Breed History

The Otterhound is an ancient British breed of scent hound and the first record of otter hunting was during the reign of Henry II, in the 1100s. During this period the otter was classed as vermin and hunted not for sport but to protect the fishponds which were an important source of food stocks particularly around the monasteries. At this time a variety of hounds were used for the purpose of protecting the stocks.

The Otterhound, as we know it today, appeared sometime in the 1700s and books provide evidence that the rough-coated Otterhound was considered to be the ‘classic’ form of the breed by 1800. As well as hunting through the centuries, Otterhounds from the famous packs of the time were shown at early dog shows (the first recorded being at Leeds in 1861) and through into the early 1900s under Kennel Club rules.

Eventually, in 1910, the Association of Masters of Otterhounds was formed and hereafter hounds were only shown on the flags at their show at Rugby. In the early 1970s hunters reported the dramatic reduction in the numbers of otters in our rivers, he Association then set about a formal study and the conservation work necessary and came to the conclusion that the otter was at serious risk because of the changes in, arming practice which created disturbance to their habitat and death from the wide – of chemicals on the land.

It was decided that hunting should cease at the end of the 1977 season and in 1978 otter hunting was banned in England (Scotland followed two years later). The Masters of the two remaining, purebred, Otterhound packs, The Dumfriesshire and The Kendal & District got together with respected breeders and the Kennel Club came to the rescue o his wonderful breed, which was facing extinction.

Remaining purebred hounds of breeding age were registered and distributed to people desperate to save the breed. We are searching all the time for a purpose for the Otterhound today, other than hunting mink . They have an excellent nose for tracking man-trailing work and they may be used eventually for tracing drugs. One has been a extremely successful Dogs for the Disabled.