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The Dutch Friends of the Otterhound

… or the Dutch Otterhound club, aims to maintain the Otterhound as a breed, retaining the original features & qualities wherever possible. This is the website of the Dutch Friends of the Otterhound. On this site you will find information about our foundation, the breed, our pack history, and many other things. Have a look around and if you miss information or you have any further questions; please mail us.

News: De Kweb kennels hope to welcome pups the first half of september. More info through “contact“.

Otterhound contact: Gerdy Mertens. You can use our Contactform to send us an e-mail.

History

The Dutch Friends of the Otterhound was founded in 1983. There is no other official breed club in the Netherlands. Formally the Otterhounds are represented through the Dutch Hound Club. Similar breed clubs in other countries have the same goal; preserve the pure bred Otterhound with all his specific qualities. There are regular contacts with the breed clubs in England, U.S.A, Germany and Finland.

Activities

The club publishes an informative and fun Newsletter four times a year, for members. By keeping in touch with Otterhound breeders and -owners all over the world, by studying historical material, by contributing to inquiries and research projects world wide, we try to make a contribution to the preservation of this rare breed.

Once or twice a year club members organise an informal walk, guests are welcome ! A good way to see and experience the breed in real life. Walks will be announced on this website. Next walk will be October 9th 2011, in the centre of the country. More details can be obtained from Gerdy Mertens through our Contactform. Unlike in other countries we do not show our hounds. There for a walk is a good way of seeing them.

Information

Of course you can come and see them too in kennels: make an appointment first! Wiljan van den Broek, De Kweb kennels, tel. 0416 312144

You can support the Otterhound by donating 16,– a year and receive our Newsletter 4 times a year, as well as all other information and invitations for walks!

For all prospective owners and other interested parties: mail or call us, for all questions and facts. Also a so called Bulk Book is available for a small fee: 80 pages of pictures and lots of articles about history, health, pet owners experiences, hunting in the past etc etc. Order can be places through our contactform: 7,50 plus postage.

Background

The Otterhound is an old British breed, as the names says: a hound. Bred to hunt in packs. In case of the Otterhound they hunted the otter in old days. King John I, King Henry II and queen Elizabeth I are said to have packs of Otterhounds. At that time the otter was a threat to the livelihood of those who lived on fishing, and an obstacle to the growth of welfare of the landowners. The Otterhound’s job was to control that “pest”.

As industrialisation grew and environmental pollution increased the otter got in trouble. Also poaching was a problem. The number of otters fell dramatically and quite rightly led to a prohibition of hunting them in 1976. Immediatelly the otterhound was threatened too as he was bred and kept for work purposes only, namely controlling the otter population. Many packs were dissolved. The Master of the Kendal and District pack, however, decided to try and save the breed from extinction. Hounds were placed with private people, much unlike the traditions of the packs so far.

A small group of dedicated people worked hard with him to realise this. As a result in 1978 there were hounds at Crufts and in 1978 the British Otterhound Club was founded. By then there were hounds exported to the U.S.A as well. There too a club was founded: the Master of the Otterhound Association.

Otterhounds in the Netherlands

Dog breeders Ria and Tini van den Broek, of the Kweb kennels, fell in love with the breed around 1978. It took them a few years and lots of energy, time and effort to gain the trust of the British Masters. But in 1980 they succeeded and got permission to import two beautiful Otterhounds from the famous Dumfriesshire pack, owned by Captain John Bell Irving and worked by his huntsman mr. Billy Scott.

In 1983 the Dutch Friends of the Otterhound were founded. Up to 1999 numbers increased to around 60 hounds. These days we have around 40 hounds in this country. World wide there are no more than about 1200 hounds, the breed is in danger and more rare than the giant panda! In Great Britain the breed is on the list of endangered species.

Strengths and weaknesses

The Otterhound has a friendly, cheerful, playful character. He is intelligent and sensitive. Adheres strongly to his people (his “pack”). Indoors he is a quiet companion. He should never be trimmed, rarely combed and bathed. He is said to be an allergy-friendly dog thanks to his type of coat.

Up to 3 years old he can be boisterous, needs plenty of space and exercise, although exercise has to be dosed carefully in the first year, to ensure a healthy upgrowing.

He is a big dog (male 67 cm / up to 48 kilo’s, female 63 cm / up to 43 kilo’s) and he can be clumsy in his enthusiasm. A fact to keep in mind when you have very young children.

Some have a strong hunting passion, which needs to be controlled from a very early age on.

The Otterhound is a hound, as is the beagle for example. So he has a mind of his own and he needs to be brought up with “an iron fist in a velvet glove”. Be very consistent in your approach, as a family, and you will have no problems. But if you expect your Otterhound to be 100% obedient then you know that you and your Otterhound will not become a happy couple. Do not punish yourself and the hound then and choose another breed. But if you look for a great friend with a strong and outspoken personality, a hound with a sense of humour, a super child friend, a companion that will make you smile and cry, then the Otterhound is your dog.

For more details on his appearance we refer you to the Kennel club breed standard.

The breeder

Since 1980 there is only one breeder in this country: de van den Broek family.

The De Kweb Kennels are situated in the midst of the country, in a village called Waspik. Breeding Otterhounds is their hobby. Ria and Tini van den Broek senior started the Kweb kennels, now Wiljan van den Broek junior runs it. The Kweb is a boarding kennel too, where all dogs and cats can stay in holidays etc. Also they run a petfood & articles shop, a barbershop for dogs and they grow and sell many types of pond fishes and plants.

If you are interested in an Otterhound you can get in touch with the breeder or the Otterhound contact. Also for more information and/or a visit to the kennels or a private pet owner.

Wiljan van den Broek, tel. +31 (0416) 312144.
Gerdy Mertens, tel. +31 (0)6 20 65 35 92.
For e-mailcontact with Wiljan or Gerdy, please use our contactform.

The pack

On may 1 1991 the “Kweb meute” (KOH=Kweb Otterhound Hunt) was founded by Master and owner Wiljan van den Broek, with the enthusiastic help of a few dedicated club members who became the so called “whipper ins” (the hunt personnel) and later also huntsman & joint Master. The aim was to realise the main goal of the club: to preserve the original qualities of the Otterhound. Which is done best in their natural habitat = in a pack.

This pack was by then the only pure bred Otterhound pack in the world!

Following the classic British historic examples, in hunting costumes too. For example: traditional buttons were made with the KOH logo on them. The pack was paraded on many outdoor events, to promote the breed (instead of bringing them to dogshows). Several newsletters and magazines published about this unique pack.

Of course the main problem in this country is that pack hunting is forbidden. In Great Britain some packs changed to hunting the mink. Not an option over here. So it was decided the pack would act as vermin controllers, namely by hunting the musk rat, a real plague in our country. Another great obstacle appeared to be the fact that there are very few terrains open and available to hunts. Landowners and farmers are not familiar with a hunting tradition and all sorts of prejudices stand in the way. But thanks to great efforts of our huntsman and a whipper in with theright connections we succeeded to find terrains, mainly with farmers. Before they could really work as a pack, years of training and exercising went by, using the so called slip hunt technique. (An artificial scent trail, laid by one of the whipper ins.)

The KOH enjoyed many years of great days out in the field, many joyful events where the hounds were paraded, the Master and whips went on a few trips to Great Britain, to study the English packs at work. Alas, several circumstances made it unavoidable that the pack ended its activities in 2008. Lack of terrains, shortage of fresh and young whipper ins and lack of time for the Master (three boys were born and grew up since the start of the pack) were the main reasons. A very unique and special period came to an end.

Frequently asked questions (Q&A)

What kind of dog is it?
An old British hunting dog, a pack hound (so not very obedient).

What is his character like?
Friendly, humorous, happy, strong minded, very intelligent.

Can you keep him indoors?
Yes, the majority lives in the house. But he can live in kennels as well, provided he has company and the kennel is dry and draft free. But you will be his pack so he will thrive in your company.

Does he listen well?
He hears you very well but is not very obedient by nature. Much depends on the upbringing, the whole family must be very consistent in the approach.

Can he walk off lead?
No, only on safe territories and always under your supervision. Attending a puppy class is strongly recommended, also for this aspect. He will need a properly fenced garden to prevent him from exploring the greener grasses next door. With good training and lots of patience much is possible.

Can he be kept an an only dog?
Yes, but he needs company so he should not be left home alone for more than a few hours a day. As no dog should. By nature he is a pack hound so another dog will be welcomed. He easily accepts other dogs or animals too, such as cats or farm animals. Provided he is introduced to them with care and brains.

Is he gentle with children?
Yes, he is a true children’s friend. He can be a bit clumsy in his younger years so bare that in mind when you have very young children or an old granny in the house.

Does he like to swim?
Yes, preferably in muddy pools. Or in his own waterbowl. You will be surprised how wet he can get himself and the house from a small bowl.

What sort of grooming is needed?
Not more than once a week a good brush-over, very little combing, no trimming at all. Ears need to be checked weekly, nail clipping is best practised from puppy onwards.

Is he easily house trained?
That needs attention and work but not different from other breeds.

Is he a good guard dog?
No. He welcomes everybody in a very friendly way.

Has he got strong hunting instincts?
It is a hunting dog, a hound. Bred to be working in a pack. So some do have strong instincts, some don’t. He needs attention from puppy onwards, as does all his upbringing. Do a puppy training course.

Does he suffer from car sickness?
If taken out in the car frequently, from puppy onwards, there will be no problem. Also later on he can be trained by driving him around daily for increasing periods of time starting with a few minutes.

Is the breed familiar with HD?
As any large breed there is always a risk. Proper feeding, well dosed exercise and upbringing (like avoiding climbing stairs) can make the difference.

Are there genetic diseases in the breed?
Currently unknown in the Netherlands.

Can he learn a lot?
Yes, a lot, with patience. Or no, not a lot. Depends what you mean by learning. Doggy dancing is not his thing…, but he is very intelligent so possibilities are there.

Contact information

For more information about our foundation and the Otterhound, about becoming a club member, ordering the Bulk book or planning a visit to an Otterhound pet owner, please contact us through our breed contact:

Gerdy Mertens, tel. +31 (0521) 350383, e-mail ghmertens@gmail.com

Membership of the club is € 16,- per year. You receive the Newsletter four times a year. Donations that will benefit the Otterhound rescue fund are welcome too of course.

For accurate information on breeding plans and/or waiting list or for an appointment to visit the kennels you can call the breeder:

Wiljan van den Broek, tel. +31 (0416) 312144, e-mail fokker@otterhound.nl

Pups

Occasionally a litter is bred, in general one litter each year.

The main goal is to preserve and if possible improve the Otterhound. Therefore the breeder always has the first choice of a litter. As the Otterhound is a very endangered species (more rare than the great panda!) careful and selective breeding is vital to the future of the breed. For that reason there is for many years now a cooperation with an English breeder, Mrs Judith Ashworth of the well known Kingstree kennels. Fresh blood was, and will be, imported from England and mating between English and Dutch hounds has taken place and is foreseen.

Prospective owners are carefully selected and will have to show their motivation for the breed in order to obtain a puppy. Becoming a member of the Dutch Friends of the Otterhound is strongly recommended. As many Otterhounds as possible are monitored during their lifetime, if only from a distance. If, despite all efforts on behalf of the club, the breeder and the owner, the hound cannot stay with his family, it is agreed that he will be given back to the breeder.

Photo’s

Here you find great photos which were taken during the last hunt in Chaam 2007. Photographer is Adriaan van Wijck.

Here pictures of the walk on October 9th, 2011.

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