An Otterhound’s devotion may lie with his or her owner, but a darn close second is another canine buddy. Otterhounds are pack animals and enjoy company, good thing since they were kept in packs going back to 1200 AD when King John of England kept a pack. It may even have been earlier since John’s father, Henry II, also likely hunted otter as early as 1170.
Many believe that the Otterhound‘s heyday was the mid-to late nineteenth century in England when eighteen to twenty packs hunted regularly, though one source we found argues that the peak of popularity came in the years before World War I when there were more than 500 hounds in 24 packs. Not surprisingly, the packs were typically owned by people who could afford to keep that many dogs – one pack could have more than 40 Otterhounds, and that didn’t include other dogs often involved in a hunt, namely, dogs from the Border Region whom we know today as Border Terriers.
By 1977, only nine registered packs of Otterhounds were still around, and as far as we know, today the Pembroke and Carmarthenshire Minkhounds are the only pack today with a pure Otterhound pack – and you read that correctly: Minkhounds. A few hunts switched to hunting mink or coypu, but many of the original Otterhound packs ceased to exist altogether.
We continue to sound the alarm about the dire numbers of this breed: There are believed to be fewer than 800 Otterhounds world wide, with the largest numbers in the United Kingdom and United States. This is baffling to us. This tousled haired, amiable breed gets along with dogs, kids, and even cats.
A few years ago, Ashka Gordon shared with us a photo we’ve kept all this time. She wrote, “As breeders, we socialize puppies from the very early age. Kids and puppies – what could be better.”
No argument here! Around the same time that Ashka shared her photograph, another Otterhound owner, Jacqueline, wrote that Otterhounds are very laid back and brilliant with children. “They are big dogs and can be clumsy at times, but I would have no hesitation in recommending Otterhounds as great family members. Like the Bloodhound you would probably have to save the Otterhound from the child.”
Image: Otterhound created from 10 to 20 individually hand cut pieces of paper, layered and mounted on color stock so that no two are the same, by Patricia Peters – CanineCutUps