Akitas are some of the most popular dogs in the world, ranking 46 out of 193 for American Kennel Club breed popularity. These heavy-boned pups may tip the scales, but they are profusely loyal and want nothing more than a best human friend. The highly-renowned Japanese Akita dog breed is bold and protective of family members, and will provide excellent companionship for its owners.
Akitas are medium-energy dogs that are playful, watchful and independent thinkers. Just like any dog, Akitas need a highly nutritious diet to thrive, and some experts recommend giving them less calorie-dense meals in their senior years. These pups need to get their exercise in every single day. If they are worn out, they are more likely to be quiet and well mannered in the home. Though they are prone to hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy, they are known to live healthy lifespans of 10-12 years.
Akitas have a life expectancy of 10 to 13 years, with males weighing up to 130 pounds and females tipping the scales at 70 to 100 pounds. Males have a shoulder height of 26 to 28 inches, on average, while females grow a few inches shorter. An Akita's body coat grows thick and stiff to protect it in cold weather. The double coat grows thicker on the body, with hair on it legs, head and ears.
These pups come in all different color combinations. Aa black and white Akita dog is the most common, but they can also be white, brindle, and brown. The preferred coloring is black noses on a white Akita dog, but a lighter colored nose with or without shading of black or gray tone is acceptable.It has a double coat, with the topcoat being short and the undercoat being plush and dense. Brindle patterns can include gray, white, silver, black and red, while pinto coloring refers to patches on the head and other large areas on the body.
They are broad and muscular and have triangle-shaped heads, as well as long and lean legs and webbed feet, making them great swimmers. They have pointed ears as well as pointed and short muzzles. Their noses are brown or black and their eyes are dark.
Akita temperament & training
Akitas are quiet, stubborn, loyal, and very protective. They are up for a challenge, and will do whatever it takes to ensure their family is safe. They are typically sweet to family members and people they know well, but do not take kindly to strangers or other animals.
Through generations of breeding, Akitas were developed to be large and adaptable hunting dogs that worked in packs. Akitas have even-keeled personalities until they see a threat or perhaps another animal. They are known for hunting smaller prey like rodents, birds, and other wildlife, and will be aggressive towards strangers if owners are not around to tell them otherwise.
They can be quite domineering over other pets, so it's necessary to supervise them and train them well, especially dogs of the same sex. Akitas are highly alert but usually silent and will only bark when necessary. While they are highly affection once they get to know their human family, Akitas should not be left alone with children, especially ones they don't know. Their scissor jaws (similar to pit bulls) make it very difficult to open their mouths during a bite, unless the dog wants to release.
These dogs can be hard to train, so owners need to be consistent and firm.When training Akitas, use positive reinforcement to create good behaviors, rather than using negative reinforcement to point out bad behaviors. Working with a pet behaviorist, you can learn how to correct bad behavior without yelling or negative touching.
Akitas don't shed much, except for twice a year, when the undercoat will "blow" all over a house and cause owners to find clumps of hair. They should be brushed at least once per week. As with all double-coated dogs, how you clean the outer coat affects the health of the under coat and the dog's skin.
Improper care of either one of an Akita's coats can cause hair to become dry, brittle, and matted, and the dog's skin to become sensitive. If you've never cared for a double-coated dog, schedule an appointment with a professional groomer to learn how often to brush, trim, bathe and clean hair, and how to take care of nails, ears, eyes, paw pads, behind, and tail.
Typical tools used for washing an Akita's fur include a brush, comb, towel, and hair dryer. Your vet, professional pet sitter or groomer can recommend the right shampoo, conditioner, or other cleaning agents. When you adopt an Akita, ask the breeder or shelter staff to go over good grooming practices. Find out if the dog you're picking up has recently been thoroughly groomed so you will have a reference point for your post-bathing or brushing inspections.
Akita exercise & health
Akitas are medium-energy dogs, but like to run and jump (they were bred as hunting dogs), so they might not make good apartment pets unless it's easy for you to regularly take them outside for exercise. Lack of sufficient exercise can cause weight gain, irritability, sleep problems and aggressiveness.
If you can't go on 30-minute active outings with our Akita, consider at least two, 15-minute runs or games of fetch at least every other day. Treadmills are a great way to help dogs exercise indoors. Let the dog see you using the treadmill first so that it knows the equipment is safe and fun to use. Don't leave the dog alone on the treadmill until you've observed it exercise several times and you know how to set up the routine safely.
Once dogs reach seven years and older, the American Kennel Club recommends a less calorie-dense diet to help avoid weight gain and kidney disease.
Akita puppies can be aggressive until they become familiar with their new home and family members. Like all dogs, they will need familiarity, so avoid moving an Akita's bed, water bowl, and toys while you're trying to figure out what placement works best for you. Figure that out in advance so your puppy doesn't stress out and experience anxiety.
They can take 10 to 12 months to reach their full size, but might continue to put on weight until they are about two years old. If the dog continues to experience weight gain after 24 months, check with your vet to see if the dog is becoming overweight from a lack of exercise or too much food.
Give puppies enough exercise so that they burn plenty of calories and are able to sleep soundly at night. Because of their heavy coats, Akita puppies might not be able to run for long periods in hot weather. Bring water and treats with you and keep an eye on the dog to see if it begins panting hard, ignoring you or becomes disoriented.