About the Akita Breed
The Akita breed is a Japanese spitz-type dog that is recognized as a national monument in Japan.
They originated as a hunting breed of dog in the rural north of Japan, but they also experienced a more unsavoury history as a fighting dog (with other dogs). It is this history that can still make modern-day Akitas intolerant of other dogs.
The breed almost became extinct in their native country, Japan, during World War II when feeding dogs was a luxury people couldn’t afford. Dog fur was used to line military outfits, and most dogs were killed save those that were in the military or that were hidden. Following the war, efforts were made to resurrect the breed from those remaining dogs.
The breed gained popularity in other countries, including the United States, with people like Helen Keller acquiring an Akita. Additionally, many were enamoured with the real story of an Akita who waited for his owner to return from work only his owner had died. The Akita, named Hachiko, returned each day to the train station to wait for his owner every day until his own death.
The Akita is a large, muscular, powerful breed that stands 24 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder. He can weigh anywhere from 70 to 130 pounds, with males being larger than females.
His coat is thick and is appropriate for cold weather conditions. It is double-coated with a thick, soft undercoat and an outer coat that is straight and harsher. In America and several other countries, he comes in just about any colour, but in his native Japan, he only comes in a few set colour variations. The Akita can come in a long coat variety, but this is not a preferred trait and rather is a recessive gene.
In addition to his size and coat, one of the most recognizable traits of the breed is the tail. It is fluffy and plume-like, and it should curl up and over the dog’s back.
The Akita is not the breed for everyone. He is beautiful to look at, but he is powerful. He is a natural guardian and is cautious and aloof with strangers. He is very loyal to his family and can be good with all ages of people. You must take into consideration his natural protectiveness if you have a busy household.
He is generally independent. While he loves his family, he is not clingy and doesn’t need someone at all times. He does like to do his own thing a good deal of the time.
Akitas are fairly quiet overall, but they will bark to alert someone near the home. He is also cat-like in his cleanliness and often will groom himself and others.
While every Akita is an individual, the Akita is known for being intolerant of other dogs. He is not a natural group dog, and the breed has never been. This means he does best when either alone or paired with another, opposite-sex dog of a similar size. He doesn’t back down from challenges well, so he is not a good candidate for dog parks or daycare.
The Akita is NOT for first-time dog owners. He is very powerful, but his natural guardian instincts, the natural tendency for a dominant personality, and independence make him a training challenge best left to more experienced owners and handlers.
He requires extensive socialization as a puppy and young dog. He should be exposed to a wide variety of people of all ages, races, and abilities, as well as a variety of calm, well-behaved dogs. This way, he is better prepared for adulthood to handle new people and dogs.
Akitas do not tolerate harsh training methods whatsoever. They require you to respect them, and they will respect you. Training should be based on positive reinforcement, and it is important that all family members work with the dog to be seen as a leader.
Shedding & Grooming
The Akita is a pretty clean dog that requires a few baths. He does require weekly brushing to keep shedding to a minimum. A couple of times a year, he will experience a larger blowing out of his coat, which will require more frequent brushing to keep a handle on the hair.
Otherwise, routine nail trims, ear cleaning, and tooth brushing are all that are necessary.
Health & Life Expectancy
The average lifespan of an Akita is 11-15 years. The breed can be afflicted with several health issues including:
- Sebaceous adenitis
- Juvenile onset polyarthritis
- Uveodermatologic syndrome
- Retinal dysplasia and folds
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Myasthenia gravis
- Autoimmune disorders including autoimmune hemolytic anaemia
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
- Endocrine diseases like diabetes
- Various immune-related issues