Akita

Kelly Roper
Closeup of an Akita

Did you know the first Akita was brought to the United States by Helen Keller in 1937? Although this breed is by no means as common as the Labrador Retriever, it has seen a rise in popularity over the last twenty years.

If you are considering adding an Akita to your home, learn more about this exceptional breed before you decide if it's the right one for you.

Breed Origin

The Akita is the largest of all the breeds native to Japan. Like its smaller cousin the Shiba Inu, it belongs to a group of dogs that share a common Spitz-type ancestor.

General Appearance

The Akita is a large and powerful dog. The body type is just off-square in outline, with a triangular head, and small erect ears. The eyes appear to be well set into the skull, but peer out brightly, and should display a keen intelligence.

This breed has two other rather distinctive characteristics. The tail is carried curled over the back and the feet are webbed for swimming.

The original Japanese breed colors are white, red, or brindle, but today's American Kennel Club standard states any color is acceptable. The coat is thick enough to stand on end and sheds about twice each year.

Males

  • Height: 26-28 inches
  • Weight: 75-120 pounds

Females

  • Height: 24-26 inches
  • Weight: 75-110 pounds

Life with an Akita

Disposition

A natural guard dog, it will generally designate itself the family guardian. It is fiercely loyal and affectionate to the people it lives with and has a reputation for being good with the family's children. Akitas are wary of strangers and other pets, therefore, never leave them unsupervised with either one. Individuals do best as single family pets since they tend to be aggressive toward other dogs, especially members of their own sex.

Realize members of this breed generally have very dominant personalities, so ownership is not for the timid. It takes a rather strong character to prevent these dogs from assuming the Alpha position in the canine/human relationship. Akitas are perfectly capable of thinking for themselves, thus deciding on their own course of action. This is exactly what they'll do unless you establish a healthy dominance from the start.

Although large dogs, Akitas are relatively calm, and while they benefit from daily activity, they do not require the same amount of exercise as an Irish Setter or German Shorthaired Pointer.

Training

Intelligence is a hallmark of this breed, which makes training an easy job once you've established yourself as leader of the pack. They are also extremely clean animals and take easily to housebreaking. The guardian instincts of this breed make them naturals for protection training, although the average pet owner will likely find that no extra training is necessary.

Health Concerns

Akitas are hardy, but the breed is not without its share of physical problems.

Health concerns to be aware of include:

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy- A degenerative disease that causes blindness.
  • Hypothyroid disease- A condition that leads to skin problems, and general malaise.
  • Canine hip and elbow dysplasia- A degenerative disease of the joints.
  • Entropion- A condition that causes the eyelid to roll inward, leading to runny eyes.
  • Degenerative myelopathy- A form of heart disease.

Conclusion

So, is this the right dog for you? They are highly intelligent, clean and loyal dogs, but they require very active ownership to find their proper footing in the family unit.

If you can provide firm, but loving guidance, and plenty of one-on-one companionship, then an Akita might make a very good companion indeed. On the other hand, if you already have other pets and a busy schedule, this breed would probably not be a good fit for your lifestyle.

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Akita