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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Akita


Origin: Japan

AKC Group: Working

Height: 24 inches (Male)

Weight: 75 pounds (Male)

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Male height: 
24 inches
Male weight: 
75 pounds
The Akita is double coated, with a thick, soft, dense undercoat and a straight, harsher outercoat.
Any color, including white, brindle, and pinto.

The Akita is an ancient Japanese dog and a relative of the Ainu and Shiba Inu. The largest of these spitz breeds, the Akita was used to hunt larger game than his cousins, including boar, elks, and small bears, and was also used as a guard dog. It is believed that the name "Akita" comes from the breed's area of origin, the Akita, also called Dewa, in the northern part of Japan. This region remained isolated until the 14th century, and as a result, the Akita evolved for several hundred years without much infiltration by other developing types of dogs. Eventually, outside influences did have an effect on the breed, including the introduction of Chow Chow blood. The Akita came to the world's attention during World War II, when servicemen became interested in them. It was difficult for the Japanese to keep large dogs in a war-torn land desperate for basic supplies, and without the interference of foreigners, the breed may have been lost. United States servicemen fell in love with the loyal Akita and brought a few dogs home with them. Thus began the development of an "Americanized" Akita breed - one that is distinctly different from the Akita found in Japan today. (In fact, there is a chance that the breed may be renamed "American Akita" to further distinguish it from the smaller Japanese type.)

Loyal, fearless, brave, strong, independent, and intelligent are all apt descriptions of the Akita. He is dignified, confident, and noble. He can be single-minded to the point of stubbornness and is hard to dissuade when he sets his mind to something. The Akita retains his guarding instincts and will instinctively protect his territory, possessions, and loved ones; therefore, he needs a firm but fair leader.
At home: 
Surprisingly for such a large dog, the Akita can do well in an apartment because he does not require a tremendous amount of exercise. Still, he must be taken out several times a day. The Akita must be a part of the family - he will not do well relegated to the backyard or left alone for extensive periods. A high, secure fence is necessary because he is a problem solver and can easily find ways to escape. (In his defense, though, he's usually desperately attempting to reunite himself with his owner, not trying to run away.) The Akita is an exceptionally clean breed that rarely has accidents in the house. He does not like extremely hot temperatures.
Akitas don't need copious amounts of exercise but appreciate and eagerly anticipate daily walks and should have several of them a day. Romping in a dog run is something you should only do with an Akita you are certain is well socialized with other dogs and people.
Although Akitas require less food in proportion to their size than do many other breeds, they still require a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
Think of where the Akita came from and the kind of dog he is, and you will better understand his trainability. Bred as both a hunter and a spitz-type working dog, he is by nature an independent thinker. He is easily bored by repetitive requests that don't coincide with his way of thinking. However, if worked with properly from an early age with an instructor who understands him, the Akita is certainly trainable. Socialization from an early age is critical for this breed.
Akitas can do well with children, especially kids in the family, whom they will naturally protect. They can be aggressive with other dogs, particularly of the same sex. They get along well with family cats, as they seem to appreciate their quiet company, but will chase neighborhood cats who cross into their territory.
The average life span of the Akitais 10 to 14 years. Breed health concerns include autoimmune diseases; degenerative myelopathy; hip and elbow problems; hypothyroid disease, which may manifest as skin and coat problems, sudden-onset aggression, itching, lethargy, or musky odor; and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
Fun fact: 

There is a statue in the Shibuya train station in Japan honoring the loyalty of an Akita.

Grooming blurb: 
The Akita's lush double coat requires regular and consistent care to keep it looking good, which will help him feel his best. He'll need at least a half hour of daily brushing with a shedding rake and a brush with flexible metal bristles. He sheds regularly and "blows" his undercoat a couple times a year.
Copyright by T.F.H. Publications, Inc. This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.