Grooming an Akita
Because of the Akita’s double coat, most just need a bath and regular brushouts.
Kathy Salzberg, NCMG
Q. I have a 6-month-old male Akita who does not like the hot weather. My previous dog was a Lassie-type Collie that I could take to have bathed and have her wooly undercoat stripped out. The Akita’s coat is totally different. Someone suggested hand stripping. This is the first time I have heard of this method. Is it advisable on an Akita?
A. No, I would not advise hand stripping an Akita. Hand stripping, the process of pulling the dead hair out of the coat of a non-shedding dog, and done with either a stripping knife or the fingers, is used mainly on wiry-coated terriers whose harsh outer coat is an important characteristic of their appearance and/or function. Such coats have a natural cycle where they grow, become loose and then shed as they reach their maximum length. Hand stripping controls the shedding while making room for new coat to grow in. It also prevents them from looking like walking tumbleweeds.
Once the dead hair is removed, the dense soft undercoat remains and a beautiful new topcoat grows in. The process sounds harsh to those unfamiliar with it, but in fact it is painless if done properly, according to the coat cycle. Although it is a common practice in dog grooming, using clippers on wiry-coated breeds can eventually lead to softened topcoats and diluted color.
For the show ring, hand stripping is the correct grooming method for such terriers as the Border, Cairn, Norfolk, Norwich, Scottish, Welsh, Airedale, Wire Fox and Sealyham as well as some other breeds like the Schnauzer, Bouvier des Flandres, wirehaired Dachshund, Affenpinscher, Spinone Italiano, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and Otterhound.
The most honored and largest of the Japanese breeds, the Akita is classic northern breed like the Siberian Husky, Norwegian Elkhound , Samoyed or Chow Chow, to name a few. They all have square bodies, small upright ears, wedge-shaped heads and tails that curl up over their backs. The Akita’s thick double coat can be any color including white, brindle or pinto.
Just like your beloved Collie, your Akita can be professionally groomed. Unlike your previous pet’s coat, the Akita’s outer coat is harsh, standing off from his body, but it should also bounce and shimmer as he moves. In the salon, the only grooming we do on the Akita is a bath and brushout.
To keep your new pet cool and comfortable, you need to brush him a few times a week, especially during shedding season, removing the dense undercoat as you do. This wooly underwear is probably what’s making him hot. If he’s not brushed enough, it will fall into the coat and gets stuck there, a condition we call “packing,” which occurs predominantly on the dog’s chest, shoulders, thighs and rump.
To properly brush an Akita, we use a curved-bristle metal slicker brush, undercoat rake, a shedding blade, and if we encounter heavy pockets of packed hair, a dematting tool. Once brushed, we check the dog over with a double-sided stainless steel comb to make sure we’ve gotten as much undercoat as we can. Most groomers do this before the bath but some now use conditioner during the bathing process to loosen undercoat, removing it during the high-velocity drying process.
Whichever method is used, our job is not finished until the loose furry stuff has been removed. Shaving this dog is not an option because like his fellow northern breeds, it could permanently damage the topcoat, resulting in only the undercoat growing back. This would rob them of their beauty and the protection provided by their harder, harsher guard hair.
On the final brushout, we may also use a carding tool to remove fuzz and leave the topcoat. Occasionally, we come across an Akita with a smoother, less dense coat, and this particular tool works well on these sleeker fellows. We also shave the footpads and edge the ears with thinning shears to make them look natural and neat.
This noble dog’s temperament can range from calm to playful to aggressive so because of their size and power, they should be supervised around small children and other pets. Intelligent and alert, the Akita likes the role of pack leader so obedience training is necessary. Daily exercise also helps keep them happy and healthy, as well as out of mischief, which can be the result of too much down time.
Give us your opinion on Grooming an Akita
Login to get points for commenting or write your comment below
Get New Captcha