Most dogs really need baths only when they get all muddy or decide to roll in something utterly disgusting. With Akitas, however, baths also help with the shedding process. As this breed has a remarkably thick, double-layered coat, shedding involves more than just some extra dog hairs on the sofa.
Watch out for the beginning of each molt during your normal grooming routine. The signs are more loose hair and your dog looking rather shaggy. Akitas generally shed twice a year, usually in the spring and fall. When he starts shedding, switch from brushing and combing once a week to daily and get ready to give him a bath. Bathe him occasionally at other times of the year, but it is most useful when he’s changing coats.
Bathe him after your daily grooming routine, removing the loose dead undercoat from his coat with a shedding rake. Comb through his entire coat afterward to ensure you've removed all, or nearly all, of the dead hair.
Collect everything you need in the bathroom, including dog shampoo and conditioner, old towels, cotton balls and a cloth. Don’t forget your dog.
Place cotton balls carefully in his ears. The erect ears of an Akita make it easy for water to splash in, which can lead to ear infections.
Turn on the shower and adjust the temperature until it is running tepid, not hot, water. If you have a detachable shower attachment, unhook it.
Ask your dog to stand in the shower cubicle or tub.
Soak hi8s coat using the shower attachment, avoiding his head. If you don't have a shower attachment use a bucket or other appropriate container.
Massage a small amount of shampoo into his coat, again avoiding the head. The massaging action, along with the running water, may help remove some more hair.
Rinse the shampoo out completely, which might take some time with a coat this dense.
Repeat the above steps with a rather larger amount of dog conditioner.
Let him out of the shower once he is rinsed fully. Remove the cotton balls from his ears and towel him dry. Now stand back, because he probably is going to shake.
Wet the cloth with plain water and wipe his head carefully to remove any crusts around the eyes or mouth.
Comb him again thoroughly to help remove more shedding hair and to prevent knots. Don’t let him outside until his coat is completely dry. You may need to use a blow dryer, in which case turn it to the lowest setting and keep it several inches away. Lift and separate his coat using your free hand, which also means you'll be able to tell if the dryer is too close for comfort.
Remove the dog hair that inevitably will have accumulated around the drain.
- Use a dog shampoo designed for sensitive skins if you can.
- Brushing and combing your dog outside when he’s shedding helps minimize the amount of dog hair on your furniture.
- Don’t bathe your dog more often than about once a month or you could strip his coat of natural oils and irritate his skin. At a push, you could bathe him a couple of times during a shedding month (because one coat is being replaced with another) if you minimize the amount of shampoo used, but this probably is best avoided. You may not need to bathe him much at all outside this time -- remember you always can wipe him down with a damp cloth.
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.