Otterhound - Information and NZ Breed Standards

Membership ID


General Information - Otterhound



10-13 years




Watchdog Ability:

Protection Ability:
Very low

Area of Origin:

Date of Origin:
Ancient times

Other Names:

Original Function:
Hunting otters


The Otterhound is a rather old breed obtained from crossings among the Bloodhound with Rough-Haired Terriers, Griffons and Harriers. The otter, as the breed's name suggests, is this dog's preferred prey. Otterhounds were used in packs for controlling the otter population, since otter competed with fisherman for the natural trout supply in rivers. Several British Kings were titled Master of Otterhounds, including King John, (1199-1216), Richard III, Charles II, Edward II and IV, Henry II, VI, VII and VIII and Elizabeth I. In the late 1800s there were sometimes more than a dozen packs operating in Britain during every hunting season. The Otterhound has a sense of smell so acute that it can smell in the morning an otter that passed through the water the night before. In the 20th century, as the otter population diminished, so did the Otterhound's popularity. By 1978, the otter became a protected species and the Otterhound's existence was threatened. A concerted effort by several dedicated breeders saved the breed and brought these dogs to the show ring. The Otterhound is a great swimmer with the ability to swim for hours without stopping. Defying the cold water and wet, it will dive into the water seeking its prey and its prey's den. The breed has also been used successfully to hunt raccoon, bear and mink. It has a good sense of smell and is ideally suited to drag-hunting or searching. An Otterhound can also make a fine family companion. The breed has been introduced at least twice in New Zealand and Australia, but numbers remain small. The Otterhound is listed as a rare breed.


The Otterhound is a bold and exuberant dog. Friendly, cheerful, loving and devoted, it 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 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. Otterhounds have a harmonious, boisterous and powerful voice that carries for long distances. They like to bay; though they don't bark excessively.


The Otterhound needs daily exercise in a safe area or on a leash. It has a loud, melodious voice that carries for long distances. The Otterhound's coat requires only weekly brushing or combing. It may need its beard washed more frequently. Tidiness is not one of its virtues; the large, hairy feet tend to hold debris and mud, and the long hair around the mouth can hold water and food. It can sleep outdoors in temperate or cool climates, given good shelter.

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