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The Otterhound is a large, rough-coated scent hound with drop ears and an attractive bearded face. They come in all the usual hound colours, and their rough, shaggy coat has an oily, water resistant quality to it to allow them to work in water and all weather. The long, strong tail is carried high when the hound is working and droops lower when relaxed or at rest.

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for experienced owners
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
  • Large dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Not a guard dog
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • Great family dog

Key Facts

Lifespan: 10 – 13 years
Weight: 36 – 54kg
Height: 61-69cm
Colours: All recognised hound colours including: whole coloured, grizzle, sandy, red, wheaten, blue, white, black and tan, blue and tan, black and cream, liver, tan and liver, tan and white
Size: Large
UK Kennel Club Groups: Hound


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 5/5
Easy to train: 2/5
Tolerates being alone: 5/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 4/5


The Otterhound is a friendly, good natured dog with a sense of humour and fun. They are also a large dog in every sense of the term, tall, long, well built and shaggy coated. They can be exuberant and boisterous, and as with all scent hounds, are inclined to switch their ears off once their nose is engaged.

History and Origins

Country of Origin: England

Originally bred to hunt otters in order to protect fish stocks in ponds, this strong bodied large hound is ideally built to work in water for hours on end. This is an ancient breed and the earliest records of otter hunting with hounds’ date back to the reign of Henry II in the 12th century. In those days the breed was much more like a terrier than a hound and it was several centuries until the terrier influence was bred out in favour of the large hound we know today.

The breed has an illustrious royal history with King Edward II holding the title of First Master of Otterhounds with Queen Elizabeth I being given the title of first Lady Master of Otterhounds. They were extremely successful at their job and in the early 20th century, the 30 Otterhound packs working the rivers of England had reduced the otter population to near extinction. As a result, otter hunting was banned in 1978 - and the Otterhound found themselves out of a job.

Did You Know?

  • Otterhounds stopped hunting otter in 1978, as otters were rare and gained protected species status.
  • The Otterhound is now endangered and are thought to be rarer than the giant panda. They are on the UK’s vulnerable breeds list with less than 50 puppies registered per year for the last 5 years.
  • Otterhounds have an odd way of drinking, submerging their whole nose under water at times, blowing bubbles and spreading the water quite some distance!
  • They have large, webbed feet to help them swim.
  • They’re known to be quite vocal and have a deep ‘bay’ which carries over long distances.
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