Blowing once, blowing twice

The Akita is an easy groomer except for twice-yearly heavy shedding. Heres how to contend.

Posted: Wed Oct 1 00:00:00 PDT 2003

By Eve Adamson

The Akita's plush double coat, reminiscent of bear-cub fur, looks easy care, and like many medium-coated breeds, it is, with a few caveats.

Akitas are a pleasure to groom, writes Barbara Bouyet of Thousand Oaks, Calif., in her recent book, "Akita - Treasure of Japan, Vol. II." Their resilient, odorless coats require no special trimming, and an occasional brushing is all that is necessary to keep them naturally beautiful.

However, twice a year, the Akita blows coat, dropping much of it in preparation for the change of seasons. Grooming can prove challenging during this time. Some Akitas have longer hair, probably a vestige of the longhaired Karafuto dogs in Japan. Dogs with this type of hair need more frequent brushing and combing.

Because every Akita needs grooming no matter the season or coat type, keep your Akita at his healthy, well-groomed best by following these grooming tips, courtesy of Bouyet:

  • Due to its dense undercoat, the Akita can quickly develop mats if pet owners only brush over the top of the coat, smoothing the outer guard hairs but

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    leaving the wooly undercoat to shed and stick to itself. Brush all the way to the skin with a pin brush to get every tangle before it turns into a mat.

  • Remember the Akita's longer tail hair. Keep the tail brushed to maintain its fluffy, mat-free glory.

  • Long-coated Akitas often develop mats, especially in the soft fur around their ears and under their tails. If you like, you can trim off some of the long coated areas during the summer months. This makes grooming easier, Bouyet suggests.

  • Although many Akitas don't care for water, a wet Akita coat mats even more easily. Always brush and comb your Akita before bathing.

  • Twice a year, the Akita coat releases great tufts of downy fuzz into the atmosphere ... and all over your furniture. Some Akita companions enjoy this process. I love to pull patches of fur from their coat when they are blowing,' Bouyet says. For others, these biannual sheds create a serious housekeeping, as well as grooming, chore. It is a messy process, and they look unkempt and shaggy while blowing, but a daily combing with a metal comb or brushing with a pin brush assists in removing the dead fur. If the weather is warm, a bath in warm water will also promote the blow and hasten the process to completion, Bouyet says.

  • Train your Akita puppy to tolerate a weekly snipping of toenail tips from the beginning, using lots of praise and rewards and clipping often and consistently throughout his life. I encourage people to begin nail trimming when the Akita is a puppy or it can become a problem. Alpha dogs like Akitas usually do not like to have their front feet touched, Bouyet warns. An Akita that learns to accept grooming from the beginning will struggle less with it later.

    Eve Adamson is a DOG FANCY contributing editor and lives in Iowa City, Iowa.


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