Akita Breed Guide

The Akita is a large dog known for its thick coat and plush tail that curves over its back. The breed is available in many colors, but is commonly white, pinto, or bridle. Akitas range from 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder and generally weigh 65 to 115 pounds. They have wedge-shaped heads, rectangular bodies, and prick ears, which give them a spitz appearance. Akitas tend to live 10 or more years when properly cared for.

Akitas are popular for showing and also make excellent therapy dogs.

Akitas are friendly, people-loving animals known for being loyal, affectionate, and adaptable. They are also independent and territorial and may not get along with other animals unless they are raised with them. Akitas are popular for showing and also make excellent therapy dogs. In Japan, the breed is primarily found working as a police dog. Because they are prone to certain health and congenital problems, Akitas require regular veterinary checkups.

Considered a national treasure in its native Japan, the Akita is given to Japanese families when a child is born to signify happiness, health, and long life.

Akitas are intelligent, loving, and responsive dogs, which makes them great companion animals. They also tend to be quiet and "talk" more than they bark.

Akita temperament varies considerably from dog to dog and ranges from calm and quiet to hyper or aggressive. Because they are unpredictable and territorial, they should never be left alone with small children or other pets. The breed is especially intolerant of other dogs of the same sex and should be an only pet unless raised with a companion of the opposite sex. When raised with children, the Akita tends to become fiercely protective of them.

Akitas need frequent exercise and the breed performs well in dog sports. However, many Akitas prefer simple walks or runs every day and may become restless if left inside for too long. They also enjoy spending time with their human families and may become lonely and act out if left alone too frequently.

Akitas are susceptible to a number of health problems, including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, polyneuropathy, acquired myasthenia gravis, gastric torsion, von Willebrand disease, and progressive retinal atrophy. The breed is also affected by sebaceous adenitis, pemphigus foliaceus, uveodermatologic syndrome, and other skin and immune disorders.

Choosing a healthy puppy from a reputable breeder may reduce the likelihood of these disorders. Of course, any puppy can develop health problems, even if the dog's line is healthy.

Regular veterinarian visits can help prevent certain problems resulting from allergies, ligament tears, and skin problems common in Akitas. Frequent health checkups also allow for early diagnosis and more effective treatment of serious disease. It's important to note that onions may cause red blood cell changes in Akitas.

With routine veterinary care, scheduled vaccinations, weight management, quality food, and regular exercise, Akitas tend to live 10 to 14 years.

Most Akitas naturally fancy themselves as the "pack leader" and require obedience training to interact harmoniously with humans and other animals. The breed usually responds well to positive reinforcement and clicker training, but some Akitas are so independent that training may be difficult and lengthy. In most cases, short and fun training sessions are better received than long, demanding sessions.

The breed tends to be very loyal and protective and may fight to protect his family from perceived threats. Without early socialization, Akitas may have a difficult time differentiating between normal behavior, such as children roughhousing or adults hugging, and real threats. Begin training and socialization as early in life as possible to prevent behavioral problems from developing.

Regular exercise can help manage hyperactive and restless behavior. Akitas without a fenced yard should be taken for regular walks on a leash.

Akitas are double-coated with a thick and dense undercoat that is shorter than their outer coat. The breed's outer coat is harsh and straight and stands up a bit from the body. The hair on the legs, ears, and head is short, while the hair on the tail is long and thick.

To prevent matting and tangles, regular grooming is essential. The double coat must be brushed at least weekly during summer and winter and at least daily during the spring and fall to control shedding. If started early in life, daily brushings can become a positive and rewarding experience. When started later in life, the Akita may resist grooming.

Keep the nails trimmed to prevent problems. Brush the Akita's teeth daily or as often as possible. The breed's ears require frequent cleaning to prevent infection. Because Akitas tend to be messy eaters and drinkers, the coat around the face may require daily cleaning. Bathe Akitas with an appropriate dog shampoo and conditioner only when necessary or to manage a skin condition or other problem. Akitas are prone to skin allergies and a hypoallergenic shampoo may be necessary.

The Akita breed originated in Japan in the mountainous, cold Akita prefecture. The modern Akita traces all the way back to the 17th century, when it was bred to be a powerful hunting dog.

Akitas were primarily used for hunting big game, such as boar, bear, and elk, and they quickly distinguished themselves as a top hunting breed, although they were also used as fighters. Due to its hunting prowess and loyalty, Japan designated the Akita as a national treasure in 1931.

Helen Keller brought the first Akita to the United States in 1937. She was given an Akita puppy while on a speaking tour in Japan. That puppy later died of distemper, but she was so fond of the breed that she quickly acquired a replacement that became her decade-long companion. Akita popularity and numbers have been growing in the United States ever since.

In 1972, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the Akita.