Brief Information About the Breed
|Height range||24-26 inches (female), 26-28 inches (male)|
|Weight range||70-100 pounds (female), 100-130 pounds (male)|
|Life span||10-13 years|
|Amount of exercise required||More than 2 hours a day|
|Amount of grooming required||Once a week. Every day during shedding|
|Ease of training||Easy to train|
|Level of sociability||Amenable to people. May show aggression to dogs|
The Akita is a beauty with plush coat and a distinctive dark face. The breed combines courage, aggression and friendliness. Dogs have great hunting qualities and protect their family homes, fearlessly standing up to defend its residents when threatened. At the same time, Akita is a very peaceful and tolerant, but only if trained properly. The dog is friendly to children, but do not count on it as a baby-sitter with little kids: being a large breed, they can push unintentionally.
About Akita in Brief
- Akitas have excellent protective qualities. With such a reliable guard you can feel safe and secure
- While remaining loyal to the owner and recognizing his leadership, Akita may try to dominate him. Attacks of arrogance most often occur during maturation
- With proper breeding, Akita can become not only an excellent companion, but also a hunter, watchdog or guarding dog
- Akita has a very stable psychology and displays aggression only in a situation of danger
- Training the breed is not an easy job. The dog is extremely intelligent and obeys the master unconditionally only if considers him an undisputed leader
- Akita is a well-mannered dog and easily tolerates visual contact. But if you look the dog in the eye, do not lean over, as it may be taken as an act of aggression
- Akitas do not tolerate long separations from the owner. Loneliness can provoke behavioral problems and become a source of big stress
- Despite its open and sociable nature, the Akita is quite indifferent to strangers until there is no doubt in trusting a person
Akita is a very large dog. You can see strength and power in every movement of Akita. Gradually, the hunting skills of these dogs are becoming a thing of the past, which is largely due to their large size, not allowing to be fast and agile hunters.
Is very difficult to confuse Akita with any other breed, almost impossible, even if you have only seen Akita on photos before. The first thing that catches the eye, in addition to the impressive size, is a strong body with developed muscles and massive bones. Be sure to notice the muzzle of bear type with small eyes and relatively short nose. The height, weight and body proportions of Akita vary depending on the sex. The ratio of height at withers to body length is 9:10 for males, and 9:11 for females. The distance from the foot to the tip of the nose corresponds with the distance from the foot to the occipital tubercle in the proportion 2:3.
For more details we advise to refer to the state and most respected sources: Official Standard of the Akita by American Kennel Club.
The breed standard is very democratic and allows any color variant, including, white, brindle, pale-white, red and tiger. American Akitas can even be pinto, i.e spotted – with or without mask. Instead of a mask, there can be a spot on the forehead or a protrusion on the muzzle. The mask is completely excluded only in white color Akitas. White colored dogs have black lips, nose and pads.
Colors of dogs of this breed are clear. The spots have clear contours, located evenly. With pinto spots on a white background are evenly distributed, covering the head and more than one-third of the dog’s body, a mask of dark color is allowed. The color of the undercoat may differ from the color of the coat.
Now let’s see how these colors look in real life:
The head distinguishes Akita among other breeds. It is massive, but at the same time in harmony with the body. There are no skin folds (wrinkles), provided your pet is in a calm condition. When viewed from above, the shape of the head resembles an obtuse triangle. The skull is broad and flat, with a shallow groove running upward across the forehead. The transition from forehead to nose (stop) is well expressed, but not sharply.
The muzzle is wide and voluminous, with powerful, square-shaped jaws. Jawline is light. Ratio of muzzle length to skull length 2:3.
The bite is characterized as a correct scissor type. At the same time, the breed standard also allows a straight bite. The teeth are strong, the tooth formula should be fully present.
The eyes of the Akita are small, almost triangular in shape, deep set, relative to the size of the head. The color is dark brown. The eyelids are black, fit tightly.
In relation to the rest of the head, the ears are also small. They are erect and triangular in shape. They have a wide base on strong cartilages, slightly rounded at the ends. The stance is not too low. Above the eyes, at the level of the hackle, somewhat inclined forward. When the ear is pulled forward, its tip should ideally touch the edge of the upper eyelid. If you look at the ears of an Akita from the side, they seem to continue the upper line of the neck.
Nose and Lips
The nose lobe is black, wide, and the nostrils are well open. The liver color is allowed, but only in Akita of white color. Though the classical black color of nose lobe is still preferable. The lips are also black, dry, fit tightly. The tongue is of pink color.
Massive, thick and relatively short, with minimal hang. Muscular, broadening to shoulders. The scruff is well protruded, smoothly passing to the base of the skull and merging with it.
The length of Akita’s body exceeds the dog’s height at the withers. The chest is wide, bulky and deep. The depth of the chest is equal to half the height of the animal at the withers. The ribs are sufficiently arched. The abdomen is moderately well put together. The back is straight and the waist is stout and muscular and slightly protruded. The skin is elastic and fits tightly.
The tail is covered with straight, thick and coarse hair, it does not form a hang. Its base is large and powerful. The tail is seated high, the Akita carries it above the back. Alternatively, the tail touches the lateral side. The tip necessarily reaches the back or falls below its level. The tail is bent in a ring, sometimes double, forming a three-quarter circle. The last vertebra reaches the hippocampal joints when fully unfolded.
The forelimbs have a strong skeleton and appear straight when viewed from the side. The shoulders are moderately sloping back, strong and stout. Elbows should look straight back, not twisted outward or inward. The calves are slightly bent, about 15 degrees to the vertical. The feet are round “cat-shaped” and point straight. The pads are thick and resilient, the toes are articulate with strong claws.
The hind limbs are also characterized by a strong skeleton and powerful musculature. The thighs are well developed and strong. The tarsi are quite low and not turned inward or outward. The knee joints are parallel when viewed from the rear, with moderate angulations. The paws are erect, with elastic pads, round (feline type). The toes are convex (arched), equipped with strong claws. It is customary to remove the fifth toe, or the so-called lugubrious toes.
The gait of Akita is characterized by strong, free movements. They are also distinguished by a moderate lunge and thrust. The movement of the forelimbs and hind limbs is carried out in the same plane.
Akita has double coat with dense undercoat. The top coat is coarse and straight, but the undercoat is soft and dense, and somewhat shorter compared to the topcoat. On the head, ears and legs the hair is short. Its length on the sacrum and withers is about 2 inches, which is somewhat longer than on the rest of the body, except for the tail. Here hair is the longest and most dense – over 2.3 inches.
The American Akita is an excellent hunter. If you suppress this natural quality in a dog, it will still manifest itself one way or another, and not in the most pleasant way for the owner. For example, the dog will start to attack smaller dogs when walking or will bully the cat that lives in the same house with him.
The Akita is also called a one-owner dog. She suffers very badly from a change of owner and often the rest of his life can not adapt to living in a different place. As we can see, Akita has inherited loyalty quality from its Japanese relatives. It will be especially difficult to find common ground with an adult dog for those new owners who previously had no experience with large molosses.
Temperament and Character
Akita is distinguished by its independent and free-spirited disposition. But at the same time it is a calm dog, affectionate and balanced. Thanks to its mature, stable mentality, the dog behaves with dignity and restraint in all situations.
Akita does not bark without a good reason, or attack anything that moves, just because it moves. Such behavior is not inherent in Akita, which is intelligent, reserved, well-mannered and noble. If Akita barks, be sure the dog attracts your attention to some potential threat.
Home, Family and Everyday Life
Keeping Akita in an ordinary city apartment will cause some inconvenience to neighbors. There will be no complaints about constant barking and howling. But if the Akita starts barking, there’s a good reason for it! Barking is a sure sign that your territory or property has been invaded.
Like true samurai, this breed likes to keep everything under control, perhaps due to the Japanese genes they inherited from their ancestors. This quality can be called one of the fundamental, because it helps the dog to fulfill the mission of a good watchdog.
Akita feels great in a country house with a spacious yard. A large area is dog’s element: there is a place to guard and a place to feel like a master. If you keep your dog in the apartment, do not turn it into a prisoner of your living space. Akitas needs not only regular, but also long walks. They need to walk twice a day for at least 1-2 hours. Short walks do not suit the Akita. Moreover, make them interesting, rich, active, with elements of games and training. All these will help to maintain physical and mental health of the dog at the proper level.
Level of Loyalty to People
Akita has a boundless devotion to the owner and his family and gets on very well with children, often even looks after them like a baby sitter. But it is not recommended to leave little kids unattended. Not because Akita could hurt them. On the contrary, when Akita feels threat, the do will not hesitate to defend little family members. But Akita is large in size. And this is the only reason for not leaving the baby alone with the dog, as you can never be sure that he will not accidentally push or hurt a kid. For the younger members of the family, the Akita will be a real friend for teens. They will not find a better companion in active games and various pranks!
Core Features of Akita
Akitas are intolerant of rudeness from the owner’s side and other household members. If you yell or unfairly punish the dog, he will take it as a great offense. Never raise your voice, do not hurt the dog, and certainly do not use physical punishment.
Akita has a remarkable memory and trusts the owner. So it is very important not to cheat on the dog. Akita does not like this and will definitely remember such moments for the future. That is, if you, for example, lured him with a treat or gave the command “Eat!” or “Walk!”, but gave nothing, you risk losing dog’s trust. Akita can even stop perceiving you as a master.
Level of Aggression
It’s quite common for an Akita to show aggression toward other dogs of the same sex, which can cause the owner some trouble. Akitas often display loyalty to cats, but only to home ones. As for other dogs, adult Akitas, especially males, hardly ever accept other dogs in their company. They often show their character far from their best qualities during walks, provoking quarrels and fights. That leads us to a simple conclusion: If you happen to take your dog for a walk among other dogs, don’t let him off the leash under any circumstances.
Training of Akita should only be done by an adult with experience, willpower and a firm hand. The breed is not suitable for weak-minded people, not to mention the elderly and people with disabilities.
Akita training for many, even experienced owners, can turn into hard work. But this is not because the breed is slow-witted. On the contrary, these dogs by nature are very intelligent and, before following a command, they will think about whether or not it is worth it. Sometimes, it may look like the dog did not understand what was meant. It also matters how authoritative the owner is in Akita’s eyes. Akita will obey only those who she considers the leader.
- Most Akitas are very active and learn quickly. But they hate routine. I.e, the dog can simply get bored from performing the same commands, so motivation is very important in the process of training and education.
- At the initial stage it will be easy to do only with praise and treats. Later you will have to be creative in what else to interest your pup.
- It happens that the puppy begins to show his character: stubborn, does not want to obey commands. Here it is necessary to show who’s in charge. To do this is quite simple – press the puppy with his back to the floor and hold him there until he stops resisting. Or you can hold him by his withers and push him down to the floor, that’s just as effective. It may at first seem like an abusive strategy. But these are actually effective ways to show the dog you are the alpha dog and that you are stronger.
- More than once in the future, Akita will try to take leadership positions, checking through disobedience to see if the owner has loosened his grip or if he will begin to give in. Do not yield to such tricks!
- The main purpose of the American Akita is to protect the owner, and the dog will try to be near the owner at all times. To prevent such behavior becoming an inconvenience, special attention should be paid to the command “Place!” when training a puppy. You have to make a complace with dog bed for your Akita. Otherwise, the dog will be on duty near the closed door, waiting for you from work, sleeping by your bed, and persistently guarding near the locked door to the bathroom.
This video shows in briet what to expect from an Akita dog.
History of the American Akita
The word “American” in the breed’s name can be confusing when it comes to its origins. The second name, Great Japanese Dog, is more revealing in this regard: Land of the Rising Sun – Japan is Akita’s homeland. But how did it happen that the Akita suddenly became American?
How It All Began?
The ancestors of the American Akita are Japanese Akita-Inu, originally used for hunting and guarding purposes. A few centuries ago they were called differently: Matagi Akita. Later they were used in dog fights, which became especially popular at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. In the pursuit of monetary gain, people tried to improve their dogs, making them larger and stronger. For this purpose they crossed them with such breeds as mastiffs and shepherds.
As a result of these manipulations, however, the classic traits of the breed began to blur, deteriorate, or even be lost altogether. The damage done to the Matagi Akita was noticed finally at a dog show in Tokyo in 1914. Soon pure representatives of the breed were declared natural monuments, and their crossing with representatives of other species fell under a categorical ban. The breeders had to work hard to bring back the original characteristics of the Matagi Akita.
Akita in World War II
These splendid dogs – national Japanese pride, had hardly recovered from the blow inflicted on the breed by the insatiable human greed when World War II broke out. By the order of the government all breeders surrendered their pups to the needs of the front. The war was, as you know, ended with the capitulation of Japan in 1945. Returning home, the U.S. military decided to take with them a few puppies. And a few years later they became the progenitors of the new breed – American Akita. There were left no more than 20 individuals of classic Akita-Inu on the Japanese islands after the war. Others were eaten, or soldiers used their fur for their coats during the war.
Akitas in the USA or the War of Breeds
At the same time, across the ocean, the breed had gained widespread recognition and developed rapidly. At first it was called Great Japanese Dog. But the work on the breed was not synchronized with the Japanese – it went in parallel and its own way. American breeders tried to negotiate with the Japanese regarding common Akita standard, but in vain. The Japanese even did not allow the dogs, declared as natural monuments on the islands, to be exported to the USA. All these measures did not stop the Americans. As a consequence, over time, the new Akita began to differ from the Japanese in appearance and character. And then it got a new name – the American Akita (or Akita).
In 1956, a kennel club of the newly formed breed was established, which was recognized by the American Kennel Club only in 1972. The “war of breeds” with Japan continued until 1992: for two decades, kennel clubs of both countries did not recognize each other – only the Japanese Akita-Inu was registered by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI). The official separation of breeds finally took place in 2000, when the FCI approved the standard for American Akita.
Did You Know?
- The “INU” that is often added to Akita simply means “DOG”
- When a child is born in a Japanese family, the parents get a statue of a small Akita as a symbol of health, happiness and long life
- Akita is the name of the Japanese town from where Akita comes
- The most famous Akita is named Hachiko, an Akita-Inu dog, which became well-known all over Japan in 1932 after a major Tokyo newspaper published the article “A faithful old dog awaits the return of his master, who died seven years ago”. A movie starring Richard Gere was made in 2009 based on this story that touched the hearts of millions around the world.