JUDGING THE OTTERHOUND by ANDY & JACK MCILWAINE Aberdeen Otterhounds
P lease note, this is not the official AKC standard for the Otterhound. It is our interpretation of the stan- dard and what we strive for in our breeding program. HISTORY Otter hunting has had a long and distinguished past through some 800 years of history. Records of dogs kept solely for the pursuit of otter dates back to the 12th century during the reign of King Henry II. His son, King John, was the first Master of Otterhounds. These early packs probably consisted of South- ern Hounds and Welsh Harriers and crosses thereof. The origin of the true Otterhound as we know it today is the subject of great debate. It is suspected that their foundations came from French hounds, as the resemblance to hounds of the Vendeen region, such as the Grand Grif- fon Vendeen and Griffon Nivernais, is striking. Many generations of breeding for special purposes have, undoubtedly, perpetuated the characteristics of the modern-day Otterhound. In 1977, the Otter was added to the list of protected animals in Eng- land. Along with this, came the threat that could have lead to the demise of the purebred Otterhound in the
United Kingdom. This prompted The Kennel Club to open registration to Hounds from the two purebred packs, the Dumfriesshire Otter Hunt, presided over by Capt. John Bell-Irving and the Kendal and District Otter Hunt. In 1978, Kendal Nimrod was the first Otter- hound to appear in the English show ring. Otterhounds were first brought to the United States around 1910. These Hounds were used primarily in the field and registrations were not main- tained. They were used to cross with Foxhounds and no attempts were made to breed purebred Otterhounds. Fortunately, some purebred Hounds from the first litters made their ways to private homes. One of these bitch- es, Bessie Blue, was purchased by Dr. Hugh Mouat, a veterinarian in Itha- ca, New York. She was bred to Badger, one of the early imports. So launched the beginning of the Otterhound in the United States. The Otterhound is still considered, if not rare, at least quite uncommon. Few Hounds are still used for their scent hunting abilities with raccoon, mink, bear and mountain lion. A larger number are seen in the conformation and obedience rings, agility, search and rescue, including cadaver recovery and even as service dogs.
The Otterhound hunts its quarry on both land and water and thus requires a combination of characteristics unique among hounds. It is a large, rough- coated Hound, with an imposing head showing great strength and dignity, a strong body and long, striding action fit for a long days work. The Otterhound is an amiable, boisterous Hound, quite persistent in his pursuit of his quarry. THE STANDARD The parts must fit together in a man- ner that is the least tiring, most graceful and efficient in movement. Any depar- ture from the standard is considered a fault and the seriousness should be regarded in proportion to its degree. SIZE, PROPORTION & SUBSTANCE Males: 24''-27'', 75-115 pounds. Females: 23''-26'', 65-100 pounds. A dog lacking in length of leg would be forced to swim rather than wade. Otterhounds are slightly rectangular; the length from the point of the shoul- der to the base of the tail is slightly greater than the height at the with- ers. Balance, soundness and type are more important than size. Otterhounds are often required to hunt as much as 18 miles over rough terrain. Hounds require great strength, as well as
“OTTERHOUNDS ARE SLIGHTLY RECTANGULAR; THE LENGTH FROM THE POINT OF THE SHOULDER TO THE BASE OF THE TAIL IS SLIGHTLY GREATER THAN THE HEIGHT AT THE WITHERS. BALANCE, SOUNDNESS AND TYPE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN SIZE.” S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , N OVEMBER 2017 • 349
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