The Akita is a
Japanese breed. In his native country the Akita has been declared a
"national treasure." An Akita in a home is believed to be a symbol of
good health, prosperity and good fortune. Helen Keller brought the first
Akita to the United States in 1937. The breed did not come again to
American shores until after WW2 when returning GIs brought Akitas to
America. They are a wonderful, magnificent breed but certainly not a dog
The following Facts sheet is NOT written in stone.
More and more, breeders are selecting for good temperament, and Akitas
are far less aggressive now than they were a decade ago. The
information below is a heads up to so you understand the breed, and why
they may have had a reputation for aggression. Throughout this
website, I have tried to emphasize the importance of early and ongoing
socialization, obedience training using positive reinforcement and your
role as a pack leader. Those are the most important factors in
developing the foundation for your Akita. If your kids run wild
and rarely pay attention to you, please, don't get an Akita!
large, males can weigh over 100 pounds; they have great body strength
and can have willful temperaments, definitely not grandma's dog! All
puppies are cute, including Akita puppies, but before you purchase a
cuddly puppy that grows into a grizzly bear, read the FACTS.
not bark unless there is a good reason. When an Akita is barking, pay
attention. They are silent hunters who hunt low to the ground without
growls or noise, similar to cats.
unused to other animals may consider small animals as prey and hunt
them. This includes cats, rodents, birds, small wildlife and small dogs.
Akitas can be raised to accept animals in residence. Some adult Akitas
can even be trained to fit into a home where other animals are already
established. It is, however, imperative that the Akita be closely
watched around the other animals until you have established a peaceful
co-existence. Chickens, ducks and other birds are a meal for an Akita,
do not expect the dog to befriend fowl, though some Akitas have accepted
them without a problem.
natural guardians of the home and do not require any training to turn
them into guard dogs. When there is a reason to protect family and
property, your Akita will act to do so. Guests welcome in your home when
you are present will NOT be welcomed by the Akita when you are not home.
Your gates should be padlocked to protect the Akita and any neighborhood
children who may enter your property.
leave an Akita or any dog alone with an infant. Imagine a baby suddenly
crying to get attention from its mother. A dog can misinterpret the
situation and in an attempt to bring the baby to the mother, the baby
can be tragically injured. Dogs are not really nannies.
Do not tie an
Akita outside where strangers can approach. Many dog bites occur with
this scenario—the dog’s space extends from one end of the leash to the
other. A child or toddler has no idea about canine boundaries and moves
into the dog’s space. Most dogs will defend their territory and you now
have a situation that can be tragic for two families and fatal for the
dog. If you cannot house your dog properly, then don’t own one until
you can provide a safe sanctuary for the animal when you’re not home.
inherently dominant towards other animals and for this reason, they
should not be allowed to run free or roam at will in the neighborhood.
You can exercise your Akita off leash when you are in an area where it's
unlikely there will be much contact with other animals and people.
show aggression toward other male dogs, and female Akitas usually will
not tolerate another female. Akitas can live peacefully with a dog of
the opposite sex, though some Akitas prefer being an only dog!
VERY food possessive. If you have other pets, you will want to be
certain the Akita is given its own food bowl or treat well away from any
other animals and that no other animal is allowed near the Akita until
the food is gone. It's common sense to keep visiting children away from
an Akita at dinnertime. Akitas not raised with children are not always
tolerant of small children. The Akita should never be left alone with a
child even if you are certain you have a dog that adores all children. A
large dog can accidentally injure a child. Often, Akitas raised with
children will tolerate their own children but may not accept the
neighborhood kids. As a general rule it is wise not to leave an Akita or
any large dog alone with children under 12 years of age.
not like to be teased and can respond by biting. Some children are
allowed to treat animals unkindly, a behavior that often leads to
cruelty to animals. These children should be kept away from an Akita,
whose large size and hunting instincts can endanger the child's life.
consider eye contact a challenge and can react aggressively. It is
strongly advised NOT to get down on the Akitas level and close to the
dog's face unless you are well acquainted with the Akita. These
positions can and do trigger an aggressive response.
to take charge--an inherited trait from their wolf ancestry and may at
some time, challenge you for the dominant position. This behavior cannot
be tolerated and a firm, consistent correction should be your immediate
response. Akitas with good temperament accept discipline well--not
beating, but intelligent discipline. A good scruff shaking is an
effective form of discipline for an Akita. Frequently, a firm verbal
command or quick choke chain correction will get your point across.
should be obedience trained by their owner and not sent away to school.
A good obedience class will guarantee you a firm bond with your dog and
a well-behaved dog. Remember though, Akitas are extremely intelligent
and tend to get bored easily. They learn quickly so short training
periods are suggested. This keeps the dog from becoming bored. Akitas
are also very stubborn and when the dog thinks it's a waste of time to
"sit" or "stay" one more time, he will simply walk away! Obedience
training requires patience!
respond with aggression if treated harshly--do not hit or kick any dog,
that sort of behavior means YOU have lost control of yourself and your
dogs and unlike human beings, dogs do not have the same short-term
memory as humans. Do not discipline your dog hours after an
incident--the dog will NOT associate the discipline with an incident,
which occurred earlier in the day. If you can see and catch your dog
getting into mischief, discipline should be firm and immediate for it to
be effective. For example, if you return from work and find your Akita
had been busily digging a hole, you should not discipline the dog when
it greets you since the dog will not associate the discipline with a
hole it may have worked on early that morning.
Do NOT call
your Akita to you for discipline, that encourages the dog to fear your
presence and it will find ways to avoid you. The "come" command is
important and may someday be a life-saving command for the dog. Do not
jeopardize that safety factor. Each time your Akita comes to your side,
it should be rewarded.
are talkers! They may grunt, groan and mumble to entertain themselves
and you. This conversational verbalizing IS NOT growling and should not
be interpreted as a growl, which sounds quite different. Akita "talking"
is an endearing trait and should not frighten you. After living with
your dog, you will easily distinguish between talking and growling.
enjoy carrying things around in their mouth, including your wrist! They
may take you by the wrist to lead you to the cookie cupboard or to their
lead. It is not an aggressive act; it is an endearing trait. If their
"mouthing" is annoying to you, give them a job to do: allow your Akita
to bring in the newspaper or the mail. They love to do these types of
For such a
large breed, with a reputation for aloofness, you may be surprised to
learn that Akitas are very sensitive and are adversely affected by
stress and/or changes in their environment. Stress can be a trigger for
autoimmune diseases in an Akita predisposed for these diseases.
very family-oriented and are not happy when kept apart from the family.
Akitas develop bizarre behavior patterns when raised as an outside "yard
dog." When left alone in a yard without quality family interaction, the
dog will regress in socialization and boredom will cause destructive
behavior. If you do not plan on having your dog live inside your home,
you should not seriously consider an Akita for a pet.
not hyperactive and fit into a sedentary household, but optimum health
requires that YOU and your Akita exercise regularly. A dog left outside
while you’re gone DOES NOT exercise it sleeps until your return. If your
lifestyle includes outdoor activities like camping, hiking, swimming, or
snow sports, Akitas adore being part of these pastimes.
live from 10-12 years with good care and proper nutrition. Good
nutrition for an Akita is an all-natural meat based food with high
quality protein, especially fish. The origin of the Akita is Japan where
rice, fish and sea plants are a diet staple and an ideal diet for the
Akita. They should be fed two meals daily. Dry food should be soaked
until it expands prior to feeding as obesity is dangerous for many
health reasons but with Akitas, an overweight dog is prone to knee
problems ultimately requiring surgery. Akitas suffer from gastric torsion,
a life-threatening, sudden onset disorder that is fatal if untreated.
Know the symptoms--discuss gastric torsion with your vet.
disease affects 70% of the breed; however, it is treated by twice daily
hormone replacement therapy. A blood test, including T3 and T4 thyroid
levels will determine the existence of the condition. The symptoms
include skin and coat problems, sudden onset aggressive behavior,
itching, lethargy, musky odor, and many more. Before treating skin
conditions as allergies, have your vet check for sarcoptic mange,
sebaceous adenitis, and hypothyroid disease.
Sudden onset aggression is very often linked to hypothyroid
disease which is a treatable condition. Discuss this with your vet
or seek more information from some websites on the Internet.
There are many good books on this breed; they can all be found on
Amazon.com: Akitas: Books
© 1990 B. Bouyet