Did you know the history of the Otterhound is still a mystery but its predecessors go back as far as Babylon. There are ancient paintings on cave walls depicting dogs that resemble the Otterhound. The Otterhound's ancestors, the Griffon Vandeen came over by boat to France to become a hunting dog.
In modern times, the Otterhound is considered to be a British breed, with Bloodhound ancestors. The Otterhound has a shaggy outer coat and a thick coarse oily undercoat that is water proof. The Otterhound also has webbed feet. The Otterhound has enormous endurance and can swim for hours. It was originally bred to hunt otters.
The ban on Otter hunting in the United Kingdom helped to contribute to the fact that there are fewer than 1,000 Otterhounds left in the world today.
Interesting and odd facts about this breed include:
King James I of England was mesmerized by the hunt. It was recorded in 1585, that "The King loves hunting better than the Church." As a matter of royal protocol, the King of England and the King of France were expected to exchange gifts, King James' offering was his beloved Otterhounds as well as other hounds in his pack, and in return he received birds and horses.
In 1807, a boat from England was shipwrecked off of the coast of Maryland, there were canine survivors. It is believed that one of the dogs was an Otterhound. Newfoundland puppies were found on board. They were rescued and a new breed was created and named Chesapeake Bay Ducking Dog, named for its water skills and the area of Maryland where it was found. These new dogs, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, were excellent duck hunters and trackers. However, until the late 19th century any water dog was known as a retriever. This generic term in America included: water and English spaniels, all retrievers, bloodhounds, Otterhounds, and coonhounds. These dogs all shared oily undercoats and webbed feet.
The first American Kennel Club Otterhound Champion belonged to Hugh Mouat's first litter in 1941. Mr. Mouat was a veterinarian.
It is believed that the Otterhound's olfactory (smell) capacities are up to 100,000 times greater than a human's. The Otterhound can pick up the scent of its prey up to a day later on land or water.
In America, the Otterhound has been used to hunt, raccoons, bears and mountain lions.
Germany is soon to broadcast a new show on Vox Channel in search of a "super dog." The show will showcase various trainers and their dogs, including Otterhounds who will be judged by a panel of smart alec judges.
Each year Otterhounds as well as many other breeds of canines participate in the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions of the blessing of the Pets.