Akita Inu Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Akita Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2015
The Akita Inu is handsome, calm, dignified, clean (easy to housebreak), and quiet (seldom barks), so it's understandable that he might be viewed as a desirable pet.
However . . . the Akita Inu has a dominant, complex personality that makes him very challenging to raise.
Powerful, reserved with strangers, and protective, the Akita Inu must be accustomed to people at an early age so that his guarding instincts remain controlled rather than indiscriminate.
Akitas can be so aggressive with other dogs of the same sex that two males or two females should never be left alone together. The problem is that this breed can be difficult to "read" -- often he does not "posture" (display obvious signs of aggression) -- instead, an Akita Inu may co-exist peacefully with another dog until suddenly, apparently out of the blue, a minor disagreement occurs, or perhaps the other dog pushes the Akita too far or approaches the Akita's food bowl or favorite toy, and then the Akita may attack with unsuspected ferocity. Akitas can be very possessive of their food -- keep children away from them during mealtime.
As you might guess, cats and other small animals are also at risk around an Akita. In general, it is simply safest to keep this breed as an only pet.
Training can be a challenge, for the Akita Inu is assertive, strong-willed, and bores easily, and he may use his intelligence in ways that suit his own purposes.
Yet owners who know how to lead will find him eminently trainable via praise and reward methods. This breed must be treated with respect -- absolutely no teasing -- but you must insist on respect in return or he will walk right over you. Akitas are not a good choice for a first-time dog owner.
Unlike many other large breeds, the Akita Inu doesn't require hours of running exercise. He does well with long brisk walks and an occasional vigorous run, especially in cold weather. Akitas LOVE snow and cold.
If you want a dog who...
- Is large, rugged, and powerful, with a wolf-like appearance
- Has a thick coat that comes in many colors and patterns
- Carries himself with a dignified, impressive presence
- Looks imposing, so makes an effective deterrent
- Despite his size, doesn't need a great deal of exercise
- Doesn't bark much -- the "strong and silent" type
- Isn't clingy or overly-dependent
An Akita Inu may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Potential aggression toward people when not socialized properly
- Aggression toward other animals
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- Extreme possessiveness of food -- children and other animals should not be allowed near an Akita who is eating
- Heavy shedding
- Legal liabilities (public perception, future breed bans, insurance problems, increased chance of lawsuits)
An Akita Inu may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Akita Inu
If I was considering an Akita, I would be most concerned about...
- The strong temperament. Akitas are one of the most challenging breeds to understand and to raise. They have an independent mind of their own. Many Akitas are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Akita Inu to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Akita Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Providing enough socialization. Many Akitas have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to outright aggression.
If you have small children, I do not recommend an Akita Inu. There are just too many Akitas who don't tolerate any nonsense.
- Animal aggression. Akitas were developed to hunt other animals. Most Akitas will not tolerate another dog of the same sex, and some won't tolerate the opposite sex either. Most Akitas have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures, including deer and livestock. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
To keep your Akita Inu in, and to keep other animals out, fences should be high, with wire sunk into the ground along the fence line to thwart digging.
- Heavy shedding. Akitas shed a goodly amount. You'll find hair and fur all over your clothing, upholstery, and carpeting. Make sure you're really up for this.
- Legal liabilities. Akitas may be targeted for "banning" in certain areas. Homeowners' insurance policies may be refused or revoked if you are discovered to own an Akita. Your friends and neighbors may be uncomfortable around this breed. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a guard dog and big game hunter should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.
Frankly, most Akitas are "too much dog" for the average household and most people lack the skills necessary to manage this breed.
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