AKC Dog Breeds: Akita

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Working Group
Height: 24-28 inches   Weight: 75-120 pounds  Color: fawn, red, white, brindle, and silver

The Akita is native to the island of Honshu in the region of Akita in Japan, where it has remained unchanged for centuries. Today, the Akita is considered the national dog of Japan and is designated as a Natural Monument. The breed has had many uses, first as an Imperial guard dog, then as a fighting dog, hunter of deer and bear, for sledding, and for police, army and guard work. The Akita has keen hunting abilities and can even hunt in deep snow. He has a soft mouth, so he is suitable for waterfowl retrieval. In Japan, small statues of the Akita are often sent to ill people to express a wish for their speedy recovery, and to parents of newborn children to symbolize health. The first Akita was brought to the USA by Helen Keller. American servicemen also brought Akitas to the US after World War II. The Akita was registered with the AKC in 1972.

General Appearance
Akita's are large, powerful, and alert dogs, with much substance and heavy bone. The Akita is slightly longer than he is tall with a broad, deep chest and level back. The broad head, forming a blunt triangle, with deep muzzle, small eyes and erect ears carried forward in line with back of neck, is characteristic of the breed. The tail is carried high and curled over the back. The Akita has webbed, cat-like feet - which makes it a fine swimmer. The double coat is composed of a harsh, waterproof outer coat insulated with a thick, soft undercoat. Coat colors are pure white, red, sesame and brindle. The colors should be without clear borders.  These dogs may also have a mask or blaze on the face, although not all Akitas have this. Although the grooming requirements for this breed are not overly high - to be done on a weekly basis - these dogs can be heavy seasonal shedders, and are therefore not best suited to those with allergies.


The Akita is docile, intelligent, courageous and fearless. Careful and very affectionate with its family. Sometimes spontaneous, it needs a firm, confident, consistent pack leader. Without it the dog will be very willful and may become very aggressive to other dogs and animals. A very dignified and devoted dog, the Akita is a powerful and protective pet that makes for a great watchdog. The Akita is a first class guard dog. Japanese mothers would often leave their children in the family Akita's care.  This is an independent and often strong willed breed, and this can make training difficult. However, this is also a dog that enjoys playing in the colder weather, although his exercise needs are by no means excessive. When it comes to other pets, the Akita can be dog aggressive with dogs of the same sex, and may also be aggressive around others smaller animals. This is a breed that is usually fine with children that live in household, but can be protective when other children are around and can also be aloof and stand offish with strangers.

The coarse, stiff, short-haired coat needs significant grooming. You will need to groom the Akita once a week, and in order to keep his coat in good condition you should use a grooming rake or pin brush.   Akita dogs do not need to be trimmed or shaved. They do, however, "blow" coat which means that their undercoats shed completely. This breed sheds heavily twice a year, and therefore grooming may need to be stepped up during this period.  It is good to know that this period typically only lasts a few weeks.  In addition, when your Akita is shedding brushing its coat on a daily basis is recommended in addition to using an undercoat rake. Akita dogs that live indoors or cooler climates typically shed less. Brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when absolutely necessary as bathing removes the natural waterproofing of the coat.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The life expectancy of the Akita is around 10-13 years. There are a number of health problems to look out for with this breed, and this includes luxating patella, thyroid problems, lupus, cancer,  PRA, skin conditions, and autoimmune problems.

Activity Level

While it is a subjective matter as to how much exercise the Akita needs, having a large yard with a fence is considered the ideal living situation for this type of dog. Akita dogs are strong and can typically, easily handle sledding and weight pulling activities. Akita dogs love to jump, run and play when they want to. An Akita is an ideal hiking or walking dog and they are large and sturdy enough to handle even very difficult and challenging terrain. They are also very willing to play with kids and run and explore all day. A well exercised and fit Akita is calm and docile in the house and will typically not engage in any kind of destructive behavior, but they do need regular, lengthy exercise periods per day if kept indoors. Akitas, like any other dog, like to have a variety of options for exercise and not just complete the same routine everyday. While they are excellent swimmers they sometimes have to be coaxed into the water at least the first few times, but will soon enjoy a refreshing swim or paddle about on a hot day.


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