The Otterhound is a breed of substantial size and great amiability. It is somewhat of a clown and enjoy rough and tumble play with other dogs. Otterhounds were originally bred as a pack hound, (to run with a pack) they generally get along well with other dogs. As the name implies, they were developed to give chase to the otter and so they do have swimming instincts. Otters at one time were so plentiful in the British Isles that they endangered the fishing industry and the hounds would be set upon the otters to keep this from becoming so great a problem.
|(Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
However, the Otter is now on the endangered species list and of course their hunting is banned. The dog still remains popular as a pet and a Show dog and makes a gentle but protective guardian as well. They are not really a guarding breed but their voice alone is enough to sound quite an alarm not to mention their large size. Their bay is actually a delight to hear, being melodious and deep and the bark is gruff but soft.
The Otterhound looks rather rough in a natural state, the coat is shaggy and wiry or coarse. Historically, he has both Terrier and Hound in his genetic makeup and the coat reflects the characteristics of the Terrier type of coat. Colors are mostly tans and salt and pepper. The outer hairs are water resistant with a dense protective undercoat. He is a large breed standing 24 to 26 inches at the withers, with a large head and pendulous ears. His coat is easy to maintain as being of terrier type it easily sheds dirt and brambles and bits of leaves, etc.
This is not a dog that is for a neat housekeeper since he is continually bringing in such items on his coat and dripping them off onto the floor. Although he usually doesn't slobber he has a large mouth that can produce a lot of saliva when the smell food is in the air. Furthermore his hairy face will collect the water as he drinks and if his face is not wiped immediately it drips off of his hairs as he makes his way across a room. Many owners will keep a towel handy near the water dish or will allow access to water only when he is outside.
The Otterhound is in the same predicament as many of the large breeds when it comes to hip dysplasia. It continues to be a problem in the breed and care must be taken to x-ray this dog before breeding. Also the possibility of bloat or gastric torsion can be a problem. There is no way of knowing is this condition is genetic in nature though it is suspected that it is "familial".
After the Otterhound outgrows his puppyhood (which will last at least until the age of two) he usually settles down somewhat and at least is not so awkward .
He retains a bit of stubbornness in his personality, after all, he is a pack dog and has a tendency to tend to his own desires rather than those of his master. He is also a playful and boisterous breed, quite active and energetic. However he is intelligent and will respond to training. He needs plenty of exercise and of course needs a fenced in enclosure. He enjoys nothing more than being with his family on a regular basis but is not unhappy if in the yard and is not demanding of constant attention, especially if he has another dog to keep him company.