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FAQ Page2012-12-05T17:20:13-07:00
Musculoskeletal Disease2022-09-10T11:48:07-07:00

As animals age, they lose muscle mass and begin to experience degeneration of cartilage. As in people, arthritis is a common problem. Pets with arthritis suffer pain and decreased mobility


  • Keep your pet on the slim side. Obesity contributes to joint problems.
  • Pain control is needed if your pet has arthritis. Pain control will improve mobility. Your animal will feel much better and you can continue to enjoy your walks etc. Thankfully there are now a number of treatment options available for the senior pet with arthritis.
  • Make sure food and water bowls are easily accessible.
  • Assist your older dog with stairs if needed (avoid stairs where possible). A ramp may help the older pet in getting into and out of the house.
  • If your pet slips and slides on surfaces such as linoleum or hardwood, put a carpet runner down to make it easier for the older pet to get up.
  • Diets incorporating antioxidant vitamins and glucosamine are recommended in older dogs with arthritis.
Endocrine Diseases2022-09-10T11:47:35-07:00

Older animals are at risk for the development of thyroid diseases, diabetes, and adrenal gland disorders.


  • Have your older pet examined twice a year. Early detection of these disorders is possible. Your veterinarian may recommend blood and urine be checked.
Reproductive System2022-09-10T11:47:05-07:00

If your dog was not spayed or neutered earlier in life, problems may occur as he/she gets older. Intact females are prone to infections in the uterus and cancer of the breast tissue. Intact males are at higher risk for prostate disease. Although the intact female may still cycle and be fertile, pregnancy in dogs older than 6 years often results in problems for both the mother and the pups.


  • Have your pet spayed or neutered before its first birthday. This will greatly reduce the risk of certain cancers and diseases later in life.
  • If your pet is used for breeding, speak to your veterinarian about a spay or neuter once the breeding is finished.
  • If you notice any lump or bump on a female dog's breast tissue have it examined as soon as possible.
  • Any discharge from a female's vagina should be investigated.
  • Male dogs with prostate problems often bleed when they urinate or strain to urinate. Talk to your veterinarian if you notice any change in your dogs urinating behavior.
Tooth & Gum Disease2022-09-10T11:48:27-07:00

Severe tooth and gum disease can cause your pet to go off their food and may cause an infection that can spread to the rest of the body. Teeth can abscess, resulting in facial swelling and discomfort.


  • If your dogs will let you, check their gums and teeth for redness, discomfort, discharges, or odor.
  • An older pet may need a general anesthetic to thoroughly clean the teeth and gums. Some teeth may have to be removed.
  • To help prevent the problem, your veterinarian can show you how to clean your pet's teeth (there are toothbrushes and toothpaste made especially for animals)
Kidney Problems2022-09-10T11:45:59-07:00

The first sign of kidney problems may be a pet that drinks more and urinates more. The pet may lose its appetite, vomit or become sluggish. Older animals have more problems with urinary tract infection and some older female dogs develop urinary incontinence (bed-wetting).


  • It is critical that your older pet drinks well.
  • Older pets should never be deprived of water
  • If you notice any change in your pet's drinking and urinating behavior, talk to your veterinarian, who may recommend checking your pet's blood and urine for kidney disease (or diabetes etc). A special diet may be recommended. If you pet bed wets, medication can help. If an infection is seen, antibiotics will be needed.
Heart & Lungs2022-09-10T11:45:27-07:00

Older pets are more likely to develop heart murmurs and lung problems. They may cough, wheeze, pant more and seem short of breath with activity.


  • Twice yearly examinations by your veterinarian are recommended. If your pet is developing heart or lung disease, finding it and treating it early will improve the quality of life. There are new heart drugs available to help our aging pets live longer and better lives.
  • Watch the salt content in everything you feed your pet (diet, treats).
  • Watch their diet - keeping your pet slim and trim helps when lung disease is present.
  • Don't leave older pets in the car in the summer (even if the air conditioner is on) as they do not pant as effectively as a young animal.
What do we do for ACA members?2022-09-10T11:33:50-07:00

We answer your questions regarding statistical reports, emergent concerns, and known problems in the breed. We are happy to refer members and non-members alike to people who may be able to help them, including:  researchers, expert diagnostic veterinarians in that field, and experienced owners who have volunteered to help with support issues for various problems, including VKH, SA, microphthalmia and polyarthropathy.

The GHC provides help with pedigree analysis and breeding as well. We have been lucky to have at least one or two practicing geneticist on the committee for several years. We've fielded questions from all over the US and from foreign countries as far away as Japan.  We provide knowledgeable support and referral.  We will also always recommend all ongoing health concerns be pursued with your veterinary practitioner  WE DO NOT GIVE OUT VETERINARY ADVICE.

We report to the board on a quarterly basis to keep them apprised of our activities.  This includes current projects underway, inquiries and their disposition, and emergent health or genetic concerns for our breed.

One of our most important missions is for you, visitor and reader--THIS SECTION OF THE ACA WEBSITE! Please write us if you need more information.

Updated on 09/18/2008

Where do we get money for funding?2022-09-10T11:34:18-07:00

Some of the money that comes into the ACA's Donor Advised Fund (DAF) on deposit with the Canine Health Foundation comes from private donations.  If you want to donate, we that you make out your check to the Canine Health Foundation but send it to the ACA Treasurer. It will then be forwarded to the CHF.  This helps us keep accurate track of the funds on deposit with the CHF.  Whether you chose to send it in care of the ACA or directly, all donations to the ACA DAF are tax deductible.

Funds earmarked for health research are also raised at the ACA National Specialty.  A large part of this comes through the Auction.  Donors can specify that their items be primarily for health research.  The committee might also hold special fund-raising events at the national to raise extra money, as well as having on-line auctions during the course of the  year.

Those of you who feed Purina products and are members of their Breeder's Program need only inform Purina that you wish to participate in their Parent Club program as members of the ACA.  They will donate a set amount to the ACA for the weight circles you submit.  The money is divided between the DAF and the club itself for discretionary use to further health causes in the breed.

What about funding research?2022-09-10T11:35:03-07:00

Much of our work is with researchers who are otherwise funded, but who need help obtaining samples, specific pedigrees and other information, and/or help from the Akita-owning public as well as ACA members.  The ACA does fund specific research projects or studies, usually through the Donor Advised Fund of the Canine Health Foundation. This is always determined by the ACA Board, not the GHC Committee, although we do make recommendations.

We recommend research or not, which simply put, means that we consult with the Canine Health Foundation every year in their Call for Proposals and then review and prioritize research proposals that cross our desk. We look for proposals that are

  • reasonable in scope (scientifically sound and fundable),
  • address a disease issue that is statistically a top concern for breeders or owners or a leading cause of death

We don't often recommend funding projects that are redundant in nature, don't address current concerns, don't reflect a common concern among Akita owners and breeders or has obvious funding issues.

Do we work with every researcher?2022-09-10T11:35:22-07:00

The GHC tries to accommodate all researchers who ask for our help, and we get a number of inquiries.  Researchers are attracted to the breed because of the genetic bottleneck caused by WWII.  We firmly believe its rather unique autoimmune problems and pigmentation (color) issues make it an excellent model for human autoimmune disease.

On the other hand, we do not wish to foster competition between researchers or violate any of the confidentiality agreements we have with existing ones.  If an inquiry leads us to believe a conflict might exist, our policy is to consult with the current researchers in this regard and to try to educate everyone as much as possible about the current state of Akita genomic research.

We regularly solicit statistics from the major health databases in the US, including the Veterinary Medical Database, the Canine Eye Registration Foundation, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and the official open health registry for the Akita: the Canine Health Information Center. We DO NOT support anecdotal evidence. We also DO NOT disseminate private pedigree information unless the owner agrees to such action.

How do we work?2022-09-10T11:35:38-07:00

We often summarize research work and solicit non-confidential articles from researchers that can be published on this website or reprinted with their permission. What we can relay about ongoing projects is restricted by confidentiality agreements (legal documents preventing us from sharing proprietary information), so until results of specific studies are published, we cannot usually reveal more than generalities about them.

Individual committee members are liaisons to specific researchers or to areas of research.  This means they work with an individual researcher throughout the duration of their term in office or as long as the researcher is active. If the researcher prefers speaking directly to individuals, the liaison then refers that person directly to the researcher, but this is not often the case.  Most don't have time or inclination to answer the same question repeatedly from different people, so these liaisons act as intermediaries between ACA members with questions regarding the project and the researchers.

What is the GHC?2022-09-10T11:35:54-07:00

The Genetics and Health Committee (now known simply as the GHC) was formed in 1994 by the Akita Club of America to address the rising demand for specific Akita health information and support for the burgeoning of canine genetic disease research.  The first chairperson was Barbara Bouyet.  From its inception, this committee has tried to disseminate accurate, non-anecdotal breed information and support research projects with potential benefits for the Akita breed.

We began by trying to fund a genetic test for PRA.  We participated in several seminal works completed at UC Davis on the Major Histocompatibility Complex. Initially, one committee person was the spokesperson for the project(s) and headed up collections.   General information was submitted to the membership through the ACA website and through the Update. The original committee had only a few members and, although we've grown, we still retain this cohesive committee ethic.

In 2001, we officially supported our first joint Canine Health Foundation/ Akita Club of America sponsorship of a major research project. That project was research into Sebaceous Adenitis under Dr. Dunstan. The club contributed over $17, 000and over 100 samples to this project. Given the scope of the project, a major effort was undertaken to obtain samples and network with researchers to maintain open researcher communication and provide members with as much information as we could without breaking confidentiality rules.

A GHC committee member acted as liaison for the duration of the project and reports were filtered through the Canine Health Foundation. To further our efforts, this section of the ACA website was created and has been going strong ever since. Now, GHC efforts encompass an Akita Gene Bank, data collection and statistical analysis from OFA, CERF, CHIC and the VMDB, regular updates from funded researchers, reports from the Canine Health Foundation and ongoing review of upcoming research projects for the ACA board.

Our goals as a committee are continuing our support of worthwhile research projects, helping provide necessary samples for researchers, and informing the membership informed of the current and emerging health concerns of the Akita population.  Because this knowledge benefit the entire breed, we keep as much information as possible on the website and also answer inquiries from owners and veterinarians whenever possible.

Is it okay to take my Akita to a dog park?2020-09-02T18:48:44-07:00

No.  Dog parks are not appropriate places to socialize your Akita. You don't know how the other dogs behave, or how the other owners will react. You are responsible for the safety and actions of your dog.  Dog parks are a perfect setting for a dog fight. We strongly recommend against it.

What type of collar should I use for my Akita?2020-09-02T18:44:45-07:00

A properly fitting slip collar or martingale is the appropriate collar for an Akita.  A slip collar should be snug enough to just barely fit over the head so that it does not slip down to the base of the neck.

A buckle collar is great for identification but should never be used for walking your Akita as they can easily slip out of them. Harnesses are not a safe means of handling your Akita as not only do you not have control of your Akita, but they can escape from them.

What should I do if I cannot keep my Akita?2020-09-02T18:42:01-07:00

Please contact the breeder of your Akita first. If your Akita’s breeder will not assist you, contact Akita Club of America Rescue (ACAR)  for recommendations.

What happens to my Akita if I pass away?2020-09-02T18:40:55-07:00

It is very important to include a plan for your pets in your will and estate planning. Many pets are sent to shelters and often euthanized during the confusion surrounding a death.

How should I plan for emergencies?2020-09-02T18:39:33-07:00

In a visible place in your home, you should post emergency contacts for your pets which include veterinary info, basic information for your Akita, and person who will be responsible in your stead. Also keep this information on your keychain or wallet.

Why is a microchip important?2020-09-02T18:38:23-07:00

A microchip identifies your dog if he or she ever gets lost.  When a dog is found, the shelter or veterinarian will scan for a microchip to help that dog find its way home. Please be sure to keep your contact information current with the microchip registry (such as AKC Reunite). If your dog is lost, notify your local shelters and rescues as well as social media groups for your neighborhood and city. Place signs at major intersections.

When should my Akita be spayed or neutered?2020-09-02T18:33:34-07:00

This depends on your situation. If you are unable to prevent an accidental pregnancy or if dealing with a female in heat is more than you can manage, you should spay between 6 to 9 months of age. Males should be neutered around 12 months of age.

What routine medical care should my Akita receive?2020-09-02T18:31:19-07:00

The guidelines set by the American Veterinary Medical Association are that your Akita should have annual heartworm and internal parasite testing, year-round broad spectrum parasite control (fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites), dental care as needed, and vaccinations. Vaccination recommendations will vary around the country depending on disease risks for that area. Discuss the appropriate vaccination schedule with your veterinarian.

As your Akita ages, more frequent visits to the vet may be appropriate.

Am I allowed to own an Akita where I live?2020-09-02T14:28:09-07:00

It is very important that you check local breed restriction laws before getting an Akita as some counties, cities, and states restrict ownership of certain breeds. You should also check with your home owner’s insurance and with your landlord if you live in a rental property.

How long do Akitas live?2020-09-02T14:27:05-07:00

Akitas tend to live 11-13 years.

Are Akitas good with other animals?2020-09-02T14:25:28-07:00

Many Akitas are natural hunters and as such have high prey drive, so cats, small dogs, and other small pets must be introduced with caution. Akitas can also be dog aggressive, especially same sex dog aggressive. This aggression may not develop until the Akita is fully mature. It is not advisable to have two Akitas of the same sex in the same household.

Is the Akita the right breed for me?2020-09-02T14:24:15-07:00

Akitas are not appropriate for everyone. Some say not a "beginner" dog. While Akitas are wonderful family pets because they are intelligent, affectionate, quiet, and clean, they can be head strong, are independent-thinkers. The typical Akita has a high prey drive  and may not be good with other dogs, especially of the same gender.

More Questions? Contact an Akita Expert2020-09-02T18:26:15-07:00

If your question is not answered here or you need additional help, please contact aca-pec@akitaclub.org and we will try to help you.

Does this mean the 2020 National will not be held?2020-06-18T14:56:38-07:00

At this time the ACA president and the chair for the site coordinating committee are in discussion with the host hotel to cancel the contract.

Will the 2020 National be rescheduled?2020-06-18T15:05:12-07:00

If the contract is canceled, it will not be rescheduled.

What about the 2020 judges; what will happen with them?2020-06-18T15:06:32-07:00

We are currently trying to find a solution that works for the judges and for the club.

What will happen to any achievements or awards earned during 2020?2020-06-18T15:07:06-07:00

We will not skip recognizing achievements or awards occurring this year. However, no decision has been made regarding when and how those accomplishments will be recognized.

Will this affect the 2021 National?2020-06-18T15:05:55-07:00

To the best of our knowledge, this will not impact the 2021 National. It is still expected to be held in Topeka, Kansas.

When will you know where the 2023 National will be held?2020-06-18T15:07:44-07:00

At this time, naming a location would be speculation. The club president and the site coordinating committee chair are negotiating with the host hotel in Indiana. While it is the board’s desire to hold a national at this location sometime in the future, we do not know if that is possible. When we know, we will notify the club members.

Why can’t the club hold a national for those who want to attend, even if not many attend, and let those who are not safe stay at home?2020-06-18T15:10:04-07:00

The minimum cost to hold a national would be the same if 10 people attended or 1,000 people. The difference is if it is underattended, the club would lose money. ACA guaranteed the hotel that it would sell a minimum of 635 rooms, $75,565, and $12,000 plus gratuity in food/beverage sales, bringing the minimum required to almost $90,000. Without member support, the minimum would not be reached, and ACA would have to pay the difference to the hotel.

Why can’t ACA wait until the middle or end of summer to see how the coronavirus is affecting the country before making a decision?2020-06-18T15:10:47-07:00

There is no advantage to waiting but there is a disadvantage. Waiting will not change the state of the coronavirus. Outbreaks will continue to occur until a vaccine is developed. It’s highly unlikely that a vaccine will be developed by October 1. The disadvantage is it eliminates options for the hotel and will obligate them to enforce the contract. If cancelled now, the hotel will have time to resell the rooms. Even waiting one or two months greatly reduces the resell period. At that point, the hotel will opt for the easiest solution: enforce the contract, and we know we cannot meet the minimums if held to the contract.

Why are OFA hip scores important?2020-01-24T22:02:02-07:00

excellent vs dysplastic hips

The x-rays show two dogs, one of which has healthy hips (in red). The other is severely dysplastic (in purple). Ethical breeders do OFA testing of hips to avoid this outcome. It’s why we encourage anyone thinking about getting a puppy from a breeder to be SURE a puppy’s parents have OFA or PennHIP tests for their hips. OFA testing is expensive for breeders, but it is critically necessary to avoid hip dysplasia. The dog on the left has OFA Excellent hips; she is an akita from a reputable breeder whose parents and grandparents had health tests. The dog on the right is a German shepherd from a backyard breeder.

The hip is what is called a “ball and socket” joint. The head of the femur is a round ball that can fit into the socket in the pelvis. You want that socket to fit as tightly as possible. To understand why, make a fist and cover it with your hand, holding it loosely. Twist your fist. It will only be able to move a certain amount, and it will only move in the socket. It won’t move up and down or in and out. Now do the same thing, but only cover your fist with your fingertips. See how much more you can move your fist around? That movement is bad, because it puts additional, uneven wear and tear on the joint. It creates a lack of stability. This is the joint assembly a dog is going to walk on for its entire life - hips like the ones on the right will wear out by age 5, necessitating costly surgery to help limit the dog’s pain. It is a painful disease that is difficult to treat.

Please, if you are choosing a puppy from a breeder, get your puppies from OFA tested parents and reputable breeders. It will save you so much heartache down the road.

  • Thanks to ACA Member Madison Schaeffer for this explanation.
  • Thanks to ACA Member Connie Gaddy for the "excellent" hip xray image
  • Thanks to ACA Member Elizabeth Fulghum for the "severe dysplasia" hip xray image
How much do Akitas shed?2019-09-19T19:06:23-07:00

Akitas are a "double coated" breed, much like Siberian Huskies, Malamutes and Samoyeds.  These dogs have a top coat called guard hair, and a soft, dense undercoat.  The under coat is nature's insulation, that cools and warms the akita. About twice a year, Akitas shed or "blow" their coats. The amount of hair they let go can be surprising. Regular brushing or blowing out with a forced air dog dryer (outside, of course) helps keep the dog hair dust bunnies down, but for a few weeks each "blow" there is a considerable amount of coat shed.

Anita Palmer shared this photo of the result of a good brushing!

Chrissy Delgado shared this photo of one of her Akitas next to fur she brushed out!

Why should I  buy a puppy from a Show Dog Breeder if I only want a pet? 2019-09-18T16:41:30-07:00


The reputable breeder of Champion show dogs has invested a great deal of time, money and energy into producing puppies that he or she has worked to ensure will be healthy examples of the breed.  They can't keep every puppy they cause to be born, so some are available as pets to people like you. The differences between the puppy from a reputable breeder and back yard breeder (BYB) puppy (such as you find on Craigslist or in some Facebook groups) are:

  • Reputably bred puppies come from parents who have been health tested - minimum OFA, patella, CERF.  BYB puppies rarely are.
  • Reputable breeders are conscientious about breeding good genetic lines. They have researched pedigrees to reduce the risk of genetic illnesses like hip displaysia, entropion, or temperament issues like rage syndrome. BYB breeders don't care - they just want to sell puppies.
  • Reputable breeders show their dogs in AKC events to various levels of Championship - which means the dogs have been judged worthy of breeding by a minimum of three qualified AKC judges. BYB breeders do not show their dogs, so they do not compete against other dogs by any ethical outside entity to determine their worthiness to reproduce.
  • Reputable breeders are members of clubs like ACA, and agree to adhere to ethical breeding practices. Back yard breeders do not.
  • Reputable breeders will mentor, stay in contact and follow up with puppy buyers for the lifetime of the dog. Back yard breeders do not.
  • Reputable breeders will offer and honor health guarantees on the puppies they place. Back yard breeders do not.
  • If you can't keep the dog for any reason at any time during its lifetime, the Reputable Breeder will take the dog back. The BYB will not.
  • Reputably bred dogs do not end up in rescue. BYB dogs do.
  • Back yard breeders are only after the money, are not interested in the health of either the parents or the puppies.



How big is an adult Akita?2020-09-06T20:42:25-07:00

According to the Akita Breed standard:

  • The male Akita should measure between 26-28" at the withers and typically weighs between 100-115 pounds.
  • The female Akita should measure between 24-26" at the withers and typically weighs between 75-90 pounds.

Like people, some dogs are taller and some are shorter, weigh more or less. This is a guideline given by the Akita Standard. You can read the full Standard here:

What does a dog title mean?2019-09-18T15:47:54-07:00

"What Is A Title Really?

Not just a brag, not just a stepping stone to a higher Title, not just an adjunct to competitive scores.

A Title is a tribute to the dog that bears it, a way to honour the dog, an ultimate memorial. It will remain in the record and in the memory for about as long as anything in this world can remain. Few humans will do as well or better in that regard. And though the dog himself doesn't know or care that his achievements have been noted, a Title says many things in the world of humans, where such things count.

A Title says your dog was intelligent, and adaptable, and good-natured. It says that your dog loved you enough to do the things that please you, however crazy they may have sometimes seemed. And a Title says that you loved your dog, that you loved to spend time with him because he was a good dog, and that you believed in him enough to give him yet another chance when he failed, and that in the end your faith was justified.

A Title proves that your dog inspired you to have the special relationship enjoyed by so few; that in a world of disposable creatures, this dog with a Title was greatly loved, and loved greatly in return.And when that dear short life is over, the Title remains as a memorial of the finest kind, the best you can give to a deserving friend, volumes of praise in one small set of initials before or after the name.

A Title is nothing less than love and respect, given and received permanently.

Author unknown


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