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The Akita Information Center
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Akita Grooming

There are several elements to Akita grooming, all of which keep the dog healthy.  While many will talk about how this breed self-cleans, some will go so far as to say that an owner does not need to groom. That could not be further from the truth.

Akita furYes, they do clean themselves to a certain extent, licking and cleaning as a habit of sorts, but certainly not enough to keep the coat free from shedded hairs (which will be there all year round – with heavy sheds of fur twice per year).

There are other elements that an owner must also pay attention to. This includes:

•    Keeping the ears clean
•    Cleaning of the teeth
•    Clipping of the nails
•    Trimming of the fur in certain key spots
•    Giving proper baths
•    Brushing of the coat


Ears

When left unchecked, moisture can cause bacteria to grow, which leads to infection. It will cause discomfort and usually extreme itchiness.   Many find it most convenient to clean them right before baths.  This is an important, yet easy process.

Using a cotton ball that has been moistened with rubbing alcohol, one should swipe out only what can be seen, taking care to not probe down too deeply.  If a thick dark brown or reddish waxy buildup is present, this is a sign of infection or mites, both of which need prescribed mediation from the veterinarian.

Teeth

When started early and allowed to become accustomed to having his teeth touched, an Akita will do just fine as you scrub his teeth and provide dental care.  It is sad how many people think that certain snack is all that is needed.

Canines do not develop cavities as humans do however plague and tarter do build up…Left alone, it will cause infection and lead to tooth loss.  It can be quite devastating to see an older Akita dog with loose, rotted teeth, obviously in discomfort and having a difficult time eating…When it all could have been avoided if owners had not neglected this grooming element.

Puppies should be held and cuddled, but also an owner should open the mouth and touch the teeth. This allows them to get used to this, which is helpful when giving medication, checking for mouth issues, trying to grab a non-food object from them, and of course, for dental care.

It is common to brush your Akita at home and allow a veterinarian to do a scraping 1 time per year, but some owners choose to scrape at home. For brushings, you will want to make sure to use the proper tools and paste; otherwise this is all in vain.   Human products must never be used.  Without the capability of spitting it out, paste does get swallowed and therefore only canine products must be used. 

Nails


If you time the time to handle a young puppy, he or she will become accustomed to certain touches and not give you a hard time when you later handle them for grooming. A particular concern is nail trimming, since a slip can cause a person to clip too short… If that is done, the vein which runs down the center of the nail (the quik) will bleed quite a bit.   So, at a young age, an owner should hug, cuddle, lift the pup up and down, touch the paws, etc.   When this is done on a regular basis, an Akita can be so used to being handled that they pay little attention when an owner then does a clipping.

It is best to clip off a little bit at a time until you have done it enough times to instinctively know what length will keep the nail short, but not be so short as to hit the quik. 

You will definitely want to keep a solution such as Quik-Stop on hand when you first begin to do this, and it can’t hurt to keep some handy even once you gain experience.

Some owners do choose to have a professional groomer

  
perform this particular grooming element and that is a viable choice; however one must allow the Akita to gain the trust of that person before this is done.

Trimming

One must never shave this breed. With this being said, sometimes long hairs will grow out from in-between the paw pads. This can cause discomfort when walking and other issues.  It is a good idea to check this area periodically for this possibility. If you see any hairs that have grown out passed the pads, gently trim them until they are flush and no longer present a problem.

Baths

This type of major cleaning should be done 1 time per month…unless otherwise needed. One of the most difficult things to accomplish during the grooming aspects of bathing, is to sufficiently wet the coat down.   If you have ever seen this breed swim, you have undoubtedly seen him rise out of the water, only to shake a bit and be dry!   One must squeeze the water through the coat, making sure that it has penetrated to the skin. 

Akita groomingThe temperature should be lukewarm, neither hot nor cold (even on a warm day). IT is best to use the inside of your wrist to test it.  Puppies may be afraid of the bath…If this is the case, be sure to fill up the tub with water first and then place them in, so that the sound of the running faucet does not add to their stress.

This breed should be lathered up twice, with a good rinsing after the 1st lather and an exceptional rinsing after the 2nd.  Afterward, a high quality conditioner for this type of fur should be used.

It is helpful to place a cotton ball into each ear to help block moisture issues, which can lead to infection.

It is okay to give baths outside as long as you prepare a bit and are able to connect a hose to the Y connector of your washing machine so that you can control the water temperature. Be sure that the weather is  nice, neither hot nor cold…75F (23 c) to 85F (29c).

Before toweling him off, squeeze as much water off the fur as you can.  You may be surprised how much it can hold. We recommend allowing an Akita to air dry after toweling him off…blow drying is only done when preparing for a show and if done on a regular basis can cause drying and irritation.

Brushing


This should be done 1 time per week.  It is helpful to choose a certain day of the week for this and then routinely do it on that day.  With an excellent inner time clock, your Akita will learn to expect this time of sitting nicely and allowing you to brush and comb over the body.  When an owner begins this when the Akita is a puppy, the dog has learned that it is “part of life”. This breed tends to quietly accept things when socialized to them at a young age. Therefore, this element of grooming (and most others) should begin from the moment you bring your puppy home.

During the time of heavy shed, you will want to use a raking brush. At all other times, a wide pin brush works well.  With the thick fur, your goal will be to go deep enough to reach through the layers and down to the skin, without causing discomfort.  Best is a sweeping motion of down, through and curling up and out on exit.

Be sure to go over all areas, most commonly missed are the back of the legs. 

When you are done, it will be time to go over the body with a wide tooth comb.    As you comb, lift and separate the hairs, often you will discover missed places where the undercoat is still packed and thick.  It if is loose, go ahead and lit it out with the comb. Finally, go over the face, leg and feet to finish things off.



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