristics to this day. Being trained to catch prey in the water, these dogs became unique pets for many people. In the present times, they are considered one of the rarest dog breeds around. That is because many relevant pets rose to popularity due to being adjusted to become companions.

Now, we will talk about the physical description and characteristics of the otterhounds.

Distinct Features: Physical Characteristics And Appearance

โœ… Otterhounds are relatively a bit larger than average dog sizes. They range from 24-27 inches or 2-2.5 feet in height and 80-115 pounds. Male otterhounds are taller and heavier than their female counterparts. In addition, their lifespan is estimated to be 10-13 years which is the average for many other dog breeds.

โœ… They are shaggy and wooly in their appearance. Otterhound’s coat is not as thick as other dog breeds, but it is pretty unique. The outer part of their fur has a rough texture. Meanwhile, their undercoat is much softer and has a wooly texture. That is because the oils that allow them to become water-resistant reside in the undercoat.

โœ… Otterhounds come in a variety of colors and different combinations. These colors include black, liver, tan, wheaten, blue, gray, and white. Wheaten and brighter colors became more prevalent since the breed’s domestication as companion pets. At the same time, the darker colors used to be more common when they were bred as hunting dogs.

โœ… They have a nose that is often described as “clown-like” due to their round appearance. Otterhound’s ears are pretty long and are often hanging down from their heads instead of pointing upwards. Their eyes can easily be seen during their younger years but can eventually be covered by the fur. Despite being hunting dogs in the past, they are described by many to have a friendly appearance.

Photo Credits: Dogs Life

The Friendly Hunter: Temperament And Behavior

๐Ÿถ Otterhounds are very friendly towards people and other pets. Granted, they were trained to become socialized while still at a young age. They are very playful and can do well around children, but they should still be supervised. They also require a lot of space to roam free and exercise.

๐Ÿถ Despite their friendly nature, they can be independent on their own. You should not be surprised if your otterhound is trying to find food on its own. They are also communicative and vocal towards their owners and other dogs. Otterhounds communicate with each other through their vocal patterns. It can sometimes be a loud and lengthy session of noise which is not ideal for lovers of silence.

๐Ÿถ They also have their quirks while they are eating or drinking water. When eating, their fur or beard tends to become filled with remnants from the food. Which means you would have to clean it after they eat. They tend to shove their heads into the bowls. Especially when they are drinking, they prefer to submerge their heads in the water. That might be because of their water-resistant nature and their past as otter hunters.

๐Ÿถ They are also curious dogs due to their powerful sense of smell. They might sniff around in wide spaces that catch their interest. Otterhounds may even have a tendency to ignore their owners due to curiosity. That is why proper training, while they are young, is necessary.

Despite this, otterhounds are very loyal and protective companions. They will not hesitate to fight back in times of danger. In addition, their hunting instincts are still very relevant to their behavior and personality. However, each individual otterhound may have a different approach to these instincts. Regardless, they are both excellent companions and hunters. They have granted if you are willing to spend time and effort training them as puppies for a long-term benefit.
Photo Credits: Espree.com

Now we are going to proceed on how to take care of otterhounds.

First Health Steps: Essential Otterhounds Needs From The Vet Clinic

The Otterhound should be fed diets containing highly nutritious dog food, either conventionally produced or created at home with your veterinarian’s consent. Any diet plan should be tailored depending on the age of the dog. Some dogs are susceptible to becoming obese, so keep an eye on their calorie intake and body weight. Treats can be a valuable training technique, but feeding too much might contribute to obesity. Learn which human products are suitable for dogs and which are not. If you have any doubts and concerns regarding your dog’s health or nutrition, consult the vet. At all times, clean potable water should be within the area. Vaccinations are necessary to protect your dog against severe cases of these diseasesโ€”especially rabies and parvovirus, which require boosters every six months to 1 year.

โœ… Firstly, an otterhound puppy would need to have the essential vaccinations. Depending on your vet’s consultation, these are the required vaccinations for lethal canine diseases:

  1. Distemper
  2. Parvovirus
  3. Adenovirus
  4. Parainfluenza
  5. Rabies
  6. Heartworm
  7. Kennel Cough
  8. Canine Coronavirus
  9. Bordetella
  10. Leptospirosis
  11. Lyme Disease

โœ… Your dog is also going to need vitamins, but again, this depends on your vet’s consultation:

  1. Vitamin A
  2. B Complex
  3. Ascorbic Acid
  4. Calcium and D3
  5. Vitamin E
  6. Vitamin K
  7. Choline
  8. Antioxidants
  9. Omega 3

Your dog will also need to get deworming treatments as prescribed by your vet. These treatments usually happen every 3-6 months, depending on your dog’s age. Your vet may also prescribe probiotics to increase the mass of good bacteria in the intestines.

Growing Up To Be A Good Dog: Proper Puppy Training Courses

๐Ÿถ If you are an experienced dog owner, you can train your otterhound puppy through previous methods from your experience. However, if you are new or unsure, it might be time to enroll in a training program. That may be the puppy daycare where your otterhound will also be able to socialize with other puppies. However, the puppy daycare will usually require vaccinations for your dog to prevent diseases from spreading. You may also go for private coaching for older dogs.

๐Ÿถ These training courses are necessary for litter training, socialization, and obedience. Without these methods, you may have a hard time interacting with your dog based on your command. Unfortunately, training an otterhound can become a challenging experience entirely due to their curious nature. In addition, they may become easily distracted by their powerful sense of smell. So it is recommended that you look for an expert for the best results.

๐Ÿถ Once the training is done, your otterhound should regularly interact with other people. That is for the application of whatever they were able to learn during the training courses. Special training is also good if you have other dogs that your otterhound can interact with. Otterhounds are intelligent dogs and can adapt quickly to their environment. Granted, you were able to educate and train them to utilize their adaptability.

Otterhounds require both physical and psychological development. Although a wide, securely enclosed area is a great starting point, some hounds may rest underneath a tree in a walled acre rather than having aย self-exercise. Both owners and dogs benefit from regular walks to sniff the environment and greet people passing. Training classes, spotting, and flexibility all provide both cognitive and emotional engagement.
Photo Credits: Your Purebred Puppy

A Balanced Diet: Recommendations For Otterhounds Diet And Nutrition

Firstly, you must stick with a consistent routine for your otterhound. If they feel like it is time for feeding and there is no food, they will look for it themselves. Otterhound owners recommended that the best choice is to feed them twice a day. Usually, feeding sessions occur in the morning and then at night. Depending on your schedule, make sure that the feeding time is vacant for routine consistency.

What you feed them will depend on your vet’s prescription and your lifestyle. If you have a lot of time and can organize a raw diet for them, you can do so. However, some owners choose a combination of dog food brands for a balanced diet. One type of nutrient may be absent in one brand but present in the other one. You can consult your vet on what you should feed your dog. You should also know what they can’t eat, such as chocolate, caffeinated products, grapes, avocados, and leftovers. Scrap food from the table can contain certain bacteria or additives that can harm them.

โœ… You should also be aware of the food allergies they may have. Some dogs can have allergic reactions to certain types of meat, dairy, wheat, or seafood. If any of these symptoms occur, it may be due to an allergic reaction:

  1. Itching
  2. Warm Spots
  3. Respiratory Infection Symptoms
  4. Skin Rashes
  5. Skin Changes
  6. Unusual Shedding
  7. Ear Infections
  8. Digestive Issues
  9. Seizures (although they are rare)

If your dog shows signs of an adverse allergic reaction, take them to the vet to relieve the symptoms. The vet may also advise and prescribe medications such as antihistamines to alleviate allergic reactions. However, it would help if you avoided the allergen at all costs to avoid risk to your dog’s health. In addition, some allergies can become progressively worse as your dog becomes older.

Physical Activity: Exercise And Play Time

There are a wider variety of games you can play with your otterhound than other dog breeds. Besides the usual ball or frisbee games, they can also play very well in the water. Otterhounds, despite their size and strength, can be extremely sensitive. To achieve the best results, use encouraging, incentive methods of training and compliments. When Otterhounds perfect anything, they, like people, adore being assured how great and clever they are. Patience is required. Food usually is effective in coaching, but a mixture of treats and commendation is even more effective. Otterhounds can benefit from clicker training as well.

Here are some exercises you can do with your otterhound:

๐Ÿถ Letting Otterhounds Play in a Wide Area

As long as they are supervised, you should allow them to run around a wide area. Otterhounds have very high energy levels, so make sure you can keep up with them. Simply letting them out can already provide some form of exercise. But they do prefer to have a large enclosure for their playtime.

๐Ÿถ Ball or Frisbee catch

A typical frisbee or ball catch game can already be a good exercise for both you and your dog. Since otterhounds are hunters, chasing something can be very enjoyable for them. Make sure you play in a broad and open area to prevent any objects from getting hit by the frisbee or ball.

๐Ÿถ Simply Walking Them

This is optional for people who can have a firm grip and can keep up with otterhounds. Due to their size, otterhounds can lead their owners through their leashes. That may not become an issue if the dog is adequately trained to follow commands, in any case. They can also run at high speeds, which may become a problem if they chase something while on a leash. That may not be the best exercise for a dog like the otterhound, but it still counts as physical activity.

๐Ÿถ Swimming

Otterhounds love to swim and are built for swimming. They are some of the best swimmers in the whole canine family. So taking them to a private swimming pool can be an enjoyable experience for both of you. You can let your otterhound free roam or play catch with them while in water. That will not work in usual public pools, however, due to animal restrictions. But certain public pools around the world are made exclusively for dogs.

๐Ÿถ Diving Hunt Game

You can try submerging a toy in the pool for your otterhound to dive for. They are excellent divers, but make sure to supervise them while they do so. It is best if you try playing in low levels of water first.

Cleanliness Leads To Good Health: Grooming And Proper Hygiene

โœ… Otterhounds require brushing every week. However, if their fur is softer than usual, it is best to skip the brushing. Excessive brushing can lead to skin irritation, so be gentle when doing so. Otterhounds may require special shampoo for their fur due to its water-resistant nature. It is best to see what works well for their fur without drying it out. Remember, their outer fur should be a bit rough, while their undercoat should be soft and oily. Too much shampoo can dry out these oils and cause skin damage. Bathing is usually done every month, depending on the season.

โœ… Otterhounds also need to get their nails checked and trimmed. If left unchecked, they may hurt themselves when they try to scratch a part of their body. If you are unsure of the proper method of nail clipping, hire a groomer to do the job. And, if your otterhound had been in the water or had been swimming, dry them properly. Also, check their beards after eating because they may have come into contact with their food due to their length and thickness. You should also keep their ears in check for any wax buildup. Since their fur is oily, some of the oil can quickly build up inside of the ears. Make sure to clean their ears properly to prevent infections.

โœ… While Otterhounds’ coats should be displayed as usual as possible, they require grooming once or twice a week, depending on waves and curls. This is best done with a smoother brush and a medium brush. Because the dogs run their beards on the dirt and hold goodies in them, the beard of the Otterhound may need to be cleaned at the same time. Every week or two, nails should be clipped.

Tender Love And Care: Companionship And Social Needs

๐Ÿถ Otterhounds are very social and can be cuddly companions. However, they do not heavily rely on their owner for everything, unlike many other dog breeds. They can be left alone and usually be okay with being solitary. It depends on their personality, as some can become somewhat more introverted than others. Although they love attention and socialization, they also dedicate time to themselves.

๐Ÿถ This is because of their nature as hunting dogs in the past. Their masters left them to patrol around bodies of water. Thanks to their history, they can be left alone for long periods as long as they do not develop problems such as separation anxiety. In the event of separation anxiety, you can leave a piece of clothing that you wore. This way, your otterhound can still be comforted by the presence of your scent. Although it is a pretty rare case in their species, separation anxiety highly depends on their personality and temperament.

Photo Credits: The Kennel Club

Sickness That Comes With Health: Common Health Issues of Otterhounds

โœ… Common otterhound diseases include dysplasia, epilepsy, and gastric torsion. All of these diseases are genetic and are usually inherited from their parents. Consult the breeder or seller of the otterhound for any health issues. Just be aware that no dog is perfectly safe from diseases, so do not trust people who say otherwise.

โœ… Dysplasia can occur with the dog’s hips and elbows. This can be fixed with surgery but can leave permanent effects for the otterhound. They may not perform well in physical activities as well as they used to. They may also develop epilepsy which can be treated with medication. All of these diseases can take a toll on your budget if not prevented early. It can even cause death in some cases, especially if it gradually becomes worse. These diseases will usually appear in older otterhounds. However, in rare cases, they can be something they had since they were puppies.

โœ… Otterhounds are a healthy breed of dog for their large size. Competent breeders examine the lineage for health issues like seizures and joint disease. Yet, even dogs with substantial hip problems on ray images can live a long life and move well. However, like all large dogs, Otterhounds are susceptible to bloat, a life-threatening illness where the stomach expands and arches. Owners should get familiar with the symptoms of bloating and what to do if it occurs.

Nothing Is Perfect: Cons Of Owning Otterhounds

No pet is perfect for anyone because it highly depends on what the owner can provide. You can never get a perfect pet, but a pet suited for your capability to give. So if you have problems with these cons, re-consider if you genuinely want an otterhound:

  1. Otterhounds require a lot of exercise and time outdoors
  2. They can become stubborn and hard to train though it depends on personality.
  3. Otterhounds are easily triggered by swift movements from other animals. Again this is due to their hunting instincts as a hunting dog breed.
  4. They are very vocal and can cause a lot of noise.
  5. Otterhounds require a lot of grooming and fur cleaning due to the wooly nature of their fur.
  6. They are incredibly hard to find in the current times.

The last reason is something that concerns a lot of people. Because it is very difficult to find an actual breeder around your area, even if you do find one, they can become very expensive due to their rarity.

The Sad Truth: Why Otterhounds Are Rare To Find

โœ… Unfortunately, otterhounds are an endangered species of bloodhounds. There are less than a thousand of them registered around the world. They are among the rarest domesticated dog breeds in the world. The reason for this is unclear, but there is speculation that it has something to do with otters. Since otter hunting was banned, there was no need to breed the otterhound frequently. Nowadays, only a few breeders have a steady population of otterhounds. They are purposefully bred only for hunting and not companionship. It is a shame because they are excellent companions to have despite their demanding needs.

โœ… If you want to help protect otterhounds as a breed, there are ways on the internet. Organizations such as the Blue Fairy Otterhound organized programs to preserve the dog breed. It can also help you get an otterhound or two to help populate them if you have the means to do so. However, it will take a unified effort to get this dog breed out of the endangered animals’ list. So we have to make sure that they are correctly taken care of.

In Conclusion

It is advisable to ask the breeder for help in picking a breedย by explaining precisely what you’re searching for in a dog. Breeders are familiar with the dogs on a regular basis. They can give incredibly accurate suggestions once they learn about your personality and lifestyle. If you really want an Otterhound for any reason, look for the one for whom the parents possess a pleasant temperament and have been adequately trained since the early stages of life.

These are the general information that you will need to know about otterhounds. However, there is so much more to this breed than simply considering it as a rare breed. They might be endangered, but we can save them from extinction. Owning one can be very difficult but rewarding, knowing you did well for the sake of their breed. As with any pet, they deserve a good home and the necessary care a domesticated animal needs.