Otterhounds are descendants of the bloodhound and an ancestor of the Airedale. They are large dogs weighing up to 125 pounds. By and far the Otterhound is a working dog, first bred in England in the 13th century to rid the waters of pesky Otters that were killing out the fish population. These dogs are definitely water dogs, with web feet and a thick course water proof undercoat. They are excellent swimmers with the stamina to swim for hours chasing their prey.
The Otterhound hunt alone or in packs on the trail with its incredible ability to pick up a scent that is days old. They work to hunt, raccoon, minks, and larger more dangerous animals such as mountain lions and bears. As a result, the Otterhound is more suited to a rural flat or mountainous terrain.
The Otterhound proves invaluable for the farmer to rid his property of unwanted minks and raccoons which stock and kill poultry and other livestock and destroy crops. Pest control is an on going concern for farmers and the cost can prove to be a financial burden. Coons and other animals can wreak havoc upon the property and financial status of a farm. Without Otterhounds and other dogs, the farmers would have to resort to other measures pest control such as the dreaded animal traps.
As stated above, the Otterhound was originally bred for the purpose of hunting otter in the United Kingdom. Thus they became the fisherman's best friend. Eventually the otter population died out because of polluted waters and bans against otter hunting were set in place. The Otterhound thus lost its purpose but continued on as a hunting dog. Today their skills are used by Coast Guard to patrol beaches and search and rescue persons in distress both on land and in the water. Caroline Knapp, an American breeder had her Otterhound locate five missing people stranded on the Mississippi River one year when it flooded its banks.
Because of their hunting ability and the fact that like their ancestor the bloodhound, Otterhounds are great sniffer dogs. Otterhounds are used in search and rescue and tracking activities by police forces and military worldwide. Though their numbers are small, less than 1,000 Otterhounds exist in the world today, their service to humanity greatly exceeds this limitation. They are used to sniff out drugs such as cocaine, crack, cannabis and heroin to help fight the illegal drug trade and they are used to sniff out explosives and bombs in military combat zones. These dogs give their lives in the line of duty everyday just like the many other canine breeds employed by police forces and deployed by the military on an ongoing basis.
We have much to be thankful for; Otterhounds, are loyal friends, avid hunters, and protectors of human life. They hunt, search, and go into dangerous situations to protect humanity and its interests.