The Otterhound has a big, strong frame covered in a rough, close, waterproof coat that can come in just about any color, but it’s commonly found in black & tan patterns. Its head is large, narrow, square-muzzled and covered in hair. It has dark, deeply set eyes, long, hanging ears and a dark nose. Its saber-like tail is usually carried high and its feet are webbed—ideal for swimming and stomping though streams. Overall, the Otterhound has a rugged but noble look.
The Otterhound is a big, lovable dog with an excellent personality. Fairly low-key around the house, the Otterhound is friendly and outgoing with family members but appreciates long naps and personal space. This is an independent dog, but not a loner: It gets along very well with strangers, other pets and older children (this dog may be too big and boisterous for a small child).
Training can take some patience. It has its own way of thinking and can be slow to mature. Careful, persistent lessons and socialization will get it on the right track. Overall, the Otterhound is a loyal, fun, cuddly dog with a great sense of humor.
The Otterhound can live as long as 13 years—some may even reach 16. Common health issues include hip & elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, bleeding disorders and bloat. To prevent bloat, feed the Otterhound smaller meals throughout the day instead of one big meal.
The Otterhound is happiest when it has easy access to the outdoors. Apartment living might not be suitable. A large, fenced yard and several walks every day will keep it mentally and physically in shape. This is a great dog to take camping: It loves swimming, hiking, exploring and hunting. Always remember to take a leash—if the Otterhound picks up an interesting scent it will follow it anywhere.
Though so-called “otter dogs” have been romping around riverbanks in England and France since the 13th century, the modern Otterhound did not take form until the 18th century. Traditionally used to keep otters from depleting local fish stocks, Otterhounds are now quite rare: According to some figures, fewer than 1,000 exist worldwide.
Top photograph: Kayla Bertagnolli, as captured at the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.