Once you have decided the Otterhound is the dog that will fit your needs, a number of topics must be addressed in helping you select the right dog.
The best place to obtain an Otterhound is from a responsible breeder or if you would like to adopt an older Otterhound, you may want to work with the Otterhound Club of America (OHCA) rescue. Their contact information is available on the OHCA website: otterhound.org/rescue Although listings for an "Otterhound" may occasionally be found on pet websites, very seldom is the breed correctly identified and you would be wise to obtain a second opinion from Otterhound rescue or a veteran Otterhound breeder to confirm its identity.
Given the small number of Otterhounds born each year, it is not unusual to wait a year or more for your puppy. This gives you the opportunity to learn about the breed, talk to experienced Otterhound breeders and owners who will welcome you to visit. Take a look at the Breeder Referral Page from the Otterhound Club of America website. otterhound.org/breeders
This chapter discusses the following topics:
How to find a responsible breeder.
Questions to ask a breeder and questions a breeder will ask you.
Should you consider an adult or a puppy; a male or female?
Companion pets versus show quality prospects
What's in a contract?
Adopting a pet from Otterhound Rescue
Otterhound Breeders Do the Following:
Are usually members of The Otterhound Club of America (OHCA) and believe in working toward improving the conformation and performance of the Otterhound. OHCA members are guided by a Code of Ethical Conduct.
Ask many questions of prospective owners in order to ensure their puppy is going to a good home.
May require a spay/neuter agreement for pets.
Often compete with their Otterhounds in conformation, obedience, agility, rally or tracking or other dog activities.
Provides a contract for the sale of each puppy and insures the puppy is in good health at the time of the sale to be verified by the new owner's veterinarian of choice within a specified period of time.
Should it be necessary for any reason that a puppy or adult dog needs to be rehomed, the breeder requires that they be contacted before the dog is placed or the breeder may ask that the dog be returned to them. They will then find an appropriate home whether through the OHCA rescue or their own contacts.
Will be available to answer any questions regarding the health or training of your puppy.
Will not place a puppy before the age of eight weeks.
How Can You Find an Otterhound Breeder?
Contact the Otterhound Club of America or the American Kennel Club to look for names of breeders in your area. The OHCA's website at otterhound.org/ has a listing of Otterhound breeders.
Attend dog shows and talk to breeders, handlers and other owners who may be able to give you referrals on obtaining a puppy. Information on dog shows in your area is available by contacting the AKC or visiting their website (www.akc.org) in the dog events section.
Ask your veterinarian or people in your local dog club if they know of reputable AKC Otterhound breeders in your area. You will quickly learn there are very few Otterhound breeders.
Contact breeders on the OHCA website to talk with them and potentially set up a home visit to meet their brood bitch and other Otterhounds they may own. If puppies are "on the ground", see how they are kept and learn the philosophy of the breeder on rearing puppies. If the distance is too great, ask for references from other owners of puppies placed by this breeder. Find out if there are Otterhound owners located in your state or nearby communities so you can meet an Otterhound and learn if this is the breed for you.
Questions to Ask a Breeder
It is up to you to do your homework to assure yourself that the breeder is in fact ethical and conscientious. Don't be afraid to ask the following questions.
1. How long have you been breeding AKC Otterhounds? Both new and experienced breeders have a lot to offer. Experienced breeders have the advantage of working with bitches and puppies for many years. New breeders have the advantage of the energy and enthusiasm they bring to this first or second time venture. The critical thing for you, the puppy buyer, is to develop a rapport and trust with an individual breeder of your choice.
2. In what type of activities do your dogs participate? Many breeders are involved in conformation competition or in tracking, agility, obedience, rally, K-9 nosework, therapy and other dog activities.
3. Do you have any puppies available, and if not, when do you plan to have another litter? If they will have puppies available in the near future, the majority of breeders will put your name on a contact list. Breeders may also refer you to other breeders if they are not planning a litter in the near future.
4. What kind of warranty do you offer on your puppies? Most breeders will guarantee the health of a puppy for a specific period of time and this will be explained through the breeder’s contract.
5. What is the price of a puppy? The price of an Otterhound puppy will vary from breeder to breeder. Ask for specifics.
6. At what age do you place your puppies? Breeders usually don't place puppies before 8 weeks of age. 7.What type of paperwork do you provide and does it include proof of vaccinations? Responsible breeders should provide a Bill of Sale which includes a contract detailing the conditions of sale and a copy of the puppy’s health record and AKC registration papers. Some breeders will hold the AKC papers for an agreed upon short period of time. Many times this is a period of 30 days allowing for vet checks and to make sure the puppy is a good fit for his new family.
8.Do you have any recommendations that I should follow when I bring my puppy home? Most breeders will provide some form of puppy packet that includes their own recommendations on care, diet and training of the puppy.
Questions a Breeder May Ask You
Breeders will have questions for you and some may even have a written questionnaire which will help them assess whether they want to place one of their puppies in your home and which puppy will be the best fit for your family.
1. Have you ever owned dogs before and specifically, an Otterhound or another member of the hound family? Familiarity with owning dogs ensures a higher success rate in placing a puppy in a new home. It is a particular “plus” if a prospective buyer has had the experience of owning an Otterhound or other hound breed.
2. Why do you want an Otterhound? It is important to determine if a large, happy exuberant dog is the right choice for a new buyer. Otterhounds can range in size from 75 to 120lb, depending on the gender and breeding lines. They have very good appetites and are not above snatching food from a kitchen counter or table. Being hounds, they usually have deep loud bays, not the usual barking of most dogs. In some neighborhood situations, loud baying may not be acceptable. Although Otterhounds need very little grooming, there will be some. Bathing a large dog can be a challenge for some people. An owner must be ready to spendan average of 10 to 12 years caring for and loving a large personable dog. 3. Where will your puppy live? The friendly, affectionate nature of the Otterhound craves the companionship of other animals or people. It will be happiest in the house where it can be cared for by a loving family.
4. How long will the puppy be alone during the day? Breeders may be a bit reluctant to place an Otterhound puppy in a home where it will be alone for excessively long periods. The companionship of another dog or cat will go a long way in providing companionship for a unique breed like the Otterhound.
5. Are you willing to spay or neuter your pet Otterhound? Spaying or neutering may be required by some breeders.
6. Can you afford not only the purchase price of this pet but also its care and maintenance? New owners need to be aware of how much it costs to keep their family pet healthy and well-taken care of.
7. Do you have children, and if so, what are their ages?
Many families want a puppy to “grow up with” their children. A breeder will want to know how to select the right puppy for the family by knowing more about the family dynamics. Please share as much about your family as possible.
8. Is the decision to purchase an Otterhound a unanimous one in your family? If you don't have complete agreement within the family, this dog may not be your best choice.
Should I Get an Adult or a Puppy?
An Otterhound whether puppy or adult, will bond with a new family. If you have babies or toddlers, or don't want a young puppy, it may be wise to consider bringing an adult Otterhound into your home.
This dog loves spending time with his owner.
Responsible breeders occasionally may have adult Otterhounds available who have been retired from the show ring or from their breeding program. In some cases, breeders will place in pet homes males that are still being used in their breeding program with the understanding that the male will remain in the breeder's name, cannot be neutered and will need to go to the breeder's kennel or home from time to time to be bred.
Former brood bitches that are now spayed may also be placed permanently in pet homes. In both cases, this type of arrangement can work well for the person looking for a good pet Otterhound.
This female Otterhound is having fun with her new friend.
Should I Choose a Male or a Female?
Both males and females make excellent companion pets. There is relatively little difference in temperament, activity or trainability between a male and female Otterhound. Females (bitches) which are not spayed go into season (or heat) approximately every 6 to 12 months. Bitches also tend to weigh on average about 10 to 20 pounds less than males.
A puppy is a gift for a lifetime, Not Just for Christmas!
Puppies are a much requested gift, particularly during the Holiday season. However, the Christmas season is not the best time to bring a puppy or a more mature hound into the home. Many puppies purchased during the holidays end up being returned, or resold.
Because holidays tend to be busy with people coming and going, this is not a good time to bring a new puppy into your home. A new puppy (or older adopted dog) needs time to rest as well as a consistent, uninterrupted training schedule to be properly housebroken and acclimated to its new home and environment.
Purchasing a Companion Otterhound
After you have decided that the Otterhound is the breed for you it will be necessary to decide if you want a pet or show quality Hound. The majority of prospective new owners want a companion pet Otterhound. Breeders usually sell as pets those Otterhounds that do not come as close to the official breed Standard as other puppies in the litter. A pet may have cosmetic flaws which are not desirable in the show ring. In the eyes of the pet owner these features are rarely seen as flaws.
It is also important to understand that pet quality does not mean that a dog is in any way less healthy than a show prospect.
Purchasing a Show Prospect
Good Otterhound breeders strive to produce dogs that meet the description of the Otterhound in the official breed Standard (see Appendix A). When “show quality” Otterhounds compete against other Otterhounds at a dog show, a judge compares each Otterhound against what the Standard defines as the ideal Otterhound. The Otterhound that comes closest to this ideal is the one that wins. Show prospects are occasionally sold for a higher price than a pet quality dog. Some breeders will sell a show prospect outright with no strings attached. Other breeders may sell one for less money but with certain requirements.
It is not uncommon for a breeder to want lifetime breeding rights to a particularly outstanding male or to want a puppy out of a good quality bitch, in addition to choosing the sire for her first breeding. If the new owners are novices, the breeder may wish to co-own the show prospect so that he or she has “control” over which bitches a male is bred to or which sire a bitch is bred to. It is not uncommon for a breeder who sells a show prospect to require that the dog be shown to its championship.
All details relative to the purchase of a show prospect should be clearly spelled out and written down in contract form in order to avoid any confusion which might arise down the line.
It is also very important to specify expenses that the new owners will assume and those that the breeder will assume. Other things to put in writing may include how puppies will be chosen in a future litter, who will cover whelping costs, veterinary fees, show expenses and access to males for breeding
Looking for a Show Prospect
The Otterhound is a particularly changeable breed in its physical development from puppy to adult. Some breeders will hold on to a show prospect for a time to observe it’s continuing development. It is important that you let your breeder know you are looking for a show prospect puppy right from the start.
A positive relationship based on mutual respect between you and your puppy’s breeders is essential. They will be your mentors as you learn about showing and breeding. You should be comfortable and confident with these key individuals.
The availability of Otterhound show puppies is usually low, averaging one or two really good puppies in a litter.
What's in a Contract? by Eibhlin Glennon, approved by OHCA Board of Directors
Today many people who have owned dogs all their lives are surprised when presented with a contract the day they take their purebred puppy home. For some this is their first purebred dog; others have sealed their agreements with previous breeders with a handshake.Preoccupied with that adorable puppy, often we glance at a contract the way we glance at the HIPA forms we sign regularly at the doctor’s office.However, we should read them carefully before we sign to avoid problems later and a possible threatened lawsuit. Why do we need contracts?Are we just falling in step with our litigious society? Breeders devote many hours evaluating a female to decide if she should be bred or not.Then they add hours pouring over pedigrees, viewing tapes of males and talking to fellow breeders to decide on the perfect sire.After waiting for the girl to come in season and arranging the mating, they anguish through pregnancy and whelping, usually lasting an entire night.Each puppy is a very special being to be cherished, treasured and studied to select the perfect forever home for each, which sometimes is located across the country or over borders.How many of us have had tears in our eyes as we say good-bye and realize we may never see this puppy again in its lifetime? Contracts are breeders’ way of stating how this special being should be raised and treated by his/her new family.It’s a list of expectations on the part of breeders and owners.Breeders use the contract to explain the health of the puppy and any guarantees.In a contract health care, nutrition and future testing to be provided by the owners are often spelled out.Required spaying or the possibility of breeding a puppy may be included as are requirements that the pup be kept inside and socialized/trained.Breeders see their contract as statements of principles and instructions to ensure a healthy, happy puppy and adult. The one element that all Otterhound breeders include in a contract is the requirement that owners return the dog to them if the owners cannot keep the dog for any reason at any time during its life.In our mobile society divorce occurs in nearly half of all marriages, families may split, people move abroad and the pup may end up abandoned.The contract is designed to avoid this and return the dog to its breeder for placement. Owners also require certain things in a contract.They want to know what shots their puppy has had and what shots are still needed and when.They want to know any guarantees the breeder offers and that their breeder will support them by listening and offering advice and encouragement when issues arise.They want to know any tests and actions required of them in the first and subsequent years.Buyers should beware of any contract that requires an eight-week old puppy be shown to its championship and bred.In a large breed, so many things can happen to that pup and its owners that may put a championship or parentage out of the question.Breeders can predict that a baby puppy will be a grand Champion and great sire or dam as well as someone can predict their child will win a beauty contest or a Nobel prize.However, anyone interested in a show dog, should tell the breeder to be sure that their pup begins free of conformation flaws. In short a contract is a communication tool and reminder that lasts after the first few weeks. Some contracts are brief and minimal.Others may be long and involved.No matter what the length, owners need to take the time to read their contracts carefully and discuss them with their breeders.Is there a term or phrase they don’t understand?If so, they need to ask for clarification and explanation.If breeders require certain health tests, owners need to understand where to have the test performed and when.Limits on breeding and limited registration need to be mutually agreed on.If breeding a puppy in the future is a possibility, the owners need to understand how to evaluate the puppy and how much say a breeder expects to have in selecting a stud dog. Above all, a contract must be a mutual document.If owners read something they don’t feel they are comfortable with or believe they are unable to discharge, they need to tell their breeder that and ask for a change that they are comfortable with.Should the breeder refuse to budge and the owners know they will not follow this item, they need to be ready to walk away without that adorable puppy.Even in a breed with 30-50 puppies born in North America a year, there will be another puppy for them, one that they can enjoy without worrying about fulfilling items in a contract that they never agreed with. Contracts are designed to avoid disputes and misunderstandings. If they are not mutually understood and agreed upon they can cause acrimony and legal threats.Ideally they are the beginning of a good relationship that lasts for years.
Adopting a Rescue Otterhound
The Otterhound rescue group is devoted to finding homes for Otterhounds that have been abandoned or given up by their owner. Rescue groups are to be commended and supported as they do a great service for the breed. Otterhound Rescue is a committee of the Otterhound Club of America and is responsible to rescue all purebred Otterhounds in the United States and Canada. It stands ready to take in any Otterhound in need of a permanent home, as long as the dog has no temperament problems that make it unplaceable. Fortunately, Rescue Otterhounds are rare because our breeders take back the hounds they have bred. Occasionally one will appear in a shelter or an owner will be forced by circumstances to give up a pet. However, the Rescue Committee spends most of its time looking at photos of labradoodles, goldendoodles or other mixed heritage dogs because so few people are familiar with the distinctive characteristics of our breed. Today with the worldwide web we can usually eliminate 98% of the dogs called Otterhounds in various shelters. If there is doubt, a Club member can be found to visit the shelter and see the dog in person.
Advantages of Adopting a Rescue Otterhound
It is our policy that every Otterhound placed through Rescue is spayed/neutered and has its temperament assessed. When adopting an Otterhound from Rescue, we recommend that each family allows an adjustment period for the hound to feel comfortable in his new home and the family to become accustomed to their new pet. Because Otterhounds are pack animals, they usually have good social skills and fit nicely into a home with children, another dog and even cats. Every person who adopts a rescue dog is welcomed into the Otterhound family with a year’s free membership in the Club. We encourage our adopters to ask questions and stay in touch. And if ever a placement does not work out, the dog returns to our Rescue program.