Akita (Japanese Akita)


A large, handsome dog with a strong head and thick coat, strongly built with a strong personality. Bold and intelligent, but strong willed and not especially sociable with strangers or other animals. Extremely loyal and protective towards its family. The rarer long-haired version is said to have a kinder temperament. There are two separate varieties of Akita: a Japanese strain, known as the "Akita Inu" or "Japanese Akita"; and an American strain, known as the "Akita" or "American Akita". Click on the left hand description headings to bring up section details (will go orange) and there is a downloadable profile below.

Minimum Exercise: 2 Hours

Exercise/Activity Level: 2 hrs or more as an adult (2-3 walks per day) but take care not to over-exercise as a puppy due to strain on the joints

Size: Large, 22-25 inches to the shoulder

Weight: 75-130lbs

Colour: US breed standards state that all dog breed coat colours are allowable in the American style Akita, including pinto, all types of brindle, solid white, black mask, white mask, and even differing colours of under coat and overlay (guard hairs). Different national kennel clubs might have slightly different colour rules. The Japanese Akitas, as per the breed standards, are restricted to red, fawn, sesame, brindle, pure white, all with "Urajiro" markings i.e. whitish coat on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, on the underside of jaw, neck, chest, body and tail and on the inside of the legs.

Town or Country: It is better in large and wide open spaces though will adapt to towns and cities given the right breeding and extensive socialisation. However it’s dominant and tending to aggressive nature with other dogs and aloofness with strangers means it is better in less densely populated areas.

Low Allergy: This is a dog that sheds a lot of hair. There is a rare long coated version of the Akita, which is not accepted for show, where the hair is about 3 inches longer all over the body.

Best Suited for: Experienced dog owners with or without older children, who live in the country, are determined and assertive (clear pack leaders), prepared for an active lifestyle and willing to invest a lot of time and energy into training and socialisation.

Group: Utility (UK)

Originally From: Japan. The Akita is named for the province of Akita in northern Japan, where he is believed to have originated. The Akita's known existence goes back to the 1600s. Japanese history describes the ‘Matagi dog’ (The Akita’s ancerstor) as one of the oldest known breeds. It was declared a Japanese National monument (symbol) in 1931.

Original Purpose: Guard and hunter, originally used for guarding royalty and nobility in Japan. The Akita also tracked and hunted wild boar, black bear, and sometimes deer. It was also bred with other fighting dogs such as the Tosa to create a fighting strain.

Living Space: Medium to high. The Akita is a large dog.

Coat: Thick, dense, and also comes in a long haired variety.

Grooming: High – regular brushing is required as the Akita sheds a lot of hair.

Children: High tolerance within its own family unit, but is best with older children purely due to its size. Socialise very early to children and take extra care with any strange children inside the home – will move to protect the family children if it feels they are being threatened (children playing noisily and screaming can be a red flag for an Akita). Do not leave unsupervised with any strange children.

Sociability with strangers: Low to medium – wary, protective, often aloof with visitors. Can be fine if well socialised from an early age to accept regular house guests. However this is a guardian dog and care must be taken at all times around visitors, preferably not leaving them with the dog on their own. Care should also be taken around all strangers as Akitas can sometimes attack without warning. This is not a dog that will growl or bark a warning before springing into action.

Sociability with animals or other dogs: Medium to low with other dogs. The Akita is a guard by instinct and will protect its family strongly from any perceived threat. This includes other dogs. Akitas can be aloof with other dogs, and don’t tolerate dogs of the same sex easily. Some will try and strongly dominate everything, and if challenged will not back down from a fight. Their hunting origins also gives them a prey drive which could cause problems with small dogs. Lead walking only is recommended. If you want your Akita to be sociable, choose your puppy extremely carefully from more laid back parents and socialise, socialise, socialise. Not with small pets due to their original hunting origins. Is known to chase small pets.

Trainability: Low to medium – this is a dominant dog which is robust and assertive. The Akita will try and dominate its owners as well as others. It’s recommended that Akita owners do the training themselves rather than have the dog boarded with a dog trainer for residential training. Akitas respond well to positive firm and respectful training. They are however longer to train than many other breeds, being wilful and stubborn. Akitas are extremely intelligent and tend to get bored easily and when the dog thinks it's a waste of time to "sit" or "stay" one more time, he will simply walk away. You must have patience, strength and determination to train an Akita properly.

Noise Level: Medium. They don’t tend to bark, but if barking this means something important. They are good guards. Akitas also ‘talk’ with an array of noises and mumbles.

Known Health Issues: Moderate to high number of problems in the breed. Some of the problems known to Akitas are: • Bloat/torsion (stomach fills with air and twists) • Hip dysplasia • Elbow dysplasia • Eye disease: Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) gradual loss of sight • Hypothyroidism • A range of auto-immune diseases • Lupus (a blood disorder) • Sebaceous adenitis (inflammatory disease affecting the sebaceous glands) • Panosteitis (painful bone inflammation) • Cranial cruciate ligament rupture (severe acute lameness) • Patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap) • Heart disease: ventricular septal defect (can cause heart failure)

Lifespan: 10-13 yrs

Special Needs: Akitas should never be kept outside as this dog requires a lot of time with its family, and should only be housed indoors. Prolonged eye contact is considered a challenge by the Akita, and it may respond aggressively. Lead walking only is recommended. VERY food possessive. Feed an Akita twice per day and a high quality meat or fish-based food to reduce the tendency for bloat and skin allergies. Take advice about exercise as a puppy. The Akita has been legislated as a dangerous dog in some countries and localities, and some insurers might not insure it. Check this carefully before buying or adopting one. In 2006 the Akita Inu was recognised as a separate breed to the Japanese Akita. The Akita Inu is smaller and lighter.

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