A Modern Bestiary – D is for Dobhar-chú!

A creature sometimes known as the otter-hound to modern mortals.

1126931186_imefairy32Though its proper name may sound more like a sneeze than a word to those unlucky enough to speak no Erse. 

You can check out the Irish form for yourself, here:


The otter-hound is also known as the “dobarcu” or the “anchu” and has been anglicized by some ignorant Brits as “doyarchu” and “dhuragoo.”

dhobar chu 1 The Dobhar-chú is a giant, reportedly 7 feet 0r more in length, and savage enough to attack men in boats or ashore.

They are also known to be wickedly fast on land or in water, and capable of swimming across a broad lake in a matter of seconds. Many also consider the beast a cryptid, claiming it can take on a camouflaged form or appearance and so conceal itself in the manner of a cuttlefish or a chameleon.

This, however, is the traditional take:

dhobar chu 4

Very otter-like, wouldn’t you say?  Having encountered a few, I would too.

Since the Fall, however, they’ve been seized upon by Hollywood types, all hoping to profit from their distortions.  Hence this pretty but highly misleading rendition:

dobhar chu 7

Flippers?  Truly?

As you can see, this bit of flummery was authored by those who mutilated the dragon involved in the human legend of Mulan. I cannot understand its appeal to anyone interested in authenticity, or in being prepared to deal with the real creature.  The “Disney” approach has further led to conflation of one supposedly cryptid creature with another – the Loch Ness Monster.  According to this bit of total illogic, the Dobhar-chú is the juvenile form of Nessy!  Trust me – that one is neither kith nor kin to the otters in any way!

dhobar chu 3 Still others have turned out cartoonish versions that make no anatomical sense whatever!

dobhar chu 10 Or else they’ve borrowed the shape of some deep-sea fish that has absolutely nought to do with the lakes and lochs of any land.

Foolishness!  The Dobhar-chú is a danger to mortals and my kind as well, for it cares not who nor what it attacks and is apt to show great cruelty, as the otter-like side of its nature inclines it to playing with its prey.

What’s worse, it turns out the Dobhar-chú is susceptible to certain viruses found in this world although most Fae are immune to mortal ills.  The two I speak of?  Distemper.  And Rabies.

The first is mainly a problem because it spreads the disease even further, and that is bad for the creatures who belong here and already suffer its depredations. I speak of dogs and coyotes, wolves and jackals, and ferrets (of which, I admit, I am overly fond).

dobhar chu w rabies  But a rabid Dobhar-chú is a frightful thing indeed, and no one has yet come up with a vaccine that can protect the Fae beast, nor a treatment that works on its victims. 

So if you should espy any otter-shaped creature, it matters not whether it hunts or swims or frolics on the river bank – avoid any closer acquaintance.  It may be nothing more than weasel-kin of some kind, living its life.  If not?  Well, what normally afflicts a human with hydrophobia has quite a different effect when it comes of the bite of a Dobhar-chú.  Instead of foaming at the mouth, and developing an irrational fear of the water, you are more apt to acquire a frenzied taste for the brains of your friends and acquaintances.  In short, you’ll turn into something very like a zombie!



2 responses to “A Modern Bestiary – D is for Dobhar-chú!

  1. Now this critter is a nasty piece of work!

  2. Although, in general, I’m quite fond of otters! Even more than ferrets!

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