Everything You Need to Know About the Akita Dog

Posted by Christy Caplan
Akita Dog

Bred as a versatile hunting dog in the rugged mountains of northern Japan, the Akita is a wonderful combination of dignity with good nature, alert courage, and docility.

The world's best-known Akita Inu (inu means dog in Japanese) was named Hachiko who is revered in Japan for his loyalty. After his owner died, Hachiko kept vigil for the rest of his life at the train station where they always met at the end of the day. 

According to the Akita Club of America:

"In Japan this loyal breed is affectionately regarded as loyal companions and pets, protectors of the home and a symbol of good health, when a child is born, the proud family will usually receive a small statue of an Akita signifying health, happiness, and a long-life."

Helen Keller is actually credited with bringing the first Japanese Akita into the United States in 1937. The American Akita was soon developed. There is still debate as to whether the two dogs should be separate breeds. 

"The breed's popularity in the United States following World War II may be attributed to American servicemen of the occupational forces, who so admired the noble dogs that they took them home to their families. They were attracted to the Akita because of the breed's intelligence and adaptability to different situations."

 

The general appearance of the Akita breed is large, powerful, and alert with a broad head, a deep muzzle, small eyes, and erect ears. The large, curled tail, balancing the broadhead, is also characteristic of the breed. The hunter Akita has the typical spitz appearance: wedge-shaped head, prick ears, rectangular body with a dense double coat. American Akitas are acceptable in any color or combination of colors, including pinto with a black mask. Japanese Akitas are seen in red, fawn, sesame, white, or brindle.

This breed verges on large to giant, weighing 65 to 115 pounds (and sometimes more). 

The Akita is an independent dog with a bold nature. They are typically very devoted to and protective of their family members, and potentially aggressive toward dogs they don't know. 

They are not known for barking! The most common behavior problems are overprotectiveness and aggression toward other dogs, making them good guard dogs. But both characteristics can be addressed with socialization and training at an early age. 

Health problems include hip dysplasia, immune system disorders that affect the skin such as pemphigus foliaceous, uveodermatologic syndrome, gastric dilatation-volvulus, hypothyroidism, and sebaceous adenitis- a disease that ends in total hair loss. Their lifespan usually ranges from 10 to 15 years.

The Akita dog needs to be brushed regularly. They have a double coat so weekly grooming to keep it clean and remove dead hair is key. During spring and fall shedding seasons, daily brushing will help.  

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Temperament

Alert and responsive, dignified and courageous - Akitas may be intolerant of other dogs. 

Head

The head is massive but in balance with the body and forms a blunt triangle when viewed from above. The jaws are broad and powerful. 

General Appearance

Akitas are known for being large, powerful, alert, with much substance and heavy bone. One characteristic is their small eyes and erect ears carried forward in line with the back of the neck. 

Coat

They have a double-coat and a thick undercoat that is both soft and dense. The hair on their head, legs, and ears is kept short.

Body

Their chest is wide and deep; reaching down to the elbow, the depth of the body at the elbow equals half the height of the dog at the withers. The ribs are well sprung, and chest well developed. They have a level back with firmly-muscled loin and moderate tuck-up.

Health

In Akitas, you are most likely to encounter an eye disease called progressive retinal atrophy that causes blindness; an immune disorder called acquired myasthenia gravis; von Willebrand disease, a bleeding disorder; and immune system disorders that affect the skin such as pemphigus foliaceous and hip dysplasia. 

The Akita's energy level is similar to any working dog. They need 20- or 30-minute brisk walks or runs daily, always on a leash. He performs well in dog sports. 

The American Kennel Club (AKC) and the breed club Akita Club of America can recommend reputable breeders or answer breed characteristic questions. First-time dog owners should do their research before bringing home an Akita puppy.  

Did you know that the renowned Helen Keller is credited with bringing the first Akita into the United States in 1937? Have you ever met an Akita?  

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Everything You Need to Know About the Akita Dog