- While it’s fairly certain that Otterhounds descended from Bloodhounds, some think that they might also be related to French Griffons because of the distinctive fold of their ears. The breed was developed in England to hunt and destroy otters, which were decimating the fish in English rivers.Otter hunting, largely enjoyed by the nobility, was the first organized sport in England that used packs of scent hounds. It was first mentioned in the 12th century, during the reign of Henry II. The Otterhound, however, was not mentioned as a specific breed for another 200 years.
The Otterhound was used, along with small terriers, to hunt otters along the banks of ponds and rivers. Terriers flushed the otter from its den; when the otter ran to the water, the Otterhound took over. The Otterhound’s nose is so sensitive that he can follow not only the “wash” (the scent of the otter in the water), but also the “drag,” the trail of the otter on land. The dogs have been known to stay on 12-hour-old trails and to swim and wade as far as 20 miles in a day.
With his rough, weather-resistant outer coat; slightly oily undercoat; big, webbed feet; and size, strength, and determination, the Otterhound did his job so well that eventually otters were declared a protected species in England. Otter hunting became illegal in 1982 (although some people then used their Otterhounds to hunt mink).
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21 May, 2016
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