Celebrated as ”Ichiban”(number one) dog in Japan, declared a Natural Monument, sculpted in bronze at a railway station and memorialized on a postage stamp; what greater honor could a dog enjoy?
A dog is man’s best friend, or so the saying goes. It’s rather hard to believe for you when your puffer is dragging your dirty pants, out into the living room for all your guests to see (oops!).
But one dog in Japan proved all those defectors wrong with his perpetual loyalty, waiting for his master’s return in the same location every single day for 10 years even after his master’s death.
What does Vladimir Putin, Hollywood actor Richard Gere, Russia’s figure skating sensation Alina Zagitova and French film star Alain Delon have in common: yes. They all love Japan’s Akita dogs.
And they’re not alone. In recent years, overseas ownership of one of Japan’s most famous indigenous breeds has catapulted, outshined domestic demand for the fuzzy, perky-eared pups.
The Akita may be the only breed in the world considered a Tennen Kinenbutsu (Natural Monument) in his home country – so you know they’re the best of boys!
In the United States, there is another dog breed Akita, designated as the American Akita, which is technically classified as a different breed, although they are developed from the same original lines.
If you’re looking for a dog that is devoted, courageous and unwaveringly faithful to its owner, then this may be the perfect dog breed for you!
“If it’s not an Akita Inu, then it’s should be a dog!” –
This saying is actually a rather common expression by those who fancy the breed. For non-fanciers, this may rather be a joke, but not all jokes are ‘jokes’: most of them contain a certain amount of truth concealed in them as well.
Read further to know the hidden truths about Akita
Akita Inu is the largest of the ancient canine clan of Japanese spitz-type dogs. They originated from the mountainous region of Akita Prefecture, located in the Tohoku region of northern Honshu (the main island of Japan).
They were known as ‘Kazuno-Inu’, ‘Odate-Inu’ and ‘Nambu-Inu’ in their respective areas of northern Akita Province.
Collectively they were known as the ‘Regional Dogs’ in the local dialect, those living in towns and used for fighting were known as ‘Kuriya-Inu’ or ‘Kuwae-Inu’, while others that were used for hunting in the mountains and countryside were known as ‘Matagi-Inu’.
These were the ancestors of today’s Akita which had been bred in these areas since ancient times.
For several hundred years, ‘Matagi-Inu’ was used in male-female pairs to hold game such as tsukinowaguma (Japanese black bear), kamoshika (Japanese serow), boar and deer at bay until the hunter arrived.
Akitas are also been used to retrieve waterfowl. During the reign of the fifth shogun of Japan Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (1680-1709), the breed’s history took an unexpected turn.
People cheekily called Tsunayoshi as the Inu Kubo (dog shogun) due to his love for dogs. He went to such an extent that Tsunayoshi issued laws known as Shorui Awaremi no Re (Law Prohibiting Cruelty to Animals )in 1687.
According to these Laws of Compassion, anyone who harmed dogs can be imprisoned and dogs should be addressed in a highly polite manner (just as “o-inu-sama”- which translates something to “Great Mr. Dog”).
From an ordinary peasant dog, the Akita Inu had turned into a samurai dog for Japanese royalty and aristocrats, and some Akitas had their own home with servants.
In 1919, concerned by the Japanese breeds’ potential extinction, the Japanese included this large spitz-type dog in a list of natural monuments to be preserved.
The breed was almost gone extinct as Japan was almost constantly involved in wars, including world war one & two.
Interestingly, when the Allied forces occupied Japan after WWII, American servicemen stationed in Japan saw the Akita, though there were very few lefts.
They were attracted to the massive-sized dog and the Akita became one of many “Japanese Souvenirs” brought to the US.
Although the first Akita to come to the United States were the puppies (called Kamikaze-go and Kenzan-go) given to Helen Keller on her visit to Japan in 1937.
The initial breeding stock that came to the U.S. was the loose-skinned, heavy-boned Kongo line and the more distinguished Ichinoseki lineage. A mix of the two emerged which became the American Akita today.
That led to two main types of Akitas: American Akitas tend to be stockier and larger, often with a black mask; whereas Japanese Akitas are more stylized and refined, with the only approved colors being white, brindle and red with white markings.
The AKC recognized the Japan Kennel Club in 1992, so Akitas from Japan (JKC-registered) can again be registered with the AKC.
Best suited as a companion now, some Akitas also work as police, sled, guard, hunting and therapy dogs. Several are trained companions of hearing- and sight-impaired people and several have herding titles.
Usually, they are eagle-eyed guardians of their families.
Akita Coat Colors
Usually, Akita puppy has a double coat with a shorter top coat and a thick and lush undercoat. The coat of an Akita puppy appears in various colors such as:
- Chocolate and
- A combination of white with other colors
Akita Puppy Appearance
Japanese Akitas are large sized, compact dog, just off-square, well proportioned, well boned with well-developed muscles. Strong Constitution, agile, elegant and oriental look. Arrogant pride is plainly visible and his guts are comparable to the Samurai warrior
Male dogs’ ratio of height to body length is 10: 11. Female dogs are slightly longer in length. The height to the depth of chest ratio is 2 to 1. The appearance of Akitas can be summarized as
The sweeping eagle in his flight, or the toiling work-horse, the open apple-blossom, the branching oak, the blithe swan, the drifting clouds, the winding stream at its base, overall the coursing sun and their form always follows function.
Broad, level skulls in proportion to the body with moderately developed cheeks and a moderate stop with a distinct furrow. The moderately long muzzles taper slightly at the nose (to a blunt triangle) but not pointed.
They have tight lips and large, black noses while some white dogs have Slight and diffuse lack of pigment which is also acceptable as a breed standard.
Relatively small, triangular shaped eyes due to the rising of the outer eye corner that are set moderately apart on a dog’s face (slanting up at outside) being a nice dark brown in color- the darker the better.
Thick, equally triangulated, well-furred ears which the dogs carry pricked and inclining forward. The Akitas have a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite
American Akitas differ greatly in facial structure and are generally larger than the Akita Inu. They have a broad head (more bear-like face) and small deep-set eyes with more erect ears.
The Akita has a stocky, muscular appearance and has white blazes or facial masks on the forehead. Sometimes the outer coat is a different color from the undercoat.
Short, thick and muscular necks which are very well-muscled and in balance with the head. They boast moderately sloping shoulders and no dewlap with straight Forearms and elbows are tight, neither turning in nor out
They have deep chests and moderately sprung ribs that are well drawn up and tucked up in the abdomen. They boast level backs, broad and muscular loins and quite high, well-developed withers.
The nicely tucked up bellies add to the Akitas agile appearance. Well developed, strong and moderately angulated Back legs with long upper thighs and strong, but short second thighs with a powerful grip, thrust, and stance.
Cat-like feet which are thickly padded, well knuckled and tight with a firm grip. Tails are set on high and carried well curved or curled (like a sickle) when letting down, the tip nearly touching hocks.
Strangely, every Akita’s tail curls up differently, so every Akita is unique!
Triple-coated, with the coarse and straight outermost coat that stands out like needles; soft and dense water-repellent middle coat that generally enhances the coat color.
The innermost coat is closest to the skin and is generally thicker and wool-like in texture. This part of the coat is extra dense during winter to give extra insulation and loses volume during the summer months.
The rump and the withers are covered with slightly longer hair, with hair on the tail is longer than rest of the body and standing off.
The coat length is of two types
Standard coat and the ‘Moku’ – the long coat is the result of an autosomal recessive gene and may only occur phenotypically if both male and female dogs are carriers.
They are known to have sweeter temperaments and It is speculated that this gene comes from the now extinct Karafuto-Ken
Accepted coat colors are Red fawn, brindle, white and sesame (red fawn hairs with black tips). All these colors must have “Urajiro” (creamy whitish ventral color).
“Urajiro” = Whitish coat on the muzzle sides and on the cheeks, inside ears, on the underside of the jaw and upper throat, around the vent, on the chest and abdomen, on the inside of the legs and the underside of the tail.
Is Akita The Right Dog For You?
If you want a dog who…
- Is large, sturdy and strong, with a wolf-like (spitz) appearance
- energetic, loyal, and spirited — not a lapdog
- Carries himself with a dignified, decorous presence
- Looks daunting, so makes an effective deterrent
- Doesn’t need vigorous exercise requirements
- Doesn’t bark often – the “strong and silent” type
Good for you. You may get an Akita
If you don’t want to deal with…
- Potential aggression, suspiciousness toward people when not socialized properly
- Aggression toward other animals, dogs, and cats — strong chasing instincts
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- food Possessiveness and Containment difficulties
- Heavy shedding
An Akita doesn’t look right for you.
Akita Size / Life Span
Japanese Akita Height And Weight
Height – Male – 66-71 cm, Female – 61-66 cm
Weight – Male – 45-59 kg, Female – 32-45 kg
American Akita Height And Weight
Height – Male – 64-70 cm, Female – 58-64 cm
Weight – Male – 34-54 kg, Female – 34-50 kg
The average life of an Akita puppy is between 11 and 15 years. This applies only if the Akita puppy is well maintained with a good diet and grown in a healthy environment.
Akita is a natural born pack leader, known for their stubborn and independent temperament. Akita’s temperament may range from sociable and gregarious to more aloof towards strangers and only pleasant with their family.
This is not the best breed for families with toddlers and other pets. If you like to get an Akita as a family pet, it is best to get an Akita puppy so that the dog can be socialized early on and made comfortable with kids.
They are incredibly inquisitive, smart dogs and have some odd cat-like traits so they are often called cat-dogs. Akitas are curious, stubborn and natural escape artists.
Who Gets Along With Akita Dogs?
- Those who seek a good guard dog who will also interact with the family
- Family with older kids
- Active household
- Those who want a very large dog to cuddle up with
- People that live in cold climates and enjoy outdoor activities.
- Farmhouses, country homes or houses with large fenced-in yards(at least 6-foot fence)
- Folks looking for hunting, camping or hiking companions.
- Apartment living – No
- Good for first-time owners – No
- Sensitivity level – Average to high
- Loneliness – Yes
- Cold weather – High
- Hot weather – Low
- With Family – High
- Kids – High
- Other dogs – Moderate, if raised together
- Cats – Moderate, if raised together
- Other pets – Moderate, if raised together
- Strangers – Suspicious, reserved
- Independence – Independent
- Dominance – High
- Combativeness – Bit aggressive
- Indoors – Moderately active
- Outdoor – Highly active
- Territorial – Yes
- Easy of transportation – Medium
- Exercise needs – Fairly high
- Intensity – Medium
- Activity level – Medium
- Exercise requirements – >60 minutes/day
- walk mileage/ week – 8 miles
- Playfulness – High
- Grooming needs – High
- Tendency to Drool – No
- To Snore – No
- Bark – Low
- Dig – Low
- Social/Attention Needs – Low
So, what about the first-time owners?
Yep, they look like teddy bears but they’re not made of marshmallow.
Akita is not the best choice for First-time dog owners as they need to be trained, socialized and handled by people who are proficient with the specific needs of smart, stubborn and sharp dogs.
They are naturally dominant so they need to be appropriately handled and trained right from the outset. They require huge socialization from a very early age to acclimatize the dog to tolerate its fur friends the best way as possible.
They are real samurais! You should be consistent and keep your training sessions short and sweet. They are also so shrewd that if you make any harsh, inconsiderate corrections, they may stand firm and become even more resistant.
Akitas may be better for a first time owner in certain cases, for those who have time to devote to educate, socialize his dog and who feels the desire to learn, rather than someone experienced about other dog breeds and thinks that Akitas are also the same.
Obviously, First timers have to have grip and tact to manage them, but Akitas can be easily trained, especially when you are well prepared.
- Trainability – Quick learners but may be stubborn
- Intelligence – High
- Memory – High
- Mouthiness – Low
- Prey drive – High
- Wanderlust potential – High
Is an Akita hard to train?
The Akita Inu is not the easiest breed to train because of his independent nature. During the training, he is more likely to use his wits.
Despite the fact that he is an intelligent dog and motivated dog, he needs a firm and consistent trainer/ owner to inculcate proper canine codes.
If there is no proper training, owners may find it quite hard to handle him as he grows up.
There will be always a streak of stubbornness in them but you just need to be consistent and make sure to establish yourself as the pack leader.
For best results, it’s essential to work with a trainer who understands the breed’s independence, territorial nature, and possessiveness.
Start extensive socialization and basic obedience training with him from puppyhood and include a variety of dog toys and treats to retain your dog’s interest.
Getting outdoors for some action is also important to them as they need a good daily workout, whether a jog flanking his bicycling owner or it’s a walk in the neighborhood. They cannot be trusted off leash as they are proficient escape-artist and have a strong prey drive.
Keep in mind; it’s essential that you start training at puppyhood. This can help shirk moments of inconsistent behavior. Akita puppies should be exposed to other dogs and pets early on so that no authority issues surface in the future.
Rules of Thumb in Positive Reinforcement
- Keep it short & uncomplicated
- Immediately reward/praise the desired behavior
- Every behavior has a price tag- the more difficult the demand higher should be the paycheck.
- Be patient and consistent
- Make learning fun for both you and your dog
Akita Puppy Food
Rough Feeding guide for Akita dog:
Meal frequency for Akita:
- Puppies first 1-3 months: three meals per day
- After the third month: two meals per day
Remember the formula = (Weight (Kgs) X 30) + 70 = Daily caloric intake.
For instance, a male Akita which weighs 20 kg, therefore would require: 30 X 20 kg +70 = 670 Calories per day
Dry dog food puppy feeding:
- Average = Daily cost $2.00 – $2.25
- Monthly cost $60.00 – $67.00
- Pups between (2-3 months) old – 3 meals every 24 hours (280g- 400g).
- 3 to 6 months old – 2 meals daily (400g- 620g)
- Feed puppies 6 months to 1 year – 2 bowls of food daily (600g-400g)- gradually reduce the feeding
- When your puppy is of 15 months old, one or two smaller bowls/ 24 hours are typically all that’s necessary.
Remember, the feedings depend on your puppy’s build, eating affinities and on their activity level.
Feeding guide for adult dogs:
- Dogs 35 kg =350g-450g
- 45 kg = 500g-600g
- 55 kg = 500g-600g
Here is the macronutrient breakdown for you to glance through.
- Protein content should be anything from 30%
- Carb content should be 30 to 65%
- Fiber content should be less than 4%
- Fat content should be less than 10%
- Calcium content should be 0.5 – 0.8%
- Phosphorous content should be 0.4 – 0.7%
- Sodium content should be 0.2 – 0.4%
Best food for Akitas- our picks
- Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
- Fromm Large Breed Adult Gold
- American Journey Chicken & Brown Rice Adult Dry Food
- NomNomNow Fresh Dog Food
- Canidae PURE Elements With Lamb Limited Ingredient Diet
- Now Fresh Large Breed Adult Dog Dry Food
- Taste Of The Wild High Prairie Dry Dog Food
- Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast Fresh Dog Food
- EVO Red Meat Formula Large Bites Dog Food
- Gary’s Best Breed Holistic Large Breed Dry Dog Food
Natural foods like rice and fish will be most suitable for Akita dogs because they are used to eating such kinds of foods.
Foods that Akita eats
- Sea plants
- Brown rice
- Pearled Barley
- Sweet Potatoes
Foods to avoid (Vet Recommended)
Akita Grooming And Shedding
- Coat density – Normal to dense
- Length – Medium
- Texture – Straight
- Brushing frequency – Weekly twice
- Trimming/stripping – No
- Hypoallergenic – No
- Shedding – High
Akita Health Problems
Some major health problems affecting Akita:
1. Hip Dysplasia
- Limited movement
- The decreasing rate of activity
- Loosening of the hip joints
- Experiencing toughness in climbing and alighting (getting down) stairs
- Standing with legs placed closer to each other
- The rough sound made by the joints causing difficulty in free movement
- Bunny hop walking style
- Contraction of the hind leg muscles
- Considerable weight loss in the thighs (muscle mass)
- Formation of bulged shoulder muscles due to extra pressure applied to adjust the lameness in the hind leg
- Inherited (hereditary)
- Bad diet (Malnutrition)
- Excess body weight
- Exercising daily for a reasonably long time causing heavy strain to the hip joints
Finally, after a thorough reading of the dog’s condition, the vet will advise for the correct treatment. Especially, if a vet opts for non-surgical methods to treat a dog, the treatment will be:
- Exercise-related recommendations given to the order to ensure that the dog does not put excess weight and strain the hips
- Medications like aspirin, corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory drugs
- Applying joint fluid modifiers
Total Hip replacement (THR) is the most common method of surgical treatment that is applied. Artificial hip in the forms of metal or plastics is instilled in the affected dog’s hip joint area.
The affected hip joint is removed and then the said process is carried out. The pain caused by hip dysplasia is cured by this method.
2. Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Shows reluctance to move during the night time
- Delayed responsiveness of the pupils to light
- Avoids the daily activities of running and climbing and getting down the stairs
- Night blindness
The associated symptoms of night blindness which causes loss of vision for the dog results in:
- Accidentally bumping on the furniture, window frames, and other things
- Slipping and falling when the dog’s feet strikes some objects unintentionally
- The dog does not respond immediately even when very dangerous situations, for example, if fire accident or burglary happens in the house
Progressive retinal atrophy is a genetic disease by nature and so it cannot be cured. Of course, there are some useful steps can be taken for bettering the living conditions of the affected dog.
As stated earlier, until now there is no treatment for curing progressive retinal atrophy in dogs. Furthermore, maintaining the same house environment will ensure that the dog does not face further difficulties.
- Place the food and water bowls in the same place where the dog used to take food and water
- Likewise, move the furniture just a few yards away and to a position near the window. Some small gates can be fixed for safety purpose. Therefore, these steps will help to reduce the risk of fall injury to the dog.
- Head shaking
- Avoiding exercises
- Dryness in the skin
- Weight gain
- Loss of Hair
- High sensitivity to cold
- Bradycardia (slow heartbeat)
- Ear infection
- Nail infection
- Autoimmune thyroiditis, which is a disease that affects the body’s immune system
- Problems in the Adrenal gland
- The side effects of medications like steroids
- Cancer of the thyroid gland
- Atrophy of the thyroid gland
- Avoiding exercises
L-thyroxine is a synthetic hormone which is usually not able to be given to dogs with hypothyroidism. Doctors recommend thyroid glandular and cofactors like iodine and thyroxine to enable the stable production of thyroid hormone.
The medications are oral drugs, used for treating dogs with hypothyroidism and prescribed for daily intake.
4. Von Willebrand Disease
- Excessive bleeding after toenail clipping
- Enlargement of the scrotum (bruising)
- Bleeding in the intestine
- Bleeding in the joints
- Blood in the urine and stools
Von Willebrand is an inherited disease where mutations in the genes cause problems in the production of Von Willebrand factor, its release and stability
Certainly, based on the stage of the disease, appropriate treatment will be provided.
In case of severe bleeding, infusion of blood will be required because there is no vitamin, drug or hormone to stimulate the production of VWF.
However, for moderate bleeding or injuries, methods to follow for controlling the bleeding includes: bandages, sutures and wound ointments.
In addition, you must not give drugs like aspirin, heparin and sulfa-based antibiotics that interact with or disturb the blood clotting activity.
5. Immune System Disorders That Affect The Skin
- The appearance of small or big blisters on various organs of the body like say eyelids, mouth, nose, and lips
- Reddishness and scaly lines on the nose that causes painful ulcers
- Erratic fever that does not respond to antibiotic treatment
- Abnormal blood flow
- Various kinds of disabilities
- Big itchy ulcers arise prior to or after the formation of blisters
- Symmetrical contact dermatitis
- Lack of skin pigmentation around the nose and other areas like eyes, ears, lips, and genitals
- Genetic problems – If the parent dog is suffering from autoimmune skin disease, then its child is naturally at high risk of getting the disease
- UV (ultraviolet rays) exposure to the sun’s rays
The veterinarian will treat a dog with skin disorders that happen due to a poor immune system based on the level of complication. Suppose, the vet feels that medications to control skin breakout is sufficient, prednisone is the most prescribed drug.
If the Akita puppy is found to suffer a greater degree of complications, the vet will advise stronger drugs such as chlorambucil and azathioprine.
These drugs will avoid the abnormal functioning of the immune system and heals the skin.
Likewise, a veterinarian will apply antibiotics either orally or via injection or medicated dips when there is a bacterial infection that causes skin disease.
Therefore, owners of affected dogs should visit the vet regularly to ensure that the treatment procedure undertaken is working properly.
The immune system suppressant therapy may even result in the development of secondary infections.
Akita Puppy Prices
The price of an Akita dog in the USA market can be in the range of $750 to $2000. Also, a dog’s price is determined by its age, health, parents, the location of purchase and purchase purpose (show or pet).
Do not purchase a puppy that is below this price range since it is an indicator that it is a substandard breed. In the UK market, an Akita dog can be bought at a price of £150 and it can go up to £2000.
The same price determining factors as stated above for the USA market regarding a dog purchase will apply here. Some experienced breeders having superior quality dogs can fix a higher price beyond the mentioned range.
Akita Puppy Names
|Male Dogs||Female Dogs|
Interesting Facts Of Akita Puppy
- In fact, in Japan, there is an exclusive museum for Akita dogs
- Akita dogs are viewed in Japan as the country’s treasure
- Akita puppy is sold at an exorbitant price in its native homeland, Japan
- In Japan. new-born children are given a small Akita doll, to bestow a long and prosperous life to the children
- Akita puppy is also called as a snow country dog in Japan
- Akita dog is still used in dog fighting sport in Japan, majorly in the rural areas and towns. However, some major cities have banned this sport
- Insurance companies prefer to stay away from ensuring an Akita puppy because of its aggressive and notorious nature.
- However, these companies could charge very high rates from the respective owners of this dog.
- During World War II, the Akita puppies were on the verge (edge) of extinction as owners could not feed and care for them.
Akita Puppy Breeders in the USA
- Kaiju Kennels
Address: 2785 Pacific Coast Highway Suite E #114
Torrance, CA 90505
Tel: 1-661-KAIJUSO (1-661-524-5876)
- Xtreme Akitas
Address: Newark, Delaware
- Arctic Akitas
Address: Fairbanks, AK 99901
Akita Puppy Breeders in the UK
- Whitewreath Kennels
Address: Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Tel. Nos: 01302 247 647, 07523 488795
- Kumatomo Akitas
Address: Keighley, West Yorkshire BD20 5PH
Tel.: 01535 662648
Email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Overhill Kennels & Exports
Address: Norton Malreward, Pensford, Avon, Bristol BS39 4EY
Tel.: +44 1275 832489
E-mail id: email@example.com