Akita Inu Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
Akita Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
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 complex personality that makes him very challenging to raise.
Physically 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 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 ferocity. Akitas can be very possessive of their food – keep children and other pets 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. 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 that he return that respect, 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
- 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.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Akitas have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Akita Inu to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 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...
- Their complex temperament. Akitas are one of the most challenging breeds to understand and to raise. They are more "primitive" in their ways of thinking and their behaviors than most other breeds. Their facial expressions and body language are more subtle and thus harder to "read" than most other breeds. 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.
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.
If you have small children, I do not recommend an Akita Inu. There are just too many Akitas who don't tolerate any nonsense.
- Potential 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.
- Heavy shedding. Akitas shed a goodly amount. You'll find hair and fur on your clothing, upholstery, and carpeting.
- 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. Most people lack the skills necessary to manage this breed.
To help you train and care for your dog
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.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.