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Though some Otterhounds do have a fair amount of coat, most do not shed a great deal. With an "average" Otterhound, expect to brush the coat on a weekly basis to keep the coat from matting, particularly on the head, legs and underside. Grooming also gives you a good chance to find any unusual lumps and bumps on the dog, and will keep shedding under control.
Start your OH puppy out with a gentle weekly brushing, and he'll learn to love the activity, or at least tolerate it pretty well. If you never brush him until he's older (and bigger and stronger) and you notice that the coat on his underside is getting matted, it's not going to be a fun activity for either of you... If you happen to get an Otterhound who has a softer coat, you may need to brush your dog thoroughly two or three times a week.
Some Otterhound owners clip their hound's coat short, either because it's gotten totally matted, which should normally only happen with an OH which had an unusually soft coat, or because the dog has allergies or a skin problem. If you do this, you need to know that it will probably take at least two years for the outer coat to grow back fully.
Otterhounds have big hairy feet. Trimming the hair on the feet and between the pads can help cut down on what gets tracked into your house. Most OHs are not extremely slobbery dogs, but they've got beards and long hairy ears that get into their water bowls, food dishes, etc., and then act as transport mechanisms to spread water, food, etc. around.
This problem is exacerbated if your OH is one of those who prefer to drink from the bottom of the water dish - many Otterhounds submerge their muzzle or their entire head when they drink! Though an Otterhound's undercoat should be somewhat oily, most don't seem to develop the strong "doggy" odor that some oily coated dogs do. But if the beard is not kept reasonably clean, it can develop an unpleasant odor, particularly in a damp climate.
Unless you and your OH walk miles a day on sidewalks, you'll need to trim toenails at least monthly. If you trim the nails weekly, you'll just have to trim off a small amount each week and you'll be less likely to cut into the quick, which is painful. Otterhounds take a long time to forget an unpleasant experience, so you really want to avoid them ever coming to associate nail trimming with pain. Get your puppy use to this activity when it's young, or you will have monthly wrestling matches or have to pay your vet or a professional groomer to do this for you! Cleaning your OH's teeth should also be part of your regular grooming routine, though some dogs teeth seem to naturally stay plaque free.
Except for Otterhounds that are being shown, frequently bathing the entire dog should not be necessary, but you need to check inside your OH's ears on a regular basis, and will probably need to clean them regularly.
If your Otterhound has an unpleasant odor, check both ears and mouth! If ear cleaning and tooth brushing don't solve the problem promptly, take your hound to your vet - that smell could indicate a serious problem. Many Otterhound owners swear by the following ear cleaning formula for dogs whose ears get "gunky" - but have your vet check the dog first, to make sure that there isn't a more serious problem than ear gunk:
16 oz bottle of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol20 drops of 1% Gentian Violet* 1/4 cup Boric Acid powder*Mix boric acid, gentian violet & alcohol. Shake thoroughly, and suck some into a bulb syringe*. Shake the solution vigorously every time you use it, including in between
doing the first ear and the second - boric acid will settle out very quickly. Flood the ear with solution. Massage for 60 seconds; wipe with cotton balls CAUTION: DO THIS OUTDOORS - gentian violet stains! Treat daily for 3 days and monthly thereafter. *Most pharmacies will order the boric acid and gentian violet if they don't regularly carry it.
You can find a bulb syringe in most pharmacy and supermarket "baby" aisles.