How to Groom Your Akita Dog

Akitas are low-maintenance dogs when it comes to grooming but are fussy about how you do it. Here are some actionable tips on how to make Akita grooming as easy as pie.

Table of Contents

Akita Grooming

Grooming your Akita is a way to overcome anxiety and awkwardness with it, nurturing a healthy bond. Regular, low-intensity grooming helps you discover potential health problems and deal with them before they escalate. Akitas are fussy about how they’re being groomed, so the secret is making it convenient for you and the Akita.


A male Akita wears a resilient, odorless coat that doesn’t require much attention. It will fall off and be replaced with a shiny new coat twice a year, first the undercoat by handfuls and then the top coat. The rest of the year, the coat sheds little or no hair at all.

A female Akita will shed prior to estrus and have a new coat during the breeding period. She can shed it again after spawning the litter. After the shedding, some Akitas look like they have no fur remaining at all, while others regrow it as it’s being shed. The replacement speed varies depending on the Akita’s genes and health.

You can speed up the shedding by combing or blow-drying the coat. The fur of short-haired Akita breeds requires no special care or trimming beside occasional brushing.


Akitas can scratch themselves during shedding if the coat itches. The only remedy for scratching is thorough brushing. Use a metal comb and/or a pin brush to separate the shed fur from the new coat.

Long-coated Akitas require regular brushing, especially around the ears to prevent matting. Trim the areas with especially long fur in the summer months to make winter grooming easier. During brushing, check the coat for ticks and fleas and the skin for bumps, which are no reason for alarm; older Akitas grow benign cysts.


You should only bathe an Akita if you’re showcasing it, you have trouble brushing out the undercoat, or the vet orders it. In general, wait for warm weather before you give the Akita a warm bath and watch its reaction. Use a blow dryer if needed.


Calluses are hardened spots on the skin where the Akita presses its body against hard surfaces. They most often appear on elbows. If they crack, the skin might become infected and spread across the body. Use warm Jojoba oil on callous skin and alert a vet if you notice signs of skin infection.

Don’t touch cracked skin or open sores. If you have to treat them, look at the Akita’s reaction and do what causes the least discomfort. If your vet provides you with a lidocaine spray to control the soreness and sensitivity, use it sparingly and according to the vet’s instructions.


Mites are microscopic insects that mill on the skin. Some mites can be seen with the naked eye, looking like dandruff.

They are normal residents of Akita’s skin and can burrow inside the pores to feed on sebum. On occasion, the Akita’s immune system is overwhelmed by mites, causing mange. Open sores and scaly skin appear around the lips, eyes, and lower limbs as the mite population grows.

The most common transmission is through direct contact with infested dogs, such as during play. Puppies get mites from the mom.

In Akitas younger than 18 months, the immune system is not completely developed; mange may appear and disappear on its own during that time. Treatment should begin as soon as the first symptoms appear, otherwise mange may spiral out of control.

In Akitas older than 18 months the appearance of mange warrants serious attention, as it indicates another, deeper cause, which needs to be identified and corrected. Thyroid disease and Cushing’s disease are the two most common candidates, but age causes the immune system to decline as well.

The initial symptom is that the skin turns dry and brittle, oozing blood or pus. If a secondary bacterial infection appears, the affected spots may develop an odor. Vets recommend dips of amitraz, a substance that regulates the body’s metabolism by affecting the hypothalamus, or liquid ivermectin.

Mange treatment

There are limited options for treating mange; those that are available require trial and error. Be careful with conventional medical treatments because they can cause toxicity buildup in the Akita.

The length of the treatment depends on the severity of the disease. The expected side effects of amitraz treatment are sleepiness and itching. Amitraz is a hypothalamus suppressant, possibly causing aggression and depression of the central nervous system. If any of the following appear, contact the vet immediately:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Behavior changes

Mange treatments should never be combined. In this instance, ivermectin and amitraz have compounding effects, which can cause debilitating neurological impairment in the Akita. Amitraz tick collars can also clash with ivermectin mange treatments.

Try alternative treatments, such as diet and medicated baths with consistent use of topical oils as often as twice a month, with antibiotics to treat secondary skin infections. Use mild herbal soaps and shampoos to regularly remove debris from the coat, choosing what causes the least discomfort. Scrub and massage the body during the bath.

Mange prevention

It’s a good idea to supplement the Akita’s diet with biotin to aid fur shedding and coat regrowth, but also during mange treatment. Changing the diet will often cause a radical improvement in the condition. For example, try raw or cooked food with green veggies and blanched carrots instead of the usual diet.

You can also try dried sea vegetables and fish, such as kelp and sardines, on a daily basis. If the fish has bones, remove them before cooking it. Do not use grains; replace them with cooked barley, rice, or oatmeal.

Add one or more of these supplements daily to the Akita’s diet. The mentioned amounts are a good starting point:

  • Milk thistle
  • Cod liver oil
  • Bee pollen, 2g
  • Vitamin E, 400 IU
  • Selenium, 200mcg
  • Burdock, twice a day
  • Horsetail, twice a day
  • Zinc, 50mg (chelated)
  • Nutritional yeast, 5g a day
  • Lecithin granules, 5g a day
  • Marine carotene, 25,000 IU once a day
  • Vitamin C, from 500mg to bowel tolerance

Natural mange remedies

There are two simple natural remedies for mange:

  1. Mix lavender, neem, and almond oil in a 10-10-80 ratio. Gently spread over the sores and nearby suspicious areas 1–2 times a day.
  2. Put 4–5 drops of yellow dock extract and 4–5 drops of echinacea extract in a cup of distilled water. Mix well and apply to the skin as an anti-itch remedy.

After application, let the treated part of the body dry out.

Teeth care

A bored Akita will chew on whatever random hard object is near, including rocks and bits of metal. This can lead to broken teeth that hurt and can get infected. There are only two remedies: tooth removal and root canal, the latter of which is only recommended for show dogs.

Other than a broken tooth, there’s no need for dental care in Akitas, except that sometimes the temporary teeth don’t fall out. Giving the Akita a toy to gnaw on or playing pull-the-rope can help dislodge them. There’s always the option of asking a vet to pull them out.


Another chronic dental problem in Akitas is enamel hypoplasia, the wrong enamel formation that can happen to pups and adults. It makes teeth reduced in shape and size, causing them to develop orange-brown rings or to become wholly stained with the same color.

The most likely cause is genetic susceptibility to enamel disturbance coupled with metabolism changes during enamel formation. High fever is one possible cause since it damages the cells that create enamel and are sensitive to heat.

Other causes are infections, poor nutrition, and chronic health problems. Another cause of enamel staining is tetracycline use on their mom while she was carrying them. However, that causes distinct gray shades on the tooth.

Akitas and Huskies are sensitive to enamel hypoplasia, likely because they are native to cold areas. The duration of the heat incident is the most important factor in how much the enamel is damaged.

Find a vet specializing in tooth repair to figure out the best strategy for your Akita. Small lesions can be filled up while larger ones can be capped with crowns. The rough edges can be smoothed out to make it less annoying for your Akita. A weekly fluoride hardening gel treatment will seal the enamel and keep the problem in check.


Tartar is mineral buildup on the teeth caused by saliva composition. There is no way to completely prevent tartar, it can only be slightly held back by lots of chewing. Some Akitas will have no tartar their whole life while others get tartar for no apparent reason. An Akita with tartar will likely have other teeth problems, such as awkward tooth position and enamel issues.

Eye care

Some Akitas have naturally teary eyes. This can be due to seasonal weather changes, pollen release, or allergies. Tear ducts can become clogged, which is fixed by rinsing and massaging them with cotton swabs. Observe the tear buildup and wipe it off so it doesn’t attract particles that can lead to irritation or infection.

Nail care

Claws in Akita will wear down when it walks on hard surfaces, such as pavement and asphalt. If you hear clicking when the Akita is walking on a hard surface, it’s time to trim the nails. This nail overgrowth happens when Akita spends most of its time on soft surfaces, such as grass and dirt.

Clipping the nails will cause the sensitive flesh beneath to subside, so you can clip them ever shorter. That will also serve as a discouragement for the Akita to scrape the paws against the ground or dig, which can lead to joint damage and lameness.

Older Akitas require more nail care since they slow down and don’t wear the nails out as much. If not taken care of, nails that are too long can make the Akita unable to walk.

Akitas don’t enjoy the process and you have to get them used to it from an early age. Otherwise, they will fight back to escape nail trimming when they’re large enough to overpower you. If unsure how to do it, go to the vet because overgrown nails might make the Akita develop splayed feet.

Nail cutting

Start by cutting off small bits of the nail edge. Check to see the location of blood vessels (you can use a small flashlight from below the nail to spot them). Cut the nail until you reach the end of the vein, which is the living part of the nail. Take the nail off bit by bit and stop before you draw blood.

As you trim the nails, the blood vessels will recede and allow you to trim off more of the nail. You can also contact a vet to show you how it’s done or do it for you.

Dremel tools can deal with very long nails but they are noisy and might disturb the Akita, which could start fighting if it perceives danger. If you do use such a tool, make sure the Akita is accustomed to it. Otherwise, use any nail trimmer that can do the work quickly and efficiently, leaving no rough edges; extra coarse files work too.


Just like humans, Akitas tend to develop bad habits that lead to health problems that reflect in their appearance. We bite nails; Akitas scrape the ground. In either case, grooming addresses the immediate problem and chips away at the underlying issue, such as anxiety and lack of exercise.

Much of your Akita’s appearance and health is determined by its genes. Don’t try to “fix” your Akita by obsessing over the details. Spend the time appreciating your Akita and its quirks, adding just a few finishing touches so it looks and feels like a champ.

Further Reading

The Akita Inu — Breed Characteristics

The iconic Akita dog is first recognized by its curled-up tail, pointed ears and fluffy fur. It has an imposing size but also a noble, calm demeanor that can still quickly turn sour if it’s agitated. It’s one of the most impressive dog breeds, carrying in itself the spirit of ancient Japan.

Read More »

Akita health

Akita Joints And Spine Problems

A limping Akita is a sad sight to behold. It seems to need help but suddenly the limp disappears and the Akita acts fine. This is a warning sign that trouble is afoot and the Akita is about to develop an issue with its joints, spine or both. Here is an overview of joint and spine problems in Akita, with probable causes and suggested remedies.

Read More »

Communicable Diseases In Akita

Akitas might not like to mingle but they can still catch communicable diseases just like any dog breed that does. These diseases quickly spread through a litter, especially an unvaccinated one, even without physical contact; all it takes is an infected bowl, toy, or blanket to spread the disease.

Read More »

Eye Health Of The Akita Inu

Akita eye problems always happen because of a nutritional deficiency and a congenital defect. Diet fortified with nutrients and early eye exams are the simplest way to detect and manage eye problems in Akita

Read More »

Latest Videos

Scroll to Top
Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get notified about new articles