/ / / Akita 101: The Essential Guide

Akita 101: The Essential Guide

OriginJapan
SizeLarge
Height           24 to 28 inches
Weight70 to 130 pounds
Life Expectancy10 to 14 years
Breed GroupWorking Group
Affection Level⭐⭐⭐
Friendliness
Activity Level⭐⭐⭐
Barking/Howling Level
Pet Friendly
Kid-Friendly
Shedding⭐⭐⭐
Easy to Groom
Easy to Train⭐⭐

Origin

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The Akita breed originally comes from the mountainous regions of Japan, specifically in the lands of Odate and Akita. During the 1600s, this dog was largely involved in dog fights which were popular back then. This breed also served as the samurai’s companion between the 1500s and 1800s. Seeing the advantage regarding his size, this breed was trained to take down animals such as the wild boar and elk during the hunting seasons.

The original identifying features such as his spitz characteristics that make him capable of living in harsher conditions were on the decline and were replaced with drooping ears, non-Japanese colors, loose skin, and straight tails. He was revived by dedicated Akita breeders, but the modern-day Japanese Akita remain to have relatively few genes from western breeds.

Perhaps the most popular Akita the world knows about is Hachiko. He was the dog who accompanied his master to and from the train station of Shibuya each day. Unfortunately, his master suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage and never returned. Hachiko became a symbol of loyalty as he continued to travel back and forth the station hoping his master would come. This continued for nine years until he passed away. A bronze statue was erected in honor of this dog and he also won the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.

It was during World War II that this breed’s existence was yet again challenged. There was no nutritious food and many have been killed by the starving populace. The government also ordered all dogs to be killed to avoid spreading diseases. In an attempt to save the Akita, owners set them free in remote mountain areas where they bred back with the Matagi dogs which are their ancestors. Later on, Akitas captured the interest of American servicemen, and several were imported to the US.

Appearance

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The Akita is large, muscular, and powerful which is why he can be trained to be a great hunter for large wild animals such as the Yezo bear. He is heavy-boned and has an obvious broad face that closely resembles a bear. He has a small set of triangular eyes and ears that erect forward in line with his back. His large tail is curled as it gives balance to his look.

Coat & Color

The Akita dog has a short double-coat similar to the Siberian Husky. In some cases, the length may be long and that is because of a recessive gene. Its appearance is plushy and dense.

Despite the presence of his double coat, he is low-maintenance. He sheds low most of the time. However, when shedding seasons come, expect him to shed in large amounts. You will see clumps of hair all over your house, but this can be managed through regularly brushing his hair during these times.

In terms of coat colors, the Akita has a variety of them:

Japanese AkitaAmerican Akita
RedAll types of brindle
FawnBlack mask
SesameSolid white
BrindleSelf-colored mask
Pure WhiteDiffering colors of undercoat and guard hairs

Size & Weight

The Akitas are large and heavy dogs that can averagely weigh around 110 pounds. If the height is measured at withers, an Akita can reach 24 to 28 inches. Since the size varies from gender, here is an overview between a male Akita and a female one:

GenderHeightWeight
Male Akita26-28 inches100 to 130 pounds
Female akita24-26 inches70 to 100 pounds

Temperament

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In Japan, the Akita dog breed is revered as a symbol of loyalty, good health, happiness, and long life. These are perfect descriptions if you own this Japanese dog. Depending on how he has been brought up, Akita’s natural dominance may show which is why he needs someone who can firmly discipline him. He is not for first-time owners especially for those who know less about this large dog.  

Described as willful and bold, the Akita suits best in families that do not have other pet dogs.

Affection

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The Akita is generally family-oriented. He loves to be involved in family activities and would never permit to be excluded from whatever important happenings that take place in his presence. Honestly, Akitas can be anything you want them to be as long as it’s on their terms. They will climb up on your lap and ask for cuddles or lean on you when he wants to grab your attention. 

Remember that this big dog is also independent, so don’t expect him to be affectionate at all times. If he feels like he wants some love from his owners, he will simply look for you and ask for it. Even though it seems that he sets a schedule in spending time with his family, the Akita will always remain loyal and dedicated. Just remember the popular Hachiko and his 9-year vigil in the train station! 

Friendliness

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Kids

The friendly nature of an Akita depends a lot on the situation. If he has an established and genuine relationship with his family, the Akita will always be cheery around them. However, this does not mean that it is alright to leave him with young kids. 

Since Akita is large, headstrong, and tough, he may exhibit aggressiveness especially if he feels the need to protect himself from rough play. He is also not open with the idea of sharing toys as he is strongly possessive. Kids, on the other hand, would most likely want what he has and that can lead to friction. Moreover, we can say that Akitas do not like to be fussed over and like to be on their own. 

As long as he is properly socialized at an early age, these can be reversed and will make him learn how to safely behave around children. Adults should monitor the minors as well as teach them how to be nice with the Akita.

Other Dogs and pets

Akitas are best suited in a one-dog household due to their potential aggressive temperament which shows mostly to other dogs. Same-sex aggression is very common. Even if you raise together two female Akita pups, once they mature, conflicts and tensions will start to arise. Having two Akitas of the same sex should never be left alone together as this can be the start of violent fighting.

As for other pets such as cats and rabbits, the Akita’s high prey drive will be fueled in great heights. This is not a temperament issue, but rather this boils down to genetics. If you dislike settling with only one pet in the house, make sure that your Akita is introduced and trained properly in the early stages of his life. 

Strangers

Akitas are extremely territorial and protective when it comes to their homes and families. Once they spot an unfamiliar face approaching his way, he’ll automatically become wary and worried about his family’s safety. Once threatened, this dog will surely not back out. Even without guard dog training, his natural suspicion toward intimidating strangers is enough for him to let his protective instinct do what needs to be done.

If your home is constantly visited by visitors, getting your Akita exposed to people will lessen the chance of triggering his aggressive and territorial attitude.

Activity Level

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Akitas are generally not hyper as a breed, but when it comes to exciting plays and games, he can still be energetic. Despite this dog not being highly active, it does not mean that the owner will compromise his need to release energy. His big stature and heavy bones could be the reason why he can’t be as active as other dogs that are smaller in size.

Also, it is during the hot weather when you might notice that he does not want to be moving around too much. With his double coat, playing around a lot might cause heatstroke. Additionally, Akita is not so keen and open for plays, so unless it is challenging, he will remain distant with the idea.

Care

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Surprisingly, the Akita is a low-maintenance breed, yet you still have to brace yourself when he sheds. Nevertheless, when it comes to providing him his needs, as long as you give him a nice quality of food, treatment, and time, he will do just fine.

Grooming

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Grooming your Akita is not much of an overwhelming task. However, since he sheds a lot seasonally, you have to have your vacuum ready around the corner. Once he starts shedding, you’ll see lots of clumps of his hair in furniture, food, clothing, and carpets. If someone in the family is allergic to pets, the Akita is not the best dog to have.

His heavy shedding typically occurs twice a year. The amount of dander and fur he produces can be significantly reduced through regularly brushing his coat. This should be done weekly as this also helps stimulate healthy skin and coat.

One big advantage when it comes to grooming an Akita is that it is not a heavy task at all. This big dog is a cleaning machine, meaning he likes to keep himself neat and polished. Some Akita owners describe their dogs as cat-like since they don’t emit odor and are neat-freaks.

Even though this dog has a self-grooming ability, bathing him every three months is still imperative. This can be done as often as needed especially if he loves to roll in puddles or muddy grounds. Be sure to only use the appropriate bathing products that will neither dry nor cause irritations on his coat and skin.

Regularly checking and cleaning his ear is required to look for signs of excessive earwax buildup and ear infections. As for the nails, they have to be trimmed once a month. For some, grooming their Akitas are difficult, but if you incorporate grooming at an early age, he will not act stubborn about it. Instead, he’ll see it as a means to relax and be pampered.

Food and Diet

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As long as you provide your dog a healthy and well-balanced meal packed with all the nutrients he needs, he will have enough support to continue living a healthy and active life. You can give him dry or wet dog food and give him high-protein meals which promote weight loss as they facilitate in burning excess fats and calories. Also, high-protein and low-calorie formulas can make your Akita feel satisfied for longer periods of time.

Of course, the intake has to be regulated to avoid health issues. Generally, an Akita must be fed 3 to 5 cups of dog food. Specifically, the amount varies depending on many factors. You have to consider his size, age, activity level, and metabolism. If your Akita is a couch potato, you have to give him less compared to an active dog. 

Remember that Akitas are prone to obesity. Although most of us like owning bigger and cute-looking dogs, if an Akita ends up having unnecessary weight gain, his health will be at risk and his life span is highly likely to get shorter. If you want to plan out your dog’s diet, talk to your veterinarian for a proper formulation.

Exercise

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Akitas love to play with water as it’s a great way for him to exercise and it is a  nice advantage if you have a small pool in your house. He will be frequently splashing on it during the summer season and would love to have many toys within his reach. On average, an adult Akita would need at least 2 hours of brisk walking and running each day. Of course, you can divide this time into several sessions to keep him from getting bored.

You can also let him roam around the yard for some time. It has to be wide and secured so he won’t be wandering off and chasing whatever catches his attention. You must keep your Akita moving as this is beneficial in managing possible behavioral problems. This is a dog that can easily get bored, so keeping him preoccupied will save your couches from getting chewed on and maintain the peace of your home without his constant barking.

If you’re thinking of bringing him to dog parks, you have to carefully think through how he would react at the sight of other dogs. If your Akita does not react well upon seeing another canine, it is much better to keep him away from other dogs to avoid aggression.

Training

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Akita’s wilful stubbornness is surely going to impede training sessions. Since we are also talking about a very intelligent type of dog, there is a high chance that he’s going to use this for whatever he thinks would suit his purposes. However, just like any other dog, there are certain strategies you can employ to motivate him to learn new things. 

Praise and rewards are two of the vital things an Akita owner should employ during training. Of course, they don’t have to be freely thrown here and there. These must be seen as something valuable for the Akita.

Moreover, ensure that training is challenging and not repetitive for this dog breed. This fluffy Akita gets bored easily and would feel like he’s wasting his time on petty tasks. When it comes to housebreaking, Akitas can learn this quickly due to his urge to keep himself clean. You’d notice his crate as a place he would never spoil at all!

Health Problems

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Although this dog enjoys a generally healthy life, he is still prone to certain diseases which, if not treated immediately, could cause havoc on his well-being. Making preventive health plans with your vet can monitor predictable risks.

Some of the health problems your Akita dog can experience are genetic. This does not mean that every single Akita is going to have these genetic predisposed complications but rather the breed is highly likely to have them compared to other dog breeds. Some of the problems that may occur are as follows:

  • Dental disease
  • Bacterial and viral Infections
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Cancer
  • Eye Problems
  • Deafness
  • Epilepsy

Notice that some of the ones listed above are avoidable if hygiene is a priority you set for your dog. The rest are inherited diseases but are still preventable if you know exactly where to get your Akita puppy. This is why it is encouraged to purchase from a reputable breeder who has run health tests for these dogs before putting them up for sale.

Pros and Cons of Having an Akita

Pros

  • He’s clean
  • Extremely intelligent
  • A natural watchdog
  • He is a calm and quiet companion
  • Devoted and loyal to his owner
  • Can tolerate harsh weather conditions
  • His coat is easy to comb out

Cons

  • He can be too independent and stubborn
  • He’s a heavy shedder
  • Some towns and states have banned this breed
  • Not very social with other pets
  • Strong-willed
  • Difficult to train
  • Requires regular exercise

Do Kennel Clubs Recognize the Akita?

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Major kennel clubs all over the world recognize this Japanese dog breed. Since there is the American Akita and the original Japanese Akita, the American Kennel Club (AKC) decided last 2020 that there should be two separate breeds. Some other countries don’t get meticulous with the difference which makes this a relevantly controversial issue for the Japanese people. 

Other Kennel Clubs that recognize the Akita are:

  • United Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Japan Kennel Club
  • The Federation Cynologique Internationale

Cost

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Given that you are getting your Akita from trusted sources, be ready to get a puppy for about $800 to $2000. The price of this dog may double up to $3500 if he comes from champion bloodlines. For Akita pet owners, an average expense of $4500 is expected in the first year of having the Akita. This includes his common needs and other necessary items to raise this breed.

The moment he surpasses one year, a monthly budget of $163 can continuously sustain his food and other basic needs. If you’re thinking of adopting, it will only be around $300 to cover the expenses of caring before the adoption.

Where to Adopt or Buy an Akita

There are numerous places where you can get your dream, Japanese Akita! You may either search for reliable Akita breeders or visit shelter homes depending on your preference. 

For breeders, here are a few websites you can check:

If you prefer getting an Akita rescue, check out these places:

Akitas could be the companion you are looking for for so long! Behind his strong build and personality is a loyal and dedicated friend covered in thick fur. You can guarantee that you can rely on him in many ways when it comes to your safety and protection and he will never stop loving you, especially in times that you need it.

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