This section is from the book "The Dogs Of Great Britain, America, And Other Countries. Their Breeding, Training, and Management in Health and Disease", by John Henry Walsh (Stonehenge). Also available from Amazon: The Dogs Of Great Britain, America And Other Countries.
No hound which is now kept in Great Britain resembles the southern hound so much as this, the difference being only in the rough, wiry coat, which has been obtained by careful breeding, to enable them to resist the ill effects of the rough weather which the breed have to encounter, whether in the chase of the hare, for which they were originally employed in Wales, or for that of the otter, to which they are now almost exclusively restricted. If, therefore, the reader turns to the description of the southern hound, and adds to it a rough, wiry coat, with a profusion of rough whisker, he will at once understand the form and nature of the otterhound, alias the Welsh harrier. It is a disputed point whether this roughness is obtained by crossing, or whether it is attributable to careful selection only. We are inclined to think that as the fall melodious note of the hound is retained, there is no cross of the terrier or of the deerhonnd, which two breeds divide between them the credit of bestowing their coats upon the otterhound. Anyhow, it is a distinct breed in the present day; and, with the shape I have described, it unites all the characteristics of the old southern hound, in dwelling on the scent, in delicacy of nose, and in want of dash.
Whether the power of swimming has been obtained by any cross with the water-spaniel, is also a disputed point; but as I do not believe in any peculiar swimming power inherent in that breed, I am not inclined to attribute that of the otterhound to a cross with it, especially as the foxhound swims equally well.
As these hounds have to compete with a very savage and hard-biting animal, they must of necessity be fearless and hardy; and as, for their specific purposes, those which are not so, have been rejected, it happens that the breed has become unusually savage, and that they are constantly fighting in kennel. Indeed, instances are common enough of more than half being destroyed in a single night, in the bloody fight which has been commenced by perhaps a single couple, but soon ending in a general scrimmage No dog bites more savagely; and, unlike the bulldog, the hold is not firmly retained, but the teeth are torn out with great force the instant the hold is taken. The usual hight of the otterhound is from 22 to 25 inches in the dogs, the bitches being somewhat lower.
The points of the otterhound are like those of the bloodhound, except as to the coat, which should be composed of hard and long hair, somewhat rough in its lying, and mixed with a short, woolly under-coat, which serves to keep the body warm even when wetted by long immersion. The color differs also, in not being confined to black-and-tan or tan - the former, however, being often met with.