Noble and courageous, the Akita is a strong, independent, and dominant working breed that originated in Japan. Although it is often referred to as the “Great Japanese Dog,” the breed has recently grown in popularity in the United States to become ranked as the 45th most popular dog by the American Kennel Club. If you are considering welcoming an Akita into your home, the following is a full breed description to determine whether the “silent hunter” is the perfect match for your family.
|Other Name||Great Japanese Dog (Obsolete), Akita Inu, Japanese Akita, American Akita|
|Size Type||Giant Dog Breeds|
|Breed Group||Working Dog Breeds|
|Life Span||11 - 15 years|
|Temperament||Docile, Responsive, Dignified, Alert, Friendly, Courageous|
|Height||Female: 24–26 inches; Male: 26–28 inches|
|Weight||65 to 115 pounds|
|Colors||Red, White, Pinto, Fawn, Brindle|
|Puppy Price||Average $600 - $1000 USD|
As a large, muscular dog breed with heavy bones, the Akita has a massive bear-like head with a broad skull, full muzzle, and well-defined stop. One of its most distinguishing features, the dog has strong erect triangular-shaped ears that are small in proportion to the rest of the head and noticeably rounded at the tips. While the nose may be black or grey depending on the dog’s coat coloring, the small deep-set and slightly slanted eyes are always dark brown. The large, full tail is usually set high on the hindquarters and carried over the back in a full or double curl. When walking with brisk and powerful strides of moderate length, the back remains level and the back legs move perfectly aligned with the front legs. Male Akitas are typically between 26 to 28 inches at the shoulder height and weighing from 75 to 120 pounds, but females are slightly smaller at 24 to 26 inches with a weight ranging from 75 to 110 pounds.
Known for having rich and brilliant color variations, the Akita may be pinto, brindle, solid pure white, red, fawn, and sesame. According to the breed standard, the dogs may also have well-balanced markings of white on the sides of the muzzle, cheeks, underside of the jaw, chest, neck, underbelly, inside the legs, and on the tail.
Similar to other northern spitz breeds, the Akita possesses a short double coat that consists of a thick, dense, and much softer undercoat of shorter hairs. While hair on the head and legs is short, the outer coat is made up of straight and coarse hairs that stand approximately two inches off the body for a slightly fuller appearance.
|Good with Kids|
Despite the fact that Akitas have a short-haired coat, the stiff and rough hairs require significant grooming on a regular basis. It is recommended that owners use a stainless steel comb with wide-set teeth and a pin brush to work through the coat from top to bottom at least twice a week or more during the heavy shedding season. Whenever tangles or mats make the undercoat unmanageable, it is suggested that water is lightly spritzed on the hair before a combing session. Since the Akita is a fastidious cleaner and the thick coat naturally repels dirt, the dog will only need to be bathed on an “as needed” basis. Veterinarians also suggest that owners clean the dog’s ears weekly with an approved ear cleanser to prevent infections.
Considered the national dog of Japan and one of seven breeds designated as a Natural Monument in the country, the breed is native to the island of Honshu in the region also known as Akita. Remaining nearly unchanged for centuries, the Akita has been prized as a versatile hunting dog that has the ability to hunt in inclement weather and retrieve waterfowl with its soft mouth. Known for being a sacred good luck charm in its homeland of Japan, the Akita has been used for police or military work, guarding, fighting, pulling sleds, and hunting bear or deer. In order to create a fighting dog for the thriving dog fighting industry, the breed was crossed with larger dogs, including English Mastiffs, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and the Tosa Inu in the early-20th century.
Shortly after the Akita was officially declared a Japanese Natural Monument in 1931, the first Japanese breed standard was composed. Expressing a keen interest in the breed on a trip to Japan in 1937, Helen Keller brought home the first Akita to the United States, who was named Kamikaze-go. Since the dog died of canine distemper not long after being adopted, the Akita’s older brother named Kenzan-go was brought to her by the Japanese government. At this point in history, there was growing interest in the large breed and many servicemen carried Akitas back to the U.S. after World War II. In 1955, the Akita was finally recognized by the American Kennel Club within the Working Group.
Known for being caring and affectionate with its family, the Akita is often described as being docile, intelligent, trainable, fearless, courageous, and protective. Tracing back to its history as a first-class guard dog that Japanese mothers would entrust their children’s care with, the Akita is an extremely loyal and brave companion. Since the breed can sometimes be spontaneous, it is essential that Akitas are provided firm and consistent leadership to avoid negative behaviors of stubbornness or aggression. Although the dogs may be good with children from their own family, Akitas may bite unexpectedly when teased; therefore, it is recommended for owners to enroll their dogs in obedience training as puppies.
Since the proper amount of daily mental and physical exercise indicates whether the dog will be a good companion pet with a pleasant temperament, it is important that owners take the time to take the dogs on long daily walks. Although the breed needs moderate but regular exercise to stay in shape, the Akita may be suitable for apartment living because it is moderately active indoors and can be sufficiently exercised with a walk.