The "Clown Prince" of Hounds

Otterhounds as Pets

Otterhounds make great pets, if -

- you have a sense of humor (and a fair amount of patience).
- you aren't obsessed with keeping your house/clothes spotless.
- you have a securely fenced yard.
- you just love that hound voice (and so do your neighbors!).
- you are looking for a pet and watchdog - but NOT a guard dog.

About Otterhounds

The Otterhound has Bloodhound ancestors in his background, and is in turn one of the ancestors of the Airedale Terrier. There are fewer than 1000 Otterhounds world wide. The earliest written reference to what was to become the Otterhound occurred in 1212 when King John had orders sent to the Sheriff of Somersetshire to house four men "and two horses and twelve otter hounds as long as they find employment capturing otters in your shire". Edward II also kept "twelve otter dogges and a couple of greyhounds" with two men assigned to caring for them.

This is a large, strong breed ranging in size from 65 pounds and 24 inches at the shoulder for a small female to 125 pounds and 28 inches for a large male. Otterhounds are affectionate but don't demand attention all the time. They are generally quite willing to include most two and four legged members of the household in their notion of their "pack". Otterhounds are also generally good with kids, but a young Otterhound is big and likely to be klutzy and may not be the best companion for a wobbly toddler or a frail elderly person.

Otterhounds have a relatively long life span of 10 to 13 years They are usually quite slow to mature, both physically and mentally.

Though some Otterhounds have a fair amount of coat they do not shed a great deal. Expect to brush an OH on a weekly basis to keep the coat from matting. Most OHs aren't slobbery dogs, but they've got beards, long ears and BIG hairy feet that get into their water bowls, food dishes, and any available mud, and then spread it around. Otterhounds don't seem to develop the strong "doggy" odor that some dogs do, so frequent baths should not be necessary, but you will probably need to clean ears on a regular basis.

Otterhounds have a deep bay, a lovely melodious sound, which carries amazingly well. Listening to the "music" made by a large pack of Otterhounds was considered one of the special pleasures of the hunt. As a large dog with an impressively deep voice, an Otterhound can make a good watch dog, but their friendly nature makes them poor candidates as guard dogs.

Young Otterhounds need and want a fair amount of exercise, so you do need a fenced area for them, and if it isn't big, you'd better like long walks or dog jogging. Otterhounds are not good candidates for walking off leash. Training OHs takes some patience, as they can be stubborn. Their considerable size makes training something you DO NOT want to ignore. These can be very bright dogs - particularly when it comes to getting something they want.

So what is the special attraction of Otterhounds? For many, it's the great personality. You need a sense of humor to live with an Otterhound, but you'll be living with a dog that has a pronounced sense of humor of its own. Ask yourself if you can love and perhaps admire an independent dog who will love you, but will NOT worship the ground you walk on.

If you decide that an Otterhound is really the dog for you, finding one can prove to be quite challenging, The Otterhound Club of America can refer you to breeders or to the OHCA rescue coordinator in your area.

For more Information...

Kiki Lamb
updated 23-Jun-2006