Showsight - March 2022

BY EIBHLIN GLENNON, RIVERRUN OTTERHOUNDS This article first appeared as the Otterhound Breed Column in the AKC Gazette and is reproduced here with permission.


A s I trotted quickly after my three-month- old on a short puppy trail, I kept thinking, “I’ve done it again.” Once again I picked the pup with the most energy and drive to take home. “Higgins,” like “Spirit,” has one speed—as fast as possible. Both are dogs I should have had when I was much younger. Over the years, I have had sweet, laid- back dogs and loved them dearly. But the high-energy puppy brimming with joy is the one that usually stays or picks me to come home with. Sometimes they are exhausting, but they do make good workers. So, what do I want when I pick a puppy? The conformation standard is based on the attributes needed to pursue and catch river otters, so a working dog needs a good structure. I am attracted by good bone, proportion, angulation, and head. I have never tried to pick a pup at birth; I’m too concerned with a smooth delivery and healthy puppy. Usually the puppy personalities start to appear before I assess structure, so I’m not sure I can separate the two. Correct proportions,

angulation, bone, coat, and head are key attributes of the breed. Sure, some dogs can be great hunters and track- ers because their hunting drive is so strong it overcomes a few conformation flaws. And some beautifully struc- tured hounds lack the drive to work, hence the saying, “That dog can’t hunt.” But when you get a combination of structure and drive, you have the makings of a win- ner. Most Otterhound owners call persistence stubborn- ness and sometimes see it as a flaw. I think persistence is necessary in a dog that has to keep hunting faint scents over rough terrain and rushing rivers for hours at a time. Spirit and Higgins are both very determined and always have been. On a search, or even in training in the sum- mer, I have to watch Spirit carefully to be sure she doesn’t overheat, because she never gives up when working.


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