Akita dogs are covered with a slightly firmer coat that protects the skin and a softer coat that helps retain heat. Depending on their environment, they generally shed in spring and fall twice a year. As large dogs, they shed a lot of hair, making them difficult to care for. We asked Akita dog owners about their difficulties during the shedding season and their tips for caring for their dogs.
“I almost panicked the first time I went through my dog’s shedding season,” said a woman in her 50s from Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture. She keeps a three-year-old female Akita dog and a one-and-a-half-year-old male Akita dog. She continued, “No matter how many times I used a lint roller or a robotic vacuum to clean up the floor, I couldn’t keep up with the speed of my dog losing its hair. I became worried that this would go on forever.”
Hosaka Hideyuki, 58, from Akita City, runs the popular “Akita Inu Genki ” channel on YouTube. According to him, “Akita dogs shed as much hair as a full bucket of garbage every day during their shedding season.”
Chiba Masato, 64, took his dog to make an appearance at the museum, Akita Inu no Sato in Odate City. In his opinion, “Even if you confine your dog to a specific place, the hair will eventually spread throughout the house. That’s why I let my dog stay wherever it wants.”
For Mr. Hosaka, “I think it would be enough to have about 80% of the hair that fell off cleaned up. I don’t mind the hair on my clothes, as long as I change when I go out.” The woman from Takasaki City shared similar feelings. She said, “Because the bright-colored floor makes dead hair on it less noticeable, I pretend not to see them. I also choose clothes in colors that don’t make the hair stand out.” These comments show that one common attitude among dog owners during their dogs’ shedding season is not to worry too much about it.
Still, owners should not forget to brush their dogs carefully and remove loose hair. For this reason, it is crucial to train the dogs regularly.
Motose Junichi, 59, runs a kennel specializing in Akita dogs named Noshiro Koujusou in Noshiro City. He said, “It is difficult to brush your dogs and remove their loose hair unless they were trained not to mind being touched everywhere. Therefore, owners should frequently touch their dog’s bodies when they are puppies.”
Suzuki Akiko, 60, is the chief dog trainer at One for Akita, a general incorporated association in Akita City that aims to eliminate the culling of Akita dogs. She talked about brushing in a rather stern manner, saying, “Brushing is essential for dogs, and if owners do it properly, they will feel good about it. If the dog doesn’t like it, you should rethink your training.”
In early March, we asked Ms. Suzuki to demonstrate how to brush a dog. She used a slicker brush with metal pins and a metal comb to brush an Akita dog. As she brushed along the hair stream, dead white hair that had been hidden underneath emerged one after another. After half an hour of brushing and combing, she brushed out a mountain of dead hair the size of a small dog.
Quietly lying down on the floor and getting brushed was Ringo, a 10-year-old female Akita dog. It is believed that she had never been brushed before she arrived at the shelter about a year ago. Though Ringo showed no sign of reluctance as Ms. Suzuki gently brushed her.
Regarding the strength of the brushing, Ms. Suzuki recommends applying a brush or comb to the back of one’s hand. She shared, “If it hurts or turns red, it will also be too strong for the dog. I hope you can use your own body to feel and remember which strength is best for your dog.”
Leaving loose hair unattended is bad for the dog’s appearance and harmful for its skin health. On this, Ms. Suzuki gave more advice, saying, “Brushing during the shedding season can be exhausting. But instead of trying to brush it all at once, you can separate the hair into parts and comb them one at a time.”
Advice from a Veterinarian: Comb Their Hair Thoroughly from The Root
We asked Wakamatsu Kiyonori, 62, director of Wakamatsu Veterinary Hospital in Odate City, about precautions for taking care of shedding Akita dogs. Here is what he said:
Some dogs, not only Akita dogs, are reluctant to be brushed, perhaps because they have had painful experiences with hair getting pulled. Therefore, one important thing is to brush them frequently from a young age to get them used to it. Moreover, long-haired dogs tend to form mats and tangles in their fur easily, which is why their owners need to brush them regularly. Leaving mud or water on the fur can cause the hair to deteriorate, and owners should keep in mind to wipe them down after a walk.
There are various types of brushes for pets, such as grooming gloves, but some are not effective in removing hidden dead hairs. Owners should experiment with different kinds of brushes and use the one that best suits them and their dogs. I think a metal comb is the best. If you brush your dog thoroughly from the root with the correct strength while barely touching the skin, you should be able to remove all the dead hairs.
When the dog sheds, things like dandruff come off its skin, which also needs to be removed with brushing. Otherwise, the shedding may not proceed properly. In addition, Akita dogs are also susceptible to skin diseases, so please observe them while brushing them and notice any abnormalities as soon as possible.