Otterhound Club of America collection
Scope and Contents
The collection contains records of the club and breed history beginning with Dr. Hugh Mouat’s papers dating back 1940s. Mouat kept meticulous kennel records from the first Otterhound breeding program. The journals record detailed information on Mouat’s Otterhounds including: pedigrees, ownership records, import records, show records, recordings of each litter and notes on the health of each Otterhound. There is also an original copy of his 1963 pamphlet “How to Raise and Train an Otterhound."
The club administration materials include the secretary's files, which hold membership lists; various meeting minutes from 1985-1996; the codes of ethics; Illustrated Standard and related documents; English Otterhound Club, board, membership, general and presidential correspondence; National and Regional Specialty files; health surveys; and more. Further correspondence, dog show (National Specialties, A Matches, B Matches, local shows) and other subject files (such as financial record, health pedigrees, English OH Club relations, and voting results) are also present.
The print publications and ephemera includes books, such as a rare private printing of historic otter hunt photos, Otterhunting Memories ; show catalogs for most National Specialties between 1984 and 2005 as well as select Regional Specialties and local club shows; illustrated standards; clippings; distribution materials such as posters, stickers, and advertisements; and the club newsletters from 1971 to 2007 (“The Otterhound Club of America Bulletin” was published seasonally until it became a bimonthly publication in 1976. Around this time it also changed names to “The Otterhound Club of America Newsletter”, and then shortly thereafter to “The Voice of the Otterhound Club of America”, which remains its present name, published bimonthly).
The photographs and negatives in the collection date back to the 1940s. There are entire albums dedicated to Ch. Adriucha Zola's Priza UD (wh. 1969), a Utility dog in the the Otterhound Hall of Fame. There is a large assemblage of photographs of various Adriucha Otterhounds in an album entitled "Book on Otterhounds," which also contains early photographs of Dumfriesshire Kennels in Scotland. Another album is dedicated to the Otterhounds of Dr. Kweb, who renewed the tradition of the hunt in the English tradition by pursuing muskrats instead of otters; this album provides a glimpse of what an otter hunt may have looked like. Other folders hold photographs of Dr. Mouat and his Otterhounds and the Crufts Dog Show in 1988. There are also two albums dedicated to "Dorrie" and "Bunky", two Adriucha Otterhounds who have not yet been identified beyond their call names.
The video materials chronicle National Specialties beginning with the first show in 1981. Also present is coverage of other shows, and other Otterhound-related content, such as a Martha Stewart video about the breed.
The show ribbons and notable dogs materials consists of ribbons dated between 1934 and 1974, though some may be as late as 1980. Select ribbons were awarded from the club's National Specialties, and Morris and Essex and Westminster, but the bulk are from earlier, local shows. Envelopes in the collection addressed to Dr. H. B. Leonard from New York, indicate that many of the ribbons may have belonged to him. Further materials include pedigrees and export and sale certificates.
- Otterhound Club of America (Organization)
Language of Materials
Materials are in English.
This material is open to research without restrictions.
Publications and Use
Many of the materials, particularly photographs, may still be under copyright and require permission of the AKC and/or the creator before publishing. Please consult the Archivist.
Biographical / Historical
CLUB HISTORY The Otterhound Club of America was founded on 13 August 1960 by thirteen Otterhound owners. These owners gathered at Dr. Hugh Mouat’s home in Amsterdam, NY following the judging of the Southern Adirondack Dog Club Show. At this meeting, officers were elected: Dr. Mouat as president, Leon Fry as vice president, Margaret Bloomer as Secretary and Samuel Schiller as treasurer. Part of the club’s purpose was to “encourage and promote the breeding of OH’s, striving as nearly as possible for perfection”. Other goals included creating an AKC approved standard for the breed, holding shows under the rules of AKC and the general protection and advancement of the breed.
Dr. Hugh Mouat, known now as “Mr. Otterhound,” was the leading arbiter of Otterhounds in the US, his interest originally peeked by a 1934 visit by two breeders in 1934. He subsequently started the country’s first ambitious breeding program in 1937. Alhough there are AKC records of the exhibition of six Otterhounds in a show in Claremont, Oklahoma in 1907, the first breed champions did not appear until Ch. Bessie's Countess and Ch. Bessie's Courageous, Otterhounds from Dr. Mouat’s first litter, earned the title. On 13 December 1950, Dr. Mouat was presented the award of honor by Dog World Magazine for his efforts to preserve the Otterhound. He kept close records of his famous kennel, Adriucha Kennel and wrote “How to Raise and Train an Otterhound” which was published in 1963.
The first Otterhound fun match was held at Dr. Mouat’s home in 1971. This event has been held annually since and has become a favorite OHCA gathering. Dr. Mouat was a profound influence on the presence of Otterhounds in the US and on the OHCA.
The OHCA submitted their constitution and by-laws to the AKC in December 1961, but the AKC deemed them unacceptable due to lack of individuality; there were only 57 members of the OHCA and only 45 AKC registered Otterhounds. In an attempt to strengthen the breed, two dogs were imported from the UK in that year. These imports were likely from one or both of the two most famous packs of Otterhounds in the UK, Dumfriesshire in Scotland and Kendal and District in the Lake District of England.
In 1968 the Western Otterhound Fanciers (WOHF) was founded by ten Otterhound owners on the west coast. The organization aimed to increase awareness and presence of the breed on the coast and support show entries. A monthly newsletter, the WOHF Whistle, was also a function of the club. WOHF and OHCA collaborated to create a standard for the Otterhound which they completed in 1971. The standard was approved by AKC and published in the AKC Gazette in November, 1971. WOHF was a successful regional club until 1973 when it was dissolved by vote in order to give full support to the OHCA.
A new constitution and by-laws for OHCA were voted on and accepted in the spring of 1974. These were sent to the AKC on 14 June 1974 and were formally accepted by AKC on 22 August 1974. The club held its first national specialty in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1981. At this event, Ch. Follyhoun First in Line was Best of Breed and Ch. Follyhoun Fair Warning went Best of Opposite. The club has also held a regional specialty in Louisville, Kentucky every year since 1994.
There was continued work put into the first Illustrated Standard, originally published in 1971. One change includes the name of the breed itself from Otter Hound to Otterhound in 1987. Thereafter, continual debate over phrasing took place and minor wording revisions were made several times in the 1980s. The most recent standard was approved in 1995.
Another activity the club participates in is Otterhound rescue. This is not a big undertaking due to the small number of unspayed and unneutered Otterhounds in the US. The club does voice frustrations over being contacted for the rescue of shaggy strays that are not actually Otterhounds. However, the OHCA has successively rescued several Otterhounds in the last few years.
The club has also conducted two health surveys, which were distributed to Otterhound owners across the US in 1996 and 2003. These surveys indicated that most Otterhounds are in relatively good health and have no major health problems until old age. The club encourages DNA testing for all Otterhounds in order to eliminate health issues in breeding stock.
The club now consists of about 100 members in the US and some international members living in Canada and Europe, especially the UK. There is no Otterhound Club in Canada, though there is one in the UK with which the OHCA corresponds. Today, there are less than 1000 Otterhounds worldwide and less than 350 in the US.
BREED HISTORY There are references to “otter dogges” as early as the 12th century, but these dogs may not have bore much resemblance to the modern-day Otterhound. There were ten “Master of Otterhounds” beginning with King John who reigned from 1199-1216. Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned from 1558-1603, became the first “Lady Master of Otterhounds”. However, these dogs were so called because of the purpose they served and may not necessarily be closely related to the Otterhound of today.
In the times of Edward II, who reigned from 1307-1327, a huntsman named William Twici left the first description of the kind of dogs that made up otter packs. He describes them as “a rough sort of dog, between a hound and a terrier”. This sounds a bit like the modern-day Otterhound, but the description is too vague to draw any conclusions about what kinds of dogs these early otter trackers were. The Otterhound as we know him today probably took shape in the late 18th century.
According to AKC, the exact origin of the Otterhound is a mystery. Many suspect Bloodhounds and several rough coated French hound breeds are the ancestors of the Otterhound, and this is the theory that OHCA endorses. Another source claims a complicated lineage including the Mastiff, St. Hubert hound, Talbot hound, Welsh hound and Southern hound as well as some types of terrier. We do know that the Otterhound was bred to terriers in the UK to create the Airedale, but the Otterhound’s own origins are less clear. Dogs were used by hunters in Britain for centuries to track otters. Otter hunting was initially performed out of necessity in order to keep otter from destroying fish, an important food source. It later became a sport, though never a major one. Otter hunting continued throughout the 19th and part of the 20th centuries, reaching its peak during World War I. The sport was the only form of hunting available from April to September, a fact that helped to increase its popularity.
The Otterhound’s keen sense of smell and webbed feet made him an excellent tracker and swimmer, ideal for otter hunting. His rough double coat is also ideal for a swimmer as its oily nature can withstand water well. However, otter hunting was banned in England in 1978, Scotland in 1980 and it had never caught on in the US, so the Otterhound no longer has a specific working role to fulfill. The dogs still remain great trackers, with the highest number of tracking titles per dog registered in the AKC almost every recent year. The first Otterhounds were brought to the US in the early 20th century. The earliest American show records for the breed are from 1907, when six Otterhounds were shown in Claremont, Oklahoma. However, the breeds’ numbers remained quite low in the US and very few were shown until the 1940s. Dr. Mouat, graduated from Cornell Veterinary School in 1929 and soon after became interested in Otterhounds. He began his own breeding program in 1937 and produced the first Otterhound Champions in 1941. He established his kennel named ‘Adriucha’, a Mohawk name meaning “valiant warrior”.
Dr. Mouat continued to import Otterhounds from the UK in order to improve his breeding stock, primarily drawing on the Dumfriesshire and Kendal and District Kennels. His kennel produced some of the most famous early American Otterhounds, including Champion Adriucha’s Zola’s Prixa UD. Zola was placed in the Otterhound Club of America Hall of Fame as a Utility Dog.
Dr. Mouat began placing his dogs with interested breeders all over the country in order to propagate the breed. Despite his efforts, the number of Otterhounds remained small in these early times due to a prevalent blood disease, canine thrombocytopathy, which severely limited litter size. Dr. Mouat spear-headed blood testing to breed out this disease. However, numbers of Otterhounds remain low even today with less than 350 registered with the AKC. The Otterhound is currently the 153 most popular breed out of 154 breeds recognized by the AKC. There were only 7 litters in the US registered with the AKC in 2004. Some other health issues that have affected Otterhounds more recently include seizures, Panosteitis, which causes intermittent lameness and Cryptorchidism, the failure of one or both testicles to descend. Another health problem that is common in most big dogs including Otterhounds is hip dysplasia, a term encompassing various hip joint problems. Breeders have been working to breed these conditions out of the Otterhound. Due to their efforts Otterhounds are generally healthy dogs.
The Otterhound is known for its even temperament and loyalty to its master. Otterhounds are big, strong dogs and are often described as amiable and boisterous. They tend to get along well with other dogs due to their history of working in packs to hunt. Their gait is described in the AKC standard as “shambling” and “loose”. The most prevalent color is grizzle and tan, but any combination of colors is acceptable.
There is an Otterhound Club of America Registry of Merit as well as a Hall of Fame. These honors are awarded to Otterhounds who have achieved excellence either as sires or dams or in the show ring, agility or tracking. Some of the other most honored Otterhound Kennels include Scentasia, with six Otterhounds in the Hall of Fame, and Hooter's, with four Otterhounds in the Hall of Fame. Follyhoun has also produced a number of National Specialty Best of Breed winners including the first winner in 1981, Champion Follyhoun First in Line.
17.8 Linear feet (in 30 document boxes, three oversize flat boxes, one audiovisual box)
The collection contains records of the club and breed history beginning with the personal papers and records of Dr. Hugh Mouat, conductor of the first Otterhound breeding program in America. Club administration documentation includes secretary's files, meeting minutes, correspondence, specialty show files, and more. Print publications such as specialty show catalogs and a run of the club's newsletters from 1971 to 2001 are present, in addition to a video collection of show footage and other Otterhound specials. Photograph albums and negatives document notable early dogs, kennels, and figures in the breed.
The collection is organized into six series based on content and/or format:
- Hugh Mouat papers, 1942-1975
- Club Administration, 1970-2006
- Print Publications and Ephemera, 1970-2007
- Photographic Materials, 1940-2000
- Videos, 1981-2006
- Show Ribbons and Notable Dogs, 1931-1997
Gift from Louise C. DeShon, OHCA President, on behalf of the Otterhound Club of America, in 2007.
Boxes 33-35 were processed as an addendum to the collection c. 2011.
- Guide to the Otterhound Club of America Collection
- Under Revision
- Originally processed by Kari Delane;
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note