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Honest FAQ for Akitas (2021)

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Akita

The Akita has a complex temperament and should not be purchased on a whim. Buy this breed only from a show breeder, and make sure you see BOTH parents and preferably some grandparents. Be very careful with this breed – mistakes could prove costly.


What kind of temperament and personality does the Akita have?

The most descriptive words that come to my mind regarding Akita temperament and behavior are:

calm, dignified, confident, clean, quiet... sounds fantastic, right? but now I must add... aloof, independent, strong prey instincts, strong "primitive" instincts, potentially dog-aggressive and food-possessive.

I give you my honest opinions about Akita temperament and personality traits and characteristics – positives AND negatives – in my dog breed review, Akita Temperament and Personality Traits (What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em).

How do you pronounce Akita Inu?

Ah-KEE-ta EE-new. Akita  is a Japanese prefecture (district) and Inu  just means dog.

What were Akitas used for?

In the mountains of Akita Prefecture, Japan, the Akita Inu was used for bear hunting, guarding, and occasionally dog fighting.

What traits would help Akitas accomplish their work? That's right... strong instincts to confront and take down other animals, courage, toughness, independent thinking, territorial instincts and loyalty to his owner.

How big are Akitas? Height and weight?

About 23-28 inches at the shoulder, and 75-130 pounds, which puts them in the LARGE or GIANT category.

Do Akitas come in different "types"?

Yes. In most of the world (except USA and Canada), there are two distinct breeds – the native Japanese Akita and the American Akita.

Akita

The Japanese Akita must be one of these colors: red on top with creamy white underside; solid white; or brindle on top with creamy white underside. You can find Japanese Akitas in the US, but you'll need to search.

The native Japanese Akita is smaller than the American version, has a foxier head, is lighter on his feet, and only comes in three colors: solid white, red and white, or brindle and white. Japanese Akitas never have a black mask.

American Akita

American Akita – the US always seems to think that everything, including dog breeds, should be more massive.

The American Akita is larger, more muscular, and comes in lots of colors – brindle (pictured), white, fawn, black, pinto (white with patches), and others. Unlike Japanese Akitas, American Akitas frequently have a black mask.

How much exercise do Akitas need?

Moderate exercise. This big breed doesn't need hours of running. He's satisfied with an hour of brisk walking, plus a decent yard for an occasional vigorous romp – especially in cold weather. Akitas don't like hot weather, but love the snow and cold.

Unfortunately, unlike other large breeds who can get great exercise playing fetch with you, or tug-of-war, or hide-and-seek... Akitas generally don't have any interest in such games. In general, these are not playful dogs.

Do Akitas need a fenced yard?

Yes. Why? and best and worst fences.

Are Akitas easy to train?

Not particularly, no. Akitas don't have much desire to please, and many individuals aren't motivated by food treats.

If you are an assertive person who can "read" and respond to a strong-willed working dog and establish a healthy leader-follower relationship, an Akita will learn readily.

But if you're more of a mild-mannered, peaceful, live-and-let-live kind of person... don't get an Akita, or he may ignore you whenever it suits him. This breed is among the worst of all breeds for easygoing beginners.

Are Akitas easy to housebreak?

Yes, they're a very clean breed.

Are Akitas friendly with people?

Generally not. These dogs are loyal to one owner or one family. To everyone else, they're usually aloof. Serious problems can arise when an Akita extends aloofness to suspiciousness or threatening behavior.

Some Akitas have more territorial/protective instincts than others. But without actual protection training,  Akitas are not effective protectors. But they can still be excellent deterrents... as long as you stay in charge and immediately stop any unwarranted aggression.

Are Akitas good with children?

I don't recommend Akitas for children younger than about age 10. This breed can be difficult to "read" and doesn't always telegraph that he's feeling uncomfortable around a child. Sometimes the first sign is a punishing bite. Of course this happens very rarely! But enough that it concerns me.

Are Akitas good with other dogs?

No. Some Akitas may SEEM to be fine, at first, especially with other dogs who have submissive,  personalities. But there's no knowing when the Akita might decide that he's been tolerant long enough, and then wham! Tragedy.

It's safest to assume that most Akitas will not tolerate another dog of the same sex, and some won't tolerate the opposite sex either. Unless you're a breeder or trainer with years of experience,you really shouldn't keep this breed in a multi-dog household. Too much risk, in my opinion.

Are Akitas good with cats?

No. The bad news just keeps on coming, doesn't it? As you might expect from their bear-hunting heritage, most Akitas have strong instincts to chase and seize fleeing creatures... including cats, wildlife, and farm livestock. So no... I don't recommend an Akita if you have a cat.

How much do Akitas shed?

Akitas are heavy shedders. They "blow" their coats – hair everywhere – in the spring and fall. The rest of the year, you'll see just a little bit of loose hair.

Are Akitas hypoallergenic? Good for people with allergies?

If you're allergic to dog dander, no. If you're allergic to canine saliva, no. Akitas are not hypoallergenic dogs at all.

How much grooming do Akitas need?

Just moderate brushing once a week, a little more if you have an Akita with longer hair than usual.

What's a good training schedule for training Akita puppies?

Here's the puppy training schedule I use for Akitas: Puppy Training Schedule.

What behavior problems do Akitas tend to have?

Akitas are usually calm indoors and calm on the leash. They seldom have housebreaking issues, they don't usually jump on people, and they don't bark much, being more the "strong and silent" type.

Behavior issues in Akitas tend to center around aggression – people-aggression, cat-aggression, dog-aggression, or possessiveness of bones or food.

What health problems might Akitas have?

Joint diseases, severe autoimmune diseases, and eye diseases. Cancer and an emergency digestive syndrome called bloat are responsible for over 40% of Akita deaths.

What breeds are similar to the Akita Inu?

Other Japanese spitz breeds: the Hokkaido Ken, Kai Ken, Kishu Ken, and Shiba Inu. Inu and Ken  just mean dog.

Where can I buy an Akita puppy?

From a show breeder is safest! Read my article.

Where can I adopt an older Akita?

Rescue group or humane society/shelter? Read my article.

I just got a new Akita. Which pages should I read first?

  • Akita Health, which includes my advice on feeding, vaccinations, and daily health care. These pages are very important, because if you start your Akita puppy off on the wrong foot, he will probably experience health problems later on. Starting off right is essential.
  • Training Akitas, which includes my advice on respect training, housebreaking, and socialization. Again, you must start your Akita puppy off on the right foot by teaching him what he needs to know, and you must avoid doing the wrong things with him so that he doesn't develop bad habits that will be much harder to fix later on.

Do male dogs or female dogs make better pets?

Ah, let the debate begin! Honestly, male Akitas have pros and cons, and female Akitas have pros and cons. Visit Male Dogs versus Female Dogs

There's an adorable Akita puppy at the pet shop. The store manager assures me they only buy from responsible breeders. Could this be true?

No responsible Akita breeder would ever place one of their Akita puppies in a pet shop for resale. To find out more about pet shop puppies, visit Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store.

How do I pick the best Akita puppy from a litter?

You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.

What's the best dog food for Akitas?

3 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food.

I have to take my Akita to the vet soon for shots. Which vaccinations does he really need?

The schedule of vaccinations that dogs really need has changed dramatically – but unfortunately most vets are not telling you this, because a good chunk of their income depends on frequent vaccinations. Please don't get any more shots for your Akita until you've read my article on Puppy Shots and Dog Vaccinations.

What are the pros and cons of spaying and neutering my Akita, and when should it be done?

Spaying and neutering are often recommended too early, which can lead to health problems later in life. Visit Spaying Your Female Dog or Neutering Your Male Dog for the straight scoop on the safest (and riskiest) times to spay or neuter.

I have a question about Akitas that I don't see answered on your web site.

It's probably answered in one of my books:

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.