By definition, traditionally hounds have been bred for hunting. These dogs are noted for their ability to chase and track; so it would follow that due to their incredible sense of smell they would be used in police work for drug investigations.
Otterhounds, as the name implies, were essentially bred for the specific purpose of hunting otters. They can still distinguish the trace of an otter as much as a day or two later. Most dogs would lose the scent of prey in water, but the innate qualities of an Otterhound will allow it to continue pursuit. This amazing ability is helpful during police investigative work. Otterhounds can trail missing persons, and carry out many police-related operations.
Both Hounds and Terriers are used in the massive fight against the illegal drug trade. Otterhounds as well as other breeds of dogs can detect many drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, crack and ecstasy. Current training is underway for dogs to detect and search out the date-rape drug Rohypnol. These dogs can search inside buildings, or pick up the scent in the air as well as on the trail. For that reason, Otterhounds make excellent trackers.
The Otterhound's coat is hairy and waterproof and his feet are webbed. As a result, the Otterhound is an indefatigable swimmer that can swim for hours in search of its prey or target. These talents mean that the Otterhound can search for lost swimmers, or drowning civilians from capsized boats. These hounds can prove invaluable for the Coast Guard activity, including beach patrol. In 1949, the US Coast Guard employed 18 different breeds of dogs. The German shepherd and Airedales, (originally bred as a cross between Otterhound, old Border terrier and Bull Terrier) were favored for beach patrol.
The function of dogs in the military is to act in the place of a service man or woman who would normally be in mortal danger had they to carry out the same orders. Our dogs keep Marines and sailors alive, said Lt. Col. Richard A. Anderson, commanding officer, 2nd MP Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
After World War II, the US military deployed over 10,000 dogs. The military employs around 2,300 working dogs in their activities at present time. These dogs help out in the fight on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq and areas all over the world by searching and detecting explosives and bombs, drugs, and protecting military bases. This is where hounds, such as the Otterhound become very useful as sniffer dogs. Shepherds and Malinois remain the preferred breeds for more aggressive work such as active combat.
Many military divisions all over the world employ dogs for various activities. Each working dog is selected for its inherent characteristics and special abilities that would fit the task at hand. Otterhounds, like other hounds, specialize in search-and-rescue, hunting, and drug and explosive search operations.