Breed: Akita

Major concerns: Canine Hip Dysplasia, PRA Suggested tests: hip, elbow, eye
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Avg Size of Female: Height: 23-26 inches Weight: 65-110 pounds
Occasionally seen: Patellar luxation, VKH-like syndrome, entropion, epilepsy, cataracts, polyneuropathy, renal cortical hypoplasia
Avg Size of Male: Height: 25-28 inches Weight: 85-130 pounds
Minor concerns: Elbow dysplasia, pemphigus, sebaceous adenitis, gastric torsion

Brief History on Akita Origin

The original Akitas were called matagi-inu, or “hunting dogs.” In 1927, the Akita-inu Hozankai Society of Japan was formed to preserve the original breed line of the Akita. The Japanese reverence for the Akita reached new heights in the 1930’s, all because of one Akita named Haichiko. He had met his master every evening at the train station as a daily routine, and continued to wait for him each day for nearly ten years after his master passed away. This particular Akita became a massive symbol of loyalty and love for the Japanese community, and the story has warmed hearts all over the world ever since then! Today, a statue and annual ceremony pay homage to Haichiko’s loyalty. The first Akita to be introduced to the United States was presented to Helen Keller as a gift from the Japanese. The breed became more and more common in America after World War II, when American servicemen returned home from Japan with the dogs. It took nearly thirty more years, however, for the breed to grow in popularity enough to be recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1972. The Akita is still revered in Japan and often serves as a guard dog or in law enforcement.

Akita Breed Appearance

The Akita shares many characteristics with other large and powerful dogs in the spitz family of breeds, such as Chow Chows and Alaskan Malamutes. By watching them behave so bravely and powerfully, it is easy to see the evidence of their origins as cold weather big game hunters. While their hair is shorter than that of some other spitz breeds at about 2 inches long, it is still very thick, dense, and double coated- which provides insulation from water and harsh weather conditions. An Akita’s coat can come in many different colors including white, black, or red, and in many patterns such as brindle or pinto. This breed requires regular brushing, especially during times of shedding in order to keep their coat looking healthy and attractive.

Akita Breed Temperament

The Akita lives for human companionship and is extremely affectionate and faithful in the right circumstances. This breed is always loyal to it’s close family and friends, and is unusually forbearing and tolerant with children. On the other hand, they are often times aloof & reserved with strangers and unfamiliar faces, making for a great guard dog and home protector. They can at times be aggressive toward other dogs, and somewhat domineering as well. These hostile tendencies and behaviors can be mitigated by early socialization with other animals and humans as often as possible while they are young. As the story of Haichiko exemplifies, this breed makes excellent companion dogs for those who are willing to give their Akita the love, attention, and exercise it needs and deserve.

Akita Breed Maintenance

Akitas have a straight, rough outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat. To keep their coat nice and neat a regular brushing is required, especially when the coat sheds. Although Akitas often do enjoy spending some of their time indoors, they crave mental and physical exercise every single day. Such as long jogs or good amount of time to play in a comfortable, safe and spacious yard. They are large, powerful, energetic, and athletic, and do best with owners that mirror those same characteristics. They can definitely live outdoors in cooler climates because of the thickness of their coats. Although you should take into consideration their equal preference for companionship and exercise, and understand that they do best when they can split their time between being indoors with their family & outdoors getting their energy out. A properly exercised Akita will likely only demonstrate one frustrating indoor behavior; they are well known for making a mess while sloppily lapping up water. It should also be noted that an Akita should never receive table foods or human food of any sort, some foods (most notably onions) can cause health issues for Akitas. It is best to stick with food that you know is safe for them to eat and won’t upset their stomach.