The Akita Inu, commonly known as the Akita is one of the most interesting dog breeds you are likely to encounter. Powerful, independent and keenly beautiful, the Akita is one of the truest dog breeds in the world, only barley removed from the wolf.
The breeds history is inseparable from its identity. Akitas are famous for the ancient Japanese lineage, where they venerated as family protectors and as symbols of good health, and long and happy life.
Originally bred for guarding royalty in feudal Japan Akitas are large, powerful and regal in appearance. Akitas are keenly intelligent, and possess the stubborn fortitude of the wolf. Rarely seen backing down from a confrontation, Akitas have been known to track down and confront deer, wolves, and even bears.
Akitas are fastidiously loyal and grow quite attached to their families. Akitas do not appreciate the company of other dogs of the same sex, and may not be the best breed choice for first time dog owners. However, if you and your family are up to the challenge of owning an Akita, then you are sure to be superbly pleased for your efforts.
Akitas are born in litters of 6 - 7 and are known to be a handful, but owners describe raising an Akita puppy as a truly remarkable experience. Bred to guard emperors, Akitas are serious and powerful even as puppies; but that doesn’t mean those little balls of fluff aren’t adorable.
Akitas are one of the world’s most dominant breeds. Therefore new owners should not underestimate the little guys strength, stubbornness and ability to find mischief. Akita’s possess a strong guarding instinct and are known to bite first if and when they perceive that something is wrong. They don't typically ask questions.
Like all puppies, we recommend that new owners begin training their Akita puppy as soon as it is possible. Waiting to train an Akita puppy may result in a host of behavioral issues, some of which may be aggressive.
Akita Inus belong to the Spitz breed group of canines, characterized by a long, thick coat of mostly fur, as well as pointed ears and a tail that often curls over the dog's back.
Despite the German name, the Spitz breed group originates in the Arctic and Siberia. The Spitz breed group is one of the oldest recorded breed groups, with archeological evidence dating back nearly a millennium.
The Spitz breed group includes modern breeds like the Chow Chow, Akita Inu, Malamut’s, Siberian Huskies and even the diminutive Corgi.
The Spitz breed group is well suited to living in cold northern climates. Most, including Akita posses an insulating, waterproof undercoat that is much denser than their topcoat which helps to trap warmth close to the body.
Characteristically small ears reduce the risk of frostbite, and thick fur that grows on the paws protects the dogs from sharp ice. As working dogs, the Spitz breed group excels at herding, and pulling sleds, with many of the larger breeds within the group specializing in hunting large game such as elk and caribou.
A breed standard details the appearance and temperament of an officially recognized breed.
The pedigree of the Akita is formally recognized by all breed experts and kennel clubs and therefore subject to a detailed breed standard.
The Akita’s appearance reflects cold weather adaptations. Large, strong and keenly alert, the Akita is powerfully built and heavy-boned. It’s head is broad and forms a blunt triangle with the muzzle. Eyes are characteristically small, and ears carried forward. A large, fluffy curls over its back.
The Akita’s head is quite large, but in balance with its body. Its skull is flat and broad between the ears. The Akitas muzzle and jaw are broad, like its skull, and very powerful. Teeth are strong and in scissor bite. Noses are black, or a slightly lighter color. Ears are carried forward, strongly erect and small in relation to rest of head; characteristic of the breed. Eyes are small, dark brown and triangular in shape.
The Akita's body is thick and muscular, with a pronounced crest that blends in with the base of its skull. Its body is longer than it is tall and widens gradually toward the shoulders. Its chest is wide, deep and reaches to the elbow.
The Akita’s legs are powerful and well developed. Feet are characteristic of the breed; described as “cat-like” with thick pads.
The Akitas tail is large, full and set high on the dogs back. Characteristically, the Akitas tail is carried in an arch over its back or against its flank. The root of the tail is large and strong. Hindquarters are muscular with powerful, well developed thighs.
Akitas are born with a double coat. Its undercoat is soft, thick and rather dense. The outer coat is straight and harsh. Characteristics to its breed group, is coat stands somewhat off its body.
Coats come in three colors; white; brindle; or pinto.
Male Akitas stand between 26 and 28 inches tall at the withers. Females stand between 24 and 26 inches at the withers. A male Akitas weight can range from 100 to 130 pounds. Females tend to weigh between 70 and 100 pounds.
The Akitas temperament and personality is unlike that of many breeds. Akitas are territorial and treat most strangers with suspicion. Akitas are also known to be temperamental and almost feline in attitude. Akitas are seldom tolerant of other dogs, especially those of the same sex.
Akitas are socially dominant with other dogs, which means owners should be caution when their Akita is around unfamiliar dogs.
The Akitas prey instinct is high. It will naturally show aggression toward other animals and dart after anything it considers prey. Owners are strongly advised to keep their Akitas on a leash when it’s not fenced in. Akitas, unless highly socialized, are not generally well-suited for off-leash dog parks.
Akitas are best described as… complex. Calm, keenly intelligent and easily housebroken, you’d think that caring for an Akita would be a breeze. Unfortunately, far too many Akitas wind up in shelters because newbie Akita owners underestimated how challenging owning an Akita can be.
Owners should not be discouraged from adopting an Akita; they should, however be fully aware of the level of care, training and commitment that Akita ownership requires.
Things to know before adopting an Akita:
The Akitas closest ancestor, the wolf, does not eat daily. As a result, the Akita eats surprisingly little. However, the Akita’s close relation to the wolf also makes it a pure carnivore. It will never require gluten, wheat or grain, nor are they likely to benefit from artificial ingredients.
Processed dog food has been linked to cancer and bloat in Akitas, and is best avoided. Owners should avoid feeding their Akita from the table, as well as:
It’s essential that Akita puppies learn that food will no longer be provided constantly throughout the day. Start your Akita puppy on moistened dry puppy food, 3 to 5 times per day for no longer than 10 minutes per feeding. After 10 minutes remove their food even if they haven't finished.
Unsurprisingly, Akitas shed a lot. Starting at 14 months Akitas will “blow their coat” twice a year; shedding their undercoat during the spring and warmer months. At least once a year an Akita will shed its entire undercoat.
An Akitas coat provides natural protection and insulation against summer heat and winter cold. Therefore owners should never manually remove, or shave their Akitas coat.
To keep your Akita feeling comfortable and looking clean, owners should regularly clean and groom its topcoat. To bathe your Akita use warm, soapy water Do not over-bathe your Akita. Ober-bathing will strip the natural oils from your Akitas coat, and leave its skin dry and irritable.
Thoroughly brush your Akita after bathing to remove tangles in the coat and prevent matting - no trimming of hair required, simply brush to remove dry hair and dead skin.
Grooming also presents a terrific opportunity to check your Akita for potential health concerns such as cuts and abrasions to their legs and paws, poor dental hygiene, ear & eye infections and infestation of fleas and/or ticks.
Compared to its causing the Siberian Husky, the Akita does not require much exercise. However, your Akita still requires daily exercise.
It is possible to over-walk you Akita puppy, especially when they are very young. Owners should keep a careful eye on their Akita puppy for signs of fatigue or stress. A 10-15 minute walk, three to four times a day is enough to stimulate your puppy without exhausting it.
Loyal, affectionate and protective, Akitas are more than pets, they are faithful companions, capable of astounding feats of loyalty. They can also be petulant little brats if not properly trained.
Though owners who commit to training their Akita will understand why the breed is so revered in Japan. As with all puppies, it's best to start training your Akita early. The longer you wait, the more likely the dog will adopt aggressive behavior. When it comes to training an Akita, your motto should be early, and often.
Housebreaking an Akita is surprisingly simple. Start by introducing your new Akita puppy to its new environment slowly; confine them to a single room or floor for its first few days.
It’s important to keep a sharp eye on your puppy for the first few weeks as it gets acclimated to its new home. If you notice unusual behavior or symptoms of a potential disorder be sure to consult a trained veterinarian.
Potty Training - It takes lots of practice for your puppy to learn where to go potty. Consistency is key to housebreaking a Akita puppy. Use the same words and phrases to indicate when, where and how you want your puppy to do its business.
Watch for signs that your dog needs to go potty like pacing, sniffing, and squatting. Calmly and quickly hustle your puppy outside and to the correct spot. When your puppy is about to do its business say something similar to “go potty.”
Assuming your Akita “goes” in the correct area, praise them and offer a treat. With practice, your puppy will learn what “go potty” means, then you’ll be able to tell your Akita where and when to go.
Crate Training - Akita puppies are light sleepers and will find trouble if given the opportunity. Training your Akita puppy to sleep in a crate at night ensures you will find your home intact when you wake up.
The Akita may be related to the Husky and the wolf, but unlike pack hunting and herding dogs the Akita can and will assert its dominance over other dogs. Akita owners must socialize their dog often, and from an early age.
Owners who do not socialize their Akita are placing themselves, and their dog in substantial risk of an incident.
Despite the potentially aggressive behavior toward other dogs, Akitas are surprisingly great with children. Playful but careful, Akitas have shown astounding loyalty and patience with children and simply love to be around their family.
Akitas may show food aggression or possessive behavior, so it is essential that training safely include children when possible, and, of course only when an adult is present. Under no circumstances should a child be allowed to “train” an Akita unsupervised.
Akitas are stubborn, strong-willed, and easily bored, which makes training a challenge.
Whereas other breeds will learn from a repetitive command, an Akita will learn better when taught two commands in short intervals.
We recommend Switching back and forth between two commands. Akitas tend to respond differently to your commands, so you will want to rotate how you offer the command.
For example, command your Akita to sit while they are standing in front of you. Then command them to sit next to you, behind you, and so on until the dog learns that it to sit any time it hears the command.
The most important thing to remember when housebreaking a Akita is that they are stubborn, intelligent, and not afraid of you. Akita were bred to hunt bears, protect royalty and KILL other dogs.
Therefore they are more likely than some breeds to react to aggression in kind. Never strike a Akita. Calm consistency is key to ensuring a smooth obedience training process. Use the same words and phrases to indicate when, where and how you want your puppy to execute a command.
Use basic reward-based training principles like “sit” and “stay.” Every time your Akita correctly executes a command reward them with a treat to reinforce the behavior. Remember, it can take up to 6 months to fully housebreak a puppy.
The Akita Inu (Japanese for “Akita Dog”) is named for the snowy birthplace of the breed, Akita Prefecture, Japan. Akitas are highly regarded in Japan, where they were once held by the shogun as royal guards, and even imperial babysitters.
Long before the Akita earned a spot in the imperial entourage, its ancestor, the legendary Matagi hunted bear, and protected villages from marauders.
Unfortunately the Akitas history in Japan isn’t always a pleasant one. The breeds skill and tenacity as a hunter made it a desirable dog fighter. The Akita was crossbred with a fighting breed, known as the Japanese Tosa to produce a superior fighting ability. The breed grew larger, stronger and more courageous.
Fortunately, the fifth shogun of Japan, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi was a dog lover. Known as the Inu Kubo (dog shogun) by his people, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi issued a set of laws called the Shorui Awaremi no Rei.
The Shorui Awaremi no Rei demanded compassion for dogs. From that point on, anyone who harmed a dog could be imprisoned or even executed. In addition, dogs were raised in status; said to be addressed in the highly respectful “oinu-sama”, which translates “Great Mr. Dog.”
The practice of crossbreeding Akitas was outlawed in 1927 by the Akita Inu Hozonkai (AKIHO) which has been focussing on preserving the integrity of the breed ever since. After World War II, the Emperor of Japan made a gift of two Akita puppies to Helen Keller, who brought them back to the US sparking instant popularity.
Variations in the breeds soon developed into two distinct types; the Japanese Akita, and the American Akita, which is bigger boned, with much more substance than their Japanese cousins.