Strong boned, independent, and protective, the Akita comes from the northern mountain region of Japan known as the Akita Prefecture. Akitas are a mixture of Chow Chows, Japanese Kai and Tosa dogs and were bred to hunt bears. Once known as a bred only for the wealthy, Akitas are now very common and even used as police dogs in Japan. The Japanese government named the Akita to be one of their national treasures and there is monument of an Akita name Hachiko that is built in Shibuya, Tokyo. Today, there are two lineages of Akitas— the Akita Inu (Japanese Akita) and the American Akita.
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Characteristics of the Akita
Now we’re going to give you more information on what the average Akita is like.
The Akita is a broad faced, large sized dog averaging between 65-130 lbs. Females stand around 25 inches tall and males average about 27 inches tall. Akitas are considered to be proportional dogs in length and height. Their ears should be upright and their tail should curl up as well. The most noticeable feature of the Akita is the coat. Known as a “spitz” breed, they appear to be fluffy due to the short, thick double coat of fur. The bottom layer of fur is very dense and woolly, while the outer layer (guard hairs) is slightly longer and bristly. The undercoat keeps the Akita warm during the colder months and the guard hairs protect the fur from humidity and dirt. Some Akitas may have a recessive gene that makes their coat longer (3-4 inches) and is atypical. To be considered a true Japanese Akita, the coat colors must be red, fawn, sesame, brindle, or pure white with “Urajiro” markings. Urajiro markings are white fur on the face, chest, belly, and inner sides of the legs. American Akitas can be all of the above colors as well as pinto, brindle, black mask and white mask.
Akitas are notorious for being “standoff-ish,” dominant, and territorial, but what many don’t know is that they are very loyal and affectionate towards their family. Many Akitas will follow their owner around the home in order to “protect” them, but they do not usually suffer from separation anxiety. They are more of the “strong and silent” type. Since Atikas were bred to protect and hunt, they are better off in a single animal household due to their instincts to always be the “top dog” in charge. Akitas must be well socialized from birth so that they do not become aggressive towards other animals, specifically dogs of the same sex. Akitas do not do well at off-leash dog parks.
Although Akitas are not usually aggressive towards people, you may need to ease your Akita into social situations, especially when a stranger enters their house, as they will be on high alert. They also do not tend to bark unless something is wrong or they feel threatened. Akitas can be very possessive of their food, so do not let children near them while feeding. Some relate the Akita to a house cat; they like to clean their faces after eating, keep their beds clean and orderly, and are easily housebroken. They are very smart and will benefit greatly from training but it will be difficult at first, as they are very independent and strong willed. Akitas need a job to do, otherwise they will become bored easily. Generally, Akitas will live to be between 10 to 12 years old.
Caring for Akita Tips
Next we’re going to cover what you need to know about caring for an Akita.
Akitas are used to a natural, well-balanced diet due to their Asian heritage. Organic or homemade dog food are good options for them. Large dog, dog food is also recommended due to the high protein content that will help keep Akitas lean and full. Dog food products should have 3 main ingredients: meat (or fish), rice, and vegetables. Typically, you should be feeding your dog twice a day and the amount per serving should be according to their weight and age on the packaging. You should be cautious of overfeeding young Akitas during training, as they could become overweight. It is recommended that older Akitas have a reduced calorie diet to protect them from getting kidney disease.
Akitas are very muscular due to their heritage and require a moderate amount of activity. A few long walks or jogs a day will help keep your Akita healthy and allow him/her to release any pent up energy or stress. Akitas should be leash trained and a harness is recommended to help in case they become protective while on a walk. Akitas are intelligent and food orientated, so buying some puzzle toys for times when you are gone all day would be beneficial to keep the active and their minds occupied. When you are home, play with your Akita and encourage him/her to be joyful and energetic.
Akitas need to be trained from 7/8 weeks old. Due to their strong will and dominant tendencies, you will need to assert yourself as their owner right away. During training, you should not tease your Akita as they could become distrustful or food-aggressive. Along with basic training, you should start socializing your Akita with other animals and other people right away to reduce the risk of any aggressive behavior. Akitas are very intelligent and want to please their owners. If you have time, things like agility training and more difficult training tasks can be learned with diligence and persistence.
Akitas are very clean dogs who prefer to self-groom. However, due to their thick double coat, they will shed profusely twice a year. Brushing your Akita once a week as well as many times a day during the shedding periods will help him/her. Like all other dogs, you should trim your dog’s nails and brush their teeth often. Outside of normal hygiene, Akitas do have a few predispositions; bloat, eye and thyroid disease, and hip dysplasia are all common in Akitas. Bloat is a random condition inside a dog where its’ stomach sudden twists, causing a buildup of air and other complications. Some signs of bloat include an enlarged, hard belly, retching, foaming at the mouth, and breathing problems. Causes are not fully known but some veterinarians state that overeating and eating too quickly could be a cause. Hip dysplasia is when a dog’s hips are not aligned, causing them pain, walking problems, and potential arthritis when they are older. Along with surgery to correct such problems, offering your dog joint supplements will help aid them in easing the pain and returning to a normal life. In addition to supplements, all dogs should get monthly heart worm and flea protection.