Akitas are muscular, powerful working dogs who can weigh well over 100 pounds. They love to be top dog. Akitas make loyal, protective family companions and love to guard single-dog homes.
This large Spitz breed from Japan won the hearts of American soldiers during World War II, who found them to be effective working dogs and loveable companions. Akitas were bred to hunt very large game in the Japanese mountains, so they are a hardy, independent breed used to dominating even bigger animals. Akitas have a tendency to give way to aggression and frustration when provoked, especially by other dogs of the same sex. The Akita is a prudent barker, known for his quiet but forceful instincts, but he will sound the alarm when he fears for himself or his family.
They are fearless and confident in pursuit of their own agendas, which can make them slightly difficult to train. Their owners must firmly establish dominance and train them calmly and confidently. Akitas love to be part of the action and enjoy participating in varied activities, so they can make excellent family dogs for families who are willing to include them in their lives. They are fiercely loyal and delight in protecting their owners. Akitas can be quite affectionate and gentle with those they trust, which is why they are best treated with respect and compassion from a young age.
The Akita looks like other northern Spitz dogs with a thick double coat and an alert expression, but his perky curled tail sets him apart from the rest. The harsh outer coat stands off from the body and helps protect him from the elements, especially water. The dense undercoat works as soft padding and insulation, but it is so thick that sometimes Akitas get uncomfortable in hot weather. Their coats are found in many colors, but most frequently, white, tan, brown, pinto and brindle. American Akitas with black face masks are highly prized. In Japan, not only are white markings and masks on the face heavily preferred, but only red, white and richly-colored brindle dogs are shown.
Those dense, thick coats provide substantial protection from harsh weather, but they shed significantly twice a year. During that time, Akitas need to be groomed with a metal-toothed comb. Akitas also shed daily. They are much more comfortable and content when they are brushed daily with a pin brush and a shedding rake. Weekly brushing will prevent you home from succumbing to a layer of Akita carpeting as they shed their heavy coats, so unless you want to invest in a heavy-duty vacuum, plan to invest in a strong brush and shedding rake.
With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.
The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but some double-coated dogs can be done so with less frequency (the Alaskan Malamute, in particular, has no odor and can go with annual baths). The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. Remember to wipe wrinkled breeds with a soft cloth and make sure they are totally dry after bathing. High-velocity dryers work great to remove excessive loose hair with shedding.
Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, it is simple to give your dog a haircut and save expensive trips to the groomer.
Dogs with double coats generally require regular trimming. It lessens the chances of matting, tangles and the infestation of fleas and other pests, thus reducing the risk of skin infections. There is no set timetable. Judgment should be made on an individual basis, depending on functionality and owner preference. There are a wide array of trimmers available that will make each snip a snap. It’s a good idea to take your dog for a short walk to calm him down before you groom him. Thoroughly brush the coat to remove tangles and mats. Use trimmers to trim excess fur off the dog's body, choosing the appropriate clip attachment to achieve desired length. Start with the shoulders and progress towards the tail. Trim around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, if needed. Groom the head and face last, being watchful for sudden movement. Trim with the flow of the fur, away from the eyes and nose.
Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.
Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience. As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.
You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.
Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.
It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Corgis, Alaskan Malamutes, Akitas and Collies have sensitive ears that need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. If your dog is prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.
Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.
Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.