Meet The Akita

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Large, powerful and alert, the Akita is a working breed that originated in Japan. Dignified and courageous, the Akita today is popular in the show ring and also participates in performance and therapy work. The breed’s thick double coat can be any color including white, brindle or pinto. An Akita trademark is the plush tail that curls over his back.

Akitas are an independent breed, but most have a silly side reserved only for those people they know, love and trust. They do require being a part of a family, and should never be a trophy relegated to the back yard. Their exercise level is medium. They will be happy with a good walk or jog, and are not an overly hyper breed.

Akitas are generally quiet and not prone to nuisance barking. Despite their quiet nature, they are natural guardians. They do not need and should not have special guard dog training. The Akita will instinctively guard your home, which is one of the reasons they require extensive socialization. They need to learn that not all strangers are threats.

This is a breed that requires respect, from family, friends and strangers; a hard concept for some people to grasp. This does not mean that people should be afraid of an Akita. This does mean they should treat them as the beautiful, noble breed they are, giving them their space and respect, not forcing themselves on the dog.

Did You Know?

  • The Akita is one of seven breeds designated as a national monument in his native country of Japan.
  • At one time, Akita ownership was restricted to the Imperial family and the ruling aristocracy; caring & feeding of the Akita were detailed in elaborate ceremony and special leashes were used to denote the Akita’s rank and the standing of his owner.
  • There is a spiritual significance attached to the Akita; when a child is born in Japan, the proud family will usually receive a small statue of an Akita signifying health, happiness, and a long life.
  • The renowned Helen Keller is credited with bringing the first Akita into the United States in 1937.
  • The breed will groom itself like a cat, but daily brushing is still necessary, as is daily exercise.
  • Akitas like to be “pack leader,” so obedience training is also necessary for a harmonious household.
  • The Akita was first registered with the AKC in 1972.

Origin

The Akita is a primitive Japanese breed deriving from regional landrace hunting dogs. The Akita shares a rich history with its second type, the Japanese Akita Inu. Both Akita breeds have a background in hunting, guarding and, at a point in time, dog fighting. The Akita was recognized officially by the AKC in 1973.

Temperament

The Akita is a proud and confident breed. They can be challenging, particularly for first time owners. Owner soften describe them as stubborn and willful, but they are exceptionally loyal and form very close bonds with their people. They are very intelligent dogs, who are generally clean and quiet to live with. Akitas have a genetic predisposition for intolerance of other dogs, especially those of the same sex. The Akita does best in male/female pairs or as the only dog in the home. Being a hunting breed, they have a strong prey drive. An Akita may be aloof and standoffish with strangers; however, a socialized and well-trained Akita should never be outright aggressive. Akitas are not an overly tolerant breed; therefore, all interactions with children should be respectful and well monitored.

Maintenance

The Akita does shed heavily! The Akita has a thick, hardy double coat that goes through several seasonal coat blows every year. The breed does shed year-round, but the shedding will increase drastically during these periods of coat change. Owners of an Akita should regularly brush out the coat as well as utilize a force dryer to encourage coat regrowth and prevent the coat from becoming impacted. Akitas should also regularly have their nails trimmed and filed down. Exposing the Akita to these grooming exercises from an early age will make him easier to manage into adulthood.

Versatility

While the Akita has a very proud and often self-serving demeanor, with an owner’s understanding of the breed’s genetic characteristics and what he is suitable to train for and accomplish, he is capable of filling many shoes. The American Kennel Club offers a plethora of dog sports and events that Akitas title in all across the country. We have Akitas titled in scentwork, obedience, rally, coursing, barn hunt, weightpull, agility, tracking, etc. (Note the Akita should never be used for protection sports or protection work due to his independent thinking mind and aloof nature)

Health

The Akita breed is predisposed to hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as congenital eye and thyroid issues. Autoimmune disease also appears within the breed, but not all can be detected with a DNA test. Due to these risks, a buyer should only purchase a puppy from a breeder whose breeding dogs have passed all verified health tests.

Training

The Akita breed requires clear and consistent boundaries from day one. The Akita is headstrong and due to his history and nature, thinks independently from his handler. He is not biddable with the innate desire to please his owner as many other breeds are, so a close bond and mutual respect should be formed when raising and training. The Akita must be well socialized and exposed to varying environments from puppyhood into adulthood. An Akita should not be expected to be friendly with all dogs and strangers since training never removes genetics, but he should be trained and socialized where he is not reactive, aggressive, or fearful to the world around him. The Akita is very intelligent and may become bored with trivial training exercises. Training sessions should be short and more frequent, rather than long and tiring. An Akita forms a very close bond with his people; consequently, training is best done with the owner present and in charge.

Finding a Breeder

The Akita breed is plagued by puppy mills and poor quality breeders across the country. A breed as beautiful and enticing as the Akita attracts the wrong crowds from both the buyer and breeder perspectives. Due to the challenging nature, temperament, and health issues found in the breed, it is absolutely critical that buyers do their due diligence in researching the breeder where they are purchasing their puppy. A breeder should be a member of or at bare minimum in good standing with the parent club, the Akita Club of America. Due to the risk of hip, elbow, patella, thyroid, and eye issues within the Akita breed, your breeder should be able to show you passing certifications that were received for those areas on their breeding dogs and any sire and dam of a litter you are considering. A general wellness vet is NOT adequate for health testing breeding stock. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, PennHIP, or comparative testing should be done and cleared before a dog is bred and a litter is produced. Any dog with “AKC papers” simply means the dog has been registered with the American Kennel Club. This does not guarantee the puppy meets the breed standard and will not have genetic health issues. An ethical breeder also breeds to conform to the respective breed standard. Dogs in their program are typically titled with the AKC or have points towards their championship, with performance titles showing added versatility. Ethical breeders will have a contract detailing their responsibility as the breeder and your responsibility as the buyer. To verify the ethics of any breeder you may be considering, please contact the Akita Club of America prior to moving forward with a breeder.

Rescue

Due to the high volume of poor quality breeders and puppy mills, as well as the high number of unprepared or unsuitable buyers bringing Akitas into their homes, rescues across the country are filled with purebred Akitas. These Akitas were produced by breeders who did not stand behind them after money was exchanged and buyers who did not fulfill their responsibility when bringing a dog into their lives. The harsh reality is that when a poor quality breeder sells a puppy to an unsuitable or ill-prepared home and that beautiful puppy turns into a very difficult adult dog, it is turned over to shelters and rescues. Due to rescues always running at maximum capacity, many of these dogs are euthanized. The Akita Club of America works alongside our breed rescues every day to help save, rehabilitate, and rehome hundreds of Akitas every year. Rescue is a wonderful option for some families and a necessity for the future of this magnificent breed.

Akita Breed Facts

Read up on what makes an Akita an Akita and whether this is the dog for you!! (courtesy of the Akita Club of America Public Education Committee)

Why is the Akita a good breed for the winter?2024-06-14T10:04:52-07:00
  • Before Akitas had an “official” breed name they were referred to simply as “snow country dogs.” The breed originated from the snowy, rural, mountainous region of Japan: Akita and Odate.
  • Akitas were originally used to hunt bear and guard property. They have a thick double coat, which protects them from the elements. An Akita’s undercoat is thick, soft and shorter than the outer coat. This attribute in combination with their straight, harsh and standing somewhat “off the body” outer coat allows Akitas to be waterproof.
  • “Long coats” are a fault in the Akita breed because ice sticks to their fur. It clumps up and may cause hypothermia leading to possible death. The Akita’s coat is the perfect length, texture, and density in cold climates to not only insulate the dog, but to also keep the snow and ice off. That is why their coat should be rough and stand-off, not silky, too short or excessively long.
  • Akitas have webbed toes to help walk on snow by distributing their weight more effectively. Historically, they keep their front dew claws because these “ice picks” help them climb out of icy water.
  • When the weather turns cooler the dogs seem to have a “turbo” button that switches on. If there is snow on the ground, they will stay out all day hunting rabbit, squirrel, etc. in a securely fenced yard until relegated to come inside the house. It is safe to say they prefer colder weather, love eating snow, and rolling as a snow “scrub”.
What should people know about your breed that makes it unique historically?2024-06-14T10:05:36-07:00
  • The Akita is designated as a national monument in his native country of Japan.
  • At one time, Akita ownership was restricted to the Imperial family and the ruling aristocracy; caring & feeding of the Akita were detailed in elaborate ceremony and special leashes were used to denote the Akita’s rank and the standing of his owner.
  • There is a spiritual significance attached to the Akita; when a child is born in Japan, the proud family will usually receive a small statue of an Akita signifying health, happiness, and a long life.
  • The famous deaf, blind author and political activist (who considered the breed to be “gentle, companionable and trusty”), Helen Keller, is credited with bringing the first Akita into the United States in 1937.
What should people know about your breed that makes it special physically?2024-06-14T10:06:19-07:00
  • Akitas coat can be any color including white, brindle or pinto. It may even be of long-coat type.
  • An Akita’s trademark is the plush tail that typically curls over his back.
  • Each dog has their own unique tail set; therefore when you see a group of Akitas’ tails, very few look the same.
Would you consider your breed of dog a good choice for a first time dog owner? Why? Why not?2024-06-14T10:06:52-07:00
  • No – Akitas are large and powerful (often weighing over one hundred pounds and may be a substantial dog to handle daily).
  • Akitas can also be strong-willed, so a dedication to formal obedience is necessary for a harmonious household.
  • Akitas are intelligent and proud; therefore motivating them during training sessions can be a challenge.
Would you consider your breed of dog a good family dog? Why? Why not?2024-06-14T10:07:18-07:00
  • Akitas are affectionate with their family and form strong bonds.
  • The Akita will instinctively guard their owner’s home, which is one of the reasons they require extensive positive exposure to a variety of stimuli (people, places, and things) on and off their place of residence.
  • Akitas tend to act aloof towards strangers and will need to learn that all people they do not know are not necessarily threats to them.
  • Akitas are a breed that requires respect from all who encounter them (family, friends and strangers); a challenging concept for many people to process and implement in their actions towards them.
  • Most households may not have the time to complete the level of obedience training and socialization that Akitas require in order to become well-adjusted companions and members of society.
What health issues are there with your breed?2024-06-14T10:07:50-07:00
  • Bloat – Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV): a condition associated with stomach bloat. Akita dogs are particularly susceptible to this condition, when the stomach twists (also known as volvulus or “torsion”) due to a variety of reasons. This condition is severe and requires immediate, emergency veterinary treatment. Akita owners should be alert to the symptoms of GDV and know the location of the nearest 24 hour veterinary medical facility. This condition without treatment (and sometimes with) is fatal.
  • Thyroid problems and Autoimmune disorders
  • Eye problems: Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): an adult-onset condition which gradual degeneration of the retina leading to blindness and cataracts.
  • Canine hip dysplasia: a malformation of the hip joints that causes arthritis – reputable breeders test potential parents for this before breeding.
How trainable is your breed? Housebreaking? Obedience?2024-06-14T10:08:21-07:00
  • Akitas respond best to respectful commands and positive training techniques that rely on motivation rather than force.
  • Today, the Akita is popularly seen in the breed (conformation) ring, but many also participate in performance events such as obedience, rally, agility, tracking, and nose work. Some Akitas excel as therapy dogs.
  • The breed will groom itself like a cat, is clean, and housebreaking is usually not a problem.
What is your opinion on crate training?2024-06-14T10:08:52-07:00
  • Crate training can be very valuable. For example, if an owner needs to leave their Akita at the vet or groomer, the dogs are usually housed in crates, runs, or pens. Therefore, a dog successfully exposed to a variety of confinement situations will be more relaxed and successful in the aforementioned stressful environments.
  • Additionally, if an owner chooses to compete in conformation and/or performance events there are inevitably times when it may be a necessity to crate an Akita.
  • Confinement training is best done when a dog is young and may be difficult with an older dog. Therefore, crate training is typically a plus for this breed all around.
Is there a myth about your breed that you would like to clear up?2024-06-14T10:09:23-07:00
  • Akitas are listed by some insurance companies and represented in the media as “dangerous dogs”. They are also a target of breed specific legislation (BSL).
  • A well-socialized and trained Akita is not unsafe, but individuals should always give an Akita space and respect, not forcing themselves on the dog.
What are the grooming requirements?2024-06-14T10:09:50-07:00
  • The breed has a thick double coat that should not be shaved.
  • Usually two times per year the Akita “blows” out his coat by shedding heavily. c. Akitas require regular brushing and nail trimming year-round.
How much exercise will my dog need?2024-06-14T10:10:15-07:00
  • An Akita’s exercise level is medium; therefore they will be happy with a good daily walk or jog.
  • Akitas are not known to be an overly hyperactive breed, but they can both climb and dig, so a secure six foot fenced area is needed when confined outdoors.
  • Akitas need to be an integral part of their family’s household, not one that is mainly kept as an “outside dog.”
  • The Akita’s genetically strong hunting instinct requires that they should never be allowed to roam loose or off leash in an unfenced area.
If applicable, when should ears be cropped? Do I have to crop?2024-06-14T10:10:45-07:00
  • Not applicable
  • Akitas have naturally erect ears and therefore, should never be cropped.
I know all breeds were created to do a specific job. Is there something else that your breed is good at that may surprise people?2024-06-14T10:11:16-07:00
  • Akitas are generally quiet and not prone to nuisance barking.
  • Despite their quiet nature, they are natural guardians. They do not need and should not have special “watch dog” training.
  • Akitas are working dogs (several hundred have been registered as therapy dogs) and can be seen visiting nursing homes/hospitals and doing reading programs with children at schools/libraries.
2024-06-14T10:17:26-07:00
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