Otterhounds are large dogs from England that were originally bred for hunting otters in streams and rivers. Outside of the water, the Otterhound has a lively, boisterous personality that makes it the perfect choice for families looking for a fun canine companion.
Does the Otterhound shed, and if so, how much?
Otterhounds, with their shaggy outer coat (that grows between two and six inches long) and insulating undercoat, are known to shed quite a bit. More frequent shedding is usually seasonal as the Otterhound prepares a fluffier coat for the cold weather or sheds fur for the summer.
In this guide, we’ll more closely examine the shedding behavior of the Otterhound as well as its grooming requirements. We’ll even provide some tips for lessening the amount of Otterhound fur that’s floating throughout your home.
The Otterhound is going to shed, and to understand why, you only have to look at its coat.
As a double-coated breed, the Otterhound will shed with the seasons. Its insulating and water-resistant undercoat keeps the dog warm in the autumn and winter, but when the summer months arrive, the Otterhound will want to wear something lighter.
The outer layer of an Otterhound’s coat isn’t light by default either. This breed has a thick coat that lends the Otterhound a charmingly bedraggled look. The outer coat may be smooth, but it grows quite long, upwards of six inches. This fur has got to go in the heat of spring and summer, and so the Otterhound sheds.
Outside of its seasonal shedding patterns, the Otterhound loses fur at a normal rate like other canines. This hair turnover isn’t significant, but it occurs throughout the year regardless of the season. You’ll need a portable vacuum handy so you’re always ready to chase the Otterhound’s fur trails!
Grooming Your Otterhound
Grooming an Otterhound is one of the most important facets of its care by far.
Brushing the Otterhound will keep its coat shiny and fresh. You can also prevent uncomfortable matted clumps of hair that can easily develop throughout the dog’s coat given how thick and bushy it is.
It’s recommended you brush your Otterhound at least once per week if it has a thicker, coarser coat.
Otterhounds may also have an outer coat that’s softer to the touch. If this is true of your dog, then prepare to groom them even more frequently, brushing between two and three times per week. The softer the coat, the higher the likelihood of the Otterhound developing uncomfortable hair mats.
Use a gentle slicker brush for everyday brushing. If a minor mat has started to tangle up your Otterhound’s outer coat, brushing through the mat with a comb can loosen it out.
The proper technique is to raise the hair that surrounds the mat away from it and then repeatedly brush the mat until it comes out. Keep a firm grip on the skin that’s attached to the matted hair so you don’t yank and pull when detangling the mat. Your Otterhound will appreciate it!
Should you skip a brushing or two and your Otterhound’s fur has matted, your best option is to cut the matted fur. Make sure that you limit your trimming to only the tangled area though.
Trimming the Otterhound too much is ill-advised due to its double coat. The dog’s main coat will grow back extremely slowly, taking two years in many cases.
Reducing Excessive Shedding
No dog will stop shedding completely, the Otterhound included, but you don’t have to deal with mountainous tufts of fur either.
Grooming your Otterhound remains one of your best defenses against shedding. When you brush your dog, you comb through the dead fur before it can float around the house and stick to clothing, furniture, and just about anything.
Another advantage to regular brushing is that it transfers the Otterhound’s natural oils throughout its body, which might reduce shedding to an extent. If there’s one breed that has a lot of these natural oils, the Otterhound would certainly be it. The longer the coat, the more oil the dog tends to accumulate.
Although bathing can lessen shedding, you really have to know your Otterhound to determine its bathing frequency. If your dog’s coat feels greasy and dirty after a few weeks, then bathe once a month.
Groomed Otterhounds with shorter coats tend to produce less oil, so you can go months and months without bathing. Some Otterhound owners only wash their dogs once per year!
It’s also not a bad idea to assess your Otterhound’s diet and see what changes–if any–you can make there. Canines need a balanced, nutritious diet that contains as few fillers as possible.
Fillers include rice and grain as well as other ingredients. As the name suggests, fillers are nutritionally poor and often quite unhealthy. They’re like fast food for dogs.
If amending your Otterhound’s diet doesn’t work to control its shedding, an omega-3 fatty acid supplement might. You can buy marine-based or plant-based omega-3 supplements; some products have both types of fatty acids.
Omega-3s are rich in alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, which the body makes into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Dogs cannot produce DHA or EPA plentifully, so omega-3 supplements fill in the gaps.
The fatty acids will improve your Otterhound’s skin and coat so your dog might shed less.
Are Otterhounds Hypoallergenic?
Does being around a dog leave you itchy, sneezy, and swollen? You must tread carefully when it comes to which dog breed you allow in the house.
No dog is ever truly hypoallergenic. If you have a canine allergy, it’s not their fur that gets you, but their dander, which is dead skin.
Some dogs might cause more extreme allergic reactions and others less so. The Otterhound is not considered hypoallergenic in the least.
Smaller dogs, given their reduced surface area, produce less dander. Since the Otterhound is quite a large breed, that means it’s releasing dander almost as much as it’s letting its loose fur fly. Those with severe allergies will have to find another dog breed to adopt instead.
Is an Otterhound Right for You?
Knowing that the Otterhound sheds as much as it does might make you question whether this is the right canine companion for you. Let’s talk more about this breed to help you make up your mind.
The Otterhound is a rare dog. This BBC article states that, as of 2012, only 600 Otterhounds exist worldwide. That makes them a Vulnerable Native Breed in England.
Originating in the 19th century, the Otterhound would pick off otters to save England’s fish population. The breed’s adeptness at swimming carries on to this day, in part due to the Otterhound’s unique webbed feet.
The American Kennel Club describes the Otterhound as boisterous, amiable, and even-tempered. The dog has an affectionate streak a mile wide and is quite loyal to its loved ones.
Although not a couch potato, the Otterhound isn’t overly energetic either. It needs a regular amount of exercise. Having a large yard for the Otterhound to run around is a great way to tire this dog out.
Since the breed can weigh up to 115 pounds (for males) and is 24 to 27 inches tall, apartment dwellers might want to adopt a smaller dog than the Otterhound.
Training the Otterhound can be a bit of a challenge. They need lots of positive reinforcement to learn commands, so try to hide your frustrations if training isn’t going so well. Verbal and physical praise work well to progress training, and so do treats.
Otterhounds get along very well with children, but since they’re so much bigger and can be rather bouncy, the dog could accidentally hurt a child. If you have other dogs in the house, they and the Otterhound should get along famously.
Here is a great video showing the humble, fun Otterhound in person:
Otterhounds are a slowly declining breed that began losing popularity once otter hunting became outlawed. The few Otterhounds that remain today are heavy shedders due to their double coat. Regular brushing will control the loose fur and prevent matting.
If you don’t mind all the extra fuzz, the Otterhound is a loving, fun, goofy dog that has won over the hearts of many!