The Akita is a wise, watchful working dog originally from Japan. This large dog has a beautiful, plush tail that curves up over her back, and a thick, weather-resistant coat. Her demeanor is dignified and she is admired for her abiding loyalty to her people. Akitas are affectionate, playful, and loving with their families, but they tend to be reserved around strangers. While eager to please, they possess a strong, independent streak that requires setting firm boundaries.
Akitas are also known as Akita Inu (Inu means 'dog' in Japanese), Snow Country Dogs, and Great Japanese Dog.
The Akita's thick, double coat protects her from inclement weather. Her short, straight outer coat stands slightly away from her body, giving her a puffed, teddy bear-like appearance. The fur on her face and legs is shorter than the fur on the rest of her body. The Akita's coat can be any color, but often comes in white, brindle, or pinto.
Average Height: 24-28 inches
Male: 100-130 pounds
Female: 70-100 pounds
Breed Standard & History
Akitas are large, heavy-boned dogs with thick necks, large heads, and erect, triangular ears. Their small eyes are alert and intelligent, watchful for signs of trouble or for commands from their owners. The Akita emanates a dignified and courageous quality, at rest and at play. Their stride is powerful and swift, and their distinctive, luxurious tail curls gracefully over their backs.
The Akita draws its name from the Akita Prefecture in northern Japan where the breed developed millennia ago as hunting dogs and the guardians of royalty. An Akita named Hachiko is a beloved historical figure in Japan because of his devotion to his owner, Professor Hidesaburo Ueno. At the same time each day, Hachiko waited at a Tokyo train station for Ueno to come home from work. After the professor died at work in 1925, the dog returned daily to wait for his owner until his own death almost 10 years later. Today, the statue honoring Hachiko outside Shibuya Station is a popular gathering spot.
The breed's popularity in the US began when Helen Keller learned about Hachiko during a trip to Japan in 1937. Her admiration for the dog led Japanese officials to gift her two Akitas, who were the first of the breed in the US. Pictures of Keller with her dog, Kenzan-Go, sparked American interest in the Akita. It wasn't until after World War II, however, that Akitas were brought to the US in significant numbers. In America, the dog would become slightly larger than its Japanese cousin through breeding, and today they are considered separate breeds.
AKC Breed Category
Akitas are intelligent, self-possessed, and courageous. They are active, though never hyperactive, and love playing with their families. They are standoffish yet tolerant of people they don't know, while they may be aggressive with unfamiliar dogs.
Are Akitas Good with Kids? Akitas are loving and protective of children from their families, especially when they've known them from an early age. They should always be supervised with kids, particularly children outside their family. They may become overprotective of their two-legged 'siblings' when play gets boisterous.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Akitas Good with Other Pets? Akitas are tolerant of pets they have been raised with, though they will likely appoint themselves the leader of the furry pack. It's easier to keep the peace when your Akita lives with dogs of the opposite sex.
Akitas are very protective of their families and will place themselves between their people and harm.
Are Akitas Good Guard Dogs? Akitas are excellent watchdogs and guard dogs. They are not excessive barkers, but they will alert the family if anyone is entering their territory. Once people are welcomed inside, Akitas are reserved, but not aggressive.
Akitas have moderate energy levels. They need to exercise vigorously every day, but the exercise session need not be lengthy to get rid of excess energy.
- The Akita needs frequent exercise and mental stimulation.
- She sheds heavily.
- She is highly protective.
- Early socialization with dogs and people is critical for the Akita.
- She is stubborn.
Loyal and attached to their families, Akitas are happiest when living inside with them. They shed a lot, but daily brushing can help minimize fur around the house. Not prone to nuisance barking, they are good dogs for apartment dwellers so long as there are opportunities for exercise.
Though the Akita's coat is hearty, they shouldn't be left outside alone for long stretches of time, whatever the weather. They benefit from an enclosed backyard that gives them somewhere to romp. Akitas love any outdoor sport, as long as it's with their favorite two-legged pack members.
Akitas need a moderate amount of exercise each day. This can be several brisk walks on a short or long leash, along with a few play sessions in the yard. Consider getting involved in dog sports with your Akita on the weekends.
Akitas have the stamina for medium-length play and training sessions. This is an athletic breed that runs out of energy and likes to kick back.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: A healthy Akita will run by your side for a mile or two, but chances are good she'll be bored by a run that lasts longer. Also, because of her thick coat, she shouldn't run for long in warm or hot temperatures.
- Hiking Miles: Your Akita will hike with you for two to three miles; be attentive to overheating because of her thick coat.
Adult Akitas require about three to five cups of quality dry dog food each day, split between two meals. The amount will vary depending upon the size, weight, and age of your dog. Talk with your veterinarian about an optimal diet plan.
Akitas don't manage time alone gracefully. They are easily bored and will resort to destructive behaviors, such as chewing, to pass the time.
Health and Grooming
Akitas are known to groom themselves fastidiously like cats. Still, they are significant shedders and require daily brushing when 'blowing' their undercoat, and every few days the rest of the year. Your Akita needs a bath about once a month, unless she gets dirty during an excursion. Check her ears and gently clean them with a mild cleanser once a week to prevent wax buildup, which can cause infections. Brush her teeth daily.
Common Health Issues
The following health concerns may occur in Akitas:
- Hip dysplasia
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Acquired myasthenia gravis
- Von Willebrand disease
- Skin conditions brought on by immune disorders
Akitas are smart dogs who learn quickly, but they aren't always interested in canine college. Though eager to please, they have strong, independent personalities and require firm training with an abundance of positive reinforcement in the form of dog treats and praise.
Many people find that Akitas are one of the more difficult dogs to train. However, if you start obedience classes early and remain strict and supportive, while keeping the dog's interest, Akitas can be as well trained as most other breeds.
Akitas are adept at advanced obedience and dog sports classes, though the experience must be kept fun and varied to maintain their interest. The Akita is an excellent candidate for service and therapy dog training because she loves the individual attention.
Sporting Dog Training
Though their ancestors were hunters, Akitas are not frequently used as sporting dogs. There are examples, however, of people training the breed as hunting partners.
No. Akitas shed profusely and, as a result, drop plenty of pet dander in your home. Dander is the cause of most pet-related allergies.
Yes, Akitas have webbed feet. The trait is thought to have developed to improve their ability to walk on snow more than for swimming.