Breed Group: Working
Temperament and Behavior
The Akita (a-KEE-ta) is “bold, independent, stubborn and tenacious.” It is also calm and dignified. Akitas are very devoted to and protective of family members. If they feel that the home or “pack” is being threatened, they can become aggressive. They can also be aggressive toward other dogs, especially those of the same sex. In fact, two same sexed dogs should never be left alone together. Akitas are also predatory toward smaller animals. These are not dogs to leave untrained in the back yard. Despite their size, Akitas can live indoors as calm house pets but need a fenced yard for daily physical and mental activity. They especially like vigorous exercise during cold weather. Excellent watchdogs, Akitas are good with children provided they have been raised with them. However, they may become overly protective if a child’s playmates start roughhousing. Quiet dogs, they only bark when there is a reason. As a house pet Akitas are very clean and easy to housebreak. Some are possessive of their food.
Physical CharacteristicsAkitas are large, powerful dogs whose build reflects their original job of pursuing big game through deep snow in rugged terrain. Their double coat includes a dense undercoat and a straight, harsh, outer coat that provides protection against both water and cold weather which they enjoy. They do poorly in hot, humid conditions. They have four primary colors: red, sesame, brindle, and white. Their tails are carried high and curled over the back. Akitas have webbed feet for swimming. Males stand 25-28 inches while females are 23-26 inches. Males weigh 85-130 pounds while females weigh 65-110 pounds. Akitas are above average shedders. At least weekly brushing, more when shedding heavily, is needed. But bathing should be done only when necessary to avoid stripping the dog’s coat of its natural oils.
Trainer's NotesAn Akita requires intensive and extensive socialization and obedience training to keep their guardian instincts in check. Although they are very trainable dogs, they can be challenging as they are assertive and strong-willed. Akitas need to understand early on who is dominant. If the owner does not assume the role of pack leader, the Akita will try to assume that role. They need the patience, firmness, fairness, and consistency of an experienced dog handler rather than a first-time dog owner. Use only positive training methods. Clearly, one should not try and bully a dog used to hunt bear. Akitas tend to be very clean dogs making them easier to housetrain than many other breeds. Their performance abilities include obedience, tracking, weight pulling, and backpacking.
HealthThe most frequently seen genetic issues associated with the breed are Hip dysplasia, which affects about thirteen dogs out of one hundred, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Lupus, and Hypothyroidism. Less frequently seen are Bloat and sebaceous adenitis. Their average lifespan is 10-13 years.
PopularityWith approximately 3,000 dogs registered by the American Kennel Club annually, the Akita ranks 51st in popularity.
Breed HistoryThe Akita breed originated in Japan more than 3,000 years ago as a hunter of bear, deer, and wild boars. Today, the Akita is considered the national dog of Japan. The breed has had many uses, including an Imperial guard dog, fighting dog, hunter, sled dog, and police, army, and guard dog. American soldiers brought a number of Akitas to the United States after World War II. The AKC gave final recognition the breed in 1972, and it continues to grow in popularity.
Additional InformationIn Japan, the Akita’s loyalty is legendary. In Tokyo, an Akita named Hachiko would see his owner off to work from the train station every morning and return to the station every evening to accompany his master home. One day, Hachiko's owner died before returning home. Hachiko became famous for returning to the train station to meet his master every evening for another ten years. The only thing that stopped the dog from returning to search for his master was its own death. The Akita is so revered in Japan it is designated as a national treasure. The dog was introduced to the U.S. by Helen Keller. Other notable Akita owners include Dan Akroyd, Cher, and Evander Holyfield. The National (US) Breed Club is the Akita Club of America.
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