Country of origin:
Great Britain
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
any recognized for a hound, except for: liver & white, white body with black and tan patches distinctly separate
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Download standard:
Pros Cons
  • a devoted friend
  • good hunter
  • great family companion
  • training is challenging
  • need a lot of daily exercises
The outsized and shaggy Otterhound was initially designed for hunting otter in England. Bred for work, this dog owns good scent and is famous for its robustness. It is also mischievous, amicable and loving with its family. This breed is reckoned to be rare with lesser than 10 Otterhounds born annually in America and Canada.


In the Dark Ages in England otters presented a serious competition for fish with fishermen. Otterhound hunted in pack for otters in order to constrict its number and support fishing business. This breed was mentioned for the first time as «otter doggie» in England in 1175.

Though the early part of its genealogy is somewhat vague, the contemporary Otterhound is believed to have appeared in the XVII century as the result of interbreeding Bloodhounds with different rough-coated French breeds, including the Griffon Nivernais and Griffon Vendeen and the now-extinct Old Southern Hound. Appearance of this dog carries strong influence of such French breed as Griffon Vendeen. Modern Otterhound takes its pedigree from a Bloodhound/Griffon Nivernais cross conducted in 1958.

Gradually the Otterhound acquired many prominent fans. Actually the dog was known to be popular among more kings (and one queen) than any other canine animal. Among its fanciers were Edward II, Henry VI, Richard III, Henry VIII, King John, Charles II, Edward IV, Henry II, Henry VII, and Elizabeth I.

Since 1978, the hunting for otters was banned by the law due to its near disappearance. The popularity of the Otterhound subsided dramatically and the breed was put under serious threat of extinction. Otterhound’s fanciers have managed to save the dog from this fate and today it participates with great success in dog shows and various competitions.
In 1909 the American Kennel Club (AKC) acknowledged the breed. The Otterhound is gifted with excellent scent and serves for drag hunting and searching, but it is also kept as a family companion.

The Otterhound is a big, rowdy and gregarious dog. It has an exceptional sense of humour and is eager to play for hours. The breed possesses melodious, peculiar voice that can at times bother your neighbours. It’s really sociable and «talks» to people, using mumbling, grumbling, growling, and sighing. As the hound, the dog has mind of its own and doesn’t require permanent human company.

Being naturally calm and amicable, the Otterhound still presents a good watchdog. It tolerates strangers but if attacked it will defend itself and its owner with all its might. Still this breed is not aggressive enough to make a good but not a guard dog.

The Otterhound loves children and won’t do them any harm purposefully, but its size and natural clumsiness make it hard for them not to shove a small child to the floor sometimes. The breed may become better choice for a family with older children, ages 10 and up.

The Otterhound will be friendly with other dog and gets on well with cats if they get accustomed to each other or live together from the early ages. About half of the dogs mature along with cats without any troubles. The other half can tolerate a cat until the beginning of the dog’s adolescence. Then the Otterhound сan attack the cat almost out of the blue.

This breed requires additional training to keep its instinct under control. The Otterhound is prone to chase small animals, so keeping in the same household rats, hamsters, rabbits and other home pets of this size and this breed may not be possible or at least not advisable.

Health problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• epilepsy;
• canine hip dysplasia;
• elbow dysplasia;
• sebaceous cysts;
• arthritis;
• cancer;
• allergies;
• impacted anal glands;
• ear infections;
• hypothyroidism.

The Otterhound has quite long hair. Surprisingly, the dog doesn’t shed as much as it might seem and doesn’t have excessive grooming requirements. Get prepared though to brush its coat every week to get rid of mats, especially on the head, legs and the belly. The owner should introduce grooming experience at the early stages of the dog’s life in order to teach the dog patience during this procedure.

In some cases it is recommended to trim the Otterhound’s coat. For instance, it would be wise to do so if you live on a farm or your dog develops allergies and skin problems. For the coat to grow back it will need for about two years. Regular bath is not mandatory for the breed, but certainly a must if you think of showing your dog.

The Otterhound is a pretty messy pet and likes to drag debris and dirt on its feet, beard and ears into the house. So if you get used to keep your house sparklingly clean, this slovenly beast is probably not for you.

Other usual practices of attendance as nails trimming and teeth brushing are also necessary for maintaining your dog healthy and good-looking. A greater attention must be applied to the dog’s ears. Low hanging ears of the Otterhound are easily subjected to infections, so they must be checked and cleaned on a weekly basis.


The Otterhound is challenging to train since it’s pretty independent and can express mulishness by rejecting to take part in training lessons. For this breed it’s the most appropriate to keep training sessions short and induce obedience by food treat. Otterhound is considered to be «soft», which describes its initial reluctance to obey but subsequent full complaisance.

Training with tough but somewhat gentle handling suits best for this breed. Strictly set rules, regularity and patience have crucial importance for learning process of such a stubborn dog as the Otterhound. This stubbornness can also make housebreaking of the Otterhound a real challenge. It matures slowly and may need six months to a year to have them fully housebroken. Crate training is highly advisable with this breed.

Socialization of the Otterhound should start as early as possible and persist all its life. The dog needs strong but caring leader, who occasionally will asserts his dominance over the dog and train it with firmness and love.

The Otterhound need a great amount of daily physical exercises. It can become an outstanding companion for those families, which prefer active lifestyle and spend its spare time hiking or jogging. It is destined to run and swim long distances. By any means an hour a day of a vigorous walk is a minimum for the dog to keep it happy and well-behaved at home.

The Otterhound is constantly in search of new smells and once it discovers something exciting it turns into unstoppable machine, meaning it will track the scent with steadfastness and resolution to the very end. Because of that the dog must stay on the leash at all times and can only be released off only in a securely fenced area.