What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Otterhound Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2015
The Otterhound has been described as a "big friendly dog with a mind of his own."
Though amiable and easygoing, he is so rugged that he belongs in a rural area with an outdoorsy owner who can give him the exercise he loves.
Swimming is an especially appreciated form of recreation, as these hounds were born to dive into water, whether it be a lake, a puddle, or simply submerging his shaggy head in his drinking bowl and coming up shaking.
A leash or secure fence is a must at all times, for the nose of this great hunter is exquisitely sensitive, always seeking out new and exciting scents. Once he's latched on to something, his perseverance, determination, and stamina (like those of his relative, the Otterhound) are legendary.
He tends to shamble along with a loose, shuffling gait, without lifting his feet high off the ground.
The Otter Hound's reaction to strangers varies from friendly to reserved. Most are good watchdogs but not guard dogs. He can be clumsy with toddlers.
Most Otterhound are fine with other dogs, but with his powerful hunting instincts, small pets are not always safe.
Obedience training takes time and effort, for he is stubborn and independent, yet "soft." In other words, though he'll be slow to obey, he'll be good-natured about it.
With their propensity for slobbering water, lumbering around in a rather klutzy manner, and tracking in mud with their hairy webbed feet, Otterhound are not good choices for fastidious housekeepers or those with no sense of humor. Also they have a loud, deep, distinctive bay that carries for amazingly long distances.
If you want a dog who...
- Is large, powerful, and shaggy, a plain-looking, rustic dog who shambles along with a loose shuffling gait
- Is enthusiastic and bumptious, and thrives on vigorous outdoor exercise
- Is amiable and easygoing, with a "good old boy" personality
An Otterhound may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Vigorous exercise requirements
- Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
- Destructiveness when bored or not exercised enough
- Strong instincts to chase other animals that run
- Slowness to housebreak
- LOUD baying
- Lots of brushing (or clipping the coat short)
- "Shaggy dog syndrome," i.e. debris clinging to the coat, water soaking into the beard and dripping on your floors
- Waiting lists (very hard to find)
An Otterhound may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Otterhound
If I was considering an Otterhound, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Otterhound MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy. Otherwise they become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by baying and destructive chewing. Bored Otterhound can turn your house and yard inside out in a single day.
I strongly recommend that Otterhound owners join their local tracking club and get their magnificent hounds involved in this potentially lifesaving activity. Otterhound were never intended to be simply household pets. Their working behaviors (sniffing scents, chasing things that run, exploring, baying) can be a nuisance in a normal household setting. Trying to suppress these "hardwired" behaviors, without providing alternate outlets for their energy, can be difficult.
- Chasing instincts. Otterhound are seldom used for hunting any more, but some individuals still have strong instincts to chase and seize fleeing creatures, including cats.
- Stubbornness. Otterhound are not Golden Retrievers. Though good-natured, they have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. Most Otterhound are very stubborn. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Otterhound to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Otter Hound Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Confinement. To keep your Otterhound in, fences should be high, with wire sunk into the ground along the fence line to thwart digging.
Otterhound cannot be trusted off-leash. They will take off -- oblivious to your frantic shouts -- after anything that emits an odor or runs.
- Slow housebreaking. Expect four to six months of consistent crate training.
- Noise. Otterhound should never be left outside in your yard, unsupervised. Their deep voice is extremely LOUD and carries a long way. Their baying will have your neighbors calling the cops to report the nuisance -- or quietly letting your Otterhound out of his yard so he'll wander away.
- Grooming and shedding. Without frequent brushing and combing, Otterhound 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. Be aware thtan Otterhound definitely shed, though some of the shed hair gets caught in the long tousled coat rather than ending up on your floor. Unless, of course, you clip the coat short, then their shed hair does end up on the floor. So when you clip, you trade less brushing for more shedding.
- "Shaggy dog syndrome." 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. Again, though, this can be mitigated by clipping the coat short.
- Finding one. The Otterhound is the rarest of ALL the AKC breeds. Fewer than 40 new Otterhound puppies are registered each year. (Compare that to over 60,000 new Golden Retriever puppies.)
To learn more about training Otterhounds to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Otterhound the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Otterhound. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Otterhound might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Otterhound home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Otterhound...
When you're acquiring an Otterhound PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Otterhounds who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
MORE OF MY ARTICLES YOU MIGHT ENJOY.....
What Works, and What Doesn't
|Puppy Training Schedule: What To Teach, and When|
Is The Best Food
For Your Dog
|Teach Your Dog Words|
|The Second Best Food For Your Dog||When Buying a Dog, Are AKC Papers Really Necessary?|
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