With the summer being so hot and humid and many places across the country seeing record-breaking temperatures there is a lot of concern for not only our health and safety but for our dogs as well!
For those of us that have Akitas, we may wonder if their thick fluffy fur should be shaved in order to help them beat the summer heat, but before you pull out the razor make sure to understand all the benefits versus risk!
As a general rule, you should never shave your Akita. Shaving your dog’s undercoat will take away their natural protection from the elements and expose their sensitive skin. It will not help them stay cool. The only time your Akita’s coat should be shaved is for medical reasons or excessive matting.
Let’s dive into the reasons why you should never shave your double-coated dog and the things that you can do instead to help your dog stay cool.
Why You Shouldn’t Shave Your Akita.
It’s important to understand how your Akita’s fur grows and its function.
Akitas have a unique double-coat of hair which essentially means they have two layers of fur. The bottom layer, closest to the skin, is dense and fluffy. The top layer is stiff and water-repellent.
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The two layers work together as a natural protection for your dog.
The outer layer protects your dog from dirt, rain, and elements. The inner layer provides insulation from the heat or the cold and helps to regulate your Akita’s body temperature.
Dog hair is a lot thicker than I’ve made it look in the following image, but I wanted to give a clear picture of the 2 different types of hair.
In the summer your dog’s undercoat (if it is fluffed, dry, and free from tangles) will trap a layer of cool air, and keep your dog from overheating.
Of course, this has limitations and you don’t want to leave your dog in extreme temperatures no matter what, but for the most part, having these two layers of hair will protect your dog from the hot summer sun. This double coat not only can help them stay cool, but it also protects them from sunburns and skin cancer.
In the winter or cold parts of the year, your dog’s hair gets even thicker. The thicker under-coat helps keep in heat and can protect your dog from hypothermia and frostbite. The topcoat which is water-resistant helps keep the undercoat protected and able to do its job. This works optimally if your dog’s coat is clean and free of mats.
When you shave your Akita you are making the two layers of hair at an even length.
This is a problem because the undercoat will naturally grow back faster and cause problems with the guard coat growing back. When more undercoat grows back it will interrupt your dog’s natural shedding cycle it will mat easier and shed more.
Shaving your dog also has the potential to cause permanent coat damage and could result in hair loss and bald spots. Once the topcoat starts to grow back, the texture feels much different. It can be like Velcro and attract burrs, grass, seeds, and anything else that your dog touches.
Shaving Does Not Stop Shedding
Dogs are amazing creatures and have for thousands of years been able to adapt to survive and thrive in their environment.
Although your Akita will likely shed all year long they usually have 2 big sheds during the year. The first one when you notice your dog shedding more will be towards the end of the cold winter months. The next one will be heading into spring and summer.
It may be a pain to find hair everywhere and tempting to shave it all off thinking this will help with shedding, but let me assure it this is not the solution.
Shaving your dog’s coat will not stop shedding! They will just shed shorter hair and most likely they will even shed more hair than they would have if they hadn’t been shaved.
Let me explain:
Undercoat hairs shed and re-grow several times per year. Guard hairs only shed and re-grow every few years. When the undercoat grows back faster and thicker your dog will have more undergrowth which sheds more often than the topcoat. So now you have more hair shedding more often than you did before!
More hair in the undercoat also makes it a lot easier to matted and tangled and will require more brushing and grooming to keep it from needing to be shaved again.
How to Reduce Shedding in Your Akita
Regular brushing, professional grooming, and monthly baths can help to prevent excessive shedding in your Akita. These practices will help to remove the dead/loose undercoat and reduce the amount of fur that covers you and your home.
This is also the best way to keep your dog’s coat clean, shiny, and naturally healthy! Keeping a regular schedule of grooming and increasing it during the spring shed can help you stay on top of the massive amount of hair that may come off your dog. This will also help to prevent rats and matting.
The best type of grooming is a vigorous undercoat raking which you can request from your groomer or do yourself. When you do take your dog to the groomers be very specific with your groomer that you do not want your dog to be shaved at all!! It may be a good idea to have it in writing because even still it can sometimes happen!
Here are some tools to help you handle the shedding at home.
SleekEZ Deshedding Grooming Tool for Dogs – Patented Undercoat Brush for Short & Long Hair
Painlessly Remove 95% of Loose Hair, Fur & Dirt
How to Keep Akitas Cool in the Summer Heat
The combination of both coats growing in at the same time will make your dog even hotter since the undercoat will keep air from circulating. The changed texture of the long guard hairs will actually absorb heat from the sun to make your dog much more susceptible to overheating.
Keeping Your Akita Cool
Your Akita can handle quite the range of temperatures, but there are some things that you can do to help your dog to be more comfortable in the heat of the summer.
Dogs don’t have sweat glands like we do. They sweat from the pads of their feet and their panting can help cool them down but it may not be enough. Here are some tips to keep your Akitas cool in the summertime.
- Make sure your dog has plenty of cool water
- Provide a shady spot for your dog to rest
- Provide a fan for your dog to lay near
- If it gets too hot outside allow your dog to come indoors to a cooler environment
- Exercise your dog in the morning and evening hours when it’s cooler.
- Never leave your dog unattended in a car! Even for a few minutes, the temperature can heat up FAST!
- Get a cooling bandana!
- Keep your dog’s paws trimmed
- Keep their legs and groin and stomach trimmed
When it is Ok to Shave your Akita
That are certain instances when the benefits of shaving an Akita will out way the negatives. A few of these include when a dog is severely matted, a senior dog that has health conditions, or certain parts of all Akitas.
Severe Matting and Neglect
It is always heartbreaking to hear stories of neglect but if you have ever adopted a dog from a rescue or shelter chances are that their matted coat is only one of the problems that you may be dealing with while trying to help your Akita have a better life.
The goal is to help your rescued dog have a much better life with causing as little added pain as possible.
In this case, it’s important to work with a professional groomer to assess if it is possible to get through a dog’s coat with special tools that can help to carefully cut away some of the mats and make it achievable for regular brushing to continue.
There are cases when a dog has been so severely neglected and the matting is extreme to a point that it is too painful and not possible to get through its coat, in this case, there is little choice but to shave the dog’s coat.
Do Akitas Need Haircuts?
Akitas do not generally need to get haircuts. Grooming an Akita is a fairly simple process of keeping them bathed and brushed. Long Haired Akitas also do not need haircuts. They can get a sanitary trim or a small trim to even their hair up. Trimming up the long hair on your Akita’s tails is also ok.
Giving your Akita a haircut or shave may seem like a good idea for owners who don’t have a lot of time for regular grooming and maintaining, but it’s important to understand that even though it may look nice, there are consequences to shaving a double-coated dog and it really should be avoided unless medically necessary.
This dog is a rescue whose severe matting was near to impossible to fix without a shave. Even with the shave, the new owner had to brush out several matted areas.
Senior Dogs Who Have Health Problems
Thinning your dog’s hair from a winter coat to a summer coat can take a lot of time and energy from you and your Akita. If your dog is older and it’s difficult for them to stand through a long grooming session or they have arthritis or other conditions that make grooming more painful then shaving them might be a better option.
This should always be done out of consideration of the dog’s age and health. If this is the case then you should take precautions to keep your dog indoors and out of the elements where she is more likely to get sunburned or overheat.
Certain Parts of Your Akita Can Be Shaved
When we are discussing shaving your dog we are talking about their entire body. It’s rarely a good idea to shave their entire body, but there are certain parts of their bodies that can be helpful to have shaved.
- The hair between the pads of the feet. This helps to keep them cool and comfortable and it keeps the hair from matting as they walk on it.
- The groin area. They naturally have less hair here and it’s important for sanitary and cleanliness reasons.
- The hair around their anus. If they are prone to getting poop stuck to their bum this one is usually a no-brainer. Sometimes it’s enough to just trim the hair around their bottom and not shave the entire area.
- A females stomach for an ultrasound.
Will Your Akita’s Hair Grow Back if it is Shaved?
As we have discussed there are times when shaving your Akita is unavoidable.
Maybe your groomer has gone against your wishes and shaved your beautiful dog until you hardly recognize her, or you have unintentionally shaved your dog now knowing the harm it would do, or you’ve had no other choice because of matting or medical reasons then your next questions might be will it grow back and what to do!?
Yes, the hair will grow back, but it most likely will not be the same texture. You can take steps to help your Akita’s hair return to normal but it could take up to a year or more to return to how it was. The more times they are shaved the longer it will take to return to full growth and the more unlikely it will be to ever return to that state.
If your dog has been shaved and you are trying to get their hair back to normal then it will require a lot of extra grooming for you.
Working towards brushing it every day to keep the undercoat under control and mat-free is an important step. Making sure that your dog does not have to be shaved again is important. Following the best grooming practices like we talked about before as well as feeding your dog a high-quality nutrient-dense food like this one can also help.
If your Akita eats strange things then check out this article! Why Your Akita Eats Weird Stuff (Grass, Poop, Rocks)
I hope this article was helpful to you in deciding whether or not you should shave your dog’s coat as well as give you tips for helping your dog grow back hair if it has had a shaved coat. I would love to hear from you in the comments below any experience you might have.