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Short History of the BreedEngland is the country where the Otterhound was developed, at about the time of King John (1199-1216).The ancestry however, has always been in question, with many theories. The purpose of this hound was very clear, to hunt in packs and kill the Otter which were constantly preying on, and depleting the fish in the rivers. It grew to be unpopular because it was the only kind of hunting during the months from April to September. Otterhounds are well adapted to the task, having webbed feet, long thick double impervious coats, very keen noses, a love of the water and great swimming endurance. Nowadays, the Otter is protected. This breed were very common until up to 1978 where a law came forward and was put into action that decreed that it was illegal to hunt otters. Although this upped the majority of otters, the dogs started to decline. Now in 2007, it is a fact that an estimation of 500 remain and will be extinct in the next ten years. Only about 55 otterhounds were born in 2006 compared to the Golden Retriever that had over 45,000 puppies.
The heyday of the Otterhound in England extended from the middle to the end of the 19th century. During most of those years, there were eighteen to twenty packs that hunted on a regular basis through the season. The most famous record of killing otters was by the Hawkstone pack of the Hon. Geoffrey Hill. From 1870 to 1890, this pack of dogs disposed of 704 otters.
The French origin of the Otterhound appears to be one of the most reasonable. They are almost the exact duplicate of the old Vendee hound of France. The two breeds are alike in both coat and body formation.
Otterhounds first came to the United States in 1900. While they have never grown to great popularity here, they have retained many steadfast friends. What they lack in appearance is compensated by its working qualities and its devotion to its owner.
Physical Description and SizeThe Otterhound ranges from 24 to 27 inches tall and weighs between 75-115 pounds. They have a hard, crisp close coat that has an oily nature that can stand any amount of immersion in water. The colors most desired are blue and white, though they go through many shades to black and tan colors.
Long and lanky describe the Otterhound. This breed has a very narrow, long head with a muzzle that is equal in length to the skull. Their broad nose sits below their dark, deep set eyes and low hanging ears. They have a very long neck and long thin tail. They have very large, webbed feet, which enable them to swim well. Their coat is somewhat shaggy with a slight wave to it.
TemperamentThe Otterhound is a bold and exuberant dog. Friendly, cheerful, loving and devoted, he makes a good companion. This breed is quite good with children, but may be clumsy with small children and therefore is not recommended for infants. They are a friend to all other dogs, family pets, children and people in general, however it will chase non-canine animals (it can get along with cats in the family). They are affectionate, intelligent, and independent with a mind of their own. Because the Otterhound was never traditionally kept as a pet, it is not among the most responsive of breeds. Training the Otterhound takes patience, because it tends to be quite willful. The best results are achieved with a soft but consistent hand. Use the classic "Iron fist in a velvet glove" approach when training this dog. The Otterhound is a low-key dog that can function as a quiet companion. They like to roam and sniff and have a tendency to snore. Otterhound have a harmonious, boisterous and powerful voice that carries for long distances. It likes to bay; though he doesn't bark excessively.
Dog Care(exercise, grooming, diet)
Otterhounds thrive in a house with a large yard. They are inactive inside but they do require a good deal of exercise in a cool climate.
Without frequent brushing and combing, Otterhounds become a matted mess. If you can't commit to the brushing, you have to commit to frequent trimming to keep the coat short, neat, and healthy. Otterhounds definitely shed, though some of the shed hair gets caught in the long tousled coat rather than ending up on your floor. Thus, frequent brushing is essential not only for keeping the coat mat-free, but for removing shed hair.
Like all shaggy dogs, the Otterhound is a messy dog. Leaves, mud, snow, fecal matter, and other debris cling to his rough coat and ends up all over your house. When he drinks, his beard absorbs water, which drips on your floors when he walks away. When he eats, his beard absorbs food so that when he sniffs your face or presses his head against your leg, YOU end up dirty, too. Big shaggy dogs are not suited to fastidious housekeepers.
Health Issues and Life ExpectancyOtterhounds can last from about ten years onwards up to about thirteen or fourteen years. Unlike other dogs that are as large as otterhounds, this breed has quite a long life expectancy.
This breed is prone to only a few health concerns. Both parents should have OFA certificates (hips). Also ask about bloat and vWD in the lines. Some lines are prone to hip dysplasia, thrombocytopenia, hemophilia and bloat. Do not overfeed for it will gain weight easily. Another concern is elbow dysplasia.
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Latest page update: made by sands904
, May 2 2008, 3:59 PM EDT
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