Photo by © Linda Schrader

Otterhound - Breed Profile:

Origin: United Kingdom
Colors: Any
Size: Extra large
Type of Owner: Experienced
Exercise: Daily
Grooming: Little
Trainability: Somewhat difficult to train
Combativeness: Friendly with other dogs
Noise: Likes to bay

Physical characteristics

The Otterhound is a large powerful dog with a shaggy appearance and bushy eyebrows. The head is deep, large, and narrow (resembles that of the Bloodhound). The ears are one of the breed's most essential features. They are long and low hanging. The leading edge of the ear folds or rolls giving a draped appearance. Pulled forward, the ear should reach at least the tip of the nose. The eyes are set deep. The nose is large and dark, either black or liver depending on the dog's color. The long tail is set high and curves up like a sabre. The gait is smooth and effortless. Like many other pack hounds, the Otterhound has a melodious and powerful voice and likes to bay, though he doesn't bark too much.
Male Otterhounds weigh about 115 pounds, female dogs weigh about 100 pounds.


Friendly, boisterous and even-tempered, the Otterhound is very devoted to his family. While adult dogs can be good with kids, a young Otterhound is big and likely to be clumsy, so it may not be the best companion for a wobbly toddler or a frail elderly person. Otterhounds are affectionate but don't demand attention all the time. They will greet you at the door, but then return to napping in the most comfortable spot in the house.
Due to their hunting nature, Otterhounds tend to chase non-canine animals. They can, however, get along well with family cats if raised with them from puppyhood. Training an Otterhound can take patience. If your dog feels you are less confident than itself, it will become really stubborn and independent. It's not because they have a bad nature but because they will believe they need to run the home. Be sure to remain a pack leader at all times. You'll need a sense of humor to live with an Otterhound, but you'll be living with a dog that has a pronounced sense of humor of its own: "Aw, Dad, let's do it this way!" Socialization at an early age is important. You wouldn't want to have am unruly dog of your size and twice as strong, would you?

Coat and grooming

Otterhounds have a double coat 3-6 inches long. The outer coat is rough, wolly, a bit oily, and dense with a broken appearance. The soft undercoat is water resistant. Weekly brushing should be fine, though the hairy paws and the beard tend to collect mud and other objects, so they need to be cleaned more often.
Any colors and color combinations are acceptable. The most common one is grizzle or wheaten with black markings.


Generally robust and healthy, but can be prone to hip dysplasia like many other large dogs. Beware of the bloat, weight gain, and hemophilia. Has a tendency to snore.

Other interesting facts

It is estimated that there are fewer than 1000 Otterhounds in the whole world.
Otterhounds love swimming like no other breed. They can swim for hours without resting even in cold water, diving and seeking for their prey.

See also: Breeding Otterhounds - Interview with Linda Schrader