Akita

The beautiful, if intimidating Akita is somewhat of a contradiction. If you are a stranger to the dog and perhaps visiting his home, you may notice that the Akita is aloof, almost anti-social. He may watch you carefully to determine of you are a threat to his family, but will not approach you for petting or any other interaction. The Akita is known for being courageous and will certainly step in if you appear to pose any sort of danger. However, home alone with his family, the Akita is affectionate and even playful. He may not be particularly cuddly, but he is a loyal companion.

Akita
Akita Original image by user Dakiny on Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
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It is important to note that there are two types of Akitas and opinions of which is the "real" breed splits right down the middle. For the most part, this distinction is important for conformation show dogs but applies any time you are looking to own this breed. The two types are the American and Japanese Akita. The American Akita is as much as 30 pounds heavier than its Japanese counterpart and has a broad head, triangular shaped eyes, and perhaps most easily recognizable, the characteristic black mask. In Japan, the black mask marking is a disqualifier and Japanese Akitas are smaller, have a fox-shaped head and almond-shaped eyes. Regardless of which type you prefer, the Akita is unlikely to be a suitable dog for a first-time owner. They require a trainer with an experienced, steady, and assertive hand who they can form a strong bond with.

Key Breed Stats

Alternative names: The Akita breed is also commonly known by the names Great Japanese Dog, Japanese Akita, American Akita.

Popularity: Popular

Life expectancy: 10 - 12 years

Breed group: Working Dogs (AKC), Utility Dogs (KC), Spitz and Primitive Types Dogs (FCI)

Size: Large

Male Female
Height 25 - 28 in 23 - 25 in
Weight 77 - 106 lbs 88 - 126 lbs

Coat:

Colors: Black, Red, Brown, White

Key Breed Facts

Shedding: Very heavy shedder

Grooming requirements: Very high

Good with children: No

Good with other pets: Average

Intelligence / Trainability: Average

Exercise needs: High

Tolerates being alone: Absolutely not

Hunting drive: Low

Suited as Guard dog: Average

Sensitivity: Extremely sensitive

Good for novice owners: Not really

Hypoallergenic breed: No

Drooling: Very high

Barking: Very frequent

General health: Good

Cost to keep: High

History

The Akita hails from a province in northern Japan, also named Akita. They can be traced back to the 1600s and they have a working history as guardians for Japanese royalty and as hunters. They tracked large game but were also used in waterfowl hunting. The modern breed has been influenced by other Asian and European breeds including Great Danes, St. Bernards, and the Tosa Inu. During the second World War, they were threatened by the attempt to do away with all non-military breeds (due to a number of factors including lack of food, being used as a food source for starving people, and their pelts were used for clothing) and they were crossed with German Shepherds in order to preserve the breed. Following the war, they were bred for a more standardized appearance. Akitas are considered very important to Japanese history and culture and in 1931 were actually declared a Japanese National Monument.

American Akitas are now a separate type from the Japanese Akita. They were introduced to the States when military serviceman returned from World War II and brought the dogs home with them. They preferred the larger type Akitas and that's why the breed has developed differently in the United States. Akitas were recognized by the AKC in 1955 and added to the Miscellaneous class. The Akita standard was adopted in 1972 and they became a part of the Working Class. 1974 represents the true divergence of the American and Japanese type when Japanese imports were no longer able to be registered with the AKC.

Appearance

The Akita is large and dignified; they make a powerful, even intimidating first impression.
Typical characteristics are:


  • A large head, deep-set eyes eyes, small, erect ears, and an alert, responsive expression.

  • A large body is longer than it is tall.

  • The large, curled is carried over the back.

  • Double coat with a long, thick outer coat and softer undercoat. The amount of undercoat depends on the climate that the dog lives in.

  • Colors: any color including white; brindle; or pinto.

Temperament

Intelligence/Trainability

Akitas are very intelligent, and though they are fairly quick to learn, they can be stubborn when training. These dogs require a steady, consistent hand and an assertive trainer. Training an Akita requires time, patience, and the ability to set proper boundaries. A trainer needs to be capable of establishing and maintaining "alpha" status within the family pack. To gain an Akita's respect, you must also give them respect. Akitas are usually not considered appropriate for a first-time owner.

Akitas have a habit of "mouthiness" that is not associated with aggression. They like to carry things in their mouths and may gently grab your hand or wrist to get your attention.

Early leash training is important, as this dog will grow to be quite large and any pulling behaviors should be dealt with as soon as possible.

As with all intelligent breeds, Akitas require an outlet for their energy and intelligence. In short, they do best with a job, even if that job is simply chasing a ball or accompanying you on walks.

Activity

Akitas require 30 minutes of exercise per day. That is enough to keep your Akita healthy and happy. They also require mental stimulation like games and activities. They are not generally excitable and are quiet and low-energy when indoors. However, a lack of outdoor exercise and mental stimulation can lead to undesirable and even destructive behaviors like chewing and barking.

Akita puppies are considered to be "large breed". Because of this, they are susceptible to certain bone disorders. Keep your puppy on soft surfaces like grass and keep play on hard surfaces to a bare minimum until your puppy is at least two years old.

Independence

Akitas are affectionate dogs and though they may appear aloof, they can be quite attached and protective of their human family members. They are happiest if they can spend a majority of their time alongside their family. They will not thrive in situations where they must spend long periods of time on their own.

Protective

Akitas can become strongly bonded to their family members and be protective and territorial. They are calm and watchful but will let you know if there is an intruder and will most likely defend those people they view as part of their "pack". Proper socialization is extremely important to ensure that they become used to meeting new people.

Living Conditions

An Akita requires outdoor exercise and due to their size and tendency to be territorial, they are not well-suited to apartment living. They will appreciate play time in a fenced yard, though it must be appropriately high and secure. Leaving your dog outside, alone for too long may encourage negative behaviors like digging and even aggression.

Children and Other Pets

Akitas are large dogs and can be protective of their family, including children. It is extremely important that children learn to interact correctly with any dog, but especially a dog of this size and temperament. Also, because they are protective over their family and "pack" they may protect a child when it is not needed, like when he or she is roughhousing with other kids. Socialization, proper training, and boundaries can help to curb or eliminate these behaviors.


  • Young children may unintentionally invade the personal space of your dog and are unable to interpret the warning signals of your dog.

  • Dogs consider the family as a pack, and may consider the younger children as subordinates and may try to correct them.

  • Young children are very time-consuming. They may take away from the time you have to spend with your dog and he may become bored or frustrated.

Keep in mind that all children should be taught how to interact correctly with ANY dog and should never be left unsupervised.

As a general rule, Akitas do not get along well with other dogs and can be aggressive. This is especially true with same sex dogs. He will chase other types of pets. In short, Akitas do best in a one dog household.

Health

The average life expectancy of a Akita is between 10 - 12 years. Like all breeds, the Akita is prone to certain hereditary health conditions. A responsible breeder will only breed with dogs that have been cleared for these conditions. A Akita is prone to these diseases:
  • Hypothyroidism (hereditary)
  • Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) (hereditary)
  • Sebaceous Adenitis (SA) (hereditary)
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia (hereditary) : Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a very common genetic orthopedic trait, which is affected by environmental and dietary factors. Canine hip dysplasia occurs when there is an abnormality in the development of the hip joint. More info»
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) (hereditary) : Progressive retinal atrophy refers to a group of inherited degenerative eye disorders, which lead to loss of vision. PRA affects both eyes simultaneously and is not painful More info»

Grooming

Akitas have a double coat with a short top coat and a dense undercoat. They are extremely heavy shedders and dog hair will become a permanent part of your life with an Akita. Regular brushing may reduce some dead hair and shedding and keeps your dog's coat healthy.

They don’t really need a bath too often, once every one to three months should suffice. When you bathe them, make sure to use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the skin's natural PH balance.

Ears should be checked regularly for dirt, redness or a bad smell that could indicate an infection. Clean your dog's ears when needed with an ear cleaner made specifically for dogs.

Some dogs wear their nails down on their own with exercise, but many do not. Long nails will require regular clipping and all puppies should be introduced to nail clipping early on so that it will be easier when they are older.

Consider brushing their teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog toothpaste two or three times a week. Daily is even better. All puppies should become accustomed to having their mouths and teeth checked regularly.

Feeding

Recommended amount: 3-5 cups of high-quality, dry dog food fed in two daily meals is a good starting point, but other factors need to be taken into consideration. Higher quality dog foods may require less food, as more of the food is digested properly. In addition, higher energy dogs will require more food, while more sedentary dogs may require less. Akitas can be prone to obesity, so special attention should be paid to ensure that your dog doesn't become overweight, which can cause health issues in both the short and long-term.

Puppies have special feeding requirements. Use food specifically designed for large breed puppies. Adult dog food contains too much calcium, which will increase the risk for hip and elbow dysplasia. Don’t overfeed your puppy, as overweight puppies also have an increased risk for dysplasia. Puppies need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. This might seem like a hassle, but it will help when it comes to housebreaking. A puppy’s digestive system works very fast. Five to 30 minutes after his meal, he will need to go out to do his business.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.

Avoid exercise 1 hour before and after the meal, to reduce the risk of gastric torsion (bloat).For their size and activity level, Huskies eat a relatively small amount. 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality, dry dog food fed in two daily meals is a good starting point, but other factors need to be taken into consideration. Higher quality dog foods may require less food, as more of the food is digested properly. In addition, higher energy dogs will require more food, while more sedentary dogs may require less. Huskies are prone to obesity, so special attention should be paid to ensure that your dog doesn't become overweight, which can cause health issues in both the short and long-term.

Puppies have special feeding requirements. Use food specifically designed for large breed puppies. Adult dog food contains too much calcium, which will increase the risk for hip and elbow dysplasia. Don’t overfeed your puppy, as overweight puppies also have an increased risk for dysplasia. Puppies need to be fed 3 to 4 times a day. This might seem like a hassle, but it will help when it comes to housebreaking. A puppy’s digestive system works very fast. Five to 30 minutes after his meal, he will need to go out to do his business.

Just like any other breed, they need to have free access to fresh, clean water at all times.

Older dogs, like puppies, might need a diet adapted to their needs. In some cases, it is advisable to feed them smaller portions 3 to 4 times a day.

When changing your dog’s diet, it’s recommended to do it gradually over a period of a few days to avoid stomach problems.

Avoid exercise 1 hour before and after the meal, to reduce the risk of gastric torsion (bloat).

Costs

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