Otterhound is large and impressive looking dogs that boast a rather rugged look about them.
The history of the Otterhound can be traced way back to the 12th century although much of the breed’s origins remains a bit of a mystery. What is known is that these charming, handsome dogs are considered to be one of the oldest British hounds on record. It’s thought the breed evolved by crossing 3 other hound breeds, namely the old Basset Griffon Vendeen, the Southern Hound and the old St Hubert Hound.
Throughout history, Otterhounds were highly prized for their hunting skills and more especially for their ability to track down otters which were considered a pest at the time. In times long past, otters caused a lot of havoc with fish stocks in rivers throughout Britain and Otterhounds were used to keep their numbers under control. They were bred to be strong and extremely agile so they could take on a quick moving and heavy otter, even in the water. Otterhounds are very strong swimmers and more than capable of taking on otters weighing anything up to 35 lbs.
However, the Otterhound we see today is a descendant of hounds that were around during the 1700’s with a record of a rough-coated dog have been the preferred “type” right up to the 1800’s. There are records of the breed having been exhibited at a dog show in Leeds in 1861. However, it was not until the beginning of the 20th Century, in 1910, that the Association of Masters of Otterhounds was founded with the hounds being depicted on their flag at a show that took place in Rugby.
In the early seventies, the number of otters found in rivers throughout the UK fell dramatically low and as such a conservation order was drawn up to protect them. In 1978, otter hunting was banned in England. Two years later otter hunting was banned in Scotland too. With this, the two remaining Otterhound packs united to ensure that the breed did not vanish altogether because their numbers had fallen so low, Otterhounds were on the brink of extinction.
Today, although these handsome hounds are not as popular as they once were and the breed has been placed on The Kennel Club’s vulnerable native breed list, enthusiasts are making sure that Otterhounds will find new tasks apart from being wonderful family pets and companions which includes working as drug detector dogs amongst other things.
Interesting facts about the breed
- Is the Otterhound a vulnerable breed? Yes, they have been placed on the Kennel Club’s list of vulnerable native breeds and very few puppies are bred and registered with the Kennel Club every year
- The Otterhound is one of the UK’s most ancient scent hounds. The first record being that made during Henry II’s reign (1100’s)
- Otterhounds have very distinct voices and bay when the mood takes them or to show they have found their prey
- Contrary to belief, an Otterhound does not need to be given a tremendous amount of physical daily exercise
- Waiting lists for Otterhounds are long and well-bred puppies can often command a lot of money
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