Temperament: Even-Tempered, Amiable, Boisterous

  • Height: 27 inches (male), 24 inches (female)
  • Weight: 115 pounds (male), 80 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 10-13 years
  • Group: Hound Group 

Big, boisterous, and affectionate, the Otterhound was bred in medieval England for the now-outlawed activity of otter hunting. This scarce breed is known for his dense shaggy coat, webbed feet, acute sense of smell, and affinity for swimming.


The Otterhound is a large, rough-coated hound with an imposing head showing great strength and dignity, and the strong body and long striding action fit for a long day’s work. It has an extremely sensitive nose, and is inquisitive and perseverant in investigating scents. The Otterhound hunts its quarry on land and water and requires a combination of characteristics unique among hounds-most notably a rough, double coat; and substantial webbed feet. Otterhounds should not be penalised for being shown in working condition (lean, well muscled, with a naturally stripped coat). Any departure from the following points should be considered a fault; its seriousness should be regarded in exact proportion to its degree.

About the Otterhound

These big, bouncy hounds were ideally suited for otter hunting. OHs are built to be expert swimmers, from the top of their rough, waterproof coat to the bottom of their big webbed feet. A broad chest and powerful shoulders allow them to swim all day without tiring. Their large black nose is amazingly sensitive and could follow an otter’s underwater scent trail over great distances. And the OH’s size and strength enabled them to take on a sharp-toothed, razor-clawed otter that might weigh 20 pounds.

NUTRITION The Otterhound should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING While Otterhounds should be shown as naturally as possible, their coats do need brushing once or twice a week, depending on length and texture. A good slicker brush and medium comb work for this. The Otterhound’s beard may need cleaning at the same time, since the dogs tend to drag them on the ground and store snacks in them. Nails should be trimmed every week or two.

EXERCISE Otterhounds need mental as well as physical exercise. A large, securely fenced yard is a good beginning, but some hounds will lie under a tree in a fenced acre rather than self-exercise. Long walks to sniff the world and visit passersby are good for both owners and hounds. Obedience classes, tracking, and agility all provide mental stimulation as well as good exercise.

TRAINING As large and strong as Otterhounds are, they can be very sensitive. Use positive, reward-based training methods and praise to get the best results. Like people, Otter-hounds love to be told how wonderful and talented they are when they master something. Be patient. Food usually works well in training, but the combination of food and praise together is even better. Clicker training can also work well with Otter-hounds.

HEALTH Otterhounds are healthy for a large breed, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as epilepsy and hip dysplasia, though even dogs with moderate hip dysplasia on radiographs may move very well for their entire lives. Like all large dogs, Otterhounds can experience bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach enlarges and sometimes twists. Owners should educate themselves about the signs of bloat and the action to take should it occur.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia DNA Test

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