Instead of a “Designer Breed,” Consider the Undoodle: The Otterhound

Probably every Otterhound owner has been part of a conversation like this. “Doodles,” whether “Labra–” or “Golden–,” are a popular trend, as are a number of other cross-breeds, frequently called “designer breeds.”At the same time, some of our oldest breeds, like Otterhounds, are fighting for survival.

In fact, all dog breeds were “designed” by humans through selective breeding in one way or another, usually to perform certain functions like hunting, herding, or guarding. Each breed’s distinctive appearance resulted from the traits suited to performing its job.

Today’s designer dogs are often bred solely for looks. Take the Labradoodles and Goldendoodles—who, like Otterhounds, are large, shaggy dogs with “goofy” expressions that attract owners and passersby. Unlike doodles, however, Otterhounds have predictable appearance and temperament, including behavior dominated by their keen sense of smell.

“Doodles,” in contrast, though often endearing, can differ widely in appearance and have a variety of coats, from slightly wiry to curly to soft and fluffy. Despite claims that they do not shed, most doodles shed and mat, thanks to one parent, and need to be clipped, thanks to the other.

The combination of the Poodle hair that keeps growing and the Labrador Retriever and/or Golden Retriever fur that sheds profusely creates a dog who needs a vacuum and a groomer. They tend to be more substantial than Poodles, though often with many of that breed’s features. Curiously, many of them are larger than either of the breeds behind them, and few of them hunt, unlike the Goldens, Labs, and Poodles in their ancestry.

All About the Otterhound
The Otterhound is an old breed of scent hound, developed with a wiry, waterproof outer coat and a softer undercoat to keep them warm as they patrolled land and water to keep river otters from decimating the fish populations in the British Isles. A good Otterhound coat repels water and dries quickly.

Everything about this scent hound—from their size, to their coat, to their large feet with webbing, to their sickle-tail that can be seen waving in the tall brush—is designed to make them efficient at scenting and pursuing prey on land and water.

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