History, Characteristics, Personality and More
It is difficult to resist a batch of Akita puppies with their expressive faces, fluffy coats and plush tails. But despite their adorable appearance, this breed is not for everyone.
The American Kennel Club defines this breed as dignified and courageous. But these are the traits that may pose some challenges...
With strong-willed minds of their own, these dogs do best with experienced dog owners.
If you have set your heart on a cute Akita puppy, it is a wise decision to dedicate some time to learning more about this breed.
So, whether you are thinking about buying a puppy and want to know if this is the right breed for you or just want to learn more about this breed, you will find the answers to your questions right here!
Akita Information and History
Also known as Akita Inu, Japanese Akita and Great Japanese Dog, the Akita is an ancient Japanese breed with a history as a hunting dog and prized guardian dog for the royalty in feudal Japan. Its name derives from a region known as the "Akita Prefecture", found on the island of Honshu.
Its ancestor, the Matagi dog, was known for tracking wild boar, deer and bear and keeping them at bay until the hunters arrived.
This breed captured the attention of the Western world courtesy of some prominent events. The story of Hachiko, a faithful Akita dog who accompanied his master to the train station each day and continued to wait for him for 9 years after his master's death in 1925, had reached the hearts of many. Also, in 1931, the Akita dog breed was declared a Japanese Natural Monument.
During World War II, the Japanese Akita was on the brink of extinction. Many dogs were killed to feed the starving people. Their pelts were used as clothing. To prevent such a dire fate, many owners turned their Akitas loose in mountainous terrains where they bred again with the Matagi dog. Some owners bred them with German Shepherds to disguise them from the authorities who were killing many non-military dogs to prevent the spread of the disease.
Thankfully, after the war the breed was revived and became popular again.
In Japan, the breed is prized for its loyalty. It's also regarded as a symbol of health, long life, happiness and good luck. It's a common practice to give a small statue of Akita to a family that just had a baby.
There is also some controversy regarding this breed... While most of the world considers the American Akita and Akita Inu (the Japanese Akita) as two separate breeds, in the United States and Canada they are treated as separate strains of the same breed.
In 1937, Helen Keller visited Japan and became interested in the breed. She was the first to introduce these Japanese dogs to the USA. The Akita was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1972 and categorized under the working group.
This breed presents as a heavily boned, large dog with a powerful appearance. The body of the Akita is longer than tall. The neck is short, muscular and thick. The chest is wide, featuring well-sprung ribs. The back is level. The tail, which is typically carried over the back or against the flank, is large and set high.
The strong shoulders lead to straight, heavy-boned forelegs. The hind legs are muscular. The feet are cat-like with thick paws.
The head is distinctively broad, almost massive, but proportionate with the body. When viewed from the above, the head shape appears like a blunt triangle. The nose is black in most specimens, but a lighter color is accepted in white Akitas as long as there is no partial or total lack of pigment. The ears are erect and triangular. The eyes are small, dark brown and also triangular in shape. The teeth should ideally meet in a scissor bite.
The Akita boasts a double-coat with a thick, soft undercoat and a harsher outer coat. The hair on the head, legs and ears is considerably shorter compared to the rest of the body. Only the red Akita, brindle, red fawn, red fawn with black tip and white Akita puppies are accepted in Japan, whereas, in the U.S. all coat colors are accepted. Also, while allowed in the American Akita, a black mask is forbidden in Japan.
|Male||26 to 28 inches||75 to 120 pounds|
|Female||24 to 26 inches||75 to 110 pounds|
Akita Temperament and Behavior
Because its complex personality makes it challenging to raise and train them, this is a breed that does best with an experienced owner. They make ideal companions for those who can be firm, yet gentle, and who do not mind dealing with a dog with an obstinate and independent streak.
Akitas don't like eye contact and being teased; they consider both as a challenge and may react aggressively. Though they rarely bark, Akitas are known for producing many "interesting" and distinct sounds.
This breed is reserved with strangers and can be protective of its perceived territory. The imposing stance of Akitas makes them natural deterrents. To help this breed to differentiate friend from foe, socializing your puppy is a must, not an option.
When it comes to getting along with other dogs, this breed can be aggressive. The AKC lists it as being intolerant of other dogs and same-sex aggressive. Because cats and other animals may be at risk with this breed, an Akita does best as the only pet.
With children, this breed does best with the older ones; small children may be easily hurt when the dog misinterprets their intentions and tries to protect his toys, food, bones and other resources.
Akita training is not the easiest task. They can be stubborn and can get bored easily. The saying "an idle mind is a devil's workshop" seems to have been crafted just for them. Firm, consistent training using rewards is the best way to go.
On a more positive note, when it comes to house training, Akita puppies are relatively easy to potty train courtesy of their innate tendency to be fastidiously clean.
Best Owner and Living Conditions
The best owner of an Akita is a knowledgeable, experienced dog owner. Families with older children who can be taught to be respectful and kind around this breed may be a good match. However, all interactions between children and dog should always be supervised.
Akitas love cold weather and snow. A home with a yard or access to a park where he can romp and play will make him extra happy. Yet, this breed does not make a happy backyard dog; rather, it thrives when kept indoors with its family.
Akita dogs are known for being quiet, barking mostly when necessary. A fence is a must to prevent this breed from escaping. Installing an electronic fence, even if you have a physical fence, is a good idea as it will prevent your Akita from digging his way under.
Because of numerous breed-specific legislations, you will have to check whether your local housing authority or municipality allows this breed. Also, you must check if your homeowner's insurance will provide coverage.
Activity and Exercise
Despite their size, Akitas do not require loads of exercise to release pent-up energy. One or two brisk daily walks and a nice vigorous run, every now and then, will suffice. Some owners have had success enrolling this breed in canine agility.
If you are allergic to dog hair or dislike finding stray hairs all over your home and clothing, you are better off with another breed; indeed, this breed sheds quite heavily. Frequent brushing will help reduce the number of hairs left around.
On the other hand, this breed, as mentioned earlier, is fastidiously clean and does not require frequent bathing. It's not unusual to see an Akita groom and lick himself as a cat. Bathe only when necessary.
Some health conditions this breed is predisposed to include hip dysplasia, bloat, progressive retinal atrophy and sebaceous adenitis.
To lower your chances of encountering congenital disorders, skip the puppy stores and back yard breeders. It is best to find reputable Akita breeders who health test their breeding stock for genetic health conditions and selectively breed for sound temperaments.
Even healthy dogs get sick. While many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, there are many others that you may handle on your own. Learn how to save time and money (and how to prevent small problems from becoming big problems) by diagnosing and treating dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.
The average life expectancy for healthy Akita puppies is 11 to 14 years.
If you are looking for an Akita puppy, you may be interested in learning some important Akita facts...
If you stumble upon advertisements of breeders selling the miniature Akita, consider that there is no such thing as a scaled down Akita. Most likely, these breeders are using this term to depict the Shiba Inu, a completely different breed that, at a first glance, may appear to be a smaller version of the Akita.
Many dog owners are attracted by the cute looks of Akita puppies, but it unfortunate that they often do not do much research on the Akita dog breed.
Impulse buyers may have buyer's remorse once the puppy starts growing into a powerful, willful adult. Akita rescue centers know this well. To prevent your cute teddy bear from becoming a grizzly bear, make sure you are well aware of this breed's needs, and make a commitment to purchase your Akita puppy from a reputable and responsible breeder.
Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?
If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Akita rescue. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.
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Want to learn more?
Not happy with your pet's behavior? Need help with training your dog for obedience? Then check this Akita Behavior and Obedience Training Guide.
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