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A defining feature of the Akita is their plush, thick coat. And while this coat is lovely to look at and soft to the touch, the amount of shedding is immense! When the shedding kicks into high gear, it’s time to decide on either brushing at home or going to a professional groomer. One of the enormous expenses of pet ownership is grooming, and there are so many options from the groomer that it’s overwhelming to decide what services your Akita may need! But, as most Akita owners will find out, that fluffy Akita coat may need some professional help from time to time.
So, do Akitas need to be groomed? Yes! Akitas require a moderate amount of grooming that can be accomplished either at home or with the assistance of a professional dog groomer. It’s definitely easier to use a grooming service, but even if you plan on consistently taking your Akita to the groomer, it’s a good idea to teach yourself how to groom them at home just in case.
There are quite a few factors that can make home grooming your Akita seem like a daunting task. For one, their coat changes throughout the seasons. While it may seem sleek during the summer, as the summer creeps closer, you may notice your Akita’s coat taking on a patchy appearance and the shedding becoming more excessive than usual. In addition, when you brush your Akita during these patchy phases, it seems like the hair just never stops coming, almost as if you could brush for hours and the hair would be just as plentiful as when you first began. Simply put, Akita grooming can get complicated. Read on to find everything you ever needed to know about Akita grooming!
Do Akitas Need To Be Groomed?
Akitas do need to be groomed regularly, either by the owners or by a professional groomer. All dogs, from time to time, need a good, thorough brushing, but you may notice that not all dog’s coats are exactly the same. The difference in coats is the main reason grooming needs differ from breed to breed. For example, a dachshund has a single layer coat, and while they shed, it’s an average amount.
On the other hand, Akitas have what is known as a double coat. A double coat consists of a top layer of long, semi-stiff guard hairs and a soft, downy undercoat.
Guard Hairs – Guard hairs are slick and shiny, giving your dog a clean, regal appearance. These hairs are meant as a protective shield to protect both your dog’s skin and the softer, more delicate undercoat. These hairs give your Akita’s coat the beautiful, healthy appearance you’ve come to expect. The hairs are incredibly important, as well as visually appealing, repelling dirt, debris, and liquid from reaching your dog’s skin.
Guard hairs are meant to be nearly permanent, lasting multiple years. The exact grow-back schedule for guard hairs isn’t known, but if you pluck one, it definitely won’t grow right back. Since these hairs are meant to last so long, it can take a very long time for them to be replaced when lost.
Undercoat – Unlike the coarse, stiff guard hair, an Akita’s undercoat is soft and fluffy, almost like the down feathers on a baby duck. The undercoat is thicker than the guard hair coat and is meant to regulate temperature for your dog, and this doesn’t just mean keeping them warm during the cold winters! Yes, the undercoat catches and holds warm air and prevents body heat loss when it’s cold, but it can actually help keep your Akita cool too!
Along with acting as a warm fur layer in below-freezing temperatures, the undercoat also serves the important purpose of deflecting heat, sunlight, pesky summer mosquitos, and most importantly of all, heat. Instead of making the dog overheat, the undercoat traps cool air close to your Akita’s skin, keeping them cooler than if they were shaved!
The undercoat, unlike the long-lasting topcoat, grows back much quicker, beginning to regrow within days of loss, which is why a shaved double-coat dog will appear to have a strange, short coat once their hair grows back. The undercoat will grow in first, and it may take over a year for the guard hairs to come back.
This also means that when your Akita sheds, whether be seasonal shedding or normal day-to-day shedding, it’s usually the undercoat that you will find on your floor or couch cushions.
Twice a year your Akita will go through a process known as blowing coat, which is when their undercoat begins to be shed quickly and in massive amounts. This is signaled by the strange patchy appearance we mentioned earlier and can last anywhere from a week or two to a couple of months. Akitas blow coat usually in the spring and fall, with the spring blow before the hot summer being the heavier of the two.
Grooming Schedule for Akitas
For best coat health, brush your Akita weekly and bathe them at least every six weeks, but not more than once a week. When your Akita is blowing coat, brushing daily is recommended.
Do not bathe your Akita more than once a week. Overwashing can cause dandruff, dry skin, or skin irritation for your Akita. For the average Akita, during regular shedding season, a good grooming schedule may look something like this:
- Daily- Check your Akitas coat for any sticky messes or places of concern. Small areas can be cleaned with a cloth if you don’t feel like a full bath.
- Weekly- Brush your Akita from head to toe
- Bi-weekly- Bathe your Akita every two weeks with a dog-appropriate shampoo. You may need to use a hairdryer to get their undercoat completely dry, but be careful to not burn your fluffy friend with too-high heat!
Do Akitas Need Haircuts?
Akitas do not need haircuts. Their hair stops growing at a certain length, and haircuts will not reduce shedding.
Some dog breeds may require frequent haircuts for fur that can grow excessively long, like Maltese or Poodles, but Akitas’ hair self-regulates at a set length and will never grow longer than that.
Should I Shave My Akita in the Summer?
Never shave your Akita or any double-coated dog, for that matter. When you shave an Akita, a number of negative consequences can occur, such as:
- Inability to control body heat. For example, overheating or becoming too cold
- Leaves them vulnerable to insect bites
- Leaves them vulnerable to sunburn
- Causes skin irritation
- The coat may never grow back correctly
How Do You Groom An Akita?
Akitas can be groomed like most other dogs, with baths and brushing, but since they are double-coated, there are a few things to take into consideration.
For one, your Akita’s shedding is not going to be the same year-round. You may be able to get away with a single weekly brushing, or even bi-weekly brushing, during the milder times of the year. During these times, the shedding will be consistent in amount.
But when in the spring, and to a lesser extent, the fall, your Akita is going to start blowing coat and will need brushed multiple times a day. Don’t bother trying to get all the loose hair out. Instead, you’re just trying to minimize the shedding. Unfortunately, nothing will ever stop shedding completely.
Do Akitas Clean Themselves Like Cats?
Akitas do not groom themselves like cats. If you see your Akita licking their fur often, it may be a sign of irritation and should be checked out by a veterinarian.
It would be nice if our Akitas groomed themselves for us, but sadly, it isn’t a skill they possess. Instead, an Akita that is obsessively licking themselves may warrant a trip to the vet so they can get to the bottom of the itchy issue.
Akitas may chew or lick a spot over and over because of things like skin irritation, cuts or wounds, fleas, allergic reactions, or mosquito bites. A little bit of licking isn’t a big deal, but if left unchecked, your Akita may develop a rash or hot spot.
Akitas do need to be groomed, and they can be groomed at home by their owner. Different grooming may be needed depending on the time of the year and how much your Akita is shedding.
Also, never shave your Akita! Their hair may never grow back the same, and it is an uncomfortable experience for them.