With a double coat and a zest for collecting things in his beard, the Otterhound presents some grooming challenges.
Healthy teeth and gums are important to your Otterhound’s health. Teeth should be brushed regularly and checked for tartar. Heavy tartar build-up should be removed by your vet. Your Otterhound’s bad breath may be caused by teeth and gums which need cleaning. Dental paste and brushes are available at your pet supply store. Don’t use human toothpaste for your hound.
Some Otterhounds may be prone to eye irritations especially if they show some haw (the protective membrane in the interior corner of the eye). Eyes should be checked and gently cleaned whenever necessary with a damp paper towel or tissue. Plain artificial tears or human eye wash can be used to flush the eye if needed. You can get these at your pharmacy. Ask your veterinarian what she recommends.
The Otterhound’s long ears do not allow good circulation of air and are therefore prone to infection. Owners need to clean the inside of their Otterhound’s ears at least once a week with one of the many liquid ear cleaners available from your local pet store or veterinarian. Start cleaning a puppy’s ears as soon as you bring him home and be diligent about frequently checking them for parasites such as mites, ticks and fleas. If you see a problem with the ears, seek veterinarian assistance, and if an infection is found, request a culture be done to determine the cause.
After the cleaning solution is applied to the inside of the ear, use a paper towel, tissue, cotton balls, baby wipes or cotton swabs to clean away the dirt. (If using a cotton swab, take care not to probe too deep and injure the ear canal.) If the outside of the ear or bottom of the ears are dirty, rinse them in a small pail of warm water and then towel dry. See illustrations below.
Remove excess hair from ear canal.
Pour cleaner into canal and massage the ear then wipe out inside of the ear.
Your hound will shake her head!
Towel dry the ear.
If your Otterhound has a large amount of hair in his ears, you may need to remove that hair. Check with your veterinarian for advice. Instructions for removing hair using Nair is in the health page of this Guide.
The Purple Stuff Many Otterhound owners swear by this homemade solution for those beautiful Otterhound ears. Combine: 16 ounces of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol 4 tablespoons boric acid powder 16 drops of Gentian Violet 1% solution (ask your pharmacist to order it) Mix it well and shake it to mix it each time your use it or the powder will settle at the bottom.
Apply it to sore and infected ears using a large syringe. If ears are very sore do not rub them. Use for a week and then check to see how the ears are. If they are clean use the mixture either for maintenance every couple of weeks or when needed.
Helpful Hint: Your hound will shake its head after you apply it so be careful. Either wear purple or apply it outside.
Grooming the Otterhound Coat
Brush the Otterhound coat weekly with a soft slicker brush, followed by checking for mats with a comb. If you find a mat, lift up the hair covering the mat and brush until the mat loosens and slips out. Be sure to hold the skin where the mat is located so it does not hurt your pet. Regular grooming will keep your hound’s coat in top condition. The rake may be used to remove mats as well.
Watch this video to help you learn to groom your Otterhound's coat with the help of Bev Biren.
Trimming Your Otterhound’s Toenails
Nails should be trimmed at least every 10 to 14 days. Various types of nail trimmers and grinders are available for this purpose. Your breeder, rescue group or veterinarian will be happy to teach you how to trim your Otterhound’s nails. Some puppies may resist nail trimming but with patience and a gentle approach by their owners they soon learn not to resist. If you are too squeamish to trim your dog’s nails, make sure you have them done regularly by a competent groomer or your veterinarian.
An Otterhound’s nails need to be kept short to prevent soreness and stress on the feet. Long nails may break or get caught in decking causing considerable pain and bleeding. If your Otterhound still has his dew claws (the extra nail located about two inches from the bottom of the foot on the inside of the legs), make sure to trim them as well. Forgotten, they can turn inward growing into the skin.
These nails are too long.
These nails are trimmed correctly.
This nail needs trimming. Because it has been trimmed regularly, the quick is short. (Quick is pictured in red.)
This nail needs trimming. It is way too long. It will take several trims over time to allow the quick to recede and make the nail the correct length.
This clear nail has no pigment, making it easy to trim to the proper length.
This nail is the correct length. Note, the dark pigmented nail is more difficult to trim since you can’t see the quick. Just trim a little at a time.
If you cut the quick, the nail will bleed. You will need to use a product like styptic powder or Kwik Stop to stop the bleeding. Over a period of time, if you consistently trim your dog’s nails, the quick will recede as the nails become shorter.
Cleaning your dog's anal sacs
Anal sacs, which are located on either side of the anus, should to be checked and emptied regularly to avoid impaction and infection. Otterhounds with impacted anal sacs often drag their rear ends on the floor. Sacs are cleaned by holding the dog’s tail up and gently squeezing each sac. The smelly contents of impacted sacs will then squirt out. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to express the sacs. At home, this is best done in the bath tub, just before you bathe your dog.
Bathing Your Otterhound
Otterhounds can be bathed as often as necessary with a dog shampoo.
Thoroughly brush his coat before you bathe your Otterhound.
Apply a drop of mineral oil or eye ointment to protect his eyes from the shampoo.
Avoid getting shampoo and soapy water inside the ears, by placing cotton balls inside the ears. (Make sure to remove the cotton balls when you are done.)
Bathe your dog in a warm location away from drafts. A bathtub is best. Place a rubber mat in the tub to prevent slipping.
Use warm, rather than hot water, to bathe your dog.
Use a shampoo made for dogs.
Don’t use household cleansers or human shampoo. Don't use a human hair conditioner either.
A Proper Bath
Wet your Otterhound thoroughly, then add shampoo and massage into the coat well. Thorough rinsing is necessary. Dilute the shampoo.
A good rule of thumb is when you think you’ve rinsed enough, do it again to make sure. Soap left on your hound can cause irritated and itchy skin.
When you have finished bathing your dog, gently squeeze excess water from your dog’s ears, body, legs and undercarriage.
Towel dry your Otterhound thoroughly.
Wait to brush out your Otterhound until he is completely dry.
Wet Otterhounds tend to pick up dirt quickly. Keep your pet crated in a warm area until thoroughly dry.
Once your Otterhound is thoroughly dry, brush him to remove mats and dead hair.