Otterhound is a water dog with webbed feet and an ability to swim tirelessly for hours. Dog breeders have bred the Otterhound in England since the 13th century. People used the Otterhound to swim down the otter that robbed the streams of fish.
Though the Otterhound dog breed’s ancestry is uncertain, it is believed the Bloodhound and Southern Harrier may have contributed to its makeup. When pollution made both fish and otter scarce, the otter became a protected species in 1978 and the breed’s usefulness came to an abrupt halt.
Two purebred packs of Otterhounds remained and the owners were determined to keep the breed alive. An association was formed, a standard was drawn up and the Otterhound became a show dog. In the United States of America, the Otterhound has been used to hunt mink, raccoon, mountain lion and bear.
The Otterhound is described as amiable, boisterous and even-tempered, displaying unfailing devotion to its owner.
General Appearance: Large, straight limbed and sound, rough coated with majestic head, strong body and loose, long striding action, rough double coat and large feet essential. Free moving.
Height at the shoulder is approximately 27 inches (67 cm) for Dogs; Bitches 24 inches (60 cm).
Characteristics: Big, strong hound, primarily built for a long day’s work in water but able to gallop on land.
Head: Clean, very imposing, deep rather than wide, clean cheekbones, skull nicely domed neither coarse nor overdone, rising from distinct though not exaggerated stop to slight peak at occiput. No trace of scowl or bulge on the forehead, the expression being open and amiable. Muzzle strong, deep; with good wide nose, wide nostrils. Distance from nose-end to stop slightly shorter than to stop from occiput. Plenty of lip and flew, but not exaggerated. Whole head except for the nose, well covered with rough hair, ending in slight mustaches and beard. Eyes: Intelligent, moderately deep set eye; haw showing only slightly. Eye color and rim pigment variable according to coat color (a blue and tan hound may have hazel eyes). Yellow eye undesirable. Ears: Unique feature of the breed. Long, pendulous, set on a level with the corner of the eye; easily reaching nose when pulled forward, with a characteristic fold. Leading edge folding or rolling inwards giving a curiously draped appearance – an essential point not to be lost. Well covered and fringed with hair. Mouth: Jaws strong, large, well-placed teeth with perfect, regular scissor bite, i.e., the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
Neck: Long, powerful, set smoothly into well laid back, clean shoulders. Slight dewlap permissible.
Forequarters: Well laid shoulders. Forelegs strongly boned, straight from elbow to ground. Pasterns strong and slightly sprung.
Body: Chest deep with well sprung, fairly deep. oval ribcage. Ribs carried well back allowing plenty of heart and lung room; neither too wide nor too narrow. Body very strong, with level top line and broad back. Loin short and strong.
Hindquarters: Very strong; well muscled when viewed from any angle, standing neither too wide nor too narrow behind. Hind angulation moderate; hocks well let down, turning neither in nor out. Thighs and second thighs heavily muscled. In natural stance, hindlegs from hock to ground perpendicular.
Feet: Large, round, well knuckled, thick padded, turning neither in nor out. Compact but capable of spreading; hind feet only slightly smaller than fore feet. Webbed feet are necessary.
Tail: Stern and set high, carried up when alert or moving, never curling over back and may droop when standing. Thick at the base, tapering to point; bone reaching to hock and carried straight or in a slight curve. Hair under tail rather longer and more profuse than that on the upper surface.
Gait: Very loose and shambling at the walk, springing immediately into a loose, very long-striding, sound, active trot. Gallops with smooth and exceptionally long striding.
Coat: Long (1-1/2 – 3 inches/4-8 cm) dense rough, harsh but not wiry and waterproof; of broken appearance. Soft hair on the head and lower legs are natural. Undercoat evident and there may be a slight oily texture on tip and undercoat. Not trimmed for an exhibition. The presentation should be natural.
Color: All recognized hound colors permissible: Whole-colored, grizzle, sandy, red, wheaten, blue; these may have slight white markings on head, chest, feet and tail top. White hounds may have a slight lemon, blue or badger pied markings. Black and tan, blue and tan, black and cream, occasional liver, tan and liver, tan and white.
Colors not desirable: liver and white, a white-bodied hound with black and tan patches distinctly separate. Pigment should harmonize though not necessarily blend with coat color; for example, a tan hound may have a brown nose or eye rims. A slight butterfly nose permissible.