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Otterhound - A dog on the verge of extinction

Otterhound - Un perro al borde de la extinción

Lobo Azul |

The Otterhound is one of those dogs whose changing habits have brought it to the brink of extinction. It was created to hunt otters, but that practice has been banned and its census is quite scarce.

  • Weight : 30 to 52 kilos, depending on sex
  • Hair type : dense, coarse, hard and waterproof
  • Character : intelligent, very active and faithful to its owners
  • Health : very strong
  • Life expectancy : between 10 and 12 years


Not much is known about the origins of the Otterhound, but it seems that its trace is lost in medieval England and there is already news of a similar breed in the 12th century. Moving forward to the 18th century, there are already representations of a dog almost identical to this one.

It seems that English and some French hounds were involved in its creation, using them to hunt otters, which were considered vermin when they sneaked into ponds, as they ate the fish.

As a curiosity, the Airedale terrier descends directly from the Otterhound, so with that we can get an idea of ​​how old the breed is.

Already in 1978, otter hunting was prohibited in England, since they were about to disappear, so the Otterhound began a decline that has led to the fact that there are currently no more than 1,000 specimens, the majority in the United Kingdom, for which can be said to be in danger of extinction.

So much so that the Kennel Club has it on the list of the most vulnerable breeds in the United Kingdom , and experts say there is a good chance it will disappear in the short term.

Main features

It is one of the best swimmers of the canine genus , since otter hunting is impossible if the dog is not an excellent swimmer, since the hunts were carried out within lakes or water courses.

It has very rough and waterproof hair, and this breed has large feet and webbed toes. With this, you can stay in the water for a long time.

Its sense of smell is another of its distinctive elements, being one of the best among all dog breeds, helping it to smell otters even at enormous distances.

This is a large breed that reaches 61 cm and can weigh up to 52 kilos in the case of males, so they attract a lot of attention, which is helped by the presence of long, hanging ears, curling at the tip. and looking like they have been folded.

The accepted colors are fawn, black and cream, liver, blue and tan and black and tan, often with white spots in areas such as the head, the tip of the tail or the feet.


He has an excellent character and makes him a good companion dog as long as we do not live in an apartment, because due to his past he has a powerful voice and is a barker, which does not help him get out of the danger of extinction.

If we ignore this, we are faced with a balanced, ingenious and very intelligent animal that solves problems when it is in a situation that interests it.

With his family he is loyal, fun and very good, sociable with other dogs and pets, as well as with children.


He can be a somewhat stubborn dog, so if we are inexperienced we may have to turn to an experienced trainer, although, on the other hand, his intelligence makes him learn quickly.

Training should always be positive , since despite the fact that they have a tough dog appearance, the truth is that they are very sensitive dogs and do not tolerate shouting or bad manners well.

The most complicated thing when it comes to training him is that he has a highly developed hunting instinct. In this aspect, the Otterhound is a very primitive breed that does not repress its instincts, which can put it in danger by getting lost or even hit by a car.


They do not need a lot of exercise to be healthy and are content with typical walks, preferably in areas where they can swim , as they will be very happy, especially if they live in the countryside, unless they are dogs suitable for life in an apartment.

You don't have to pay too much attention to the hair, but a couple of brushes a week will be good , as well as keeping an eye on the ears, which are large and droopy.

We will have to clean the inside frequently, removing excess wax, and check them when we come from the field in case there is any foreign object inside.


This breed does not have its own diseases, since it is a very strong dog and whose crosses come from very ancient times. Furthermore, having never been in fashion, it has escaped indiscriminate breeding.

Its most common diseases are the same as those of any animal of its size: hip dysplasia , elbow dysplasia and stomach torsion .

The first two are prevented by purchasing a specimen that comes from a dysplasia-free line. There is not much to choose from given the small number of specimens that exist, but you must always ask for an x-ray of the ancestors, at least that of the parents.

Regarding torsion, there is no effective way to avoid it, but it seems that its incidence is reduced if we do not feed the Otterhound before going out to exercise, in addition to avoiding by all means that it feeds too quickly.


As in all large breeds, we must provide quality feed adapted to each stage of its life . This is essential when they are puppies, as they develop a huge body in a short time.

Any high-end feed will do , which we will provide carefully so that it does not gain weight, especially when it grows, as this could cause joint problems such as the dreaded dysplasia.

By talking to the veterinarian we will be able to find out what feeds may be good for him, although as always it is best to try. Once we give a feed that the dog is comfortable with, it shows in the shine of the coat, we will not change it anymore.

Due to their size, it may be a good idea to opt for those that have a lot of protein, whose main ingredients are quality meat or fresh fish in large quantities, complemented by the most varied vegetables and without grains such as wheat, barley or the corn.


There are breeds that are difficult to adopt in Spain, but getting an Otterhound in our country is impossible, since we are talking about an animal in danger of extinction and of which there are barely 1,000 specimens left.

In any case, if we have fallen in love with the breed, the best thing is to start looking in England , where we could find some specimen for adoption with which we should breed and thus work with the idea that the breed is perpetuated.

We do not need to go to the country, but we can carry out the first inquiries from Spain, contacting breeders, protectors, the breed club, etc., since there is always someone who for one reason or another cannot be done. take care of your dog, even if it is as special as the Otterhound.

Other large dog breeds:

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